Simple tips for more flavorful grilling


Grilling is sometimes described as an art form. Many skilled grillmasters are a testament to that assertion, and it’s apparent to anyone who enjoys grilled foods that some who man the grill have a knack for producing flavorful dishes.

Though grilling requires a little trial and error on the path to becoming a go-to grillmaster, there are some simple strategies anyone can employ to produce more flavorful finished products:

• Dry rub foods before putting them on the grill. 

Grilling enthusiasts may debate if a dry rub or a marinade is best for grilled foods, and that back-and-forth may never produce a definitive answer. The choice of dry rub or marinade is ultimately up to the cook, but a dry rub can be more convenient because it can be applied shortly before foods are placed on the grill without sacrificing flavor. Many recipes call for foods to marinate for several hours or even overnight. Both dry rubs and marinades can improve the flavor profile, but the former can do so without too much planning ahead of time. 

Dry rubs also tend to be made with ingredients such as salt, pepper and brown sugar that many people already have at home, adding to the convenience of this approach that can enhance flavor without too much effort.

• Oil the grates before cooking. 

Similar to utilizing a dry rub when cooking, oiling the grill grates can add flavor and make grilling more convenient. Various online grilling experts and forums advise using a silicone brush to apply an oil with a high smoke point (the smoke point is the temperature at which the oil will begin to smoke). 

The online grilling resource notes that corn (smoke point 450 degrees F) and peanut oil (440 degrees F) are better than extra virgin olive oil (410 degrees F) when oiling a grill grate. The oil applied to the grate can add some additional flavor, and also create a nonstick surface that ensures food is not torn apart while it cooks over an open flame.

• Bring meat to room temperature. 

One of the keys to successful grilling is to ensure foods cook evenly. Prior to grilling meat, take the meat out of the refrigerator roughly 20 to 30 minutes before you intend to put it over a flame. This allows the meat to reach room temperature, which in turn increases the likelihood it will cook evenly.

• Cook with wood. 

The culinary experts at Williams-Sonoma note that wood can be used to add flavor to grilled foods. 

Williams-Sonoma recommends soaking wood chips, herbs, or grapevine cuttings for 30 minutes and then draining before using with a charcoal grill. Avoid soaking wood or aromatics when grilling on a gas grill, as doing so can make it difficult to ignite the grill.

Grilling is a skill that anyone can develop over time. But even novices can employ a few strategies to increase the flavor profile of their next meal cooked over an open flame.