Huge Grilling Mistakes You Might Be Making

Grilling is a warm weather staple, and now that it’s finally starting to get nice out again, it’s time to dust off the ol’ grill. Barbecuing is a great way to make a delicious meal outside, surrounded by good company. But grilling is no simple task; there are some universal rules that should be followed. Read on to learn the huge grilling mistakes you could be making.

1. Your grill is right up against your house

Grill outside house

Don’t grill near anything that can catch fire. | Oneinchpunch/iStock/Getty Images

Your grill shouldn’t be by anything that can potentially catch on fire. The Daily Meal suggests clearing the area of overhanging branches or nearby foliage, and the publication also says the grill shouldn’t be too close to your home. “As a general rule, you should be five feet or more from anything that could catch fire.”

Next: Make sure your grill’s clean before use. 

2. You cook on a dirty grill

Unclean Grill

It should be reasonably clean. | Psisa/iStock/Getty Images

Your grill doesn’t need to be sparkling clean before cooking on it, and you certainly don’t need to deep clean your grill every time you cook on it, but it is important to make sure your grill is at least reasonably clean before you start cooking. The Daily Meal says you should go over your grill with a brush or a ball of aluminum foil to remove old bits of food and char before or after every time you cook.

Next: Never, ever grill here 

3. Grilling inside

indoor fire

It’s not safe. | Hikesterson/iStock/Getty Images

This hopefully seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people have tried this at home. According to Divine Grill, “one of the leading causes of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning in North America is indoor grilling.” Even in a very well ventilated room with all of the windows open and a fan blowing the smoke out, grilling inside is dangerous.

Next: You need to prep your grill.  

4. Not prepping your grill at the start of grilling season

New grill

Make sure everything works. | Photka/iStock/Getty Images

When you haven’t used your grill in a few months, it’s important to give it a once over before you start using it again regularly. Once you’ve checked it out to make sure everything seems to be in working order (if you have a gas grill, be sure to also check for any leaks), give it a thorough cleaning. “Bits of char or leftover food that have built up and stuck to the grates can contribute to flare-ups,” says The Daily Meal.

Next: Are you oiling your grates? 

5. Letting food stick to the grates

Chicken on grill

It will just leave your grill dirty. | Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images

Letting your food stick to the grates can add flavor, but overdoing it will just leave your grill dirty. “Before you start grilling, lightly oil the grill grates with a neutral cooking oil like canola,” says The Daily Meal. “This will help ensure that food doesn’t stick to the grill as it cooks.”

Next: Follow directions closely 

6. Failing to read the directions closely when assembling your grill

Clean Grill

Start off on the right foot. | Konstantin Roovere/iStock/Getty Images

When people purchase a grill, they’re typically pretty excited to get to grilling. This causes them to rush through the assembly process. Setting up your grill incorrectly can be extremely dangerous. “The most common mistake made during assembly, is to not screw the legs and/or wheels in tightly enough, leading to the whole unit collapsing while cooking,” says Divine Grill.

Next: Vary the type of heat you use 

7. Strictly using direct heat

High flame in grill

Set up cooking zones. | AVNphotolab/iStock/Getty Images

When grilling, the two types of heat you utilize are direct (grilling right over the fire) and indirect (grilling slightly away from the fire).

“An easy way to set up two different cooking zones is to spread the glowing charcoal briquettes into two distinct piles at opposite ends of the grill; the ends of the grill will provide direct heat that’s perfect for cooking small pieces of food (like shrimp or chicken skewers) quickly and the center of the grill will provide indirect heat that’s good for cooking larger items (like a rack of ribs) that need more time on the grill,” says The Daily Meal.

Next: Make sure to use this type of cooking utensils.  

8. Not using long utensils

Cooking on grill

Keep your hands out of harm’s way. | Milkos/iStock/Getty Images

Grill burns are serious injuries that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Unless you’re an experienced griller, it’s important to make sure you’re cooking with long utensils, like spatulas and tongs, that help to keep you away from the intense heat of the grill.

Next: This is why your kebabs are catching on fire.  

9. Not soaking your kebab skewers

close-up of chicken skewers on a bed of lettuce with a tomato relish in the background

Soak wooden skewers. | iStock

Kebabs are a delicious grilling delicacy– they’re easy, efficient, and a total crowd pleaser. Their one downside is that sometimes, when they’re made out of wood, they have a tendency to catch on fire. To avoid this, make sure to soak your wooden skewers in water for 30 to 60 minutes prior to using them.

Next: Go easy on the lighter fluid. 

10. Using too much charcoal lighter fluid

High flame

Start with a small amount. | Ablokhin/iStock/Getty Images

Using too much lighter fluid can cause a high, hot flame that’s hard to control. Remember that it’s always better to start out with a small amount because you can always add more, but once you’ve used too much, it’s hard to get the flame back down. “To extinguish any flare-ups that do occur, turn down the temperature immediately, and douse with water,” advises Divine Grill.

Next: Always make sure to have one of these handy when grilling.  

11. Not keeping towels around

Kitchen towel

Wipe up grease quickly. | Arisara_Tongdonnoi/iStock/Getty Images

Towels are a great tool to have around when grilling. Not only are they great for wiping up messes and spills, they’re also a good safety precaution for when hot grease jumps out at you. When this happens, wipe it away with a towel right away to keep from burning.

Next: You never know what could happen.   

12. Leaving the grill unattended

High flame in grill

Always watch your grill. | Baks/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re hosting a cookout with little ones around or anyone else who might walk up to the grill and endanger themselves, it’s important to man the grill even when you’re not physically tending to the food. Divine Grill also suggests not letting anyone who’s had too much to drink be in charge of grilling.

Next: Keep a close eye on your pets.  

13. You grill with pets around

Dog standing with grill

Pets can injure themselves. | Kerkez/iStock/Getty Images

If you have a pet that could potentially knock the grill over or injure themselves due to the heat, make sure they’re a safe distance away before you start grilling. If your pet is running around while you’re barbecuing outside, just make sure someone keeps a close eye on him, and make sure to never leave the grill unattended.

Next: Don’t use this tool to cook meat. 

14. You’re using a long-handled fork for meat

Meat on Grill

Don’t puncture the meat. | Even_lys/iStock/Getty Images

Using a long-handled fork is great for flipping and grilling vegetables, but a lot of people make the mistake of using a fork for everything they’re grilling. The Daily Meal warns against using it for meat because “puncturing the meat will cause you to lose some of its juices.”

Next: Make sure your’e dressed properly.  

15. You wear loose clothes

People in aprons cooking on grill

You risk catching your clothes on fire. | Nd3000/iStock/Getty Images

When you’re grilling on a hot day, it’s tempting to wear cool, loose fitting clothing. But loose clothing that hangs over the grill runs the risk of catching on fire. This goes for aprons as well — make sure the strings are tied up properly and tucked away. “In the event of catching fire do not attempt to take the flaming item of clothing off; instead roll over on the ground until the fire is out,” says Divine Grill.

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