Skip to main content

How To Grill Outdoors

As classic an American summer pastime as watching baseball or spending a day at the beach, grilling is easily done on a city rooftop or in a big backyard. Whatever your equipment, the same basic principles apply.


  • Step 1: If you've touched raw meat, wash your hands again. Then, follow your recipe or the recommended time for the food you're grilling, but keep an eye on it. If it seems to be cooking too fast, move it to a cooler spot on the grill. If it's cooking too slowly or the fire is too low, move it to a hotter spot.
  • TIP: Use tongs to turn steaks, hot dogs, or chicken, or a metal spatula for burgers, fish, or vegetables.
  • Step 2: Check to see if meat is done either by making a small cut in the center and examining its color, or by sticking a meat thermometer into the center of the meat.
  • Step 3: Start your fire. If you're using a charcoal grill, set the briquettes over three-quarters of the bowl so they are about three times higher on one side than on the other. Leave one quarter of the grill empty, which provides an area with less heat in case your fire gets too intense.
  • Step 4: Place your seasoned, oiled food on the grill, making sure it's large enough to not fall through into the fire. You should hear a sizzle and might see a flame flare-up, which should die down quickly.
  • Step 5: If you want to baste your food with sauce, wait until it's close to done before brushing it on. Most steak and barbecue sauces contain sugar that will caramelize and burn if applied too early.
  • Step 6: Put on your apron. Scrape the grill grate clean with the wire brush. Pour vegetable oil onto crumpled paper towels and wipe down the grill while it's still cool.
  • Step 7: For an electric or gas grill, heat the grill for about 15 minutes before you start cooking.
  • TIP: If you used a marinade, there's no need to brush the food with oil.
  • Step 8: Before touching your food, wash your hands. Then, brush any meat, chicken, fish or vegetables on all sides with vegetable oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • TIP: Put foil underneath delicate fish fillets and vegetables before placing them on the grill – they'll be easier to handle.
  • Step 9: Pour lighter fluid over the coals, and start the fire with a long match or butane lighter. Wait until all of the coals are lit before cooking.
  • FACT: The three most popular holidays for grilling are July 4th, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

Popular Categories