How to BBQ: A Beginner’s Guide to Grilling Like a Pro


Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time to fire up the grill and enjoy a delicious BBQ with family and friends. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a beginner, this guide will help you navigate the BBQ world and become a pro in no time. We’ve got you covered from choosing the right grill to mastering grilling techniques.

Choosing the Right Grill

Gas Grills

Gas grills are famous for their convenience and ease of use. They heat up quickly and allow you to control the temperature easily. Look for a grill with multiple burners to create different heat zones for various types of food.

Gas Grill Features to Consider:

When choosing a gas grill, features matter!  Look for high-quality stainless steel burners for even heating and longevity.  Cast-iron grates are great for those perfect sear marks on your steaks. Built-in thermometers help you monitor cooking temperatures, ensuring your food is perfectly cooked.  Consider additional features like side burners for sauces and warming and ample prep space for convenience.

Beyond Basic Grilling:

Modern gas grills offer much more than burgers and hot dogs.  Explore models with rotisserie attachments for delicious roasted chicken or prime rib. Some even have dedicated smoker boxes or infrared sear zones for ultimate steakhouse-quality results at home. Before you buy, think about the types of meals you love to cook and choose a grill with the features to match your culinary ambitions!

Charcoal Grills


Many love charcoal grills for the smoky flavor they impart to food. They require a bit more skill and patience but can produce excellent results. Choose a grill with adjustable vents for better temperature control.

Charcoal Grills: For the Flavor Obsessed: There’s something special about the ritual of firing up charcoal briquettes and hearing that first sizzle. Charcoal grills are where the flavor comes alive! They reach higher temperatures than gas, perfect for searing steaks to juicy perfection.  Master the art of indirect heat using your adjustable vents for slow-smoking ribs, brisket, or an entire Thanksgiving turkey!

The Right Size & Features: Consider how many mouths you’ll feed when picking your charcoal grill     .  Small, portable models are perfect for camping or tailgating. Large, kettle-style grills offer multiple cooking zones for ambitious cooks. Look for features like a removable ash catcher for easy cleanup and a built-in thermometer for precision temperature control.

Electric Grills


Electric grills are ideal for those living in apartments or with limited outdoor space. They’re easy to use and clean but may not provide the same flavor as gas or charcoal grills.

Electric Grills: Apartment-Friendly Cooking: Don’t let small spaces stifle your grilling dreams! Electric grills are compact, smoke-free, and perfect for balconies, patios, or indoor grilling. They offer hassle-free setup and precise temperature control – no more messy charcoal or worrying about gas tanks.

Benefits and Tradeoffs:  Electric grills offer quick heat-up times and easy cleanup compared to their charcoal or gas counterparts. Modern models can still produce delicious grilled foods while they may not impart the same intense smoky flavor. Look for grill plates that mimic traditional grates for those perfect sear marks.

Essential BBQ Tools

To make your grilling experience more enjoyable and efficient, invest in a few essential tools:

Grill Master Toolkit:

 Every BBQ boss needs the right gear! Start with a sturdy spatula and tongs for expert food flipping and handling.  A good instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking, ensuring your meats are cooked to the perfect temperature.  A grill brush is essential for keeping your grates clean and ready for action.

Level Up Your BBQ Game: 

 Ready to take your grilling to the next level?  A sharp chef’s knife is surprisingly handy for trimming and portioning meats.  Consider investing in heatproof grill gloves for those sizzling hot moments. For charcoal enthusiasts, a chimney starter makes lighting briquettes a breeze!


Long-handled tongs are a must-have for flipping and turning food on the grill.


A sturdy spatula is perfect for flipping burgers and other delicate foods.

Look for a spatula with a wide, thin blade for easy maneuvering under food. Consider a heat-resistant handle for comfort and safety when flipping sizzling steaks!

Grill Brush

A grill brush is essential for cleaning your grates before and after grilling.

Choose a grill brush with stiff bristles to handle tough, cooked-on food. For safety, look for brushes with long handles to keep your hands away from the heat.

Meat Thermometer

A reliable meat thermometer ensures your food is cooked to the proper temperature, preventing over- or undercooking.

Invest in an instant-read meat thermometer for quick and accurate readings.  Knowing the precise internal temperature of your meat eliminates guesswork and guarantees a safe and delicious meal every time!


Preparing Your Grill



Cleaning the Grates


Before you start grilling, make sure your grates are clean. Use a grill brush to remove any debris or leftover food from previous cookouts.

A clean grill grate prevents old flavors from transferring to your fresh food! Brush your grates when they’re hot for the easiest cleanup.  For extra stubborn buildup, try the “onion trick” – scrub the hot grate with half a raw onion for natural cleaning power. Consider investing in a cast-iron grate cleaner for serious grime removal.

Preheating the Grill


Preheat your grill for 10-15 minutes before adding your food. This ensures the grates are hot enough to create a nice sear and prevent sticking.


Here’s why preheating your grill is crucial:

Preheat your grill high to achieve those coveted grill marks, and lock in juices for perfectly cooked food. Just like preheating your oven, this step ensures even cooking throughout. Give your grill enough time to reach its optimal temperature before you start grilling for best results



Choose cuts like ribeye, sirloin, or tenderloin for a tender and flavorful result. For burgers, opt for ground chuck with an 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio.

Think of marinades as your steak’s secret weapon! They add flavor, tenderize tough cuts, and prevent meats from drying on the grill. Short on time? Even a 30-minute soak can make a difference. Avoid marinades with high sugar content, as they can burn quickly.

When it comes to BBQ, however, it is low and slow, so your tougher, thicker cuts like brisket will shine. Get the best cut of brisket as money will allow, but even the lower-priced, lower selection will still make some phenomenal BBQ.


 This extremely adaptable cut from the beef loin portion works well for barbecuing and other cooking methods. A slow-cooked, succulent tri-tip is flavorful, succulent, and impressive. We like to start with a dry rub, such as Meat Church spice, because this cut is juicy and mouthwatering. The taste of hickory wood smoke is pleasant and blends well with the seasoning. The Tri-Tip should be finished at 165–170 degrees Fahrenheit when cooking on low heat.

 Chuck Roast:

 Although they are more frequently found in Instant Pots or crock pots, Chuck Roasts are an excellent BBQ cut. The ideal internal finishing temperature for them is between 165 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Because they are naturally tender and well-marbled, they do not need to cook for as long as stricter cuts like brisket or short ribs. A great option for incorporating a spicy and sweet BBQ sauce when cooking is chuck roasts. It will give the eating experience a texture that is difficult to match. You may even cube chuck roasts and prepare them like burnt ends. It is a very adaptable cut!

 Short Ribs:

 Although they are beautifully marbled and come from a muscle region that is frequently used, short ribs need to be cooked for a longer period using a low and slow method to break down the collagen and connective tissue properly. There are many ways to prepare short ribs, from the more conventional country method to the thin-cut Korean style and boneless short ribs. To improve the final result, cook them longer at a lower temperature and add some BBQ sauce. To keep short ribs juicy, we advise cooking them until the internal temperature reaches 195–200F and covering them with foil or butcher paper for the last 20 degrees or so of cooking.

 Ground Beef:

 Although it is not the most popular BBQ cut, ground beef is the most adaptable. A crowd favorite, burgers are perfect for unwinding and slow-cooking brisket or short ribs. It is also worthwhile to think about some BBQ ground beef. You may use a smoker to prepare meals like meatloaf and meatballs successfully. The secret to great results is the internal temperature and the recipe. A rough or dry texture can be produced by cooking ground beef meals low and slow until the internal temperature reaches 170-180F. Are you even alive if you have not had smoked meatloaf?


This shoulder cut has a lot of tasty fat, which keeps it from drying out. Brisket is the perfect food to grill. One way to cook it is to cook it in the oven and finish it on the BBQ. To attain the traditional charred flavor, use the oven to cook the brisket until its internal temperature is almost at the perfect finishing degree. Then, move it to the smoker. Because the brisket serves as the front axle of the cattle and is used every time the cow or heifer steps, it is naturally tough and contains a lot of connective tissue and collagen that must be broken down while cooking. A final temperature of 195–200F is advised, and this should be followed by a lengthy resting period in an insulated container such as a hot box, cooler, or microwave oven. Brisket is usually rested for an hour or two before slicing.

Rump Roast:

 The Rump Roast is a BBQ cut that is sometimes disregarded. This soft, extremely lean cut of beef is found in the “round” area of the animal and smokes rather nicely. We advise using a dry rub seasoning, such as our Signature® Salt + Pepper or Signature® Horseradish Prime Rib Rub, because of the lean cut of meat. The secret to smoking a round roast that turns out perfectly is to start it at a low temperature to infuse it with the flavor notes of the smoke but end it at a lower internal temperature to prevent the roast from getting tough and dry. When smoking round roasts, a final temperature of 130–140F is advised. Cut them into thin slices and serve with horseradish sauce and rye or kummelweck rolls. Everything is perfect!


Best Cuts of Pork for Smoking

  • Pork Shoulder (aka Pork Butt): This cut boasts incredible marbling, meaning it stays juicy and flavorful during long, slow smokes. After hours in the smoker, it becomes pull-apart tender – perfect for pulled pork sandwiches!
  • Pork Spare Ribs are a classic for a reason! They offer a meaty flavor and a satisfying chew. Look for racks with ample meat coverage, and remove the tough membrane on the underside for the best results.
  • Pork Belly: Home of everyone’s favorite bacon, pork belly is incredibly rich and decadent. Smoke it low and slow to render the fat, then slice it for insanely flavorful pork belly bites or turn it into crispy burnt ends.

Best Cuts of Pork for Grilling

  • Pork Chops: For the ultimate grilled flavor, opt for thick, bone-in pork chops. Brine them beforehand for extra juiciness, and sear over high heat to lock in those juices.
  • Pork Tenderloin: This lean cut cook quickly on the grill and is incredibly versatile. Season it simply, marinate it, or slice it into medallions for a fast, delicious barbecue staple.
  • Pork Kabobs:  Cut pork shoulder or tenderloin into cubes and thread onto skewers with your favorite veggies. Marinades work wonders here, and grilling time is fast!

Cracklings, AKA Pork Rinds-YUM

Make this blistering hide a snack for everyone to enjoy as they wait for the more significant cuts to come out when your coals explode. Thanks to the cut belly and the melting fat surface that cooks the hide, quickly grilling some crackling is a delicious treat. While other pieces take their time cooking, the warm, bubbling rind can be quickly seasoned and served as an appetizer that practically slides off the grill.


Achieving dryness, tightness, and maximum surface area will lead you to pork rind paradise. To get there, Meat Cartel BBQ suggests a few different approaches. Tenderize the skin before blanching in boiling water to compress it with a mallet. Pat it dry. Then, dry-brine it with salt and let it air-dry in the fridge. Along with these procedures, the Online Grill has decided that an olive oil rub is the way to go because the hydrophobic substance may rapidly raise surface temperatures to frying range.


Interestingly, extra-virgin olive oil and pork fat both have smoke points of 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Ordinary olive oil, which does not oxidize until 425 degrees Fahrenheit, would be a better option because it will be heated while the lard is still rendering. Even though there are oils with greater smoke points, you can skip lightly coating the skin with oil since the fat will do most of the frying.




Chicken and turkey are lean and healthy options. Brush with oil and season well before grilling. Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Conquering Chicken: Different Cuts and Grilling Techniques

Chicken reigns supreme in the grilling world, offering endless possibilities to suit your taste and time constraints. Here’s a breakdown of widespread cuts and how to grill them to juicy perfection:

Whole Chicken:

  • Technique: Rotisserie grilling is the ideal method for a whole chicken. The rotating motion ensures even cooking and beautiful, crispy skin. If your grill does not have a rotisserie attachment, try spatchcocking (flattening) the chicken for faster, more even cooking.
  • Keywords: whole chicken grilling, rotisserie chicken, spatchcocking chicken

Chicken Breasts & Thighs:

  • Technique: These versatile cuts offer a delicious blank canvas for flavor. Bone-in, skin-on options deliver extra juiciness and crispy skin thanks to the fat layer.  Brining helps retain moisture, especially for boneless, skinless breasts. Marinades, rubs, and basting further elevate the flavor profile. Sear breasts over high heat for juicy results, while thighs benefit from high heat searing and indirect heat to cook through thoroughly. 
  • Chicken Wings:
  • Technique: Wings are a party favorite, beloved for their crispy skin and juicy meat.  Drumettes (the drumstick-like part) cook faster than wingettes (the flatter section).  Grill over medium heat for crispy skin, then crank up the heat for a final crisp. Coat wings in the sauce during the last few minutes of grilling for extra sticky goodness
  • Beyond the Basics:
  • Kebabs: Thread chicken cubes with colorful veggies and grill for a fun kabob party! Marinades work wonders here, infusing the chicken and veggies with flavor.
  • Smoked Chicken: For a smoky twist, try spatchcocking a whole chicken and smoking it low and slow. This method results in incredibly tender, flavorful meat that falls off the bone.




Firm fish like salmon, tuna, and swordfish are perfect for the grill. Shrimp and scallops are also delicious options. Be careful not to overcook seafood, which can quickly dry and rubbery.


Marinating and Seasoning


Marinades for Delicate Flavor: Marinades infuse seafood with flavor and help keep them moist on the grill. Short marinating times (15-30 minutes) are ideal to avoid breaking down the fish’s texture. Citrus, herbs, olive oil, and a touch of sweetness create a balanced and delicious marinade.

Spice It Up: Dry rubs are another fantastic way to flavor seafood. Think bold flavors like Cajun seasoning, blackened spices, or a simple lemon pepper blend. Pat the seafood dry before applying the rub for maximum flavor adhesion.

Dry Rubs


Dry rubs are a mixture of herbs and spices rubbed directly onto the meat. They create a flavorful crust and can be customized to your liking.


Dry rubs are perfect for adding a burst of savory, sweet, or spicy flavor to your grilled meats. Experiment with different combinations of brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and your favorite herbs. For a smoky twist, incorporate smoked paprika into your custom blend.


Grilling Techniques



Direct Heat


Direct heat grilling is ideal for quick-cooking foods like burgers, hot dogs, and thin cuts of meat. Place the food directly over the heat source and flip as needed. If you have a delicious steak and want to put a good, sexy sear on it, direct heat is the way to go. Then finish it off on the indirect side of the grill.It’s very important to have separate sections of your grill. I also like to finish our ribs off with direct heat, carmelize the sauce to give it a nice little bark. There is nothing better, in my opinion, then pork being grilled. Just remember when you’re cooking a piece of meat like a steak to have two different cooking zones


Indirect Heat


Indirect heat grilling is best for more extensive, tougher cuts of meat that require longer cooking times. Place the food away from the heat source and close the lid to create an oven-like environment. This is also mistaken as gtrilling, which it is not. This is legit barbeque, low and slow. Briskets, pork shoulders, pork butts, beef ribs, any large,and any tough piece of meat that needs the low and slow treatment, then this is the way. If you need to get some bark, sear, or additional color, then hit it on the direct heat side. 


Flipping and Turning


Resist the urge to flip your food too frequently. Let it develop a nice sear before turning, and avoid using a fork, which can pierce the meat and cause juices to escape.You should only turn your meat once however, to avoid letting all of the juicy goodness out, then ending up with a piece of leather. 


Checking for Doneness



Using a Meat Thermometer


The most accurate way to check for doneness is by using a meat thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones or fat. Get yourself a ThermoPro Meat thermometer off of Amazon for a really good price, not more than $20.00, and call it a day. You can’t go wrong with them. Matter of fact, I’ll leave a link here and you can better deal if you use our affiliate links, 

Best Value: ThermoPro Meat Thermometer with Long Probe

In comparison to more costly models, this thermometer provided readings in a matter of seconds that were equally precise. When grilling or cooking on the stove, its longer probe will help you keep your hands away from the hot flames. Additionally, the thermometer’s three-button design makes it straightforward to use. It has a light that illuminates the grill, which is great for nighttime grilling, and a “hold” button that prevents the temperature from disappearing or lowering too quickly when the meat is removed.

Best Digital Probe: Taylor Digital Cooking Thermometer with Probe and Timer

This digital probe thermometer can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for ovens. This inexpensive thermometer can measure everything from 32 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. This one was a lifesaver because other thermometers we tried could only measure meat temperatures up to 170 degrees. This model has a magnet on the reverse side to make it easier to see the temperature inside your oven while you cook. In addition, it has a temperature alert function that will let you know when the meat is cooked to your preferred temperature. No matter the size of your meat, the long, insulated wire of the probe will make it easy to handle.


Checking Visual Cues


You can also use visual cues to determine doneness. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check the color of the juices. Clear juices indicate the meat is done, while pink or red juices suggest it needs more time.


Resting and Serving



Once your food is cooked to the desired doneness, remove it from the grill and rest for a few minutes. This redistributes the juices, resulting in a more tender and flavorful meal. Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy!


Cleaning and Maintenance



Cleaning your grill after you’ve finished grilling is essential to keeping it in good condition. While the grates are still warm, use a grill brush to remove any food particles or grease. Then, remove the grates and wash them with soap and water for a deeper clean.


Tips and Tricks



– Oil your grates before grilling to prevent sticking

– Use a chimney starter for easily lighting charcoal

– Experiment with wood chips for added smoky flavor

– Keep a spray bottle of water nearby for flare-ups

– Don’t forget to let your meat rest before cutting into it





Grilling is a fun and delicious way to enjoy the summer months with loved ones. By following this beginner’s guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a BBQ pro. Remember to choose the right grill and tools, prepare your meats properly, and use the appropriate grilling techniques for the best results. Happy grilling!





  1. How long should I preheat my grill?
  2. What’s the best way to check the doneness of my meat?
  3. How can I prevent my food from sticking to the grill grates?
  4. What’s the difference between direct and indirect heat grilling?
  5. How often should I clean my grill?


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