We absolutely love to grill out. It’s our favorite way to cook, and our families get fired up when we fire up the grill for dinner. We like the taste of the fire and being outside. Plus, it’s a relatively simple way to cook. That said, there are tons of simple grilling mistakes that we see our friends making—small mistakes that can make a big difference in the end result—and a lot of the mistakes come from a lack of patience! We thought we’d share a few of the most common grilling mistakes we see, as well as some simple tweaks to your grilling routine to avoid them.
Not letting the grill preheat properly: We know plenty of impatient grillers, and they do one of two things. They either put the food on before the grill is hot enough or they blast their charcoal with lighter fluid. If you don’t let your grill reach the right temperature, you’ll either burn the outside of the food or undercook the inside—and even worse, you could do both. And if you go wild with the lighter fluid, it can actually take even longer for your grill to be ready because it needs to burn off the lighter fluid—otherwise you’re eating burgers and veggies that take on a very chemical taste, and that’s neither healthy or delicious. And if you’re using a Kamado grill, never use lighter fluid—the ceramic body will trap that lighter fluid in there. The only solution to this mistake is having a little patience—and starting the grill 30 minutes or so before you’re wanting to start cooking.
Opening your grill too often: The key to creating spectacular dishes on a grill is consistent heat. Every time you open the lid of your grill to check on your food’s progress, your grill loses heat, and it takes time to reach your desired temperature again. Give it a reasonable amount of time before you open it up to check—after all, a watched pot doesn’t boil and an open grill doesn’t cook. If you’re concerned about the doneness of your food, invest in a grill with an internal meat probe that can check the temperature for you with the grill lid down.
Not using a meat thermometer: We take this one very seriously. Coming from a background in the restaurant industry, we’re super mindful of food safety. Chicken and pork have to reach specific temperatures in order to be safe for consumption. And when it comes to beef, we don’t want it to be under- or over-cooked. We always use a meat thermometer to make sure our dinner is safe and delicious. Again, we love a grill with an internal meat probe—the LIFESMART pellet grill has this feature and it will show the meat’s internal temp on an external display.
Not cleaning your grill: Some people say they don’t clean their grill because it adds more flavor to their food, but we have to disagree. That’s like saying you don’t wash your dirty casserole dishes because last week’s lasagna adds flavor. Baked on food bits and burnt bits of who-knows-what isn’t helping anyone—trust us. If you just hate doing it, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of elbow grease by giving it a quick scrape as soon as you finish grilling. The hot grease and food bits will come right off, and then you’re grill is ready for the next time you decide to fire it up.
Piling everything on the grill at once: We know y’all know this, but not all foods cook for the same amount of time. Zucchini takes considerably less time than a burger, which takes less time than a whole chicken. Be sure you pay attention to the different cook times and stagger when you put them on accordingly. This will ensure that everyone is eating everything all at once. Or if you’re waiting to serve the food until everything is done, your guests won’t have to eat cold brats. Take 5 minutes to make a plan of what time everything needs to go on. These few extra minutes will make mealtime a little extra enjoyable.
Pressing down on meats when cooking: For whatever reason, people seem to think that by pushing down and flattening a burger or steak that they’ll get to eat quicker. And sure, it may cook a little bit faster, but all you’re really accomplishing is that you’re pressing all the juices out of the meat. All that will be left when you’re done is a dry piece of meat, and let’s be honest—no one wants that. The solution to this one is simple—put the spatula down!
Not letting meat rest after cooking: We know it’s hard to wait to start chowing down on those burgers and steaks, especially if you’ve got hungry kids, but if you’ll give it just five to ten minutes, you’ll be so glad you did. The meats will be so much juicier. When you cut fresh-from-the-grill meats, you’ll often see the juices running out onto the plate, and if it’s running out onto the plate, guess where it isn’t. That’s right—it’s not in the meat! All you have to do to prevent this mistake is to have patience—or start cooking a few minutes earlier! Whichever you prefer.
Overcrowding the grill: We know—you’d rather spend your time eating with the family than standing over a hot grill, especially if you’re having a scorcher of a summer; however, by overcrowding the grill, you’re reducing some of the flavor you get from the grill. You’re not giving your food a chance to get that slightly smoky, charred crust that is so delicious. You’ll also have more time to move the food around as necessary.
Plus, think of it as a safety issue. If one piece of chicken catches on fire in a crowded grill, it will spread quickly. Goodbye, cookout. Hello, fire department!
All you have to do here is to cook in batches! Sure, it takes a little extra time, but isn’t a well-grilled meal worth a little extra effort?
If you’re in the market for an awesome grill, we love our grills by LIFESMART. They have one of the very best Kamado grills, and an awesome pellet grill, too, which is perfect for smoking and slow cooking. You can check out their line of LIFESMART grills right here.
Do you have any grilling tips or questions? Share them with us in the comments section below!