If you’re new to grilling, you’ve no doubt found yourself making a few mistakes that made your results less than you’d hoped. The good news is, there are a lot of beginner mistakes one can make when grilling. Why is this good news? Because, those beginner mistakes are actually easy to avoid. Here are some beginner grilling mistakes that are easy to avoid the next time you take dinner out to the patio.
Meat Turning Out Dry
This is one of the most common grilling mistakes and comes, most often, from the temperature being too low. As you probably know, grilling is a lot of cooking by sight. Not sure why your meat is turning out dry when it looks perfect? It’s actually one of the easiest beginner grilling mistakes to fix. Simply get your coals a bit hotter.
When your temperature is too low, you have to leave the meat on the grill longer in order to get that nice golden brown on the outside. By the time the outside looks nice and flavorful, it’s been sitting on the grill so long that the entire piece of meat has had time to dry out. All of your delicious juices have dripped right into the coals.
If you’re searching for solutions right after making this mistake, we also have some good news: your meat isn’t wasted. If you’ve grilled up some meat that’s tasty but too dry, shred it and mix it with some barbecue sauce (or something that matches what you’ve already put on it) and use it on sandwiches.
Meat That’s Raw in the Middle
This is the second most common of the beginner grilling mistakes. In fact, this one might actually be the most common. If your meat looks amazing on the outside, but you cut into it to find it raw, it’s a sign your temperature is too high. Temperature is so important when cooking.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that if the temperature is higher, you just cook it for a shorter amount of time. Likewise, they may think if the temperature is lower, you just cook it longer. This is not how cooking temperature works. You have to get the right temperature so that the inside has enough time to cook without the outside ending up charred.
Therefore, if your meat looks great on the outside but is raw in the middle, it means the temperature was too high and it didn’t have enough time to cook. Next time, use a lower temperature. You’ll have to wait longer, but by the time your meat is looking golden on the outside, the inside will have had time to cook through.
Charcoal Won’t Light
If you’re new to charcoal grilling, you might not know exactly what you’re doing. Trying to light briquettes in the bottom of your grill isn’t necessarily the way to go. While some people may be able to hack it, it’s easier to buy yourself a charcoal tower. This is a metal cylinder with a screen in it. You fill the top with briquettes and put some paper or kindling under it. After lighting the kindling, the flame rises into the briquettes and burns long enough for them to ignite. Then they can sit there and gain heat. When they’re hot and smoldering, you dump the hot charcoal into the grill and get cookin’!