There are three key ways to set up your grill to better handle any recipe, whether you’re a new griller or a lifelong backyard pro.
1. Direct Grilling
This is the most common practice for grilling. Food is placed directly over the coals in a charcoal grill, or over the ignited burner in a gas grill, quickly searing the outside of the food.
Direct Grilling Recipes
Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings
Try these wings for a different take on the classic Buffalo wing. Grilled chicken wings are a great backyard treat for the whole family. Cooking them directly over the fire gets the skin crispy without having to deep-fry them.
Crazy Vegetable Kebabs
Grilled vegetables are a perfect summer treat. Vegetable kebabs are a grilling staple for good reason. Grilled vegetables are naturally sweet and full of crunch and color. Plus, there’s a whole variety of delicious, fresh produce in season during the summertime.
Grilled Whole Fish
This recipe is so simple and delicious! Grilling whole fish is a quick and easy way to get crispy skin on the outside and a flaky interior. A locking grill basket is a great way to make sure the fish stays intact and comes out perfect every time.
2. Indirect Grilling
For indirect grilling, only half of the grill is ignited or heated directly, meaning there is always a cooler side of the grill, without a heat source directly beneath it. To grill using this method, place the food above the cooler zone, allowing it to cook at a lower temperature, and still obtain that “grilled” taste. For more advanced grillers, set up your grill with a hot zone, medium zone, and cool zone. Both gas and charcoal grills can be easily set up for three heat zones.
Indirect Grilling Ideas
Grilled Turkey and Chicken
Roasting a turkey or chicken doesn’t have to take up the entire oven! Try grilling them instead. You’ll need multiple pairs of tongs, ovenproof gloves, a basting brush, and a probe thermometer to cook these birds to perfection.
Whether you use a dry rub or wet mop to baste your ribs, slow-roasting them means they’ll be juicy and tender. Get a few rib racks to maximize your grill space, and, if you’re planning on elevating your rib cooking, also buy some tongs, a mop brush, a spray bottle, a smoker box, and wood chips.
3. Direct/Indirect Combination
Sear foods directly over the heat source, before transitioning to indirect grilling, allowing larger pieces to cook all the way through, without burning on the outside.
Direct/Indirect Combination Ideas
For grilled pizza, buy a ball of dough from your local Italian restaurant, or make your own from scratch. Stretch the dough until it’s thin, baste it with oil, and then carefully transfer it to the grill’s hot zone. Toast the crust for a few minutes, until crisp and golden, then flip it over to cook the other side.
Once the dough is lightly charred, transfer it to the grill’s cool zone, top with your favorite toppings, close the lid, and cook indirectly for a few minutes.
Grilled Sweet Potato
To grill a sweet potato, cut the potato into quarters, brush it with oil, season with salt and pepper, and then place it straight on the grill’s hot zone. Turn it occasionally to make sure that it chars evenly. Once charred, transfer it to the cool zone to let the potato cook through. Baste it with a little cinnamon and honey for a sweet and savory side dish.
Chef Spears lists steaks as his go-to grilled dish. He uses a direct/indirect grilling combination to cook it to perfection. “I always have a grill set for two kinds of heat. I have a zone set for high heat, alongside a medium heat spot. I love to sear steaks on the hot zone, then move them to the medium zone to finish cooking,” he says.
You Can Grill That? More Ideas for What to Grill
Looking for something outside the box? Here are a few non-traditional foods to grill that are just as tasty as burgers and dogs:
Pro Tip: Chef Spears encourages creativity when it comes to grilling. “We’ve used a grill for everything! I love to grill fruits for dessert, such as pineapples and bananas. You can even use a flat plate and cook bread on the grill,” he says.
Pro Tip: Always add the sauce at the end. Sugary sauces can burn if applied too soon. Apply sauces to your foods during the last two to five minutes of cooking.
The more you use your grill, the better you’ll be at grilling. Chef Spears says: “Great grillers use their grills as much as possible… growing more confident each time. Get out and use that grill, and use it often!”