Get ready to take your grilling skills to the next level with these can’t miss grilling tips! These awesome tips are perfect for beginners or even if you’re going to take on your spouse for Resident Ruler of the Backyard.
If your mouth is already watering for juicy burgers or flavorful steaks, I’ve got you covered!
The secret is in the sauce (my #1 grilling tip)
The secret for any delicious meat on the grill is the marinade. Do you know the three key ingredients in every good marinade? It’s the balance of an acid, a fat, and the seasonings.
Acids help to break down the meat. These are your cooking wines, vinegars, citrus juices, even buttermilk! Next, add a fat – this could be olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or yogurt to moisturize the meat, and act as a flavor enhancer.
The last piece is the seasonings and herbs you use. These can be fresh, dried, or even diced, like garlic, chilies and onions.
Timing is Everything
If your marinade is acid heavy, then a quick soak is best, 30 minutes to an hour. Longer than that, and the acid can start to make the outside of your meat mushy, not tender.
If tenderness is your goal, start with a tender cut to begin with, like your sirloins, filets, carne asada, etc.
Round steak, while definitely edible grilled, is better used for longer cook times, where it can simmer in liquid to really soften.
Storing While Marinating
Make sure you are using a glass or ceramic container – something that won’t react or break down due to the acid in your marinade. Definitely avoid the temptation to marinate in a foil pan! Your acid will react with the aluminum, causing discoloration and a nasty metallic or bitter flavor.
If you’re doing small cuts, like chicken strips or breasts, you can store them in a bowl or baking pan, covered with plastic wrap. For thicker cuts, it might be better to do dry rubs.
Never marinate meat at room temperature for more than an hour- that’s a great recipe…for food poisoning!
Also, never use a marinade that has already been in contact with raw meat as your basting sauce. While it’s tempting to just pour what’s left in the bag into a bowl to baste with, save some marinade out for basting before adding your meat.
Also, since oil or fat is one of the key ingredients in a great marinade, be careful of flare-ups while turning your meat. Have a squirt bottle of water on hand to help temper the flames.
Here’s Some Marinade Ideas
Think of the flavor ‘family’ you want. For example, if you like Thai, try mixing some coconut milk, lemon grass, or chilies into your marinade.
- Indian- Yogurt, lime, different colored curries, coriander, or turmeric
- Japanese- Ginger, sake, shiso, or dried shitake mushrooms. (You can also grill shitake mushrooms- delicious!)
- Mexican- Lime or pineapple juice, chilies, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chipotle, or adobe spices.
- Vietnamese- Wanna be brave? Go for some fish sauce, sriracha, anise, or rice vinegar.
- North African- Honey, onion, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice.
If you’re not quite ready to try out making your own marinade, you can cheat a bit and browse the salad dressing aisle! Your vinaigrettes, especially citrus vinaigrettes pair wonderfully with chicken or pork.
Caesar or cream-heavy dressings also work well with chicken and fish. Tomato vinaigrette or plain balsamic and oil, go great with your red meats.
Add the Veggies! All the Veggies!
One of the best grilling purchases I ever made was to get a grilling basket (click here to check it out). These bad boys are amazing!! I can dice up squash, onions, garlic, peppers, even asparagus, toss them in some oil, throw in some salt and pepper, and, as Emeril would say, bam!
You can also do asparagus crosswise to your grilling grate or wrap corn in foil-or leave the ear intact, with leaves and silk- and put it directly on the grate. My favorite, though, is to slather some butter on the shucked ear of corn, and wrap it in foil, then grill it. You may need to soak your ears of corn first.
One of my favorite ways to do cabbage in the summer is to cut the head into one-inch-thick “steaks,” brush them with oil, sprinkle some garlic salt and pepper on there, and grill it!
You can add veggies to kabobs, roast squash and zucchini, or experiment with flavors in your grilling basket.
(Have a summer favorite? Let me know in the comments!)
Yes, You Can Do Fruit, Too!
Have you ever tried a grilled pineapple steak? Oh man, oh man! I can’t tell you how delicious it is. Or a grilled peach?! Slice both fruits length wise, to create 1 inch thick “steaks”, then press to a cleaned grill. Top that bad boy with some chilled heavy cream for an easy dessert.
Or you can try doing baked apples on the grill!
Core a Granny Smith apple and place on a piece of foil large enough to cover the whole apple. Mix your favorites together- mine are brown sugar, raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon, but you can add craisins, pecans, anything else you like with your apple flavor.
Once you’ve stuffed the core of the apple with all the goodness, wrap with foil.
Place on the grill on the warming rack when you start your meat. Leave the apples there while cooking the rest of the dinner. I usually leave mine on the grill until after dinner is done.
Then I pull them off and place each apple in a bowl. I slice mine open and then pour chilled cream over the top. Tastes just like apple cobbler- without the heat from the oven!
Speaking of fruit – if you’re looking for refreshing frozen treats to serve after your meal, take a look at my 5 delicious frozen treat recipes! (There’s even a recipe for dogs so you can spoil your pup if you have one.)