Once you get a good handle on the basics of grilling, you’ll discover how fun cooking outside can be.
Step 1: Light Your Grill Right
For gas grills:
Make sure you’re cooking with gas. If your grill doesn’t have a gas gauge, pour a cup of boiling water down the sides of the propane tank and wait a few seconds. If the tank still feels cool where you poured the water, there’s still propane inside.
Time to ignite! Uncover the grill, set the heat to high and ignite the gas. Check and make sure the gas is lit. If it doesn’t ignite, turn off the gas and keep the lid open for a few minutes before trying again.
Preheat the grill. Turn the burners on high, close the lid, and preheat for 10–15 minutes so the the grill grate is hot enough to sear your food.
Indirect cooking requires at least two burners. But, if your grill only has two burners, turn one of them off. Place a drip pan under the area where you’ll be cooking, and grill over the unlit burners.
For charcoal grills:
Light the coals.
Set up for direct cooking. This set-up is used for foods that generally take less than 25 minutes to cook. Light about 50 briquettes and in about 30 minutes, they’ll be coated with ash. Then spread them in an even layer.
Set up for indirect cooking. This method is used to grill foods that require longer cooking times. Position a drip pan in the center of the fire grate with hot coals spread around or to the sides. Place your food on the grill over the drip pan and cover it to make the grill more oven-like. (Bonus: You don’t need to turn the food!)
Step 2: Set the Grill Temperature.
Once your gas grill is preheated, lower the heat according to the recipe. Gas grills give you that extra control. Charcoal grilling takes a little bit more of feel that you’ll get with practice. Here’s a rule of thumb for the amount of time you should add after preheating your charcoal grill for 30 minutes:
Medium-high heat—wait an additional 5–10 minutes
Medium heat—wait an additional 10–20 minutes
Medium-low heat—wait an additional 15–30 minutes