9 grilling tips for your Memorial Day weekend backyard dinners

As we all bounce back from the pandemic, a holiday weekend is a good time to slow down and reflect—and, of course, celebrate Memorial Day with loved ones.

Last summer, 225 recipe writer Tracey Koch revisited some of her family’s favorite grilling recipes from the 225 archives. She also added some grilling tips to help make your outdoor cooking experience that much better. We’re sharing them again here, and be sure to take notes—this insight will be useful all summer long!

Stay safe, keep smiling and enjoy the weekend.

1. Preheating the grill properly is key for cleaning: This will help ensure your meat doesn’t stick to the grates, and it will also give you a nice sear, locking in the meat’s natural juices. Preheat the grill with the lid closed for about 10 minutes to around 500 degrees, a temperature that will make it easier to clean off any stuck pieces of food that may have been left on your grates. If using a charcoal grill, the coals should glow red while heating. If you are using a gas grill, keep the burners on high to allow the grill to reach the desired temperature. Use a stainless-steel brush to scrape the grates clean before grilling. Then, lower the heat to the desired cooking temperature.

2. Try the direct heat method: Placing the meat directly over the flame helps sear the meat quickly, locking in juices and creating a crispy layer on the outside. Use direct heat when grilling smaller cuts of tender meat, chicken, fish and shrimp that require 20 minutes or less of cooking time.

3. Indirect heat is best for low and slow cooking: This is when the fire is on either side of the meat during the grilling process. Use this method for whole chickens or bone-in skin-on pieces of chicken, as well as thicker chops, steaks and larger, tougher cuts of meat.

4. Gas grill 101: For direct heat, preheat the grill to 400 degrees and place meat directly over the flame. For indirect heat, preheat the grill to 400 degrees and turn off the flame on one side of the grill. Place the protein over the unlit side of the grill to ensure a lower, slower cooking time.

5. Charcoal grill 101: Place an even, single layer of coals to sear meat quickly. In order to create indirect heat, place the coals double banked on either side of the inside of the grill, and place your meat in the middle of the grate with the flames or hot coals on either side.

6. Keep a lid on it: For a consistent temperature in both the grill and internal temperature of the meat, keep the lid closed as much as possible. This will keep the temperature high enough to allow the meat to sear without charring. It will also decrease the cooking time and will help the meat stay juicier and more tender while grilling.

7. Use a timer and thermometer: Don’t overlook the use of gadgets to help prevent overcooking. When using a meat thermometer, keep in mind that the internal temperature of the meat will rise an additional 3-5 degrees after you remove it from the grill.

8. Let it rest: To make sure grilled meats turn out juicy and tender, always let them rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute through the meat, making it more tender upon serving.

9. Don’t forget grilled vegetables: Take advantage of summer’s yellow squash, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, eggplant and mushrooms. Cut the vegetables as uniformly as possible to ensure they cook evenly. To prevent them from sticking to the grill, pat them dry with a paper towel once cut. Also, do not salt the vegetables until after they have been grilled because it will draw out natural liquids and cause them to steam as they are grilling, making them wet and soggy once cooked.

Latest Stories