Anyone can become a grill master once they learn the basics of grilling. We'll show you the ins-and-outs of grilling, including how to use a grill and how to cook a variety of foods on the grill.
Grilling Glossary: 5 Basic Grilling Terms
We all know that grilling means delicious food with that nice smoky, charred flavor, but it may seem a little intimidating or even a lot of work to grill. Don’t worry; we’ll show you just how easy it is to grill a weeknight meal, but first, a quick lesson on this cooking method.
Grilling can be done over a gas grill, charcoal, or wood, and whichever you choose, remember these 5 grilling terms to help you understand the cooking formula of grilling:
1. Two-zoned grilling
When grilling, you typically want to set up your grill to have two zones of heat – one higher and one lower. Ingredients typically move from higher zones of heat to lower zones of heat during the grilling process.
2. Direct heat
If instructions tell you to grill over direct heat, that means you want to grill something right over the flames (the hot part of your two-zone set-up). Ingredients that will cook quickly can be grilled on direct heat with the lid closed. This includes steak, burgers, shrimp kebabs, and fish.
Grilling foods over direct heat will give them a beautiful sear, and they’ll cook fast enough so that sear doesn’t turn into “a burn” when cooked over direct heat. For ingredients that take longer to cook, start them over direct heat to give them some nice grill marks before moving to indirect heat.
3. Indirect heat
Grilling something over indirect heat basically means that you’re turning your grill into an oven. The ingredient gets placed on the part of the grill where the heat is off. With the grill cover closed, the ingredients get cooked indirectly from the heat generated by the heated area. This prevents burning of items that take longer to cook, like bone-in BBQ chicken or brisket.
If too much fat drips into your flames, you might get a flare-up, which is exactly what it sounds like – when a flame flares up. Flare-ups are a normal part of grilling, which is why long-reach tongs are helpful to prevent these flare-ups from hurting you. However, if a flare-up doesn’t die down quickly, just move your ingredient to a lower-heat zone (another reason why you’ve set up two zones of heat!).
5. Baste / basting
Basting simply means brushing a sauce or other flavorful liquid onto your grilled items. A little basting towards the end of cooking is good, but there’s no need to go overboard – a lot of it will just burn off if you’re cooking an item for a long time. The more critical steps to flavorful grilling is having your meat seasoned and tenderized beforehand, and making sure you have a sauce to serve with your grilled goods afterwards. That will give you a lot more mileage flavor-wise!
Basic Grilling Guide
Learn all you need to know about grilling with this Basic Grilling Guide.
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Meet the Gas Grill
Although there are a lot more vocabulary when it comes to grilling, you’ll be set to becoming a grill master if you have these 5 terms down. Of course, it’ll make more sense to see it all in action, so check out our video on how to use a gas grill. Although this is a ladies’ guide to using a grill, anyone who is new to grilling can benefit from our tutorial. Once you have this knowledge set up, you’ll be ready to grill any time you want!
How to Use a Gas Grill
Learn how to use a gas grill in this grilling guide.
Tips for Perfectly Grilled Meats
Now that you know all about direct heat cooking, let’s put your grilling knowledge to practice by grilling some proteins on direct heat. High heat grilling is the method you want to use for all those proteins that are better at a rare or medium-rare or that just cook pretty quickly. Since the meat isn’t supposed to be fully cooked, you just need some hot temps to caramelize the outside of the meat, which adds both color and flavor, and to create some of those gorgeous grill marks.
Before you start grilling, here are some tips that will guarantee perfectly grilled meats every time:
1. Season with salt and pepper
This is the most important tip, because you want to make sure your proteins get good flavor. If you season the night before, the protein will have plenty of time to soak in all the flavor.
2. Cold meat will not cook evenly
Take the proteins out of the fridge at least half an hour or an hour before cooking. The time really depends on how thick the cut of meat is. The reason for taking meat out of the fridge before tossing on the hot grill is that the meat won’t cook evenly – the outside of the meat will get all charred, and the inside would still be cold. Taking the meat out of the fridge and letting it come to room temp will allow the meat to cook a lot more evenly, and you’ll be able to enjoy tender, juicy grilled meats.
3. get the grill screamin’ hot!
Heat grill to 500F / 260C degrees. We’re cooking on high-heat, so we want the grill to get screamin’ hot! Make sure the grates have been cleaned and oiled before you start grilling.
4. Salt again
It might seem a little scary to add even more salt, but trust us on this. As your grill is heating up, you want to salt the meat again, but this time, the purpose of this second salting is to create a good crust when the meat is grilled.
5. Don’t fuss with it
Once your proteins hit the grill, seasoned side down, don’t fuss with them. Let the meats caramelize (they won’t get that good sear if they get moved around too frequently) for about 3 to 4 minutes, then season again and flip and cook the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Let it rest
Once the meat finishes cooking, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let the juices settle in. Cover with a piece of foil as it rests, and then you’ll be ready to slice into it and enjoy!
How to Grill Proteins on High Heat
Learn how to grill proteins (like steak!) at high heat with our cooking video.
Now that you’ve learned our best trips for perfect grilling, give a few of our favorite recipes a try.