There’s no denying that grilling and cookouts are a big part of warm-weather cooking and eating; there are few summertime foods as satisfying as a juicy, charbroiled burger or a perfectly grilled chicken kebab. Even fruits and vegetables taste better with a few grill marks on them! But grilling can be a hassle if you don’t know the basics. And even if you grill often, you may be making some of the most common (and avoidable) grilling mistakes.
It’s also important to acknowledge that grilling can be dangerous. Thousands of grilling-related fires and injuries are reported every year. Fires and injuries are easily avoidable; keep yourself (and your family and friends) safe by following these safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
Keep Your Grill Away From Your House
Make sure you keep your grill on a level surface a safe distance from your home (including your porch or deck) and away from any trees or overhanging branches. As a general rule, you should be five feet or more from anything that could catch fire.
Give Your Grill a Once Over
It’s a good idea to make sure your grill is in good working order before the start of grilling season. If you have a gas grill, check for any leaks and then (regardless of what type of grill you use) give your grill a good, deep cleaning. Bits of char or leftover food that have built up and stuck to the grates can contribute to flare-ups.
Keep Kids and Pets Away From the Grill
It may sound obvious, but children and pets can easily be injured by the grill. Make sure both remain a safe distance away, and be sure you never leave your grill unattended.
Then, once you’re ready to start grilling safely, make sure you know — and avoid — these nine common grilling mistakes.
Mistake: Cooking on a Dirty Grill
A seasoned grill is one thing; a dirty one is a whole different thing. Your grill doesn’t need a deep clean every time you cook on it, but do use a grill brush or a ball of aluminum foil to remove bits of food and char from the grates before or after cooking — every time.
Mistake: Using the Wrong Tools
You don’t need many tools to grill, but do make sure you’re using the right one each time. In general, opt for long-handled tools (to prevent burns) and stick to a pair of tongs and a spatula as much as possible. A long-handled fork can be great for grilled vegetables, but don’t use it for meat; puncturing the meat will cause you to lose some of its juices.
Orginally published on May 20, 2015
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.