Grilling 101: Tips and How-To's


If you're planning on flipping burgers this Fourth of July, check out Celebrity Chef Ted Reader's tips to make your barbecue experience safe, fun and a little more tasty.

1. Before lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray to the grill grates. The protective spray helps keep food from sticking and cuts down on clean-up time.

2. For charcoal grills, never use gasoline, kerosene or highly volatile fluids as a starter. Use electric starters, solid metal chimneys or starters specifically made for lighting charcoal briquettes or wood chunks.

3. Always have an extra bag of charcoal or a full propane tank in case you run out in the middle of grilling.

4. Feeling the heat: To check if the temperature is ready for grilling, carefully hold your hand, palm side down, four to six inches above the grill grate. If you can keep it there for:

  • 5+ seconds, the heat is low
  • 4 seconds, the heat is medium
  • 3 seconds, the heat is medium-hot
  • 1-2 seconds, the heat is hot and ready

5. Keep your meats refrigerated and cold before grilling to reduce chances of bacteria growth.

6. Keep the lid open when grilling directly over a fire or when cooking with a medium to high heat flame. When you're grilling low and slow, keep the lid closed and use indirect heat.

7. Use the right tools for the job. Invest in a good set of knives, some tongs, a spatula and a meat thermometer.

8. Never leave your grill once you have started to grill your food. Stand by your post and be mindful of children.

9. Never squish, poke or cut into any meats you are grilling. This will cause your meats to dry out and overcook. When cooking hot dogs and sausages, turn the heat down and grill slowly to keep them plump and juicy. Keep them moving on the grill to prevent them from scorching.

10. A clean grill is a hotter, healthier grill. Scrub your grill with a sturdy grill brush after each grilling session to keep bugs, insects, rodents and pesky varmints from seeking any tasty leftover bits from your grill. Here are some tips to help clean every nook and cranny of your barbecue:

  • Start with the burners. It's easier to detach the burners and take them out of the grill for a very thorough cleaning. Pass a venturi brush through the burners to snag out any blockages, then brush the tops of the burners using a brass wire brush. Once the burners are clean, check all of the burner ports to ensure that they are opened. If some are closed with food particles, use a 1/16-inch drill bit to open them. Sear plates and cooking grills should be washed with hot soapy water. 
  • Hot soapy water also works wonders on the cast base and sides of the grill, and it removes grease splatters on the outside of the grill. For porcelain lids, a thorough washing should do the trick, and for stainless steel lids, a stainless steel cleaner will remove any discoloring. Once the cleaner is dry, brush the cast aluminum with a little olive oil to restore luster and prevent oxidation. 
  • Use a spatula to scrape grease from the inside of the base and all the way down towards the drip pan. Remove the drip pan and give it a good washing. Be sure to replace the tin foil grease catcher. 
  • Finally, brush the top side of your cooking grills with a bit of oil to re-season them.