There's no cooking method more primal than grilling. Cavemen were doing it, so how hard can it be? The answer is, not that hard, but these days we probably like our food to be slightly more succulent than what cavemen were eating, and that's where some skill comes in. To avoid grilling disaster, there are some pitfalls to watch out for. (Grill smart with our 13 Must-Know Grilling Tips.)

Here are 5 common mistakes most grillers make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – You run out of gas or charcoal.

Ok, duh. I know. But I've done it before, and it spells disaster. Dinner isn't dinner if it's half cooked! It's easy to forget to check that tank of propane while it's nestled underneath the grill. To avoid this common mistake, have an extra tank or bag of charcoal on hand or, at the very least, remember to check your supply before you start your grill.

Mistake #2 – You don't preheat your grill.

Just as you would preheat your oven, you need to preheat the grill too. Getting the grates nice and hot helps to prevent sticking, gives your food those lovely classic grill marks and ensures that your food cooks at the proper rate.

Mistake #3 – You get flare-ups.

It may look fancy, but flames licking your food contributes an off flavor. To avoid flare-ups (like when you're basting, for example), have an area on your grill set up for indirect heat. That is, have one burner turned off or, if you're using charcoal, a charcoal-free spot where you can move your food when it's dripping. When the flames have been tamed, you can move your food back over the direct heat if you need to.

Mistake #4 – You keep the lid open.

Just as you would never bake with your oven door open, you should keep the lid on your grill closed as much as possible. Unless you're cooking something that's very quick and easily burned, closing the lid helps food cook faster and more evenly and helps regulate the heat.

Mistake #5 – You don't turn the food enough.

Every grill, including charcoal grills, have "hot spots" or places where the heat is stronger. You don't have to hover, but in addition to, say, flipping burgers, moving them around on the grill will keep everything cooking at a similar rate and will help prevent burning.
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