17 Celebrity Chef-Approved Grilling Tips

Whether you are just starting out with grilling or you have been smoking briskets for a while, chances are you are always looking for some new tips and tricks to use at your next BBQ!

I learned most of what I know about outdoor cooking from my Grilling Dad. I consider him a grilling expert. Thinking about this the other day, I figured that there has to be great advice from other grilling experts out there. However, finding advice from everyday Grilling Dad (like my dad) is not so easy. So I rounded up some celebrity chef grilling tips instead! 

Read on to discover what these experts have to say so you can impress your friends and family the next time you grill for them! 

1. Always use a meat thermometer.

thermapen one review

While I hope that you’re already using a meat thermometer, some people still believe that you should check if your meat is done by touch alone. That may be a cool party trick, but as BBQ Expert Chris Lilly says, it is unreliable. 

Instead, pick out a cool grill thermometer that allows you to show off to your friends but ensures everything is done and safe to eat before you remove it from the grill. 

2. Keep your grill clean.

scrubbing a grill with a brush

You may not need a professional to tell you this, but if you do, Melissa Cookston of Memphis Barbeque Company is telling you now. When you use a dirty grill, the charred remains of your last session often end up on your current creation and totally wreck the taste! 

If you’re looking for the best grill-cleaning brush, I highly recommend the Grill Rescue. It’s the best there is!

While you don’t have to deep clean after every grill session, you want to at least give it a good scrub so your food comes out tasting how you expect!

3. Only cook room-temperature meat.

tri tip vs brisket

World-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck says that one of the biggest mistakes grillers make is throwing cold meat on the grill. Not only does it have to cook longer, but this is just asking for it to cook unevenly. 

For the best results, defrost anything you’re planning to grill in the fridge. Then let it sit on the counter for a few minutes (so it can rise to room temperature) before you toss it on the grill. 

4. Don’t play with your meat.

how much pulled pork per person

While this might sound like something your mother once said, it was actually recently reiterated by chef Bobby Flay. Bobby thinks that most grillers spend way too much time flipping their meat, which can destroy the tasty crust you are trying to build. 

Be patient, sit back, and wait. Try only flipping it once during its cooking time. I love the aesthetics (nice grill lines) this brings too.

5. Plan your steak flips in advance.

best outdoor kitchen grill

Gordon Ramsay is one of the most well-known chefs of all time and for a good reason. His steaks are known for being juicy, delicious, and seared to perfection. His advice for steak searers is that you should always plan your steak flips in advance. 

What does this mean? Ramsay explains that he always places his steak on the grill in an area and direction so that it is easy for him to grab it and flip it later. That way, the minute he sees it getting a nice caramelized color, he can easily grab it and flip it without struggling to get ahold of it or to reach across the hot grill. 

6. Take the membrane off ribs.

Should Ribs Be Cooked Bone Up or Down

You’ve probably read our article: How to Remove Membrane from Ribs and know that removing the membrane is optional. However, Myron Mixon, a world BBQ champion, thinks differently. 

He’s learned that leaving the membrane on prevents the smoke from being able to get into the meat and changes the taste of the final product. Considering he is a world champion, I will definitely continue to remove the membrane from my racks of ribs! 

7. Try grilled cabbage.

a head of cabbage cut in half

Yeah, I know, cabbage isn’t my first thought when it comes to grilling, either. But chef Michael Symon recommends it.

Symon recommends slicing the head of cabbage and putting butter on one side. Place the buttered side down on the grill. Let it grill for a few minutes, then serve as a wedge or just as a side on its own! Hmm… I might just have to try it next time.

8. Always cook over indirect heat. 

Chef Tom Colicchio, most well-known for his restaurant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, says that the best grilled meats are made over indirect heat

No matter what you are grilling or what type of grill you are using, just make sure the heat isn’t directly on the meat. This way, you can get some amazing results that are evenly cooked all the way through! 

9. Allow your charcoal to heat properly before cooking.

Does Charcoal Go Bad

Another word of wisdom from Wolfgang Puck: too many people rush to grill over charcoal when they really should wait an hour. Waiting an hour lets the flames die off and allows the briquettes to heat up so you can grill more easily and evenly. 

Allowing your charcoal briquettes to rise in temperature ensures you’ll be cooking over indirect heat rather than direct heat and helps your food cook more evenly without burning. 

10. Don’t grill on an unseasoned grill. 

Weber Smokefire EX6, best large capacity pellet grill

Known for his time on the hit show Chopped, Scott Conant advises grillers never to grill on an unseasoned grill. Grilling on a new grill that hasn’t been seasoned can really affect the flavors of your food. 

I always season my new grills following the process outlined in How to Season Your Pellet Grill. It’s easy, and it will save you from making a huge grilling faux pas. 

11. Don’t let rare steaks sit out. 

what is a cowboy steak

Charlie Palmer, known for his restaurant of the same name in Las Vegas, knows that leaving your meat out to rise to room temperature is important, but not if you want a rare steak! He believes this is the one type of steak that needs to be thrown on the grill right away. 

In order to get a nice rare inside, you want to sear the steak as quickly as possible. You aren’t worrying about uneven cooking or burning as you would with other done-nesses. Charlie also recommends seasoning your steak in a little oil to help the searing process. 

12. Oil skewers before loading them.

smoked shrimp skewers recipe for memorial day

Skewers are an excellent way to cook veggies and potatoes on the grill, but food can get stuck to them, making it difficult to enjoy what you’ve cooked. Celebrity chef Judy Joo has a solution, and that is to rub a little oil on the skewers before loading them.

Not only does this help add flavor, but you’ll also get to enjoy your kabob meats and vegetables easier than ever before! 

13. Touch your food as little as possible.

Oak Wood for Smoking

When you are grilling a creation that has taken you hours, it can be tempting to poke at it to see if it’s done. Donatella Arpaia, an Iron Chef America judge, says this is the worst thing you can possibly do. 

If you continually touch your food as it grills, it won’t get that nice char you are craving. Simply leave it be until the time when you expect it to be done. 

14. Always pre-season your meat.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Wolfgang Puck has made it to my list a third time. After all, you don’t get to be the best by not knowing anything! For his last piece of advice, he recommends pre-seasoning your meat at least one hour prior to grilling. 

This gives the spices extra time to soak into the meat and adds extra flavor. He even recommends seasoning the night before if you can!  

15. Don’t use bottled marinades.

raw steaks sitting next to two marinade cups

Robert Irvine, who you may know from Restaurant: Impossible, says that dumping a bottled marinade on your meat is the quickest way to ruin a meal that would have been healthy otherwise. 

If you want to flavor your meat, he recommends making your own spice and rubs instead (or settling for a quick marinade of just a squeeze of citrus) rather than adding the sugary bottled creations. 

Looking for rub recommendations? Then check out TheGrillingDad’s 10 Best BBQ Rubs to Elevate Your Grilling Game

16. Clean the grill with an onion

How to Grill Onions

You have already heard that you should always cook on a clean grill, but Firoz Thanawalla takes this a step further by recommending that you use an onion to clean your grill. Not only is it effective, but it adds a little flavor that can transfer to meat the next time you cook. 

All you have to do is cut an onion in half and use the cut side to rub down the grill grates. You can find more detailed instructions, as well as other grill cleaning ideas, in our article How to Clean a Grill Without a Brush

17. Grill your corn with the husks on.

close up photo of grilled corn

Here at theGrillingDad, we love our grilled corn, which is why I was ecstatic when I came across this recommendation from Bobby Flay to grill corn with the husks on

Bobby recommends removing the silks but leaving the husks to protect the corn from the heat of the grill. He also recommends soaking the corn (and husks) in water for 30 minutes before cooking to prevent the husks from catching fire as the corn grills. 

I hope you have enjoyed learning about these grilling tips from the pros! If there are any I missed, let me know in the comments. 

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Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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