Grilling Tips - BBQ Recipes
Charcoal Grill Tips - BBQ Tips
Searching for some charcoal grill tips? My family members and I are full of BBQ tips. Since we’re all natives of the Deep South, grilling and smoking are in our blood, so to speak. Of course, we often disagree among ourselves as to the best way to grill or smoke a certain food, and we disagree a lot about the best BBQ recipes, BBQ sauces, and BBQ rubs. When we get together and cook outdoors, it’s usually an undeclared contest to see who does the best job at grilling. On the basic essentials of grilling, however, we usually see eye-to-eye. We’ve also come to somewhat of a truce, agreeing that hubby does the best with smoking pork butts, hams, and turkeys; one son-in-law is the best with grilled steaks and burgers; another son-in-law makes the best grilled pork chops and BBQ chicken; my youngest daughter makes the best shish-kabobs; my middle daughter is best at grilling fish; and I get the award for grilled vegetables, BBQ pork ribs, BBQ rubs, marinades, and grilled shrimp. That makes me the overall winner, right? The BBQ tips and charcoal grill tips offered here are an accumulation of family ideas, experiments, and experiences. I also got a few charcoal grill tips from an old timer who shall remain nameless.
Weber Grills – Weber BBQ Grill
I’ll bet you have a BBQ grill. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article about BBQ tips. We love outdoor grilling and have been through several grills. Our favorites are Weber grills. Weber grills are made to last, especially if you take reasonable care with them. We keep ours under an outdoor shelter and keep it covered with a special grill cover, and it’s given us great service for years.
Why do we prefer Weber grills? For one thing, Weber grills have been around since 1952 and were the first kettle grills. Weber is always tweaking and improving their models to make even better grills. A Weber BBQ is made from premium steel, formed into shape by an 800-ton press. The lid and kettle are made to create a perfect fit, which is an important part of successful grilling. As the Weber grills are being constructed, they’re checked for quality after each step.
Once the grills have been cleaned, they’re spray painted with porcelain enamel at 1700 degrees. The enamel coating is tough, durable, and protective. That’s one reason Weber grills maintain their good looks and usefulness for so long. Also, when you purchase a Weber BBQ, you’ll find that it’s quick and easy to put together because there aren’t many parts.
Something else that we like about Weber grills is that their design makes it easy to clean out old ashes. Also, the grills are widely available, and it’s easy to get replacement parts. You can also get some accessories and additions for your Weber BBQ. For example, you might want a searing grate – a heavy cast iron grate with a diagonal pattern that creates perfect grilling marks on the meat. You might also like to add a wok attachment or a griddle to your Weber BBQ. You can find BBQ recipes and charcoal grill tips on the Weber Grills website.
Grilled vegetables are great for outdoor cooking, and they’re the perfect side dish for most BBQ recipes. Practically any veggie can be cooked successfully on the grill. Our favorite grilled vegetables are onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Don’t stop there, though. Even though the ones I mentioned are probably the most popular grilled vegetables in the U.S., they certainly aren’t the only veggies that be cooked to perfection on Weber BBQ. At times, we’ve grilled whole green beans, asparagus, broccoli, and snow peas, and they were all wonderful. Oftentimes, we like to grill a medley of fresh veggies.
Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes can be threaded onto skewers, but we like to cut larger tomatoes in half and grill them that way. Onions can be peeled and left whole. We like to remove the core and fill it with butter, herbs, and spices. We then wrap the onions in foil and cook them on the edge of the grill, away from the main heat. We usually cut squash, eggplant, and zucchini into ½-inch planks, brush them with oil or butter, sprinkle them with garlic salt and pepper, and cook them directly on the grate of our BBQ grill. Of course, veggies can also be sliced and placed in foil packets for grilling.
Vegetable Grill Basket
Do you have a vegetable grill basket? If you enjoy grilled vegetables, a vegetable grill basket sure can make outdoor cooking a lot easier. These baskets are especially handy for grilling green beans, asparagus, and snow peas. Since these veggies are small, it’s easy for them to fall through the grilling grate, and it’s also time-consuming to turn each piece over individually. That’s why a vegetable grilling basket is so handy. You can place the veggies in the basket in a single layer, and turn them all at once, without any casualties. The vegetables will cook evenly and all get done at the same time. You can also use the basket for grilling fish, shrimp, and scallops, so it can pull double or even triple duty.
Vegetable Grill Basket
Grilled Vegetables Recipe
If you have a grilled vegetables recipe that you love, you might want to skip this section, if not, I’ll share one with you that I make often. This grilled vegetables recipe is a little different than the ones you’re probably accustomed to. I cook the veggies in my old black iron skillet, on our Weber BBQ. Give it a try next time you’re trying to come up with a grilled vegetables recipe.
What you’ll need:
10 frozen broccoli florets, thawed and dried
5 small summer squash, halved lengthwise
2 zucchinis, sliced crosswise
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into thin slices
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic salt with parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Grated parmesan cheese
Directions: Place broccoli florets, summer squash, zucchini, and onion in a large bowl. Add oil and toss well. Transfer ingredients to a large iron skillet and sprinkle with garlic salt, black pepper, and rosemary. Cook over medium coals on a closed grill for 30-40 minutes. While still hot, sprinkle veggies with parmesan.
Grilled corn goes with just about any flesh you can imagine. We enjoy grilled corn with BBQ chicken, pork chops, pork ribs, steaks, shrimp, fish, venison, crabs, oysters, and scallops. One of the best things about cooking corn on the grill is that you can directly season each ear just the way you want. If you like your corn hot and spicy, but others don’t, each ear can be seasoned individually to make everyone happy.
For grilled corn, we use fresh ears. After shucking the corn and removing the silks, we place each ear on a thick sheet of foil. We add butter, salt, and other seasonings. These might include cayenne, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, lime juice, and/or fresh herbs. After the ears have been seasoned, we wrap the foil tightly around each ear. Grill the corn over medium coals for 18-20 minutes, turning often.
How to Make Sweet Potatoes
I guess because I’m a southerner, people are often asking me how to make sweet potatoes. I cook sweet potatoes all sorts of ways! If you want to know how to make sweet potatoes on the grill, listen up. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut each one lengthwise into four long wedge shapes. Toss the potato wedges with cooking oil. Place the potatoes on a medium grill and cook for twenty minutes, until sweet potatoes reach desired softness. As they cook, turn the wedges frequently. Sprinkle cooked sweet potatoes with salt and cinnamon sugar.
If you want to make sweet potatoes cooked on the grill even better, drizzle them with a tasty sauce. Use melted butter and brown sugar, along with your favorite wet or dry seasoning ingredients. Try orange juice, pineapple juice, rum, bourbon, ginger, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
I have tons of BBQ recipes! I’ve included some of my BBQ recipes here in this article, and I have more on Hubpages. I also have lots of BBQ recipes on my website, Best American Food. Just click the link to see them.
Your recipes should be unique, specifically created with the taste preferences of you and your family in mind. Sure, it’s fine to follow someone else’s recipe, but it’s very difficult for me to do that. It’s not that I think I’m a better cook than the recipe creator – it’s that I know what we like more than a stranger knows. I seldom use recipes, but when I do, I always tweak them in some way. I might add a little more of this or a little more of that, or I might completely leave out a listed ingredient or add one that wasn’t mentioned.
Think outside the traditional box with your BBQ recipes, too. You might create a masterpiece! In my own humble opinion, my candy apple baby back ribs are a real winner. If I hadn’t taken the chance on doing some kitchen experimentation, I would never have come up with the recipe. In fact, when I told my family and friends my ideas for the ribs, they were pretty skeptical. You see, one of the ingredients for my special BBQ pork ribs is apple butter. It might sound strange, but these ribs are truly scrumptious! Be a little adventurous with your BBQ recipes. Of course, you’ll probably want to use your family as guinea pigs first, before trying out the untested BBQ recipes on guests.
Marinades are a must with some meats and just a big plus with others. Marinades serve more than one purpose. They tenderize, the add flavor, and they add moisture. A good marinade is usually a combination of a high-acid liquid, some type of oil, and herbs and/or spices. Some people also like to use chopped fruits or veggies in their marinades.
For liquids, you might want to use vinegar, lemon juice, pineapple juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, beer, wine, bourbon, orange juice, hot sauce, cola, or lime juice. In some cases, you’ll want to combine two or more of these liquids. For example, you probably would want to marinate anything in straight bourbon, but a little bourbon added to an orange juice marinade would be yummy. The same goes for hot sauce.
For the oil, I like to use olive oil or corn oil. The amount of oil I use in my marinades depends on the type of meat I’m marinating. I don’t use much oil for fatty pieces of meat. My general rule of thumb is one part oil to four parts acidic liquid. Some cooks use more oil, but this ratio has served me well over the years.
As for seasonings to use in marinades, there are no real rules. Use flavorings that you like the best. These might be black peppercorns, mustard seed, ginger, ground black pepper, garlic, onion, thyme, parsley, white pepper, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, paprika, allspice, chives, oregano, or basil. For tough cuts of meat, you might also want to add commercial meat tenderizer. I don’t usually add salt to my marinades because if it penetrates the flesh, it can make it tough.
Beef Steak Marinade
We almost always use a beef steak marinade when we grill steaks – ribeyes, strips, porterhouse, T-bones, and sirloin. A good beef steak marinade helps to tenderize the meat and keep it juicy as it sizzles on the grill. Marinades can also add lots of flavor to beef, from subtle undertones to more pronounced flavor. You can control these variables by the amount of seasonings you use and by how long you leave the meat in the marinades.
The very best beef steak marinade I’ve ever used is a pretty simple recipe. I combine four parts red wine to one part oil. I then add whole black peppercorns, minced garlic, and thin slices of red onion. For quality cuts of beef, I marinate for about one to two hours. Tougher steaks will need to marinate longer.
Always use glass containers, plastic bowls, or plastic food bags for marinating. Also, always leave marinating meats in the fridge.
How to Cook the Perfect Steak
Have you ever wondered how to cook the perfect steak? To grill the perfect steak, you have to start with a perfect raw product. No, I’m not talking about filet mignon. I’m not actually crazy about that cut of beef. For the grill, I prefer ribeye, New York strip, T-bone, or Porterhouse. Buy a U.S.D.A. choice steak instead of select grade. I’ve had some great select steaks, but I’ve also had some that I could barely chew.
Don’t grab the first choice steak you see. Compare and contrast different steaks. Look for adequate marbling – the little white flecks of fat embedded in the muscle. Also, thicker steaks are better on the grill than are thin steaks.
Once you’ve selected some great steaks, use my beef steak marinade, or use your own favorite marinade. Leave the steaks in the marinade, in the refrigerator, for about an hour. While the steaks are marinating, get the grill ready. It needs to reach 450-500 degrees.
Remove the beef from the marinade and allow excess liquid to drip away. Allow the steaks to sit at room temperature for a few minutes. They actually need to be at room temperature before you place them on the grill.
Lightly oil the grilling grate and place the steak on the grill. Close the lid for about two minutes. Turn the steak and cook for two more minutes. Repeat this process. Don’t use a fork for turning the steaks because piercing the meat will allow juices to escape. Instead, use tongs or a spatula. If you want perfect grill marks on your steaks, watch the following video.
How to Cook the Perfect Steak:
Pork marinade can really add a lot of pizzazz to cuts of fresh pork. In fact, I often marinate cured pork, like before hubby places our Thanksgiving ham on the smoker. Pork marinade, in most cases, doesn’t need a lot of oil, unless the pork is very lean. Lean cuts include pork tenderloin and some pork chops.
Acidic liquids that work well in a pork marinade include apple cider vinegar, apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, cherry juice, wine, teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce. Seasoning agents that add a nice flavor to grilled pork include black pepper, mustard powder, coriander, curry, allspice, savory, garlic, paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder, rosemary, fennel, and ground cloves.
How to Grill Pork Tenderloin:
Grilled pork is a natural – pork flesh and the smoky charcoal flavor go hand-in-hand. Grilled pork is tasty with just a brush of oil and a sprinkling of herbs and spices, but it’s also great with a thick barbecue sauce. If you decide to use such a sauce, allow the pork to cook some before applying the sauce.
How long should you cook grilled pork? The internal temperature is usually the best way to test for doneness, as looks can often be deceiving. For years, the safe temp was considered to be at least 160 degrees. In 2011, the U.S.D.A. lowered the recommended safe temperature to 145 degrees for lean pork, although pork sausage and other types of ground pork weren’t included in the new recommendation. Once you remove the pork from the grill, let it sit at room temperature for five minutes, which will raise the internal temp a few more degrees.
Okay, I sort of consider myself a master of BBQ rubs. People like my seasoning blends so much that they often ask for them as Christmas gifts. Every December, I’m in my kitchen creating lots of BBQ rubs. All the rubs I give as gifts are dry rubs, which brings me to another point – wet rubs vs. dry rubs. What’s the difference? Both types of rubs are made from a mixture of herbs, spices, salt, and sometimes sugar or brown sugar. With a wet rub, an acidic liquid is added, creating sort of a paste. The reasoning behind a wet rub is that the acid helps the seasonings to penetrate the meat.
I always use BBQ rubs on pork ribs, pork shoulders, turkeys, and pork loins. Sometimes I also use rubs on chicken, pork chops, and beef. Most of my basic BBQ rubs contain salt, paprika, cayenne, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion pepper, and black pepper. I might also use ground cloves, lemon pepper, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, ground mustard, chipotle powder, chili powder, wasabi powder, oregano, or basil. Sometimes I get really creative and add unusual ingredients to my BBQ rubs. For example, I want a rub that’s sweet and fruity, I might add some powdered fruit drink mix. Don’t laugh – those rubs are really good!
If I decide on a wet rubs, I mix my dry ingredients with apple cider vinegar. Sometimes I add some hot sauce. On what do I base my decision on wet or dry rubs? It’s mostly based on my mood at the time. When you use a rub on a large piece of meat, wrap the rubbed meat tightly in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge to cure for several hours. Actually, I might allow the meat to cure for 24 hours.
Pork ribs are awesome on the grill. There are three basic types of pork ribs: spareribs, baby back ribs, and country-style ribs. Spareribs don’t have as much meat as baby back ribs, and the rib bones are longer in spareribs. Country-style ribs are meatier, but they aren’t actually ribs. They come from the end of the loin, near the shoulder, and might or might not be boneless. Country-style ribs aren’t as messy to eat as spareribs and baby back ribs, especially if they’re boneless. To me, however, the country ribs aren’t as tasty as spareribs or baby back ribs.
Of the three major types of pork ribs, country-style ribs are usually the least expensive. Spareribs are usually in the middle, price-wise, and baby back ribs are the most expensive. To make things more confusing, you can get different cuts of spareribs and different cuts of baby back ribs.
BBQ Pork Ribs
BBQ pork ribs are certainly near the top of our favorite BBQ recipes. I prefer baby back ribs, but hubby likes meaty country-style pork ribs better. When I’m preparing my baby back BBQ pork ribs, I first remove the fascia. Some people call this “silver skin” or “fell.” It’s the tough membrane that’s sometimes on the back of the ribs. If the butcher hasn’t removed it, you’ll notice it. Removing the fascia will allow your rub to penetrate and flavor the meat more efficiently. To remove this skin, pry the point of a sharp, thin knife under one corner of the membrane, forcing a piece to separate from the meat. Using a paper towel to get a good grip, grab the skin and peel it off slowly.
Once the fascia has been removed, I rinse my ribs and pat them dry. I then apply my wet or dry rub. You might want to marinate the ribs instead of using a rub. Once I’ve applied a wet or dry rub to the pork, I wrap the ribs and leave them in the fridge for a few hours. Now you’re ready to make BBQ pork ribs!
There are numerous ways to go about this. Some people wrap the ribs in foil and cook them in the oven first, then transfer them to the grill for browning and smoky flavor. Some cooks do the same thing on the grill, using different cooking zones. Some people cook their ribs on a smoker. Some people don’t wrap their ribs.
The best BBQ pork ribs I’ve ever eaten came from a recipe I created, called candy apple baby back ribs. You can click the link for the recipe. Making these ribs is pretty involved, but they’re definitely worth the effort. I use a combination of cooking methods for these ribs – smoking, grilling over indirect heat, and cooking over direct heat on my BBQ grill.
Grilled Chicken – BBQ Chicken
When you cook chicken on the grill, do you call it grilled chicken or BBQ chicken? Believe it or not, this is quite a dilemma here in the Deep South and is often a topic for heated debates. For the most part, my family calls it BBQ chicken when the pieces are coated with a sweet, thick BBQ sauce. If it’s grilled “naked” or only with oil, herbs, and spices, we call it grilled chicken. Now that we have that out of the way…
How do you cook grilled chicken or BBQ chicken? Thin, flat pieces like boneless, skinless breasts should be cooked over medium-hot coals for just a short amount of time. Thicker skin-on pieces should be cooked at a lower heat for a longer period of time. Boneless, skinless breasts are usually done in about ten or twelve minutes – five or six minutes on each side. Cut-up fryer pieces will probably take close to an hour to get done.
When you’re grilling different pieces of chicken, you’ll need a special cooking strategy. Obviously, thicker pieces will take longer to cook than thinner pieces. One way to “flatten out” chicken parts so that they’ll cook more evenly is to use a brick. A brick? Yep! Wrap a regular ol’ brick in several layers of oil and place it on top of the chicken as it grills. This is one of the grilling tips I learned from an old master.
Marinade for BBQ Chicken
A marinade for BBQ chicken can make a lot of difference in the taste, texture, and moisture level of your poultry. A marinade for BBQ chicken should include oil, an acidic liquid, and seasonings. Liquids we like to use for chicken marinades include lime juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and Italian dressing. Sometimes we use a mixture of two or more of these ingredients. Our favorite seasoning ingredients for a typical marinade for BBQ chicken might include ginger, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, basil, parsley, black pepper, paprika, or chipotle powder. The amount of oil we use in the marinades depends on the type of BBQ chicken we’re making, according to the amount of fat in the chicken. We use more oil in a marinade for boneless, skinless chicken breasts than we do for skin-on thighs. For skin-on breasts, we use a medium amount of oil.
How long do we leave the chicken in the marinade? Boneless, skinless breasts need only an hour or two in the marinade, while skin-on chicken parts need about four hours. When we grill chicken halves, we leave them in for a little longer. Like all marinades, marinade for BBQ chicken should be discarded once it’s served its purpose because it could have bacteria in it from the raw poultry.
Grilling fish can be quick and easy, but you have to be careful. Most fish are lean, so it’s easy to get it too dry on the grill. It’s also easy to overcook fish, especially skinless fillets. Before placing fish on the grill, make sure the grates are perfectly clean. The grates also need to be coated with oil or sprayed with cooking spray before grilling fish. If you don’t take these steps, your fish is likely to stick to the grill and tear apart.
For grilling fish, I rub the fish with oil or melted butter and season them with lime or lemon juice, along with herbs and spices. Most folks like dill on fish, but I’m not crazy about dill. I usually prefer some heat with my fish, so I use paprika, lemon pepper, and cayenne most of the time. Sometimes we use commercial spice blends for grilling fish. The best ones we’ve found are made by Weber, the same people who make Weber grills. I strongly recommend the Mango Lime Seafood seasoning for grilling fish – it’s amazing!
A big part of grilling fish is timing. Fish cooks quickly. The best way to tell when the fish is done is to flake it with a fork, if the flesh has turned a milky opaque white, and if it’s easy to flake, it’s ready to come off the grill.
We often have grilled shrimp, especially when the crustaceans are on sale at our local market. In fact, I just bought two pounds today, which we’ll grill this weekend. We prefer using jumbo shrimp for grilling -ones that have already been split down the back and deveined. The shells and tails, however, are still on.
There are several ways to make grilled shrimp. You might like to thread them on skewers, especially if they’re small. You can also use a grilling basket. Colossal shrimp and prawns can be grilled individually, right on the grates. A good recipe for grilled shrimp that are really large is to peel the shrimp, season them with spices or a commercial seafood spice blend, and wrap them in bacon. Double yum!
Recipe for Grilled Shrimp
Would you like a good recipe for grilled shrimp? Okay, this grilled shrimp recipe is different, as the shrimp aren’t cooked on skewers or directly on the grill. Instead, I use my big metal roaster, and the shrimp are awesome!
Recipe for Grilled Shrimp
½ cup beer
½ cup sweet BBQ sauce
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup chili sauce
Juice of two limes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons coriander seed
1 teaspoon allspice
3 pounds jumbo shrimp
Lime and lemon slices
Directions: Whisk together beer, BBQ sauce, butter, chili sauce, juice from limes, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar.
In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic salt, red pepper, mustard seed, coriander seed, and allspice.
Add a single layer of shrimp to the pan. Drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Add some of the citrus fruit slices.
Repeat layers and top with remaining sauce.
Place the roaster on the grill, over medium coals. Don’t put the lid on the roaster pan, but close the grill lid. After the shrimp have cooked for fifteen minutes, open the grill lid and stir the shrimp well. Close the grill lid and continue cooking. The shrimp should be done in fifteen more minutes.
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More grilling tips and BBQ recipes:
- Southern Pulled Pork Recipe
A step-by-step guide for a great pulled pork recipe. Photos and videos included.
- Best Burgers: Quick and Easy Recipes for Homemade Hamburgers
Several great hamburger recipes are included here!
- Product Reviews: Paula Deen Grilling Marinades
- BBQ Rubs - BBQ Rubs Recipes
Great info about BBQ rubs - rib rubs, pork rubs, chicken rubs, turkey rub, and steak rub. BBQ rubs recipes, photos, and helpful videos included.