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The ultimate summer grilling and barbecue basics guide

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Before you cook up your favorite rib recipe, don't forget the basics of grill prep. (iStock)

Do you really know the difference between grilling and barbecuing? Is your grilling repertoire limited to burgers and hot dogs? Have you ever made dessert on the grill? 

We've gathered our best practical grilling tips to help you grill safely and successfully, have explained the basic rules of these cooking techniques, and selected our all-time favorite grilled and barbecued recipes.

Summer cookouts don’t always need to revolve around sausages and beef patties. While we do love the classics, there’s definitely a limit to how many we can eat in these hot, grill-obsessed months. So this year, let’s make every burger that we eat the best ever burger, and let’s make sure that we have enough knowledge and recipes to take us off the typical grilling trajectory. Ranging from smoky barbecued brisket to spicy grilled chicken wings to grilled clams tossed in jalapeño butter, there's to be no end to the variety of meat and fish we can cook to perfection on the grill.

But make sure you don’t forget that vegetables, both as entrées and side dishes, are also best when charred over the grill. From classic corn on the cob to this summer’s tastiest trend of grilled romaine hearts with Caesar dressing, throw all of the season’s finest produce on the grill grates to make them even more delicious and juicy.

And don’t turn off the gas as soon as your main meal is cooked: Some of the best summer desserts are also cooked on the grill. Watermelon becomes a whole new specimen after being charred for a couple of minutes, and grilled stone fruits topped with something crunchy and a scoop of ice cream have to be one of the simplest, but tastiest ways to end every summer party.

Read on to learn how to cook all the food for your summer parties on the grill.

1. Learn how to clean your grill properly.

Before you use your grill, you need to clean it down thoroughly before you start: Make sure you do this every time to avoid the job being harder than it needs to be.

2. Make sure you have the right equipment.

There are certain grilling tools which are totally unnecessary, but some really will make your grilling better, easier, and tastier. Make sure you’re stocked up with a thermometer, long-handled tongs, and a metal spatula before you get started.

3. Consult a grill safety guide.

Grilling may seem like a super fun and tasty summer activity, but it can be dangerous, and painful mistakes can be made. Make sure you read up on how to grill safely before you begin. Always read the manual for individual grill's make and model before firing it up.

Need recipes and inspiration? Check out the Complete Grilling and Barbecuing Guide for Your Summer Parties (Slideshow)