Grilling Tips

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Hey everyone! This is Zach Troutman, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with Lincoln County Cooperative Extension. With the weather warming up I wanted to put together some tips for grilling.

Some people are scared of the grill and I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t be! Grilling is an awesome way to cook food any time of the year and with spring in full swing and summer being soon to follow, now is the perfect time to learn how to grill or to refresh yourself if you feel a little rusty.

For equipment you’ll want:

  • Tongs
    • Tongs are much better than forks because using a fork can puncture the food allowing juices to escape
  • Probe style thermometer
    • Digital is preferred because you don’t have to worry about calibrating it
  • A thin metal spatula
    • Best tool for flipping – allows you to free food from the grate if it’s stuck
  • A spray bottle with water
    • Use to prevent flame flare ups
  • Metal bristle grill brush
    • Advantage to a metal bristle over a plastic bristle is that you can clean the grill while it’s still hot – really useful between foods.

The great thing about the grill is that you can cook just about anything on it. While it is a great way to cook your meats it does just as good a job for vegetables, fruits, and breads.

When cooking meats you want to light the grill, turn it to high, and then close the lid so it can come up to the right temperature. Using the high setting causes the grates to get VERY hot and this will allow for a good sear on the meat as well as create nice grill marks which makes for a great presentation of the food!

One of the biggest questions you probably have is how long are you supposed to cook that steak or chicken breast? Giving a time is not the best answer to this question, instead using a thermometer to check internal temperature is the recommended method of checking if an item is finished cooking. When using a probe style thermometer make sure to clean the thermometer with soap if you tested the temperature and it was below the minimum safe temp. This will prevent cross contaminating the food. Here is a chart for reference on what the minimum internal cook temperatures for different items are.temperature chart

There are a variety of methods to prepare vegetables and fruit on the grill. The most important thing to consider is how to prepare the fruit and vegetable in a way that will let it sit on the grates without falling through. An example of this would be cutting squash or zucchini into planks instead of round slices. Another effective way to handle vegetables on the grill is to use skewers. If you are going to use wooden skewers make sure to soak them in water for 10-20 minutes to prevent them from burning.

If there are any other questions about grilling please contact me at or (704) 736-8461.