Grilling Tips

The Daily Meal

The smell of smoking meats, the heat from the grill, it's what summers and good weather are made for. Don't let the good vibes at your next cookout be ruined by charred chicken, a crust of burnt barbecue sauce coating your otherwise tender ribs, or dry, tasteless pulled pork.

We love grilling and smoking meats as much as the next cook, but all that time cooking indoors doesn't necessarily prepare you for cooking on a grill. Sure, it seems simple enough, and we love the easy cleanup after cooking our whole meal al fresco, but there are things experts know that take your backyard cooking from experimental to downright delicious.

To help us achieve Pitmaster-level good food, we asked some experts what they think the most important secrets are to making great food on the grill. Our experts weighed in with tips ranging from how to shop for ingredients to their favorite tools to use to how to prep your meat for success every time.

This year before you fire up the girl, consider reading through these expert tips from America's barbecue champions, chefs, and grilling experts so that your day cooking outside turns out perfectly cooked ribs, steaks, burgers, pork shoulder and more.

Grilling Secrets From America's Barbecue Champions


Admir Alibasic, Executive Chef at Ben & Jack’s Steak House, NYC

Secret: You Can Barbecue More Than Beef
"Grilling and barbecuing isn't just made for chunks of beef ... heck, you can pretty much put anything on a grill. For a refreshing summer appetizer, try grilling oysters on the half shell with a lemon, white wine and garlic sauce added during grilling."


Adam Perry Lang, Chef-Owner of Daisy May’s BBQ USA, NYC

Secret: Having Right Tools "A couple of often overlooked aspects of grilling that are really important to the quality of your overall grilling experience are, A) having a professional, restaurant quality set of tongs and, B) not shopping around for a high-quality charcoal (if you're on a charcoal grill). Having a professional set of tongs is really all you need for great grilling because you won't need many other tools or gadgets. A good, hard wood charcoal is always great to use for grilling; royal oak is a personal favorite."


Andy Husbands, Jack Daniels World BBQ Champion (iQUE team)

Secret: Avoid Flame-Ups
Always lightly oil your food. That "flame up" you see when heavily oiled is simply oil burning and imparts a bitter flavor on your food. This can be a problem with marinades; make sure you pat them dry.
More From The Daily Meal: 9 Things You Should Never Do When Grilling.


BBQ Masters at Maverick Housewares

Secret: Keep It Clean
The barbecue experts at Maverick Housewares, who make quality barbecue accessories, say, "After using a wire brush, always clean your grill with a towel to make sure there are no leftover strands of wire that have come loose from the brush. Those wires can stick to food and become dangerous of ingested."


Chris Lilly, Champion Pitmaster, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, Alabama

Secret: Quality Meat "The two most important elements of great barbecue are a quality cut of meat and proper grilling technique," said Lilly. "For example with steak, you want nice marbling for flavor, but should avoid a piece of beef that appears wet. Technique and seasoning vary based on what you're grilling, but regardless I always use charcoal, you just can't beat the flavor of food over the charcoal grill. With steak I use Kingsford Professional Briquettes; they're designed specifically for high-heat and a consistent burn, perfect for searing a steak."


Evan LeRoy, Award-Winning Pitmaster at Freedmen's, Austin

Secret: Don't Be Shy With the Salt
"When searing or smoking a large piece of meat, don't be afraid to over-season the outside of the meat. Large cuts need a generous coating to help develop a crust and season the meat all the way to the center. Plus, some will naturally fall off during the cooking process."


Francis Derby, Executive Chef at Cannibal, NYC

Secret: Marinating Meat in Yogurt or Buttermilk
Chef Francis Derby, executive chef at The Cannibal in NYC described as "a butcher’s restaurant," says marinating meat in yogurt or buttermilk before grilling helps to tenderize tougher cuts of meat.


John Bracamonte, Pitmaster and Co-Owner of Brazen BBQ, San Diego

Secret: A Great Rub "The key to great barbecue starts with the rub. It's what gives your meat a beautiful, tasty, smoky bark that is the signature of good real barbecue. My secret is coating the meat with a liberal amount of rub an hour before cooking and [leaving] it out so it comes to room temperature. For added flavor, I add a layer of brown sugar during the last hour of cooking and let that caramelize over the top!"


John Currence, Chef–Owner of City Grocery Group, Oxford, Mississippi

Secret: Choose Your Charcoal Wisely As owner of the only whole hog open pit BBQ in Mississippi, Currence is considered an expert on authentic Mississippi barbecue. According to Currence, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is using the wrong charcoal: "Whenever possible use actual whole wood lump charcoal. Briquettes are usually full of trash and chemicals that can impart a bitter flavor to your food." In addition, he says, once you have your charcoal lit, "Be patient and let your charcoal burn down to coals before cooking."


John Rivers, Owner: Founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Florida

Secret: Let It Rest "For best results, allow your grilled meat to sit covered or rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes after removing from the grill. This allows the juices to recollect and settle into the meat and produced a more succulent result. For larger cuts of meat such as brisket or a pork shoulder or butt, wrap the cooked meat in cellophane and place in a cooler with the lid closed for at least an hour and up to three to assure best results. You can tell with when a rib is done by how much the meat pulls back from the ends of the rib bone on both sides of the rib. This happens as the moisture is cooked out of the rib and the meat naturally pulls back or constricts to create a concentration of flavor and moisture. Depending on the type or size of rib, a half to a full inch of exposed bone is your target. If you've kept your meat low and cooked it slow, then you should have a nice dark color on the outside of what will be a moist rib."

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For the complete list of 14 Barbecue And Grilling Secrets From America's Barbecue Champions, go to

More From The Daily Meal:
-- Sauced! Best Regional Barbecue Sauces
-- The Rib Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Perfect Barbecued Ribs
-- How To Grill The Perfect Steak
-- Grilling & Barbecue Guide