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Avoiding Grilling Mistakes

Jul 5, 2008
It happens from time to time. We're only human, and we do make mistakes. We make mistakes in all areas in our lives, even in grilling. Sometimes, we are not even aware that we've made a mistake. When we are grilling, our mistakes may mean minor consequences, such as overcooked food. Our mistakes may also be disastrous, meaning a visit to the emergency, or a visit from the fire department. No matter what the consequences, though, we should take steps to avoid mistakes.

Grilling mistakes are usually made in one of three areas, food preparation and safety, cooking, and grill maintainence and safety.

Food Preparation And Safety

Food safety and preparation are important. Food safety to prevent the spread of foodborne illness, preparation to make the cooking process go more quickly and efficiently.

Be sure to properly thaw your meat before grilling. At least 24 hours before cooking, move the meat from the freezer to the refrigerator to allow it to thaw. If you have to, you can use your microwave to thaw meat, but be sure to use it right away.

Avoid cross contamination. Never use the same cutting board for raw and cooked meat, or raw meat and vegetables. The cutting board that you use for raw meat should be used only for raw meat. Be sure to properly clean and sanitize it between uses.

If you marinate your meat, do not use the marinade for basting during cooking. If you want to use some of the marinade as a baste, then set a portion of it aside, and use the rest for marinating. You can also pour the marinade into a saucepan, and bring it to a boil for several minutes, to kill off any harmful bacteria.

After cooking the meat, use a fresh plate to serve it. Never put the cooked meat on the plate that you used to carry the raw meat with.


Get all of your ingredients, utensils, and cookware ready before you start. The cooking will go a lot smoother if you have everything ready to go before you start. If you have to take time to find something you need in the middle of cooking, you could end up with overcooked food.

If you're using a recipe, read through the recipe completely, and make sure you understand all of the instructions. You don't want to start cooking for tonights dinner, and find out that the meat should be marinated overnight.

Do not use a fork to turn the meat on the grill, use a pair of tongs instead. Poking holes in the meat will allow the juices to drain out, causing the food to come out dry. The juices will also drip into the bottom of the grill, making cleanup harder, and causing a possible fire hazard.

Cook the meat at the proper temperature. Some meats should be cooked quickly over high heat. Others will become dry or burn if the temperature is too high.


Never leave the grill unattended when it is being used. Fires can occur on the grill, and they can spread quickly. Keeping an eye on your grill, you can take care of small fires quickly. If you aren't paying attention, the fire could spread, requiring a visit from the those people in the big red truck.

Do not grill too close to a wall or wooden fence. The grill is hot enough to cause a fire. Move your grill away from the wall before you light it. If you store the grill next to a wall, be sure it is completely cool before moving it back to the wall. Don't put your grill cover on, either, until the grill has completely cooled.

Your grill should be cleaned after every use. Run a grill brush over the grate while it is still hot, to loosen any food that may have stuck. Let the grill cool down completely before spraying any cleaning solution or oil, otherwise it could cause a fire.

These are all simple precautions, but they could mean the difference between a great barbecue, and a trip to the hospital.
About the Author
Visit Patio Grilling for more grilling tips, resources, and grilling recipes.
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