Lifestyle

Published June 6, 2023

How To BBQ (Almost) Anything On The Grill: Tips, Tricks & Timing

It's time for a culinary journey!
how to grill different foods

This Barrie 360 content is brought to you by United Lumber Home Hardware

It's time to unleash your inner grill master. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, this guide will equip you with tips, tricks, and precise cooking times to master the art of BBQing (almost) anything.

How To Choose The Perfect Grill

Before you can start grilling like a master, you need the right grill.

We spoke with Rob Snoulten, District Sales Manager for Broil King (and a bbq aficionado) to find out what makes a good grill and what to look for when buying one.

Here's what Rob had to say:

  1. High Heat - You want a BBQ that has the ability to reach high temps for searing and cooking red meats.
  2. Heat Retention - Look for a grill that uses thick, heavy, and high-quality materials inside the cook box. Once this material gets hot, it stays hot and will help maintain more consistent heat for easier grilling. (It will also help reduce fuel use.)
  3. Even Heat - A grill that delivers even heat will always cook better than one that doesn’t. Look for thick, tube burners that have 2 ribbons of flame with even flame from front to back. If possible, find a grill that uses a Dual Tube burner. These are the best type of burners for even heat. 
  4. Flavour - The flavour you get from any grill (Charcoal, pellet, or gas) comes from the meat itself. The fat and juices that drip out of the meat will vaporize and go back up into the meat to give it a better flavour. To maximize flavour, look for a grill that has a lot of coverage under the cooking grids, and not a lot of gaps. Stainless steel is usually the preferred material.

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Grilling Like a Pro: Essential Tips for Mastering the Flame

No matter what you’re grilling, there are some general tips you should always follow to ensure a perfect cook. 

1. Start With A Clean Grate

Before you even think about putting your food on the grill, take a few minutes to clean it thoroughly. A clean grill not only prevents any leftover flavors from altering the taste of your food but also ensures even heat distribution. 

The tools that you use to clean your grill will all depend on preference. If you don't want to use a traditional stainless brush, there are lots of alternatives. This includes a Palmyra Brush, Nylon Brush, or wooden scraper. But it turns out that stainless brushes, may not be as bad as we've been told.

Rob explains, "Stainless brushes are not dangerous. They are actually the best brushes for cleaning a grill. The issue is, people don’t clean their grills well enough, and use brushes for way too long. Stainless brushes wear, just like the alternative ones. So, get a new one when you see it getting worn out."

Replacing your cleaning tools each season is not only safer, it also makes cleaning your girl easier.

Rob also explains that another major issue is not cleaning your grill well enough.

"If a small piece of the stainless-steel bristles comes off, and gets stuck on your grill, it generally means your grill is dirty. Stainless steel doesn’t stick into your metal grids…..it can’t. So what is getting stuck to? Food debris left from previous cooks." Rob continues, "A clean grill and a good quality brush that’s not worn greatly reduces the risk of brush debris."

2. Choose The Right Fuel

The choice of fuel can greatly impact your grilling experience. 

Charcoal briquettes offer a classic smoky flavor, while hardwood lump charcoal provides a more natural and intense taste. Gas grills offer convenience and precise temperature control, making them ideal for beginners or those seeking quick and consistent results. 

Whichever fuel you choose, ensure you have an ample supply before you begin.

3. Preheat, Preheat, Preheat!

One of the most crucial steps in successful grilling is preheating the grill. This process allows the grates to reach the desired temperature, ensuring a sear, locking in juices, and preventing food from sticking. 

For charcoal grills, light the briquettes or lump charcoal and let them burn until they develop a grayish-white ash. 

Gas grills require around 10-15 minutes of preheating on high with the lid closed.

Depending on what you’re cooking, you will need to use different heat levels. Here are some general guidelines: 

  • Low Heat - 250 to 300°F
  • Medium-High Heat - 350 to 400°F
  • High Heat - 400 to 450°F
  • Medium Heat - 300 to 350°F

4. Oil The Grates

To prevent your food from sticking to the grill, oil the grates before placing your ingredients on them. Dip a folded paper towel in oil then, using tongs, rub it over the grates. 

This simple step will make flipping and removing your food much easier, ensuring it retains its appetizing appearance.

5. Master The Art Of Temperature Control

Achieving the perfect temperature is key to grilling success. For direct grilling, where food is cooked directly over the heat source, use high heat (around 400-450°F) to sear steaks, burgers, or vegetables. This is usually the best choice for dishes that will take 20 minutes or less to cook. 

For indirect grilling, where food is placed away from the heat source, use medium heat (around 350°F) for longer cooking times (over 20 minutes). 

6. Invest In A Meat Thermometer

Don't play guessing games with your meat's doneness. A reliable meat thermometer is an invaluable tool for ensuring your food is cooked to perfection, especially when grilling thicker cuts or poultry. 

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from bone or fat. According to the Canadian government, here is a general temperature guide for the desired doneness.

Remember, dishes keep cooking for a short period after being removed from the grill. Most meat will increase by 5 to 10 degrees. 

TIPS FOR TESTING YOUR THERMOMETER

There are many different types of meat thermometers. Some can be calibrated, while others can't. Being able to calibrate your thermometer is important for accuracy but don't fret if you can't calibrate yours.

Rob explains, "If you cannot calibrate your [thermometer], you can always boil some water, and when it reaches boiling point, place the thermometer into the water and see if it reads 212°F. This will give you a more accurate reading and you will know if the thermometer is off.

7. Give It Time To Rest

Resist the urge to dig into your grilled masterpiece immediately. Allow your food to rest for a few minutes after it's off the grill. 

Resting helps the juices redistribute, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful final product.

8. Experiment With Marinades And Rubs

Grilling isn't just about the heat; it's an opportunity to infuse your food with tantalizing flavors. So, go ahead and explore a variety of marinades and rubs to enhance the taste of your grilled creations. 

Citrus-based marinades work wonders with seafood, while a smoky barbecue rub can transform a humble pork chop into a mouthwatering delight.

If you want to baste your food while it cooks, do it at the end of your cook time to avoid burning, especially if it has high sugar content. For foods that take 30 minutes or less to cook, add your baste in the last 5 minutes. For anything that takes longer, add your baste during the last 15 minutes. 

9. Keep An Eye On The Flames

Grilling requires attention and vigilance. While the flames can lend a beautiful char and flavor to your food, they can also quickly turn into a source of unwanted burning. 

Keep an eye on the grill, adjusting the heat as needed and moving food to cooler areas if necessary. 

A little flare-up is normal, but excessive flames can result in burnt food or dangerous fires. .

10. Don't Overdo The Flipping

When it comes to grilling, patience is key. Avoid the temptation to constantly flip your food - most foods only need to be flipped once. 

Allow it to cook on one side, developing a beautiful sear, before flipping it over. This will not only give you those coveted grill marks but also ensure even cooking and prevent the food from falling apart.

11. Keep The Lid Shut 

If you aren’t flipping your food, rotating it, or checking the internal temperature, then keep the grill shut. 

This will help maintain a constant cooking temperature and speed up the cooking process, which prevents food from drying out. Keeping the lid closed also helps reduce flare-ups by reducing the amount of oxygen. 

12. Consider The Shape Of Your Food 

When you are grilling different foods, consider their shape to prevent losing your dinner between the slats. 

For narrow foods like asparagus or hot dogs, place them perpendicular to the grill. Small round foods like mini tomatoes, berries, and Brussell spouts should be skewered or put in a grill basket. (We’ll talk about grill accessories in more detail in just a bit). Wobbly foods like mushroom caps or wedges can be laid on foil. They won’t get grill marks but they will still have that classic BBQ flavour. 

13. Never Add Cold Food To The Grill 

To help your food cook more evenly, you want it to be a room temperature before cooking. For most foods, this means taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. 

14. Get Creative With Accessories

Grilling is not just about the grill itself; it's about the entire experience. 

Invest in some fun grilling accessories that can elevate your outdoor cooking adventures. From grill baskets and skewers for easy grilling of smaller items to a reliable meat thermometer and long-handled tongs, these tools can make your grilling process smoother and more enjoyable. Different marinades and spice rubs are also a great way to elevate your grilling experience.

Grilling is an art form that requires practice, patience, and a sense of adventure. Embrace the process, enjoy the smoky aromas, and take pleasure in the moments spent with loved ones around the grill. And remember, even the occasional mishap can become a memorable story to share.

Now that you have some basic tips to get you started, let’s talk about the best way to grill specific foods and how long to cook them.

15. Maintain Your Grill

A little bit of TLC can go a long way when it comes to extending the life of your grill and optimizing its performance. That's why it's so important to learn how to clean and care for your unit the moment you get it.

A big part of maintaining your grill is making sure it's clean after you use it. That will make prepping it for your next cook easier and help extend its life.

Rob suggests that you leave your grill on at 400°F for 20 minutes after you're done cooking to help burn off any food left over that is on the cooking grids. This will turn most leftover food into ash which can be brushed off fairly easily. If you haven't cleaned your grill in a while, then 400°F for 30 min or longer may be needed to get that debris to burn off.

For more thorough cleaning, wait for the unit to cool and remove the grids, heat medium, and burners. Scrape down the inside of the cook box and then shop vac out the debris.

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Tips For Cooking Commonly Grilled Foods (And How Long To Cook Them) 

Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks for cooking your favourite foods on the BBQ as well as some dishes you never thought of grilling. 

Steaks With The Perfect Sear

Few things compare to the sizzling sound of a perfectly seared steak on the grill. But they can also be intimidating to a lot of people.

Rob from Broil King explains, "Steak is actually simpler than people think, but the biggest mistake they make is not having the grill hot enough." For steaks that are 1.5" or thinner, he recommends grilling them at 500°F and using the "Ten & Two" method.

WHAT IS THE "TEN & TWO" METHOD?

Imagine a clock laying on your grill.

  1. Place your steak so that the end of it is pointing at the 10. Cook your steak for two minutes at the 10 o'clock position.
  2. Flip and cook for 2 minutes, ensuring the same end is still pointing towards the 10 o'clock position.
  3. Flip and rotate the steak so it is in the 2 o'clock position for 2 mins.
  4. Flip for 2 mins, keeping the steak in the 2 o'clock position.

This will give you the perfect medium-rare 1" steak. Adjust the time between flips for thicker or thinner steaks.

To ensure a juicy steak, remember to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it to so the juices to redistribute.

Moist and Flavorful Chicken

Whether it’s a breast, thigh, drum stick, or whole bird, grilled chicken is a BBQ classic that never fails to delight. 

To avoid drying out the meat, use a combination of direct and indirect grilling. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, then sear the chicken on both sides over direct heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move the chicken to indirect heat, close the lid, and cook for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (180°F for whole birds).

Delicate and Delicious Fish

Grilling fish can be intimidating, but with the right technique, you can achieve a tender, flaky delight. 

Opt for firm fish such as salmon, trout, or halibut. If you decide to go for something flakier, then use a fish basket to prevent it from breaking apart while cooking.  

Oil the fish and grate or basket well before cooking. Place the fish on the grill skin-side down on medium-high heat and cook for 4 to 6 minutes. Flip the fish gently and grill for 2 to 4 minutes until the flesh is opaque and easily flakes with a fork. 

Irresistible Burgers

The iconic burger is a staple of any BBQ gathering. For a juicy patty, choose ground beef with a fat content of around 80%. 

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and cook the burgers for approximately 4 to 6 minutes per side. Avoid pressing down on the patties. Pushing down on any food while it is rilling will release all of the delicious juices and dry out your food. 

If you want cheese on your burger, add it during the last minute of cooking for the perfect melt.

Fall Off The Bone Ribs 

Nothing showcases the mastery of a grill enthusiast quite like perfectly cooked ribs. And getting the perfect cook is actually a lot simpler than you may think.

Rob recommends heating your grill to 200 to 225°F and using the upper rack to cook them on indirect heat. From there, you can use the 3-2-1 Method to get the perfect cook.

WHAT IS THE 3-2-1 METHOD FOR RIBS?

Season your ribs with a dry rub of your choice and place them bone-side down over indirect heat. Cook for 3 hours. Next, wrap your ribs and cook for 2 hours. Finally, unwrap your ribs, slather them in sauce, and cook for 1 hour longer.

You'll know the ribs are ready when you can see the meat shrinking and about 1/4" of the bone is showing on the fat side of the rib.

Finish the ribs over direct heat for a caramelized glaze.

Tender Cuts Of Pork 

Pork on the grill offers succulent meat with a smoky aroma. 

For pork chops or tenderloins, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the chops for about 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until they reach the proper internal temperature. 

For pork tenderloins, grill them for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remember to let the pork rest for a few minutes before slicing to ensure juiciness.

Savory And Rich Lamb Chops 

Grilling lamb creates a melt-in-your-mouth experience, perfect for special occasions or a gourmet BBQ feast. 

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. For lamb chops, grill each side for about 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare. Adjust the cooking time based on your preferred doneness. 

For a boneless leg of lamb, sear it on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then move it to indirect heat and cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 145°F (57°C) for medium-rare.

Ballpark-Worthy Hot Dogs 

Hot dogs are a crowd-pleasing BBQ favorite, loved by kids and adults alike. 

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Place the hot dogs directly on the grill grates and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are nicely charred and heated through.

For added flavor, you can lightly toast the hot dog buns on the grill as well.

Vegetables Grilled To Perfection

Grilling isn't solely reserved for meats. Vegetables take on a whole new level of deliciousness when kissed by the flames.

Experiment with grilling lots of different veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and corn on the cob. 

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Thick vegetables like zucchini, peppers, and onions can be placed directly on the grill grates, while smaller or more delicate veggies like asparagus or cherry tomatoes benefit from a grilling basket or skewers. Toss them in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill for 4 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly charred.

If cooking hard vegetables like potatoes or artichokes, par-cook them before grilling. 

Corn on the cob can be cooked with or without the husk. If the husks are left on, soak the cob in water for 15 minutes before cooking to stop the husks from burning. Once soaked, cook the corn for 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat. If removing the husks, brush the cob with oil or butter then grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally for even cooking. 

Grilled Sweet Treats

Yes, you can grill fruit! 

Grilling fruits like pineapples, peaches, or even watermelon brings out their natural sweetness and adds a smoky twist. Brush the fruits lightly with oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side until they develop grill marks. For small fruits, like berries, use a grill basket or skewers. 

Serve your fruit as is or pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delectable summer treat.

Remember, these cooking times are approximate and can vary depending on the thickness of the food and the heat of your grill. It's always a good idea to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the desired doneness.

Become A Grill Master

As Rob puts it, "There are no rules for grilling ... there are many ways to achieve grill greatness. So try out different recipes, use different spices, and try different grilling techniques." Start with some tried and true methods like direct vs indirect grilling, or get creative and give accessories a try.

Whatever you choose to do, these tips, tricks, and cooking times will get you well on your way to becoming a grill master.

"Don’t be afraid, or think 'I can’t do it', everyone starts as a rookie." Rob continues, "Just jump in and try different things and before you know it, you will be the BBQ guru in your family! It’s fun, you get some great and tasty food to enjoy, and most people will give you compliments on how good everything was … and you don’t have to tell them how easy it was."

Happy grilling!

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