9 Grilling Tips for a Delish Summer Cookout, Lady Style

The Girl's Guide to Grilling: 9 Grilling Tips for a Delish Summer Cookout

Grill like a rock star with these super easy, super handy grilling tips.

Men and barbecues go together like Romy and Michele. I’m not sure if it’s because of the whole open flame thing or the ginormous steaks thing or even the kitschy apron thing, but grilling is basically as manly a ritual as the man cave. Since I’m pretty sure we can get our grill on without resorting to buying pink grilling tools, let’s put the social stigma to rest, shall we?

Here are 9 grilling tips to help you master your next summer soiree like the girl boss you are:

1. Prep accordingly

First things first: You want to make sure your food doesn’t stick. Preheat your grill for 15 to 20 minutes—longer if you’re using charcoal. This will burn off any food left over from the last time you grilled. Next, dip a small, rolled-up towel in olive oil and rub it on the grill.

2. Choose your grilling method

The two methods you have to choose from are direct and indirect heat. If the food you’re cooking takes less than 20 minutes to cook, then use direct heat, which means the flames are directly under your food. Foods that take longer to cook, such as bone-in chicken, roasts, and whole chickens, use indirect heat, which means the flames are on either side of your food.

3. Don’t overthink

Learning something new takes trial and error. No matter how many grilling tips you read beforehand, there will always be error as you get to know your grill—but that’s no reason to psych yourself out during the process. Most cuts of meat take about five minutes on either side, though it’s best to flip a little sooner to make sure nothing’s burning. (If the meat is sticking to the grill, that means it’s too early to flip.)

As for your veggies, toss them in a light coating of oil to prevent them from drying out, and keep in mind that how you prep them will dictate how long they’ll take to cook. If you want them to cook quickly, then cut them into smaller pieces and use skewers to keep them on the grill. Cut round veggies like onions or eggplant into thin discs to allow for a crispier outside.

To make sure you know when your food is done, invest in a quality instant-read thermometer, and follow the government’s safe temperature guidelines to avoid icky food-borne illnesses.

4. Soak your skewers

If you’re venturing into kabob territory, soak the wooden sticks overnight to avoid burning them. Also, skewer your food along the sides of the chunks instead of the middle. This will make it easier to cook them evenly.

5. Keep your marinades simple

There’s no rush: You can get all fancy pants with your marinades once you’ve mastered your grill. For the time being, simply pop your ingredients in a bag with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and massage into your foods before grilling.

6. Watch your eyebrows

If you’re cooking meat, don’t forget the fat is flammable. If the flames get out of hand, don’t panic and head for the water. Instead, just close the lid to cut off the oxygen (and remember to breathe).

7. Only flip once

Unless the recipe says so, try flipping your meat only once—and use proper tongs so as to not lose any of the juices.

8. Add barbecue sauce near the end

Barbecue sauce contains sugar, so if you add it too soon you run the risk of burning it. Depending on the meat, slather on the sauce during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking.

9. Let your food rest

Let your food sit for at least five minutes before serving to allow the juices to re-absorb—then sit back and get ready for the rave reviews!

What are your favorite grilling tips?

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Woman grilling image via Shutterstock

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).