Go From Novice To Grill King In 5 Easy Steps

Everyone loves a good BBQ

The smell, the smoke, and don't even get me started on how much better the food tastes. Getting the family, your friends or even your neighbors together. Grilling up burgers, hot dogs and meats is my favorite summer activity.

Throwing the best grill fest on the block is an achievement on its own. But basic grilling won't get you that far.

You want to get that smoky flavor without drying out the chicken or burning the steak.

Having the right knowledge of how to cook the food to perfection can give you an edge.

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Grill King

Being a grill king is the highest grilling position you can be in. 

There is no official certificate, although I think there should be. You can always make a personalized apron.

So how do you go from novice to a grilling pro? I have come up with a list of five easy ways and tips to become the best grill guy in town.

1. Have the Right Tools

First of all, you need the right equipment if you want to take your grilling to the next level.

The correct grill and utensils are key elements to cook your best.

There are a range of different kinds of grills: charcoal, pellet, electric and gas. Each one has its pros and cons.

Choosing The Right Grill

Grills Shop

Charcoal is the all-time favorite fuel among grill aficionados. 

It burns very hot, which is perfect for searing. The flames will burn for longer, and it creates an excellent indirect heat which is suitable for slow cooking.

For a real smoky flavor and aroma in your food, a charcoal grill is the best option. Some grilled food lovers would agree that charcoal is the only way to create that authentic taste.

A gas grill creates an even higher heat, which gives the meat a nice color all-round, plus you can adjust it with temperature controls.

If you want a light grill that is easy to operate, a gas grill will be best. You can also hook some types of this grill up to your gas line, so you'll have endless grilling fuel.

It depends on your needs as to which grill is best. If you want a portable grill for example, you’ll need a charcoal or pellet grill, or even a gas grill with a propane tank.

Briquettes Or Lump?

Briquettes Or Lump

A charcoal grill needs something it can burn.

Charcoal is an obvious choice. But if you want long-lasting flames, you should look into the different options available.

Briquettes come in different forms, depending on the grill. There are charcoal briquettes, and then there are ceramic for gas grills. Regular briquettes are usually made of either coal, sawdust or wood chips.

Charcoal lumps create massive heat in a matter of minutes, perfect for searing.

They also leave fewer ashes and light much faster.

Ceramic briquettes are great for gas grills. They burn for a long time and distribute the heat very evenly. The best thing about them is that they can be reused, saving you money.

Regular briquettes are not recommended for a gas grill. They leave a lot of ashes which can damage the grill.

For gas fuel, you can hook the grill up to your home supply or use a propane tank. Gas tends to be cheaper than charcoal, which is handy if you intend grilling a lot.

The Right Utensils

Tongs And Spatulas

Tongs and spatulas are grilling essentials.

They both need to have long handles to keep your hands far away from the fire. Tongs are good for easy steak or chicken flips. Spatulas are suitable for more delicate foods, such as fish.

When choosing a spatula, opt for metal. They are much more durable and look more professional.

If you're using charcoal, it's a good idea to get a charcoal chimney starter. The starter will help you make the best fire, and quick.

You put in rolled up newspapers, or odorless fuel starter, to start the fire. Once burning, leave the charcoal until it becomes greyish on the surface. This means the temperature is perfect for cooking.

Making sure your meat is thoroughly cooked is critical at any grill feast, you can't be king and serve up under- or over-cooked meat.

Having a meat thermometer close at hand can give you an advantage. Easily check the temperature of the meat to make sure it's cooked to absolute perfection.

Do you want to get extra flavor into the meat you're grilling? Get a basting brush. This tool will make it easy for you to brush the meat with any extra sauce, marinade or butter while cooking.

Getting a specialized wooden plank can also take your grills up a notch. These planks are to put on the rack, and you can cook the meat directly on it. It will give an extra smoky flavor, and you can even buy different kinds of wood with specific aromas.

2. Be Prepared

Preparing Grill For Season

First things first, is the grill ready to be used?

Make an inspection before getting started.

Is it clean? 

If there is any black crust on the rack, it needs to be scrubbed.

Any old crust on the grill rack can make the new food stick. And you will end up with a messy grill and even messier food.

Using a special grill brush to scrub off all the crust can do the trick.

You can also make your own natural grill cleaner with water and white vinegar. All you need is a spray bottle, foil, vinegar, and water.

Mix two cups of vinegar with two cups of water in the spray bottle. Close the lid tight and shake vigorously until it’s well-mixed.

Spray the grill all over with the mixture, over and underneath the rack. Let it dry for approximately 10 minutes.

Take a piece of foil and fold it into a square (or as close as you can). Pour some vinegar onto it and scrub the grill. The vinegar will remove any crust you might have struggled with previously.

Another good thing about using vinegar is that it’s a natural product. You don’t have to worry about it transferring to the food. You don’t even need to rinse the grill after cleaning. Simply wipe it down.

3. Be Creative

BBQ Marinade

Once the grill is ready, make sure your food is as well.

Many grill masters have their signature sauce or marinade that makes sure everyone knows who did the grilling. It might sound complicated, but it isn't.

You can start by writing down your favorite marinades or sauces. See what they have in common. Mix and match to find the perfect batch. Test it and try it.

Have another person try it and see what they think. Just don't give them the recipe, they might steal it.

Importance Of Seasoning

Adding The Rub

Seasoning your food is probably one of the most important things when grilling. 

Salt and pepper are a must. But what else can give an extra kick of flavor?

Spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, chili, paprika, and oregano can all help give the meat a little zing.

You can also buy pre-mixed seasonings. They come in a variety of exotic flavor combos to suit all taste buds. But some can be high in salt or sodium, so make sure to check this before buying.

Resting Time Is Vital

Meat In Marinade

A good night's rest is always the best medicine. But I'm not talking about personal care right now. Meat needs to rest as well.

Lots of chemical reactions happen during the cooking process. Grilling a nice steak or a gorgeous piece of chicken, and then cutting it right after cooking is not the right thing to do.

Letting the meat rest after grilling allows the process to decrease slowly. Ever taken a perfectly cooked piece of meat out of the pan and onto the cutting board, only to have a sea of fluid around it? That's all the moisture and flavor leaving.

I recommend covering the meat lightly in foil after cooking. Then let it rest near the grill to slowly cool.

Small pieces of meat should rest no less than three minutes: I recommend letting it sit for five. More significant cuts, such as a roast, should rest for 10 to 20 minutes before cutting.

The Perfect Burger

XXL Burgers

Burgers are grilling all-stars. 

They are always a favorite and a must for a grill fest. So if you want to be the ultimate grilling king, your burgers should reflect this.

The burger patty has to be cooked so that it's slightly pink in the middle. Then it will be at its juiciest.

There are a few tricks to getting the meat just right:

Don't press the burger on the grill - this will only make the moisture escape, and it can make it stick to the grill.

Make a small dent in the center before cooking - the indentation will help the burger cook evenly.

Make sure the meat starts at room temperature - it will further help even cooking.

Buy good quality meat - if you want tasty burgers you have to get the best meat with the right amount of fat.

Moist And Tender Chicken

Moist And Tender Chicken Breasts

Everybody loves a grilled chicken.

It's lean, tasty meat that goes with pretty much anything. But overcooking the bird can leave it somewhat dry and tough.

It’s one of the most common mistakes of novice grillers.

Whether you're grilling your chicken whole or in parts, there are a few tricks you can follow to make sure the results are mouth-watering every time.

Something as simple as oiling the grill before cooking the chicken can prevent the annoyance of having the meat stick to the rack. Ensure the meat is uniform all round as best you can, so it cooks evenly.

It's also best to cook the bird a little off the heat center on the grill. Preferably uncovered. Grill on a medium heat if possible, so the outside doesn’t burn before the inside cooks.

Brines and marinades can add moisture and flavor to chicken, so soak for several hours before cooking. Sauces, on the other hand, should only be added on the last couple of minutes of cooking.

4. Find the Right Technique

Having the right technique can save you time and make your food more evenly cooked.

It's important to know about the different zones on a grill.

There isn't the same amount of heat in every corner of the rack. Knowing where to place what is key to perfect grilling.

The Heat Zones

Meat On Grill

The most heat will be at the center of the grill, which is where the fire has its source. The outer areas are cooler and good for anything that needs slow cooking or indirect heat.

Using this to your advantage can help you cook more items at once.

There's also the technique of setting up two kinds of zone within your grill. One is direct heat, and the other is indirect.

Imagine you split the grill up into two parts. One has the coal with the heat, and the other only gets hot air.

The meat that needs the direct heat will be placed in the appropriate area. While the items that only need indirect heat are set in the other section.

Gas grills are perfect for this type of technique. Most large gas grills have multiple burners. Lighting only half the grill and covering it can create the perfect cooking atmosphere.

5. Keep Food Safety in Mind

Being aware of the different harmful bacteria that roam around grills can save you, and your guests, a lot of discomfort.

Keep Everything Separate

Meat On Grill

Making sure you keep everything separated is key to keeping the uninvited food poisoning away.

Cooked and uncooked food should be kept far away from each other. And once a plate or utensil touches any raw meat, it should be thoroughly cleaned before using near any ready food.

How To Safely Use Marinade

Chicken Meat In Marinade In Fridge

Another critical thing to focus on is how and where you're marinating the meat. It has to be kept in the fridge; you should not leave the meat to marinate in room temperature.

After any meat has been in the marinade, make sure to throw the mixture away. It might seem like a waste, but think about all the bacteria swimming around in the sauce from the raw food.

If you want to add marinade to the food while grilling, it’s simple. You can make an extra batch. Or make a double portion and put some aside before marinating any meat.

Importance Of Clean Hands

Cleaning Hands

As the BBQ king, you're in charge of everything, including who touches the food prior to being cooked.

Making sure everybody who gets their hands on any raw meat washes their hands properly is vital.

Bacteria spreads easily. Even keeping some disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizers nearby can make all the difference.


Becoming a grill king is an achievement.

You have to know how to cook the food to perfection, while taking good care of your guests.

Ensure everyone knows who is cooking by creating your own signature sauce, or make a special burger. One that will be requested at every future get-together.

Making sure every guest has a good time is key to being a true grill king. Create a great atmosphere and make sure your guests aren’t missing anything. Take special care with the food so every bite is tasty, and your visitors will keep coming back for more.

About the Author William Clay

William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.