Summer Grilling Tips

By Cristen Clark, Food & Swine


When shaping patties with ground meat, depress the centers a bit to prevent puffing during cooking. This will keep your burger toppings right where you want them!


Prepare grill (gas or charcoal) according to manufacturer’s directions for medium heat. For charcoal grilling, when coals are medium, ash-covered (approximately. 30 minutes), spread in a single layer and check the cooking temperature. To check the temperature, cautiously hold the palm of your hand above the coals at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away; approximately 4 seconds for medium heat. For gas grilling, gas grill brands vary greatly and grilling times may need to be adjusted.

Use Direct or Indirect Heat Method

Use a direct heat method (meat directly over heat source) for anything that takes less than 20 minutes to grill. Use an indirect heat method (meat on the other side of the grill from the active heat source) for cuts of meat taking longer than 20 minutes to grill.


Pat whole muscle cuts dry prior to seasoning. This will allow the seasoning mixture to adhere to the meat more effectively. Avoid the use of excessive amounts of sugars in rubs and seasoning blends, as these will burn on the grill more often than not.


For whole muscle cuts like steaks, make sure the heat of your grill is hot enough that you cannot hold your hand 6 inches away from the grill grate for more than 3 seconds. Once you place your meat on the grill grates, move it as little as possible to achieve best results. Still curious? Google "Maillard reaction."


Whenever possible, limit the "saucing" or "glazing" step to your recipes to the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. Oftentimes these have a high sugar component, and adding them too soon may cause them to burn.

Test the Temperature

There’s no substitute for a quality meat thermometer. Leave the guesswork out of determining the doneness of your burgers, steaks or roasts by utilizing this all-purpose kitchen tool. This is one gift that keeps on giving!


Once your grilled masterpiece is complete, remove from the heat and allow the meat to rest so the delicious juices redistribute. For example, pork can be sliced and served any time after the 3-minute rest period. For larger and thicker cuts, a longer resting time is common practice for many cooks.