The Ultimate Guide to Start Grilling

From what grill to pick to how to light it up, we've got you covered with this guide.


Grilling season is officially here! If you’re new to grilling, don’t be intimidated. Here are some essential tips to help you get ready to grill everything from burgers and chicken to veggies, salads and even desserts. And if you need recipe inspiration, check out these healthy grilling recipes.

Get a Grill

Grilled Flank Steak with Tomato Salad

Recipe to Try: Grilled Flank Steak with Tomato Salad

Gas grills

Gas grills usually come in two- and three-burner versions but as long as you have at least two you can do the direct and indirect cooking methods we recommend for chicken. It's also useful if the grill comes equipped with a thermometer so you can easily monitor and control the cooking temperature. (We like this 3-burner version, $200, Home Depot.)

Charcoal grills

For a charcoal grill, choose one that has a cover, top and bottom vents and a thermometer, all of which will help you monitor and maintain an even cooking temperature. (This one has a built-in thermometer, $219, Home Depot.)

Light It Up!

Grilled Broccoli Wedges with Herb Vinaigrette

Recipe to Try: Grilled Broccoli Wedges with Herb Vinaigrette

Depending on the type of grill, there are different ways to heat it up. There are also two kinds of heat: direct and indirect.

For a gas grill

To light it up: follow the manufacturer's instructions to light. Turn all burners to high, close the lid and let heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

For direct heat: Adjust all burners for medium heat, 400°F.

For indirect heat: Shut off one or two burners and adjust lit burner for medium heat, 400°F.

For a charcoal grill

To light it up: light your fire 20 minutes before you're ready to cook. Use a chimney starter. Place a balled-up sheet of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney. Fill with charcoal. Light the newspaper and burn until the coals are mostly white, about 20 minutes.

For direct heat: Spread coals in an even layer, close the lid and adjust vents for medium heat, 400°F.

For indirect heat: Push coals to one side of the grill, and adjust vents for medium heat, 400°F.

Choose Your Coal


Recipe to Try: Charred Cabbage with Buttermilk-Herb Dressing

Charcoal briquettes

Charcoal briquettes burn slowly and evenly but generate a lot of ash. Look for brands without any added fillers and binders, which can add unwanted flavors.

Lump charcoal

Lump charcoal has the advantage of being made entirely of hardwood. These gnarly-looking and unevenly sized hunks of coal light easily and add a pleasant touch of smokiness that most briquettes don't produce. (We like this mesquite charcoal, $19, Home Depot.)

Oil the Rack

Herb-Grilled Chicken Frites

Recipe to Try: Herb-Grilled Chicken Frites

Once the grill is heated, oil a folded ­paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the hot rack right before placing the chicken on the grill. (We like Oxo's 16-inch tongs, $16, Williams Sonoma.)

Video: How to Make a BBQ Party Menu

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