You're Grilling It Wrong: 8 Grilling Taboos and What to Do Instead

Follow these eight essential rules from Food Network Kitchen to guarantee maximum flavor and grilling safety.

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8 Taboos and How-Tos for Better Grilling

Grilling can be a breeze with the right knowledge under your belt. But if you've suffered from unevenly cooked burgers, dried-out chicken, burned ribs or, worse, burned skin, then you may have committed one of these eight grilling taboos. Follow these suggestions from Food Network Kitchen to ensure juicy, flavorful results and — most importantly — safety every time.

Soak Your Wood Chips

Don't just throw wood chips onto the fire. Soak them first, or they won't burn long enough to add smoky flavor to your barbecue. Soak smaller chips for 15 to 30 minutes in water or a flavored liquid (apple juice works well); larger chunks and logs can go in dry.

Skip the Nonstick

Put down the can of nonstick spray! Spraying a hot grill can lead to flare-ups and potentially lost eyebrows. The safest way to oil your grill is with a long set of tongs and a folded paper towel dipped in oil. Let the oil heat until it's smoking — then it's time to cook.

Bring Food to Room Temp

Please don't put cold meat straight from the refrigerator onto the hot grill. This can lead to a charred exterior and raw interior. Pull all of your food out of the refrigerator as the grill is heating up to bring the food up to temperature and help it cook much more evenly.

Get the Sear

Stop touching that steak! The more you move it, the less chance it has to get a perfect brown sear. The meat will tell you when it's ready to be flipped: When it’s ready, it'll release without sticking.

Flip Theory

Don't be afraid to flip your burgers more than once. Burgers, because they're so thin, are one of the grill items that you actually do want to flip frequently, as flipping repeatedly will help them cook more evenly. Just try not to get too theatrical and end up tossing your burgers in the dirt. 

Know When to Baste

Don't over-baste. Slowly, back away from the basting brush. For sweet sauces and long-cooking foods such as ribs, only baste for the last 20 to 30 minutes of grilling. This way the sugar is less likely to burn and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. 

Check for Doneness

Don't let out the juices: Pressing meat to see the juices flow out or cutting it open to check doneness are two easy ways to end up with a dry finished product, and nobody wants that. The best method is to take the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Bye-bye, shoe leather; hello, succulence.

Let It Rest

Don't be impatient: Last, but not least, don't forfeit all of your hard work by hacking into food fresh off the grill. Let meat and poultry rest before cutting in — or risk losing all of that wonderful flavor you've just achieved. Practice a little patience before feasting on all of the grilled goodness.