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How to Make the Most of Grilling: From Technique to Taste Buds

Grilling tips to get the most out of your meals.

August 21, 2023
Medically-reviewed and fact checked by Ryan Lester, PA-C

While we’ll all soon arrive on fall’s doorstep, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the benefits of cooking outdoors before temperatures cool down.

Last month, the minds over at Outside put together a list of grilling pro tips from a handful of culinary stars. Follow along at home and you'll be sure to enjoy the most of your delicious, nutritious meals.

Bricia Lopez - Mexican-American author and restaurateur, she operates the fabled Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza, while also receiving credit for helping popularize mezcal in the US.

  1. Grill on high heat! Flat, flanken, and skirt steaks call for high heat—roughly 6 minutes per side.
  2. When it comes to marinades, don’t be shy with your salt! I aim for 1 tablespoon of sea salt per pound of meat.
  3. Use mesquite wood pellets or wood chips! Always, always mesquite.
  4. Seasoning your grill with half an onion will clean it [onions are antimicrobial] and add some flavor!

Rodney Scott - James Beard award-winner and whole-hog BBQ pitmaster, you can also find him featured on Chef’s Table.

  1. First and always foremost is food safety. Be mindful of what you’re doing as you handle it, and don’t leave meat out for long. Thermometers and gauges have a purpose.
  2. I like to make sure there’s a lot of space between the house and grill. If there’s no getting-around it, a grill mat helps keep any hot bits off of anything they shouldn’t be on.
  3. Don’t let the pressure of hosting or providing rob you of how fun cooking should be! Get your music going, enjoy being outside, and take it all in. Even if you’re burning it, it’s fun—just add extra sauce.

Leah Cohen - Top Chef veteran and judge for PBS’ Great American Recipe, she’s also chef and co-owner of popular Lower East Side restaurant Pig & Khao and Piggyback by Pig & Khao in Midtown Manhattan.

  1. Oil! Use oils like pure sesame oil or chili crisp oil to make sure the meat doesn’t stick, but also to add bold flavor to grilled dishes!
  2. Add umami! Account for enough time for meat to marinate and use ingredients that add deep, rich flavor -- ideally notes that aren’t barbecue flavors -- like oyster sauce (my preferred brand is Lee Kum Kee) to add umami and a touch of sweetness.
  3. Make sure you’re using the right temperature when grilling different cuts or types of meat. If you go the super high route over low and slow, keep the heat from escaping by closing the lid.

Jordan Mackay - Writer, journalist, and author of the award-winning books Franklin Steak, and Franklin Barbeque.

  1. Dry-cure (and salt!) your proteins a day before cooking (or longer). Now more than ever, I feel bad if I’m ever caught cooking a chicken that hasn’t been brined for at least one day.
  2. Lately, I’ve preferred cooking in a manner that’s more slow and steady, even for steaks. Everyone emphasizes searing steaks in a hot pan, but I personally prefer to start them cold and cook them longer. I think it gives the protein more exposure to the surface you’re cooking it on.
  3. I’ve fallen in love with the method of using a fire’s coals and ashes. It’s really amazing that you can make a side by wrapping it all in aluminum foil and laying it on the coals. They cook in their own water and don’t get smokey so much, it’s just a neat way to cook that doesn’t have you running from the grill top back inside the house and back out again.


Now that you've taken notes from some of the best, fire up the grill and make a name for yourself (even if it's just in your own neighborhood).

What you eat is one of the key factors in your journey towards better a better you. The more you love and care for the fuel that you consume, the more it will love and care for you, too.

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