Avoid these grilling mistakes at your next backyard barbecue
School may be starting, but that doesn’t mean summer – and backyard barbecues – are over. There’s still time to throw a party and invite your friends for burgers, hotdogs, and other delicious food from the grill. In order to help you cook the chicken to perfection and wow them with killer kabobs, we’ve put together a list of the seven biggest blunders when it comes to grilling. Because there’s no mulligan when it comes to grilling, be sure to avoid these common mistakes at your next outdoor cookout.
Don’t make these rookie grilling mistakes…
Forgetting to clean the grill
Starting with a dirty grill will put you at a disadvantage from the get-go. For best results, you’ll want to begin with a grill surface that’s free from last night’s leftovers. Make sure your grill is warm, then use a grill brush to take care of any food still stuck to the grates. This will ensure your meat and veggies look (and taste!) their best.
Quick tip: Check out this easy how-to video from Operation BBQ Relief and Blue Rhino on how to clean the cooking surface of your grill.
Skipping the marinades
It can be difficult to plan ahead and think to marinate your steak or chicken the night before, but man, is it worth it when you do. We recommend trying one of these marinade recipes from our friends at Blue Rhino. Your taste buds can thank us later.
Quick tip: Our personal favorite is this beef marinade, which is a surefire way to make your kabobs the hit of the entire party.
Not pre-heating the grill
A common misconception is that once the grill reaches a high temperature, it’s ready to go. However, it’s best to let the grill preheat a little longer to make sure the grates are hot before throwing on your meat. Not only will this create those nice-looking grill marks, but it will also help prevent the food from sticking to the grates and pulling apart when you go to flip that steak.
Quick tip: After starting your grill, let it preheat for 10-15 minutes before cooking. (That’s just enough time to get onions, lettuce, and tomatoes sliced for your burgers.)
Starting with cold meats
This might come as a surprise, but taking meat straight from the fridge and throwing it on the grill is a big no-no – for more than one reason. For starters, this can cause a longer cook time, resulting in meat that’s dried out. It can also make it difficult for the meat to cook evenly because the outside will char and the inside will be more rare than it should be.
Quick tip: It’s best to set your ingredients out for 10-15 minutes on the counter to allow them to come to room temperature. If you take them out of the fridge when you start the grill, they (and the grill) should be the perfect temperatures, so you can hit the ground running.
Using direct heat all the time
Our guess is that you’re not looking to completely scorch the outside of your steak. If you do want to sear your meat to give it some color and flavor, that’s great, but in order to avoid blackened burgers or porkchops, you’ll want to move your food so it’s around the open flame, not directly on top of it.
Quick tip: More heat isn’t always better. Using indirect heat is a little slower, but it helps meat retain its moisture. Think of cooking with indirect heat like roasting or baking your food – it’s similar to how your propane-powered oven works!
Flipping your meat too early – and too often
What did we just say about drying out your food? If you haven’t caught on by now, there are a lot of ways to do that. But don’t worry, you can avoid dry chicken if you quit messing with the meat and leave it be. That includes poking, prodding, applying pressure with a spatula, or puncturing it with tongs. All these things let juices out and make a mess of your grill.
Quick tip: When you’re grilling steak, leave it alone until you see a crust forming on the side of the steak that’s in contact with the grates. Grilling experts say that should be approximately three to four minutes. The less you mess with it, the faster it will cook, which feels counterintuitive, but just trust us on this one.
Not having enough propane
What’s more embarrassing than inviting your friends, family, and neighbors over for dinner and then discovering you’re out of propane? We’re not really sure, but to avoid this public shame, we suggest keeping an eye on your propane tank’s gauge, especially during grilling season when you’re cooking more. We also recommend keeping an extra tank on hand, which you can pick up from any of our Blue Rhino retailers.
Quick tip: If you’re looking for an easy way to figure out how much gas you have left, check out this video from Blue Rhino.