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9 Grilling Mistakes You Need To Stop Making

Are you guilty of these common mistakes?

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hamburgers cooking hamburgers on grill with flames. beef steak on the grill with flames. barbecue burgers for hamburger prepared grilled on bbq fire flame grillShutterstock / Abu_Zeina

You use too-high heat.

Say hello to burst-open sausages, charred patties and burnt meats with still-cold insides.

Fix: Be patient and start slow. You should be able to hold your hand 5 inches the grill, comfortably, for at least a few seconds for high heat and 4-5 seconds for medium.

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Man Works The Grill At Tailgating PartyShutterstock / Sean Locke Photography

You don’t plan for food safety.

Safe food-handling gets tricky when you take the cooking outside. It gets even tougher when you’re tailgating, at the beach, or otherwise away from the comforts of home.

Fix: Mentally run through your cooking game plan, adding equipment to your pack list as you go. Must-brings include tools and surfaces for handling and plating your uncooked and cooked meat. Also pack foil, sanitizer, paper towels and a set-up to make soapy water.

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close up of hand formed hamburger patties on an outdoor grill with hickory wood chips for a smoky flavorShutterstock / Wollertz

You skip the smoke.

Gas grills are convenient and give you great temperature control, but if you’re not careful, your food will turn out dull and boring.

Fix: It’s simple. Soak a cupful of hardwood grilling chips for 30 minutes, wrap in foil, prick with a fork and place on the grill first. Once it’s smoking, you’re ready to grill. You can also try this method for turning your grill into a smoker.

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Dirty grillShutterstock / rzoze19

You use a dirty grill.

Food sticking, tearing and making a mess? Does it have an off flavor or mystery particles? You can blame a dirty grill.

Fix: Clean the grill right after cooking, while while it’s hot, using a sturdy brush. Here’s how to give it a deep clean for the summer.

5 / 10
Greasing the grill with a paper towel and tongsTaste of Home

You neglect to use oil.

Lean foods like veggies, fish and chicken breasts are notorious for sticking.

Fix: Lightly oil the food, use an oily marinade, and/or oil the grill rack with a paper towel moistened with cooling oil. Here’s everything you need to know for foolproof grilled chicken breasts.

6 / 10
Grilled pork almost ready on the grill with metal tongsShutterstock / Elena Veselova

You choose flimsy cooking tools.

Gentle nylon spatulas and tongs, like the ones you’d use on nonstick cookware, are no match for the grill’s intense heat. Ditto for those natural-bristled pastry and basting brushes.

Fix: Choose metal and silicone tools: They can take the heat. Consider long-handled ones, too. They keep you a cool, comfortable distance from the grill. Check out 18 kitchen gadgets professional cooks use at home.

7 / 10
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You sauce too soon.

Sugary BBQ sauce gets delightfully caramelized in the last few minutes of cooking. Do it any sooner, though, and the results are less than heavenly.

Fix: Save sugary sauces for just the last minute or two of grilling…or brush ’em on post-grill (this is less messy).

8 / 10
Grilling delicious juicy meat sausages on big grill outdoor.; Shutterstock / Fedorovacz

You get impatient.

Add the food too soon to the grill and you risk it sticking, developing a pale, unpleasant appearance or worse. If you’re using self-lighting charcoal or lighter fluid, adding your meal too soon could ruin it.

Fix: Follow the package instructions for your lighter fluid or charcoal. Or better yet, a grilling chimney lets you skip the chemicals. And always preheat!

9 / 10
Grilling zonesTaste of Home

You don’t create cooking zones.

Hot, moderate, and keep-warm zones are a griller’s best friend. So don’t try to create an evenly heated surface. Large cuts, especially, need to finish on lower heat so they do not burn.

Fix: Study up on direct vs. indirect heat. Review the owner’s manual and practice creating zones on your grill.

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Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a senior book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.