Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Your LAist Guide To A Great Grilling Season In 10 Simple Steps

Flames rise form a charcoal grill as a person with tongs flips meat.
Family making barbecue in dinner party camping at night
Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Father’s Day is this weekend, and many of us will be taking to our respective outdoor spaces to fire up the grill for our loved ones. Grilling for the uninitiated can be an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be.

Get Ready for Summer
  • We're here to help get your outdoor space looking great with practical tips, news and what you need to do to keep conservation in mind.

With the proper planning and quality food and ingredients, you too can achieve barbecue bliss. The important thing is to enjoy yourself no matter what you do. You can accomplish this by basking in the refreshing UV rays, throwing on your favorite playlist, cracking open a cool beverage of your liking, and taking it all in.


Here are a few helpful tips before you embark on a grilling journey. But, of course, these are just a few things to consider before and during the process to ensure you have a successful cook.

Support for LAist comes from

1. Go With What You Know

When doing any type of entertaining, stick to those tried, and true recipes that you know will work — keeping it simple when picking the right formula that everyone will enjoy. Don’t experiment too much.

2. Clean Your Grill

A hand is cleaning the grill with scrubber.
Clean your grill!
Getty Images)

Start with a clean space. The best tool for this job is a metal brush from any big box retailer or hardware store. They are cheap and can last a long time. You can also use a balled-up piece of foil with some tongs in a pinch. Follow this up with a paper towel dipped in cooking oil. While you are at, clean the grates of a build-up of ash or grease. A clean grill is a happy one. 

3. Invest In A Charcoal Chimney

Close up of person with gloves using a chimney starter on barbecue grill
Invest in a chimney starter.
(Aleksandr Golubev
Getty Images/iStockphoto)

For those who prefer to use charcoal; charcoal chimneys are life savers. They make the entire process of getting the grill started 15 mins or less. Stuff the bottom of the chimney with newspaper or other junk mail that may be cluttering your mailbox. Once you’ve crumbled enough to fill the base, pour your charcoal into the chimney. After that, use a long lighter or match to light your flame. The base flame will make contact with charcoal. After about 10 minutes, the edges of the charcoal will appear ashy with caution. Pour it into the base of your grill and replace the top grill. 

4. If Using Charcoal, Always Use More Than You Think

I’ve found over the years with my own grilling experiences that charcoal always burns quicker than expected, so you want to make sure you have enough to keep the grill hot so that your food cooks for the desired effect. 

Support for LAist comes from

5. Create Different Heat Zones

Ideally, your grill has two sections, one for direct heat and the other for indirect heat. Indirect heat is the way to go if you grill fatty meat like chorizo or pork belly. Different methods depend on using a gas grill vs. charcoal. If using charcoal, put the charcoal on one side. If using a gas grill, only use half the burners. 

6. Don’t Mess With The Food Too Much When It’s On The Grill

Resist the urge to flip or press the meat once you start grilling. Usually, once or twice is acceptable.

7. Don’t Open The Grill

On a similar note, it's best to leave your grill closed, so you don’t disturb the cook. In addition, a closed grill creates convection, which means more well-distributed heat for a better cook. 

8. Invest In A Meat Thermometer

A person uses a meat thermometer to check skewers cooked on barbecue grill.
Use a meat thermometer.
Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This is another inexpensive investment to ensure your food gets to the exact temperature. Meat thermometers usually cost about ten bucks and are handy for indoor and outdoor cooking.

9. Less Is More When It Comes To Cooking Times

The reality is that most food keeps cooking after it leaves the grill, so if it seems a little underdone, that's okay; it will most likely finish afterward.

10. Let It Rest

This is the last step but one of the most important ones. Let your meat rest afterward, for the reasons mentioned above, and if you are cutting into your meat later. Most rest times take between five to 15 minutes. Plan accordingly. 

Some Of My Favorite Recipes

My Recommendations For Some Of The Best Carniceria And Meat Markets

Here are just a few of some quality meat markets if you are looking to wow your guests.

El Centro Meat Market | 750 S Kern Ave A, Los Angeles

Hottinger Family Meats | 5437 Chino Ave, Chino

La Carniceria | Various Locations

Marconda's Meats |The Farmers Market, 6333 W 3rd St Stall 514, Los Angeles

McCall's Meat & Fish Co. |2117 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles

Orchards BBQ and Grill |16214 Whittier Blvd, Whittier

Vera’s Market | 3667 Delta Ave, Long Beach

Have An Idea For A Food Story?
Send it our way. We can’t reply to every query we receive but we will try to help. We’d love to hear from you.