Grilling: The Basics

Want to conquer your fear of grilling and become a pro this summer? It's easy once you learn the basics. The culinary sport is seen as a challenge to many; cooking with the open flame and varying temperatures can be intimidating, but we're here to set the record straight. Grilling doesn't have to be overwhelming — you just need to know a few basics to make it an easy and enjoyable outdoor activity. We'll run you through everything you need to know about grilling to get started so you can stop hiding behind your oven and sauté pans this summer.

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Let's start at the beginning — the grill. The first thing people ask about grilling is the difference between charcoal and gas grills. The simplest answer is how the flame is produced, but there are some other things to consider when you're choosing between gas and charcoal.

Convenience: One of the main differences between charcoal and gas is the ease of lighting the grill. You can light a gas grill in just a few second with the turn of a knob, but lighting a charcoal grill takes a little bit more work to get the coals burning.

CostMany times there is a cost associated with convenience — and that's exactly the case with gas and charcoal grills. If you're looking to minimize costs, you'll probably want to stick to a charcoal grill; some cost as little as $20. Gas grills will cost you a bit more, though you can buy some very small portable gas grills for as little as $40, most gas grills range from $200 to $500.

Taste: If you're big on smoky flavor, charcoal is your best bet; it's tough to beat the flavor that an open flame adds to your food. You can also experiment with different types of charcoal for different results, whereas a gas grill will give you the same taste each time you grill.

Once you make a decision about which grill to purchase, it's time to learn a few basics. Here's what you need to know to get grilling this summer.

How to Light Your Grillcleaning the grillcharcoal

If you're using a charcoal grill, start by and removing any ash or dirt. Then, add new charcoal — the amount of charcoal you need depends on the size of your grill and what you'll be cooking. To light the charcoal, arrange the pieces in a circle, piling the most in the center so that it resembles a pyramid; drizzle a small amount of lighter fluid on top of the pyramid; then light the charcoal with a long, lit match. Close the lid of the grill and let the burn until glowing, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Which Grilling Tools You’ll Needthe right accessoriesTools really all depend on preference and technique

Once you've got your grill lit and ready to go, you'll want to make sure you have all of on hand for when you're grilling. , but can also vary based upon the type of food you're grilling. Tongs and spatulas are great for most meat because you want to avoid puncturing the flesh so that you retain the juices of the meat, whereas prongs or forks work best for vegetables and other types of food.

Originally published on August 5, 2012.