Image Credit: TORWAISTUDIO/Shutterstock

10 Smart Cooks on the Best Grilling Tips


Image Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

We reached out to some of the grill masters we admire most for a few of the things they wish they had known about grilling when they were just starting out. Take it away, experts!

Image Credit: Mia Yakel

Use a digital thermometer.

“I have consistent, repeatable results every single time no matter what type of protein or size of the cut by using a digital thermometer like a Thermapen.” —Danielle Bennett, Pitmaster at Diva Q

Image Credit: Matt Russell

Don’t be stingy with charcoal.

“A lot of grillers try to save a few bucks by only using a small amount of charcoal, but this affects your heat quality, which in turn affects how well your meat will be seared.” —Jess Pryles, author of Hard Core Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It

Raw steak on butcher paper

Buy local meat.

“Try to source your meat and ingredients from local butchers and farms. It’s always good to know where your food comes from.” —Leann Mueller, owner of la Barbecue in Austin, TX

Image Credit: Tara Donne

Add the sauce at the end.

“After the meat is finished cooking on indirect heat, I brush on sauce, place it on the hot side of the grill for one minute, flipping it to make sure it doesn’t char or burn.” —Rob Austin Cho of Kimchi Smoke

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Resist the urge to press your patties.

“Constantly poking and prodding burgers releases the delicious juices that make them, well, juicy. Keep an eye on temperature instead.” —Melissa Knific, Chef & Recipe Developer at HelloFresh

Image Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Don’t overcrowd the grates.

“A common grilling fail is overcooking your veggies so they become soft and mushy. The trick to avoiding this is having a very hot, preheated grill and not overcrowding your pan.” —Kristin Andrus of Traeger Grills

Image Credit: Melissa Ryan

Use oak!

“We use 100% oak-fired slow-burning pits to cook our barbecue. This leads to a milky, smoky flavor, as opposed to the overpowering flavor of other woods (i.e., mesquite).” —Marlis Oliver, President of Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Oil your food, not the grates.

“Many grillers think that if they oil the cooking grates, the food won’t stick, but the reverse is true. Often the ‘stickage’ is worse because the oil on the grates starts to burn and becomes tacky”. —Elizabeth Karmel, pitmaster and author of Steak & Cake

Image Credit: Mia Yakel

Create two heat zones.

“A great way to cook a monster thick steak is to set up your grill with a hot fire on one side and no fire on the other.” — Steven Raichlen, author of The Brisket Chronicles and founder of Barbecue University

Image Credit: Olive and Mango

Use a hair dryer.

“Use a hair dryer to stoke the flames of your grill and move the smoke around the meat. That way, you’ll get that good, smoky flavor.” —John Lewis, pitmaster at Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, S.C.

For more cooking tips, visit