Ready to take your grilling skills to the next level this summer? Look no further than these 10 essential tips from Steven Raichlen, the ultimate grill master. From understanding the difference between direct and indirect grilling to knowing how to keep your grill hot, clean, and lubricated, these tips will ensure that your food is perfectly cooked and packed with flavor. Don’t make the mistake of running out of fuel or confusing grilled with burnt – follow these tips and become the ultimate barbecuing pro this summer.

10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer

Tip 1: Make sure you have enough fuel

Before you start grilling, it’s important to make sure you have enough fuel to last you through the cooking process. There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel halfway through cooking that delicious pulled pork shoulder.

If you’re using a gas grill, it’s a good idea to have an extra propane canister on hand. This way, if you run out of gas, you can easily switch out the canister and continue cooking without any interruptions.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, it’s recommended to have an extra bag of natural lump charcoal. This will ensure that you have enough fuel to keep the fire going and maintain the desired temperature throughout the cooking process.

Having enough fuel is essential for a successful grilling session, so make sure to always have backups on hand to avoid any disappointments or delays.

Tip 2: Understand the difference between direct and indirect grilling

When it comes to grilling, it’s important to understand the difference between direct and indirect grilling, as each method is suited for different types of food.

Direct grilling involves cooking the food directly over a hot fire. This method is best for small or thin, tender, quick-cooking foods like steaks, chops, satés, kebabs, fish fillets, and vegetables. The direct heat sears the outside of the food, creating a delicious crust while keeping the inside tender and juicy.

On the other hand, indirect grilling involves cooking the food next to the heat source, rather than directly over the fire. This method is ideal for larger, tougher, or fattier foods like whole chickens and turkeys, pork shoulders, prime rib, pork ribs, brisket, and dense vegetables like potatoes or whole onions.

By using indirect heat, the food cooks more slowly and evenly, allowing the fats to render and the flavors to develop over time. This results in tender, moist, and flavorful dishes that are sure to impress your guests.

Understanding when to use direct and indirect grilling will help you achieve the best results and enhance the flavors of your grilled dishes.

Tip 3: Use wood chips for extra flavor

If you’re looking to add a smoky and authentic barbecue flavor to your grilled dishes, using wood chips is the way to go. Wood chips are an easy and effective way to infuse your food with delicious smoky aromas.

When using wood chips, it’s important to choose hardwood chips like hickory or oak, as they provide a robust and distinct flavor. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using them. This ensures that they smolder rather than catch fire, releasing a steady stream of sweet and smoky smoke.

To use wood chips, simply sprinkle them over the coals if you’re using a charcoal grill, or place them in your grill’s smoker box if it has one. As the wood chips start to smoke, they will impart their flavors onto the food, giving it that irresistible barbecue taste.

Experiment with different types of wood chips to discover your favorite flavors and combinations. Whether you’re grilling chicken, steak, or vegetables, using wood chips will elevate your dishes to a whole new level of flavor.

Tip 4: Follow the grill master’s mantra for direct grilling

When it comes to direct grilling, there’s a mantra that all grill masters follow to ensure the best results. This mantra consists of three simple steps: keep it hot, keep it clean, and keep it lubricated.

First and foremost, start with a hot grill. Preheat your grill for at least 10-15 minutes before placing the food on the grates. This ensures that the grill is hot enough to sear the food and create those beautiful grill marks.

Next, make sure to keep the grill grates clean. Use a stiff wire brush to remove any food residue or buildup from the previous grilling sessions. This not only keeps your grill hygienic but also prevents any unwanted flavors from transferring to your food.

Lastly, keep the grill grates lubricated. Before placing the food on the grates, lightly oil the grates with a tightly folded paper towel dipped in oil. This helps prevent sticking and ensures that the food easily releases from the grates when it’s time to flip or remove it.

By following this simple mantra, you’ll be able to achieve perfectly cooked and deliciously grilled dishes every time you use the direct grilling method.

10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer

Tip 5: Don’t overcrowd your grill

One common mistake many people make when grilling is overcrowding the grill. It’s important to give your food enough space to cook evenly and avoid any unwanted flare-ups.

When you overcrowd the grill, the food doesn’t have enough room to breathe and the heat can’t circulate properly. This leads to uneven cooking and potential flare-ups from the dripping fats and juices.

To avoid this, make sure to leave at least 30 percent of the grill surface free from food. This way, when flare-ups occur, you have enough space to move the food to a cooler area and prevent it from burning or becoming overly charred.

Not only does giving your food enough space ensure even cooking, but it also allows you to have more control over the heat and prevent any potential mishaps. So remember, don’t overcrowd your grill and give each piece of food enough room to shine.

Tip 6: Turn, don’t stab

When it’s time to flip or move your food on the grill, it’s important to use the right tools and techniques to avoid any mishaps and preserve the flavors and juiciness of the meat.

Instead of using a barbecue fork to stab and turn the meat, opt for a pair of tongs. Barbecue forks can puncture the meat, causing the juices to escape, resulting in a dry and less flavorful final product. Tongs, on the other hand, allow you to safely grip and turn the meat without puncturing it, ensuring that the juices stay locked in and the meat remains moist and tender.

When using tongs to flip or move the food, be gentle and avoid pressing down on it. This can squeeze out the natural juices and cause them to drip into the fire, resulting in flare-ups and potential burnt spots on the meat.

By using tongs and mastering the art of gentle flipping and turning, you’ll be able to maintain the flavors and texture of your food, ensuring a delicious and succulent grilling experience.

10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer

Tip 7: Give it a rest

Once your food is cooked to perfection, it may be tempting to dive right in and serve it immediately. However, giving your grilled dishes a rest before serving is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Resting the meat allows the juices to redistribute and settle back into the fibers, resulting in a more tender and juicy final product. When you cut into meat immediately after grilling, the juices tend to flow out, leaving the meat drier and less flavorful.

For steaks, chops, chicken, and burgers, it’s recommended to let them rest for a minute or two before serving. This short resting period allows the meat to relax and the flavors to meld together, resulting in a more enjoyable eating experience.

During this resting time, you can cover the meat loosely with aluminum foil to keep it warm and further enhance the flavors. So resist the temptation to dig in right away and give your grilled dishes the rest they deserve for the best possible taste.

Tip 8: Experiment and embrace mistakes

One of the joys of grilling is the opportunity to experiment and create unique and delicious dishes. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new flavors, techniques, and ingredients.

While following recipes and guidelines is a great starting point, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or deviate from the instructions. Some of the greatest culinary discoveries have been the result of happy accidents and creative experimentation.

If something doesn’t turn out as expected, don’t view it as a failure, but rather as a learning experience. Embrace the mistakes and use them as an opportunity to discover new flavor combinations, cooking techniques, or even completely new dishes.

Grilling is all about creativity and personal expression, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and let your culinary skills shine. Who knows, your next grilling experiment may just become your signature dish that everyone raves about.

10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer

Tip 9: Stay updated with Workman’s Blue Plate Special

To stay informed and up to date with the latest grilling trends, recipes, and tips, make sure to sign up for Workman’s Blue Plate Special newsletter. This newsletter is packed with valuable information and resources straight from Steven Raichlen, a renowned grilling expert.

By subscribing to the Blue Plate Special, you’ll receive a free Steven Raichlen eCookbook and discounts on three of his eBooks, including the popular “How to Grill.” This is a fantastic opportunity to expand your grilling repertoire and gain access to exclusive content and offers.

The Blue Plate Special newsletter is a must-have resource for any grilling enthusiast looking to take their skills to the next level. So don’t miss out on this valuable source of inspiration and knowledge, and sign up today.

Tip 10: Keep learning with Barbecue University

If you’re truly passionate about grilling and want to take your skills to the highest level, consider enrolling in Barbecue University. This immersive grilling experience, led by Steven Raichlen himself, is the ultimate opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

Barbecue University offers a variety of courses and programs designed to teach you everything you need to know about grilling, from the basic techniques to advanced flavor profiles and marinades. With hands-on instruction and expert guidance, you’ll master the art of grilling and become a true barbecue connoisseur.

In addition to the invaluable knowledge and skills you’ll gain, Barbecue University also provides a unique opportunity to connect with fellow grilling enthusiasts and share your passion for the craft. The camaraderie and sense of community at Barbecue University make it an unforgettable experience that will inspire and motivate you to continue perfecting your grilling skills.

So if you’re ready to take your grilling to the next level and become a true grill master, consider joining Barbecue University and embark on a journey of culinary excellence.


With these 10 essential tips, you’re well on your way to becoming a grilling pro. From ensuring you have enough fuel to understanding the differences between direct and indirect grilling, each tip plays a crucial role in elevating your grilling game.

Remember to experiment and embrace mistakes, as they can often lead to delicious culinary discoveries. Stay updated with Workman’s Blue Plate Special for the latest grilling trends and sign up for Barbecue University to take your skills to new heights.

So fire up your grill, invite your friends and family, and get ready to create countless mouthwatering dishes that will leave everyone asking for seconds. Happy grilling!

10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer


I'm Cooking Master, your culinary guide on Cooking Planet! With a passion for cooking and a deep appreciation for the diverse flavors and techniques scattered across the globe, this website is where I share my knowledge and experiences. From baking delectable treats to grilling mouthwatering dishes, I aim to inspire your cooking endeavors. Join me as we embark on a gastronomic expedition, exploring the realms of roasting, boiling, frying, and more. From Asian delicacies to European classics, African delights to American favorites, let's unlock the secrets of cooking around the world together. Discover the vast and appetizing world of Cooking Planet!