6 Smart Tips for a Summer of Better Grilling

(Image credit: Kristin Teig)

Summer means grilling season — everything from fruit and veggies to meat and dessert. We’re deep in the heart of it and it’s just going to get better over the next couple months. So to make sure you get the absolute most out of it, we’ve got six smart tips to guide you through a summer of better grilling.

1. Get that grill clean (and keep it that way)!

If your grill hasn’t been used in a while, give it a quick once-over before diving back in. This includes a quick safety check of the hose (if you’re using a gas grill), emptying the grease trap, and giving it a good cleaning.

2. Hot charcoal, gray ash.

Before anything (and I mean anything) touches the grill grates, the charcoal should be blazing hot, with gray ash developed around the sides and reaching toward the top.

3. Some vegetables should be precooked.

That’s right, some vegetables need a little pre-cooking before making their way to the grill. A lot of veggies can go straight onto the grill, but those that are extra firm, like carrots and potatoes, fare better with a few minutes of boiling.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

4. Baste with salt water instead of using rubs or sauces.

Yes, salt water. Or more precisely, “salmuera.” Using it to baste meat and vegetables on the grill really lets the food’s natural flavors shine. It also makes for a delicious crusty exterior, while the inside stays tender and juicy.

5. Firm fish are the best choice for grilling.

When it comes to grilling, certain types of fish make better choices than others, while some aren’t quite suited for the grill. Go with a firm, sturdy fish — like swordfish, salmon, tuna, or snapper — that can stand up to the high heat. Delicate fish — like sole, tilapia, or flounder — are more likely to become flakey, break apart, or fall through the grates.

6. Mayo works like a charm to keep fish from sticking.

While you can use canola or olive oil, a thin coating of mayonnaise works just as well. It adheres to the fish really well, and also keeps the fish tender and prevents fillets and whole fish from sticking to the grill. And no need to worry about your fish tasting like mayo — the flavor isn’t noticeable after cooking.