Grilling season is upon us and, with it, comes the common mistakes that we've all made. What we probably didn't realize is that these same mistakes were likely responsible for snatching pitmaster victory away at the last second. Can you believe that your BBQ game could actually be better with a few simple changes?

Related: Experts Predict The Summer Grilling Trends Of 2021 (And They're All Creative)

With it being the first time in more than a year for most of us that summer will be full of at-home, in-park, lakeside, and camping BBQs, it's best to go over the basics now. The art of barbecue isn't necessarily an exact science but just like anything that involves cooking, there's a means and a method to the madness. It could be something as simple as a dirty grill that's throwing off your game, or something as complex as determining veggie thickness and lean-to-fat ratios. And here's the kicker: searing meat isn't always a good thing, and that's not the only contradictory BBQ tip we've learned from the pros. Ready to slay your grill game? Here are the biggest mistakes you're making over an open flame.


Examine Your Grates

If your grill grates are dirty then the food you're cooking will reflect it. It's a myth that charcoal-crusted grill grates add 'flavor,'; a grill is not a coffee pot. With that being said, it's not only the top of the grates that need to be cleaned - the undersides and sides of the grates should also get a good scrub. Grilling is a labor of love and it does take some effort to grill up a delicious meal, and that all starts with a clean grate.

Don't Take Chances With Temperatures

Turning the method of figuring out when a cut of meat is thoroughly cooked into a guessing game isn't the best way to go about grilling. Thermometers are very affordable nowadays and they're also super easy to find, so there's no reason why the internal temperature of a steak should be guessed at. This is just as important to prevent overcooking as it is to prevent undercooking since no one desires either one.

Patience (After Lighting) Is A Virtue

In the same manner that one would preheat an oven, the grill works in very much the same way. When a flame is lapping at the grates is the perfect time to sit back and allow everything to reach an even temperature, especially when using charcoal. It's important when using a propane grill, as well, because food has a tendency to stick to cold and lukewarm grill grates. The hotter the grates, the easier it will be to get the food off later on.

Consider Each Grill Item Separately

Even though grilling might seem easy because it's such a simple manner of cooking something, that doesn't mean each protein or vegetable should be treated like another. A steak is going to cook differently than shrimp or prawns, and an onion will cook up quicker than asparagus. Consider each thing you put on the grill individually and determine its cooking time and temperature, rather than applying the 'one size fits all' rule.

Pork Chops And Fish Filets Need TLC

Pork chops are unique in the sense that they usually have an outer layer of fat around the skirt of the cut. This encourages them to flip up at the sides which can be frustrating when you're trying to cook the meat evenly; to avoid this, make slits along the exterior of the chop every two inches or so. When it comes to grilling fish, there's one standby that will always prevent it from cooking: don't put it directly on the grates. Use something such as a cedar plank or lay them on slices of citrus, which can be laid directly on the grates.

Ditch The Lighter Fluid And Stop Quick-Searing Meat

Lighter fluid can be great in a pinch and is a surefire way to start a fire. However, it's also a surefire way to ensure that food tastes like a gas station pump. The best way around using lighter fluid is to use a chimney starter, which will also heat coals evenly. In regard to quick-searing meat, this is not always the best course of action and, contrary to popular belief, it does not 'seal in' juices. All it does is cook the exterior very quickly while the interior is still likely underdone. The best way to ensure a juicy cut of meat is to allow it to rest for at least five minutes after cooking to allow juices to re-incorporate.

Proper Propane Storage Can Save You Money

Pro tip: do not store propane in the yard directly on the grass. Wherever there's direct moisture, there will be rust which can lead to leaks, which leads to a massive waste of money spent on propane. Not to mention, it's a safety hazard. Additional safety hazards include storing propane in a garage or shed, or putting a tarp over the tank. Instead, store it on a covered porch or under an awning, and set them on raised bricks or concrete to prevent them from touching the ground.

Next: BBQ Season Is Coming (Finally), But Do You Have These Essential Grill Tools?