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Seven Common Grilling Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Yes, I’m talkin’ to you!

Let’s face it...We’ve all been guilty of committing these crimes at least once while grilling. Without further ado, here is a simple guide on the Seven Common Grilling Mistakes, And How To Avoid Them!

1. Poor Tools

When you don’t have the right tools to grill, chances are you won’t be grilling very efficiently. This means any rusted or warped spatulas, tongs, rank old towels, or even a grill brush caked with goo! (Read this article for information on grill brush safety.) Choosing the right tools is the first step to preventing any grilling mistakes. Make sure to pick durable, barbecue standard tools; long handled tongs, chef's spatula, and a strong grill brush are the 3 mandatory accessories for every grill. You want to select a material that will withstand heat and long periods of use, such as stainless steel; not cheap metal. Check up on your tools frequently, to keep track of their well being.

2. Empty Grill Storage

Now, the #1 rule for stocking your empty grill storage: BAKING SODA! Yep, that’s right folks, grease fires can happen at any time. Keep one or two boxes of baking soda by the grill; this way, you won’t have to leave your grill and you will always be prepared to smother the flare ups. To learn more about preventing grease fires, read this article. If your BBQ unit has storage, store your tools in there to keep them dry. Items such as oven mitts and towels are also great to have on hand. Most barbecues also have hooks on the sides of the unit; hang them there to have them close by, but remember to store them inside the cabinet when they're not in use to protect them.

3. Dirty Grill

I think it’s safe to say that not a lot of people clean their grill more than twice a year. Don’t worry, you can clean in little bits here and there. Every time you use the grill, make sure you clean it before and after use. This is just the simple task of scraping the grids, checking the grease tray, and making sure the sear plates are clear enough to work with. If it is a lot worse, simply remove the grids and scrape out any excess ash or grease. It takes no more than 10 minutes; if you do this every time you grill, your prep for storage in the winter and the probability of flare ups is greatly reduced! Not to mention your food will definitely taste better.  You only have to deep clean your grill about three times a year. This means cleaning the stainless steel, and making sure the whole grill is shiny and clean. To see how to clean stainless steel, click here.

4. Forgetting to Prep

Before you put food on the grill, make sure you have everything you need. Make sure all your foods are prepared and ready to go; including vegetables and sauces. The last thing you need is to be rushing to cut everything, while your food goes up in flames! Even if you are great at multitasking, it really is not worth the risk. When your grill is preheating, bring all your supplies to the grill. This way, you won’t have to leave your grill unattended and everything is ready at the same time.

5. Preheating / Preparing the Grill

A common mistake in grilling is to start cooking when the temperature is too low. When you preheat your grill, be sure to wait at least 15 minutes before grilling; use the temperature gauge for the advantage. Depending on what you’re cooking, check to see if you have the burners turned on the correct heat. If you are doing a low and slow cooked meal, preheating the grill to around 200 is safe to start cooking. For everything else, the 300-400 degree range is the best to start placing food on the grill. Believe it or not, when grilling burgers, steaks, or chicken on direct heat, it's best not to close the lid. This causes a build-up of acrid smoke and gives food a tough and ashy flavour. Same goes when using charcoal; make sure that when you light the charcoal, you give it at least 20 minutes to get ready. You can use Charcoal for direct charcoal grilling or slow smoking; want to try a new method with charcoal? Here’s a post on zone grilling.

Lastly, season your cooking grids; nothing is worse than losing half of your meat because it stuck to the grill. You can season your grids by using any fat or oil (except olive), and coat them using a cotton cloth or paper towel. Quickly run this over the grids before placing your food; this will make sure nothing sticks! 

6. Smothering Sauce

We all love a good rub here and there, heck, even a slap of the sauce! But, sauce can burn and taste icky when put on too early, or in a large amount. In order not to overdo it, use a basting brush and only apply a small amount of sauce at a time. You’ll want to do this closer to your food being done to prevent the sugars from burning. This will give you time to reapply a coating to the meat, and get that great texture.

7. Rushing Food to the table

This can be anything from over flipping a burger patty, to cutting open a steak while on the grill. In order to have the best tasting grilled foods, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes after being cooked. For burger patties, it is best to wait 5 minutes before flipping them. If you flip them too much, it can fall apart or become too tough. Another tip: don’t press your burgers! The natural juices in the meat will leak, causing a dry lump of beef. Same thing goes for steak; cook for a few minutes, flip, take it off and then rest. This lets everything come together and settle before taking that big juicy bite of goodness! you might be in a rush to eat, but all the more to enjoy when you sit down for a nice meal cooked right!

Hopefully with these tips, you'll be able to correct some, if not all Seven Grilling Mistakes. Are you a frequent griller? What measures do you take to make sure grilling mistakes don't happen? Comment below and tell us!