Gateway Gazette

Cooking With Jeanna: Grilling 101

For many people like myself, I love the taste of grilled food way more than when it’s cooked on the stove, but I never really knew how to grill. My fiancé has been slowly teaching me some basics and for this week, I thought I would do my own research and maybe teach my fiancé a thing or two.


There are two main types of grills: The gas grill and the charcoal grill.


Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes and for every budget.

Pros: the charcoal creates flavorful smoky flavors

Cons: They take practice and time to learn how to light them. They also take more time to clean.

To light a charcoal grill:

You build a charcoal fire at the bottom of the grill, put the grate on top, and start cooking. There are two main ways that you can light a charcoal grill.

One way is to use a chimney starter, “a steel cylinder with a grate built into its bottom, and a stout handle on its side.” Add wadded up newspaper under the grate and then fill the cylinder with charcoal. Put the starter in your grill and light the newspaper with a match or a BBQ lighter. When all charcoal is lit, which takes about 10-15 minutes, you can dump the coals into the base of the grill.

The second way to start the grill is by using lighter fluid. Add charcoal into a pyramid shape to the bottom of the grill, and add lighter fluid evenly to the pile, and light it with a BBQ lighter.

Make sure to leave a portion of your grill free of coals so there’s a resting zone for the food that’s cooking too fast.

Two main types of charcoal to use are briquettes and lump charcoal.

Briquettes: The most common. They last a long time and are good to use for food that needs a long time to cook. They also have “quick lighting briquettes” which are made with wax and are able to light without lighter fluid or the chimney starter.

Lump charcoal: It is mainly pure carbon. It lights and burns quickly at high temps. Lump charcoal is good for making foods at very high temperatures but it only has a short amount of time to cook with it, because this charcoal doesn’t last and can’t hold the high temps for a long period of time.

Best things to cook on charcoal grills

Bone-in steaks

Whole Fish



The gas grill is the most common form of grill in the U.S. You use propane to power it, and to light it you just have to turn a knob or click a button.

Pros: The gas grill is easier to start than charcoal grills. It is also easier to clean. You can control the temperature and have a few different temps going on different sides of the grill.

Con: Can be very expensive. Costs go from $150 to thousands. Maintenance can be time-consuming. They also don’t have that smoky charcoal flavor.

To light a gas grill:

turn handle on propane to on. Then turn the knobs, just like a kitchen stove. Some have little igniter buttons to push first.

Best things to cook on gas grills:




Roasted Chicken



There is direct cooking and indirect cooking. Direct cooking is where food is placed directly over the coals or flame.

It should be used for food that will cook through before it burns, like steaks, kebabs, hamburgers, and seafood.

Indirect cooking is where the food is cooker on a part of the grill that isn’t right above the coals or flame. It is a good idea to have both places for direct and indirect cooking in your grill to control the temperature and where you can move your food if it is cooking too fast.

“If your grill has an upper rack, you can place the food on it for indirect cooking (it’s far enough to count as indirect heat), but remember that heat rises and the ambient temperature at the top of the grill will be high.”


-A digital instant –read meat thermometer. This is the way you know exactly when your meat is at the correct internal temperature.

-A pair of tongs and a spatula. They help move or flip food over the heat.

-Some grills already have a side table, but if yours doesn’t, it’s helpful to have something set up to keep all your ingredients close by for easy access.

-Wire brush. This is the easiest tool to use to clean off the stuck on food and to clean the grates.


The best time to clean your grill is when you are done cooking and the grates are still warm. When the stuck on food cools on the grates, it sticks to them more. When the grates are still warm, it makes the food more movable and easier to clean.


How to Grill

Grilling Techniques

Grilling 101


Cooking With Jeanna

Other Reading

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

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