Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: July 25, 2023

Grilling is a fantastic way to cook, but not everyone is a fantastic cook on a grill.

Like any other cooking style, experience will teach you tips, nuances, tricks, and strategies that will make you a better cook on a grill.

We have compiled some grilling tips and tricks to boost your progression in the art!

Quick Summary

  • Grilling requires specific techniques for optimal results, such as cleaning the grill with an onion, seasoning it before cooking, and creating heat zones.
  • Different types of food require different grilling methods, such as cooking chicken on low heat, beef and pork on high heat, and placing lemon slices under fish.
  • Enhance the grilling experience by using two skewers for kebabs, adding sugar to light stubborn coals, and adding green herbs to charcoal for flavored smoke.

1. Clean The Grill With An Onion

Top view of clean grill with onion

Light the fire and give the grill a chance to heat up. Cut a raw onion in half, and coat one half of the onion's cut surface with vegetable oil.

Pierce the onion with a long barbeque fork with the cut side facing down.

Rub the onion over the surface of the grill. The rough surface of the onion combined with the slight acidic juices of the onion will make short work of cleaning the grill with the added benefit of providing imparting flavor to add to the meat.

Use both halves of the onion to clean the grill, and throw them away after use.

2. Season The Grill Before Cooking

Using a brush to season the grill

Ideally, you should season the grill before and after cooking. This will build up the seasoning on the grill over time.

Seasoning the grill essentially adds a non-stick coating to your grill to make stop food from sticking to the grill and making it difficult to turn.

To season the grill before cooking, brush the cooking grill down with a grill brush with stiff wire bristles.

This loosens food particles on the grill. Wipe these food particles off the grill with a paper towel.

Wipe a high smoke point oil such as ghee, or avocado oil, over the grill with a paper towel, ensuring an even coating of oil over the entire grill.

Light the grill and let it heat up to sear the oil on the grill. You can now enjoy a non-stick grilling experience.

Read More: Charcoal Grill Seasoning

3. Let The Flames Die down Before Cooking

Many people new to using charcoal grills make the mistake of putting food on the grill too soon. Give the flames time to die down before placing food on the grill.

After the charcoal is lit, you should not put food on the grill for the first 20 to 30-minutes. This helps to prevent flare-ups and scorching the food.

4. Soak Wood Skewers In Water

If you intend to use wood skewers to grill meat or vegetables, soak the wood skewers in water for 30-munites to an hour before skewering the ingredients.

The moisture will help prevent the wood from burning on the grill and impart moisture to the ingredients. This helps to keep the food moist on the inside.

5. Create Heat Zones In Your Grill

Meat being cooked on charcoal grill

Arrange the charcoal in the grill to be in the center of the grill or slightly off-center to one side.

This will give you different heat zones on the grill. Areas of the grill further away from the coals will not be as hot.

This will give you the ability to slow-cook some food on the outskirts of the coals and sear your steaks in the center directly over the hottest part of the coals.

6. Cook Chicken On A Low Heat

Chicken is best cooked on low heat to ensure it cooks all the way through without burning the outside. Grill chicken slowly on low heat, on the outskirts of the heat, and turn often.

This will give you great-tasting chicken that is juicy inside and crispy outside.

Read More: How to Prevent Chicken From Sticking to the Grill?

7. Don't Splash Water On Grill Flare-Ups

If you are using a charcoal grill, don't splash water on the fire when it flares up. This will create a cloud of ash from the coals, which will cat the food on the grill.

When a flare-up occurs, stay calm and simply move the food out of the area that has flared up and give it a minute to die down.

8. Use Two Skewers On Kebabs

A frustrating problem when grilling food on skewers is the food rotating around the skewer when you turn it on the grill.

This problem goes away if you use 2 skewers through the food. It prevents the food from rotating, and the double skewers give you a better grip when turning the kebab.

9. Cook Beef And Pork On A High Heat On The Grill

Beef and pork need high heat to sear the outside of the meat and keep moisture inside.

Cook these meats over hot parts of the grill, only turning them 2 to 4 times before taking them off the grill.

Rest the meat after taking it off the grill, and it will continue to cook for a few minutes, even though it is no longer on the heat.

10. Use Sugar To Light Stubborn Coals

Lighting charcoal can sometimes be tricky, especially if the charcoal is not igniting easily with your lighting methods.

A dusting of sugar over the coals before you light your fuel will help get the charcoal lit.

The sugar melts on the charcoal when exposed to heat and will burn,  for a few minutes, assisting in lighting the charcoal.

Read More: Lighter Fluid Alternatives

11. Place Lemon Slices Under Fish On The Grill

Lemon slices close up image

A major problem grilling fish directly on the grill is the fish's skin sticking to the grill. When you try to lift the fish off, the fish simply breaks apart.

To avoid this problem, slice several slices of lemon and place them on the grill.

Place the fish on top of the lemon slices. This will do away with the problem of the skin sticking to the grill with the added benefit of adding flavor to the fish.

12. Add Green Herbs To Charcoal For Flavored Smoke

Pick a fresh sprig of rosemary, thyme, or another green herb from your garden. Place the fresh sprig directly on the charcoal. The green herb will produce an aromatic smoke that will add flavor to the meat.

Experiment with a few different herbs in this way to find a mix that you like.


Part of honing your grilling skills is learning from others who have, in turn, picked up a few tweaks and strategies that benefit the process or the quality and flavor of the food.

Always be willing to learn from other people and pick up some grilling tips and tricks wherever you can, and soon you will have enough skills in your repertoire to pass on to other grillers!

Check out this list we made on the best meat cookbooks out there that will surely give a pump to your grilling skills.

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