Well, it’s finally spring. Time un-tarp your outdoor space, wheel your double-wide Weber and Prestige Pro (or cherished Yoder Smoker) out of the garage, and load up on a few-months-worth of propane, charcoal, or pellets.
After all, there are few things in life better than getting together with family and friends in the backyard on a sunny afternoon, cracking open a few cold ones, pumping up the jams, and having a good old-fashioned American barbecue.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of the upcoming BBQ season:
Get Your Grill On
Now’s the time to get barbecue-ready — whether you’re giving your current set-up a once-over, or deciding to replace/upgrade what you’re working with. If you’re looking to upgrade, first decide whether you primarily want to grill or smoke. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of amazing options available. Classic charcoal barbecues, convenient propane grills, smokers of every size, even fancy new options that let you do a little bit of everything. Also spend some time thinking about how intense things are going to get. Will you be grilling up a few burgers and steaks tips every now and again, or making burnt ends and beef jerky. Having a plan in mind will help you find the right fit.
Be Ready for Anything
There’s no bigger let-down than getting the gang together for a killer day in the sun and having to order pizza because you’re out of propane. Trust us, we’ve been there. Now’s the time to triple-check your supply of charcoal, pellets, and wood — and to do the lift-test of all your propane tanks. And whatever you use, it’s always a great idea to double up. No one ever regretted having too much grilling potential.
Next, make sure you get the proper utensils like tongs, spatulas, and a great grill brush — and it never hurts to get something fancy to impress the crew. If you’re hosting a barbecue outside of a major holiday, always buy your meats and veggies fresh. There’s truly nothing like farmer’s market corn on the cob — and frozen meat will never compare to a cut straight from the butcher.
Mix It Up
Whether you’re hosting a large gathering or just whipping up a family dinner, don’t be afraid to branch out. Sure, hamburgers and hot dogs are always a crowd-pleaser (and easy to make) — but a true grillmaster knows how to be adventurous. Cedar grilling planks for a nice piece of fish, skewers that bring chicken and shrimp and vegetables together, even cast iron skillets, are all great for shaking things up and showcasing your true barbecue bona fides. Also be sure to test out new marinades, sauces, glazes, seasonings, and grilling techniques — including the top-chef approved reverse sear.
If you’re working out a new recipe, do a small-batch test run at a forgiving family dinner before launching your latest creation at a 30-person cookout. Trial-and-error is always the best way to explore different textures and flavors.
Enjoy the Company
Most importantly — if we’ve learned anything over the past couple years of crazy pandemic life, it’s that time with friends and family is precious. Try to be fully present and savor every moment. Having the right tools for the job, being fully stocked and prepped, and feeling confident in your recipes and techniques will let you put your best foot forward as grillmaster, while still being part of the fun.