I have a special treat for you today. I’ve asked my husband, Levon, to share some sweet little nuggets of wisdom in one of his areas of expertise — grilling!
Nothing says summer like a good ol’ grill-out, and we do a lot of it. And when I say “we,” I mean Levon, because I don’t know jack about how to work a grill. It’s not that I couldn’t learn; I just haven’t. He loves to do it … and I love to let him. Haha! (And, frankly, I think he doesn’t quite trust me with his fancy schmancy grill. 😉 )
So when I got the idea to write a post of grilling tips, I knew exactly who to consult. Levon is a bona fide grilling master (for real — he won an Iowa State Fair grilling competition when he was only 15!), and mmmm, mmmm can that man work a grill.
When I asked if he would share some of his tips, he was hesitant. “I don’t know what to tell them,” he said. “What I do isn’t rocket science.”
I told him that sometimes the simplest tips are the most helpful. “And besides,” I told him, “busy moms don’t want complicated! We want simple and we want delicious, and you know how to do both!”
He conceded I had a point and agreed to give us some of his best tips for successful grilling (minus a few that he wasn’t willing to part with because “they’re my secrets,” he said. 😉 )
10 TIPS FOR SUPER GRILLING SUCCESS
- Zesty Italian dressing can be used as a marinade for just about anything. It’s simple and easy, but it infuses meat with a pop of flavor and takes a so-so dish to the next level.
- Don’t overcook your meat!
Cook it until it’s 10-15 degrees below fully-cooked. (If you’re not comfortable telling when it’s done, invest in a quality grilling thermometer.)Pull it off, tent it with aluminum foil, and let it rest. It will continue to cook during that rest time.
Which brings us to …
- Let it rest.
Resist the urge to cut into it right away! Let it rest for at least 10 minutes (up to a half hour for big cuts of meat) to let the juices settle. If you don’t, the juices will run right out, and you’ll end up with dried out meat. (And no one wants that.)
- For steaks and hamburgers, he recommends running your grill as hot as you can to sear it, then cooking it the rest of the way on indirect heat.
- Want the perfect burger?
Get a patty press (they are very handy!), and squeeze it really tight. Alternatively, you can get a perfectly juicy burger by making a ball with the ground meat and pinching your fingers together in the middle of the ball.
- Whatever you do, DON’T SQUISH YOUR BURGERS!
Just don’t do it! This drives Levon crazy when he sees people pressing their burgers with their spatulas. There’s no reason to do it, and it squeezes all the yummy juices out of them.
- For fruits and veggies, a hot, clean, oiled grill is key.
We have a veggie pan that he uses for smaller foods that might slip through the grates, but he mostly puts everything right on the grill.
- Gas or Charcoal??
We have a gas grill because the convenience just can’t be beat. But there’s nothing like that smoky flavor of charcoal grilling.
So for the best of both worlds, Levon recommends getting a charcoal insert or smoker box if you have a gas grill. This is the one he uses — it’s two-in-one.
- Cooking a whole chicken:
The most economical way to buy chicken is whole. But I’ve heard it said that grilling is not a good method for cooking whole chickens. To that, I say, “Nuh-uh!” (Apparently, erroneous chicken myths bring out the middle schooler in me.)
All you need is one of these handy dandy chicken holders. And THE best way to grill a whole chicken is by putting a can of liquid in the center of these holders and sticking the chicken over the top. This is often called “beer can” chicken, but you can also use pretty much any kind of pop or even our preferred method – lemonade!
- How do I get better at grilling?
Levon’s biggest tip for improving your grilling game (which can be applied to all of life, really) is to just start trying things! Get some BBQ cookbooks and dig in. Get out of your hamburgers-and-hot-dogs box, and try new things! I’ve watched my dad become quite the accomplished griller himself (under Levon’s tutelage) by doing this very thing. As with anything in life, you get better through practice and experimentation.
LEVON’S FAVORITE GRILLING COOKBOOKS
LEVON’S FAVORITE GRILLING TOOLS
- Charcoal and smoker tray
- Set of long tongs
- Heavy duty spatula (not the wide kind)
- Grill brush – Get the grill hot and brush before every use
- Veggie pan
- “Beer can chicken” holder (beer not necessary)
- Silicone basting brush
- Patty press
Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. These 10 grilling tips aren’t complicated, but they are effective! And who among us has time for complicated, anyway?? Implement any of these, and watch your grilling game soar!
Thank you for reading, and a very special thank you to my wonderful husband, Levon, for his helpful advice!
Before you go, stop by the comment section to tell us which tip was most helpful to you. We’d love to hear from you!
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