We asked our Hy-Vee Chefs and grill masters for their best grilling tips and tricks. Here's what they had to say.
Turning on the Grill
How to safely turn on your grill: For a gas grill, keep the lid raised and then turn on the gas from the propane tank. Next, turn on the gas burners on the grill. Press the auto light or ignition button and it should light. For a charcoal grill, arrange coals into a mound. Add lighter fluid to the pile of coals and light immediately. When the coals are covered in gray ash, they are ready.
When to Use Direct or Indirect Heat
Use direct cooking for steaks, chops, chicken, seafood and vegetables. Essentially, you want to use direct heat for anything that takes less than 25 minutes. If it takes longer, use indirect. (Indirect cooking is placing the meats or vegetables to the side of the flame.)
Oil the Grill
On a cool grill, you can use non-stick cooking spray to grease the grates. For a warm grill, use tongs to dip a folded paper towel in cooking oil, then brush over the grill grates.
Room Temperature Steaks
Let steaks come to room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking. This helps them cook evenly.
Pat Meat & Seafood Dry
Patting steaks dry removes moisture and allows them to get a good sear (yes, even if they've been marinating). If there's too much moisture on the surface, the steaks will steam instead of sear. This trick also applies to poultry and seafood.
When to Turn Steaks
Try to turn steaks only 2 to 3 times. Don't force pulling them off the grill too soon; the meat will easily release when the steak is well seared.
Shape a Better Burger
Press a thumb print into the center of the patty. When the burger cooks, it will puff up to the right level, without creating a domes shape.
Use Tongs to Turn Brats
Use tongs to turn your brats on the grill. When you use a fork, you risk piercing the casing and allowing juices to leak out.
Water Pan for Smoking
If you are using a standard charcoal grill, you will need a water pan. However, if you are using a gas grill to smoke, you don't need a water pan.
How to Grill Pizza
When grilling pizza, grill the dough on both sides first, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Top with your favorite toppings and cook over indirect heat to bake your pizza.
Boneless Vs. Bone-In Chicken
Grill boneless chicken quickly over direct heat. Bone-in chicken, however, is better when it’s cooked over indirect heat—which prevents it from burning.
Temperature Control for Ribs
When grilling ribs, keep a consistent temperature. Peaks and valleys in temperatures will cause meat to tighten up and be tough. When smoking ribs, after 1 hour, open vents to bring temp to 225 degrees to 250 degrees. Cook for 4 to 6 hours, holding meat at an internal temp of 165 degrees to 170 degrees.
The Spray Bottle
Instead of using a basting brush, use a food grade spray bottle to spray wine, cider, fruit juice, soy sauce, or other flavorings on grilled food. You can also use a spray bottle filled with water to put out any flare-ups on the grill.
What Temperatures are Rare, Medium, and Well?
The following is based on 1-inch steaks:
Grill for 6 minutes, then flip for additional 3 to 4 minutes.
Medium-Rare—130 to 135 degrees
Grill for 6 minutes, then flip for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
Medium—140 to 145 degrees
Grill for 7 minutes, then flip for an additional 5 to 6 minutes.
Medium-Well—150 to 155 degrees
Grill for 8 minutes, then flip for additional 6 to 7 minutes.
Well Done—160 degrees
Grill for 9 minutes, then flip for an additional 7 to 8 minutes.
Let It Rest
Let your meat rest for about 10 minutes after cooking. This will allow all those yummy juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making for a more tender and flavorful meal.
Freeze Soaked Skewers for Later
Presoak skewers in fresh water for 30 minutes. Use what you need and place the rest in a freezer bag. Next you grill with skewers, just pull what you need out of the freezer and they're ready to go.
Grilling Veggies Three Ways
When grilling veggies—especially smaller ones—use skewers, a grill pan, or wrap them in foil. These methods will prevent vegetables from falling through the grates.
Enhance the Flavor of Fruit
When grilling peaches and other stone fruits, adding black pepper and vanilla enhances the natural flavor. Just make sure the grill is clean before grilling fruit.