Tips for the perfect BBQ

Sunshine, kids playing in the sprinklers and the smell of ... burnt chicken that’s now stuck to the grill?

By Adam Nunn on April 30, 2020

There is nothing more nostalgic than a good old fashioned backyard summer BBQ. Every year, millions purchase that new grill or smoker to create these memories. However, many of these BBQ feasts end up only featuring Grandma's potato salad and yesterday's casserole after common BBQ mistakes are made. Those new grills and smokers collect dust, begin to rust, and become a constant reminder of our failures. 

But not this summer. 

This is our summer. The summer where we smoke that whole rack of ribs that get our neighbors knocking on our door. The summer our kids will learn grilled chicken can actually taste better than fast-food nuggets. The summer of memories that will carry us through the subsequent rainy months. 

So how do we avoid those BBQ failures of years past and begin making those delicious memories? BBQ is a simple art and so are its key principles: 

Prepare -- Oil and Water

With any art form, starting with a clean canvas is important. BBQ is no different. You don't want your premium Ribeye tasting like the salmon Uncle Shawn brought over last week. In order to protect the flavors, it's important to ensure the grill is clean before you begin. Cleaning the grill is extremely simple. You want to first fire up your grill and let it warm up for a couple of minutes. Once the grill is warm, you want to wet a grill brush and run it across the grates. This allows you to steam clean the grates and get rid of any residue from previous cooks. Most grill brushes also come with a metallic scrape which you can use to scrape off any of the large charred chunks. 

Additionally, meat sticking to grill grates is one of the quickest ways a BBQ cookout can go south. However, this is completely avoidable. After your grates are clean, lightly oil them with the oil of your choice. This can be done with either a basting brush or a spray bottle. The oil will not only keep the meat moist during the cooking process, it will also keep the skin from sticking to the grate.  

Monitor -- Patience and Precision 

When it comes to classics like hot dogs, there is a lot of room for error. However, beef and chicken require calculated cooking times and measured temperatures. Leave a chicken thigh on too long and it's tough and chewy. Take it off too early and you run the risk of not cooking away the bacteria, leading to food borne illness. Sure, there are "tests" for doneness, but my recommendation is to pick up a meat thermometer and take the guessing out of the equation. The Food Safety and Inspection Service provides target temperature ranges that can be found online.

Additionally, open the grill lid as little as possible. Every time you open the grill, it causes a fluctuation in temperature, leading to uneven cooks. It might be tempting to check every 30 seconds, but make sure you are giving your meat time to cook. 

Maintain -- Post-Grill

The meat is cooked and it's time to eat. It's tempting to take the meat off and leave the grill to deal with during the next session. However, maintenance right after grilling is easy, ensures your next cook tastes fresh, and will also enhance your grill's longevity. Simply run your grill for two extra minutes after you have completed your cook. This enables the grill to burn any pieces that were stuck to the grates and makes prep a breeze next time around. 

With all that in mind, we're ready to grill!


Kids running and playing in the sprinklers. 

The smell of juicy chicken on the grill. 

It doesn't get any better than that.