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Ok y’all! The heat is on and the celebration of our country’s Independence is on! Boats are gonna be on the water. Kids are gonna be screamin’ how bored they are. Momma ain’t gonna feel like cookin’. Which is good, because any excuse to fire up the grill or smoker is welcome this time of year.

We have compiled 25 tips for those who love to grill, smoke or both.

BONUS TIP- Know your grill and smoker. Now where your hot spots are. Big Smokers and grills and “eggs” tend to be more consistent when it comes to heat. But, smaller models tend to be more fickle.

Grilling Tips

  1. Use Metal Utensils- NOT Plastic
  2. Oil your grate- Some say before you light. Personally I Like to get my grate hot , and wire brush it first to get it good and clean. Then I take a paper towel soaked in vegetable or olive oil in my tongs and LIGHTLY rub oil on the grate. Never started a fire this way. Can’t say some of y’all won’t.
  3. If you have to use lighter fluid wait at least 10 minutes. I suggest buying a chimney starter . It burns cleaner, and gets the coals hotter quicker.
  4. Cover it- Don’t Drown it! : See that water bottle you brought out for flare ups? Use it to spray down the kids. If you have flare ups just cover your grill until they die down.
  5. DO NOT Constantly flip your burger.
  6. Cook your chicken over low heat, plan on taking your time
  7. For best results, cook pork and beef on high heat and ideally only flip 2-4 times.
  8. Some folks like to cut their veggies and wrap in foil. About 5 minutes after I light the coals, I place whole onions (skin on) and corn on the cob (husk on) directly on the grill over the hot spot to start. Turning once every 10 minutes for the first 20, then if you need room for meat, adjust. You will get a burnt look outside. But, the veggies are cooking in their own juices. Once soft to the touch they are done. Open carefully!
  9. Chicken and Pork- Keep that sauce rolling! Especially chicken! About 5 minutes before you feel your chicken is done, put an extra sauce slop over it to give it a nice glaze.
  10. Let it sit- Take your meat off the grill- and leave it alone for a couple of minutes. Cutting into it as soon as you pull it off releases all those juices and flavors you worked so hard maintain.
  11. Hot Dogs- I like a good crisp hot dog- Y’all know the kind that is crispy and a lil charred on the outside, and then juicy, burn the roof of your mouth good on the inside. Start your dogs on the “cool side” of the grill. Flipping once for 2 minutes. Then place it over the hottest part of the grill. Keep rollin’ until they reach that desired level of done-ness. If you cut them half way or “spiral” I will come over and smack you for letting all that wonderful flavor waste.

Smoker Tips

  1. Season your smoker cooker. Spray cooking area with vegetable oil or PAM (walls, doors, grates, – everything inside the smoker cooker). Fire-up your smoker  pre cook in it by letting the oil sizzle and sear and pre grill for about 35 to 45 minutes or longer. Like a cast iron pan, the longer and hotter the better.
  2. Low and Slow- You ain’t competition cookin’ here. Stick that food on there, close the lid and leave it the hell alone. Go play catch, jump in the pool, grab a cold one. But take your time.
  3. Use a water pan. If your smoker or grill doesn’t have one, an aluminum foil pan will do. This will help keep the heat stabilized and add humidity. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t need to add water.
  4. In general, you should smoke food for no longer than half its cooking time. Also, the smoke should flow like a gentle stream, not like out of your grandfather’s car in the 60s.
  5. White smoke good. Black smoke bad. Generally this happens if your ventilation is off. Or you made the mistake of putting the food over the fire.
  6. Try not to peek. Keep that heat consistent. But DO check your wood, temp and water occasionally.
  7. Don’t over marinate, sauce or season. Let the wood do the work.
  8. Black is good- If the outside is forming a nice “bark” let it ride. That means you are hitting that smoke nirvana.
  9. Hickory chunks mixed with a nice apple or peach wood is usually best. If you are gonna use mesquite, know what you are doing. DO NOT go out in the woods looking for cheap fresh cedar. Improperly used the sap can be toxic.
  10. Keep the coals hot- keep a back up of coals and add occasionally to keep it going. Ideally, hot coals. NO lighter infused coals.
  11. Remember when it comes to coals and temp- You can always add heat, you can’t take it away. Try and keep that 225 consistent. But, no more that 250.
  12. I prefer a simple rub over brining. DO NOT do both. There are plenty of rub recipes out there. But, most contain salt, pepper, lemon pepper, chili flakes.
  13. Brisket- Arguments go both ways. Fat side down seems to be the smartest. But , it depends on your smoker. We found this list of pros and cons for up, down, and flipping.
  14. If you are gonna sauce those ribs or chickens, do it about 30 minutes before you are done. It will leave a nice glaze.

Food Safety Tips For Summer Cookouts