For the novice griller, there are plenty of potential pitfalls they will likely come across as they begin to learn how to properly cook on an outdoor grill. The most important thing is to accept the fact that mistakes are going to be made. It’s not the end of the world, even though it could very well be the end of that particular meal.
It’s probably best to start with something other than filet mignon or exceptionally expensive meat if you’ve never grilled before. Even if you have been grilling for many years, you could still be falling into a common grilling mistake that is affecting the final outcome of your creations. Here are 10 of the worst, most terrible grilling mistakes people can make, so try to find a way to avoid making them yourself.
1. Rushing. If you’re in too much of a hurry, you may have a tendency to turn up the heat a bit too much. This will generally dry out whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s a pot roast, chicken wings, nice, thick, juicy steak, or anything else. Keep in mind that grilling on a barbecue requires patience.
2. Peeking in at your food every few minutes. Your nice, tender shell steaks aren’t going anywhere. Yes, you want to make sure they’re not getting burned, but as long as you set the temperature properly, let it cook. Every time you open the lid you’re allowing heat to escape and that changes the entire dynamic of grilling.
3. Making too many adjustments. When you set the temperature, trust it. Next time you grill you can certainly make those adjustments, but if you turn down the heat, then turn it back up, you’re completely altering the way the meat is going to cook.
4. Moving the food around on the grill constantly. You may feel as though the steak is cooking too fast, so you move it to a different burner or portion of the grill, thinking it’s going to slow things down. You’re not going to get an even cook and you may end up with something far rarer than you may prefer.
5. Using lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill. Everyone will agree that a charcoal grill is much better than a gas grill, but if you use lighter fluid to start it, you’re going to get some pretty interesting flavors you might not want. Instead, use a chimney starter for charcoal.
6. Jumping in with both feet first. This means you might be trying to grill that $20 filet mignon for your first grilling attempt. Instead, start out with something simple and far less expensive. That will give you the confidence to make adjustments and become more seasoned for those more delicate meals.
7. Using green wood when grilling naturally. Seasoned wood is always going to give you the best results if that’s the type of fuel you want. If you use a green wood and get it to burn, it will likely ruin the meat, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.
8. Scraping the grill just before you place the meat on it. You may not have cleaned the grill last time you used it and if you wait until it heats up the next time to scrape everything off, you’re not properly preparing your grill or taking care of it. Make sure you clean the grill after each and every use so it’s ready to go next time.
9. Not checking your fuel reservoir. If you have a propane grill and don’t have a second backup tank, and if you run out, all of your food can be ruined. Always have a second propane tank ready to go and make sure you know how much you have left in the current one.
10. Inviting all of your family, friends, and neighbors over for that first grilling adventure. Nothing destroys confidence, or a good steak, than too much pressure. Get used to your grill, even if it is a brand new one and you have years of grilling experience, because every grill is different. Once you are comfortable with it and consistently produce great meals, then you can invite everybody over.
Written by G. T. Hedlund