Even the best grill masters need advice sometimes. Whether you’re a total beginner or a grilling expert, we’ve got the answers to your most burning grilling and barbecue questions!
1. Do I Need to Preheat My Grill?
A: Yes. A good rule of thumb is about 15 minutes for high temperatures (i.e. for searing) or 10 minutes for lower temperatures (i.e. for fish and such). Preheating your grill before you start cooking will also help remove some of the residue left on the grill from past cookouts. Be sure to also clean the grates thoroughly before cooking.
2. How Do I Deal with Flare-Ups on the Grill?
A: Flare-ups are a flash of fire caused by juices falling on the grill burner, and they are common when cooking meats with a high fat content. Here are a few ways to reduce flare-ups:
- Keep your grill clean
- Use lean cuts of meat (or trim fat)
- Avoid cooking on very high temperatures
- Keeping the lid closed while grilling
To tame a flare-up, move food to another area of the cooking surface. You may need to turn all the burners OFF until the flames subside. DO NOT spray water on flare-ups!
3. Is There a Difference Between Grilling and Barbecuing?
A: Yes! Barbecuing is a different method of cooking than grilling. Barbecuing involves cooking meat “low and slow” using indirect heat in a sealed environment. Grilling involves openly cooking meat over a direct source of heat. Grilling is typically a faster method, since you’re cooking at a higher heat. Certain grills can be used for both, but if your grill only has one burner, it’s for grilling – not barbecuing.
A: Resist carving into your meat and invest in a quality meat thermometer. A good one will have markings that tell you when different types of meat are done. Insert the thermometer into the thickest portion, avoiding the bones, and test for doneness.
5. How Can I Tell How Much Gas is Left in My Propane Tank?
A: To measure how much propane is left in your tank, simply weigh it on a scale to check your tank’s empty weight. Then, subtract the empty weight from the scale weight. Check out our step-by-step video, including a full demonstration and more helpful tips so you never run out of Blue Rhino propane.
6. What Can I Put on the Grill for Dessert?
A: Juicy, sugary fruits taste even better when cooked on the grill. Grilling removes water from the fruit and caramelizes the sugar, intensifying the flavors and sweetness without adding any ingredients! From grilled bananas with ice cream to fire roasted apples, we have plenty of delicious grilled dessert recipes to satisfy any sweet tooth.
7. Is it Healthier to Cook with Propane or Charcoal?
A: Studies show that meats cooked with charcoal contain more carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) compared to meats cooked with propane. It was suggested that charcoal flames burn hotter than propane, which singes the meat even more, producing another carcinogen called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
8. How Long Can Barbecued Foods Sit Outside After Cooking?
A: In room temperature, a good rule of thumb for food safety is to never leave food sitting out longer than two hours. However, at a backyard barbecue, bacteria grows faster in meat laying out in the hot sun. Do not let your barbecued meats sit out longer than one hour in temperatures higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
9. What’s the Difference Between Direct Heat and Indirect Heat?
Direct heat: this method cooks food directly over the flames. Direct heat cooks food quickly and typically creates a browned, caramelized texture within minutes.
Indirect heat: this method cooks food over a hot, yet flame-free area. (Closing the lid on the grill while keeping the food in a flame-free zone creates the indirect heat.) Indirect heat cooks slower and evenly, developing exceptional flavor and tenderness without flare-ups or charring.
10. Can Vegans or Vegetarians Eat Grilled Food?
Of course! Grilling concentrates the flavors of fruits and vegetables, which makes them some of the most popular items to grill. Plus, grilling gives plant-based burgers a rich, smoky-sweet flavor unlike any other way of preparing them. Check out our favorite vegan-inspired recipes.
Looking for additional grilling tips and tricks? Check out our Grilling Tips and Techniques page, and you’ll be going from barbecue beginner to grilling extraordinaire in no time!