10 Ways to Improve Your Grilling from BBQ Experts

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I have a confession to make: I’m not very good at grilling. In fact, I suck. Am I less of a man? The answer is yes. But, hey, it is what it is.

That’s why all of us need to study this list of tips from legitimate BBQ experts.

We’ll all have a better summer because of it.

1. Invest!

““Invest in quality meat. They say you can’t polish a… well, you know the rest. But it rings true. The quality of your meat is relative to the success of your cook. Higher grade meat with more marbling means the cut is going to be more tender and flavorsome, and the presence of more intramuscular fat makes it more forgiving during the cook. Meaning, it’s going to be harder to dry out a Prime brisket than it is a Select.” — Jess Pryles, Hardcore Carnivore founder, cook, and author (Austin, Texas)

2. Herbs are important

“Incorporate a basting brush made of herbs by attaching whole stems of thyme, rosemary, and sage onto a wooden spoon with butcher twine. Use it to baste meats throughout the cook with butter, a good oil, or sauce.” — Billy Durney, pitmaster at Hometown Bar-B-Que (Brooklyn, New York)

3. Wrap it up

“The most common technique to smoke meat faster is wrapping it in foil. This is done after the protein has absorbed adequate smoke and caramelization has taken place on the outside. Generally a liquid such as water or apple juice is placed in the foil with the meat and wrapped tightly. The steaming effect from the liquid speeds up the cooking process.

“Panning is another variation of foiling: use a pan covered tightly with the meat and liquid inside to shorten the cooking time.” — Myron Mixon, four-time World Barbeque Champion, television host, and operator of Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque (Old Town Alexandria, Virginia)

4. Keep an eye on it

5. Always watch the temp.

“Temperature control is the number one key to everything. You’ll always be managing fire throughout the cook, and there will always be variables that affect your ability to hold a steady temperature, such as the cooker itself, weather, air quality, brand of charcoal, wood, and how many times you open the cooker. Once you learn the principles of fire — how to build it slowly, what feeds it, and how to increase and decrease it when necessary — you will be able to turn out quality barbecue.” — Mike Mills, four-time World Champion and three-time Grand World Champion at Memphis in May, pitmaster at 17th Street Barbecue (Murphysboro and Marion, Illinois)

6. Fire it up early

“Most backyard grillers don’t start their fire early enough to let it mature. Always start your fire an hour before you think you should, giving plenty of time for your coals to get nice and hot.” — Scott Roberts, pitmaster at The Salt Lick BBQ (Driftwood, Texas)

7. Let the meat rest

“If I’ve learned anything, it’s that resting your meat in a hot box after it comes out of the smoker makes for better barbecue. Modify a cooler to suit your purpose at home and give yourself a few extra hours on the back end to rest the meat. You won’t regret it. — Wyatt Dickson, pitmaster at Picnic (Durham, North Carolina)

8. Skip the sauce

9. Brine!

“Brining helps make sure typical “dry cuts” won’t dry out, and it will ensure juiciness, especially in chicken wings, pork loin, chicken breast, or whole chickens.” — Adrian Davila, Davila’s BBQ (Seguin, Texas)

10. Use good charcoal

“Use a quality charcoal for your heat source when cooking and remember that lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes. Make sure that your grill or pit is clean before cooking, clean it with a wire brush and empty out ash from the bottom. When you start the charcoal, use a chimney and newspaper instead of lighter fluid. And make sure your grate is very hot before placing meat on the grill, which will help prevent the meat from sticking.” — Tuffy “The Professor” Stone, Grand Champion at Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational, American Royal, and Kingsford Invitational, pitmaster at Q Barbeque (Richmond and Rancho T, Virginia)