Stick by these laws of the grill and you'll have success every time. Want more grilling advice? Visit our special grilling section, complete with recipes, how-tos, and a 10-part video series for CooksClub members.
1. Do all your prep and gather your tools in advance. You don't want to leave your steak unattended or miss the window of a perfect-temperature fire because you're hunting for your tongs or slicing a mountain of vegetables.
2. Make sure your grates are really clean. Heat them first and then scrub them with a stiff wire grill brush. Next, fold a paper towel, grasp it with long-handled tongs, dip it in some cooking oil, and quickly swab the grates, cleaning and oiling them at the same time.
3. Be patient. Don't start grilling until your coals are ready or your gas grill is heated. That way you'll get a good sear and food is less likely to stick.
4. Don't crowd the grill. Leave enough room around each piece of food for air to circulate so that the food sears properly and your fire has the air it needs to fuel it.
5. Don't move the food too often. It's tempting to check on something by turning it over, but if you can be patient and let the food sit long enough to really sear, you won't have as many sticking problems.
6. Pay attention. Unless you're cooking with indirect heat, you'll have the best results if you keep a close eye on how fast your food is cooking.
7. Learn to manage flare-ups. You can prevent flare-ups by letting excess marinade or oil drain off before putting food on the fire. When flare-ups do happen, move food to a cooler spot on the grill or temporarily cut off the air to the grill by covering it or shutting the air vents.
8. Check for doneness early. You can always put food back on the grill, but once it's overcooked, there's no going back. Use an instant-read thermometer to check on meat temperatures.
9. Brush on barbecue sauces and sweet glazes toward the end of cooking. They'll burn if they're put on too early.
10. Let it rest. Let grilled foods, especially meats, rest off of the heat for at least 5 and up to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute for more tender, tasty results.