Feature - Fill Your Grill

Ten Secrets to Being A Better BBQ-er

If you are one of those who are intimidated by the thought of using the grill, then our ten secrets to becoming a better BBQ-er is the perfect place to start. It’s easy to be better at BBQ-ing when you follow these tips, you will even wonder how you never tried these tips before.


1. Clean Your Grill

We’ve said it before and we will say it again. A clean grill is a happy grill. Begin each session with a clean grill. It’s easiest to turn your grill up to high when you’re done cooking, then use a grill brush to clear away any debris on the cooking grids. However, you can do this before you cook if you forgot. Clean doesn’t just mean your grids; check on the grease tray and drip pan every 2 to 4 cooks to make sure that there is nothing nasty building up. Excess grease and debris is dangerous to your grill and can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Grill Maintenance is easy. We have loads of articles on the best practices for keeping your favorite outdoor appliance in fantastic working order.


2. Read The Whole Recipe First

Reading the whole recipe before you even start pulling out the tongs not only guarantees that you have all of the ingredients and tools, but also ensures that you have enough fuel to cook your food. There is nothing worse than running out of propane or charcoal when you’re making a meal. This is an excellent suggestion that carries over to cooking in the kitchen as well.

Maple Garlic Chicken


3. Preheat The Grill

Preheating the grill is something that you need to do no matter what. As explained in the BTU’s Blog - What Are BTU's, the heat generated by the BTU’s of a grill first have to be absorbed and distributed by that grill before a grill can effectively cook. They heat the cavity and the grids, which provide heat transfer through convection and contact. If you don’t preheat the grill you won’t get that sizzle you are after, that sear and crunch that makes BBQ worthwhile. Preheating the grill is integral to being a better BBQ-er.


4. Correct Tools

Having the right tools for the job is a huge part of being better at BBQ. If you have just one tool, a good set of tongs will be the most useful. Napoleon Grills have fantastic storage in the grill cabinet. Put together a BBQ kit to keep in your grill cabinet so that you have all of the correct tools on hand. This will go a long way to helping you BBQ better. Things in your kit could include:

  • Tongs

  • Salt and pepper

  • Oil

  • Paper towel

  • Fire prevention kit that includes baking soda and a squirt bottle in case of grease fires or smoldering planks

  • Heat resistant gloves

  • Trivets/pot holders

Spatula Tongs


5. Know The Difference Between Direct Heat & Indirect Heat

Being a better BBQ-er means understanding heat zones in your grill. Did you know a Napoleon grill is so efficient that it can grill in more ways than one? You can cook quickly using direct heat to sear and create grill marks, or slowly using convection and indirect heat.


In Gas Grills

Direct heat is generated by the gas burners; cooking over direct heat is achieved by placing your food directly over those lit burners. This is great for burgers, thin cuts of beef, and definitely for getting great sear marks. You will want to avoid anything that takes longer than a few minutes per side to completely cook through. If you have an Infrared SIZZLE ZONE™ side burner, this is a great tool to use when you want some great searing action.

Direct Cooking Diagram


Indirect heat uses the heat generated by your BBQ’s burners to heat the grill cavity. It is very similar to cooking in an oven. This technique is ideal for things that take a little longer to cook, like roasts, chicken, and even baked goods. To achieve a successful indirect cook, turn on the burners on one side of the grill, or the two outside burners leaving the inside burners off. Place the food over the burners that are not on.

Indirect Cooking Diagram


On Charcoal Grills

The easiest way to light charcoal is by using a charcoal chimney starter. There are vents on the bottom and top of the charcoal grill, open them both about ¼ of the way. When the coals are covered in a coating of white ash and are red and glow-y, carefully dump them from the starter into one side of the charcoal grill. This creates a two-zone fire that you can use to gently cook, roast, bake or smoke by placing food away from the coals. When you want to get a sear over high heat place the food you are cooking directly over the coals. You can learn more about charcoal grilling by reading our blog on how charcoal works.

Indirect Charcoal
Indirect Charcoal


PRO TIP: Add wood chips or chunks for smoking, directly to your charcoal after adding the food to the grill. Make sure the lid is on tight. This will add smoky flavor to whatever you are BBQing.


6. Don’t Crowd The Grill

Sometimes this is hard, even for seasoned BBQ chefs, especially when grilling for a large group. Adding too much to the grill can make things difficult if there is a flare up, you won’t have anywhere to move the food so it doesn’t get burned. Furthermore, the more there is on the grill, the more heat is removed from the cooking grids. That means that your food will not sear properly, but instead will bake or roast, even if you are using direct heat.


7. Pay Attention

Food is expensive; you don’t want it to go to waste because you didn’t pay attention to what you were cooking. Paying attention doesn’t mean lifting the lid and poking things every few seconds. Just being nearby and monitoring the grill for smoke, or flare-ups is fine. If anything goes wrong, you will notice sudden smoke when there wasn’t any or, in the case of flare-ups, you will see the light from flames under the hood. It’s cheaper to pay attention than pay for a new meal.


8. Finished Temperature Of Meat

Being a better BBQ-er means knowing when the food is done. It’s easy to accidentally undercook, or overcook your food. That’s where a wireless digital BBQ thermometer, comes in. Using a digital thermometer will allow you to ensure that your food reaches the perfect temperature without being overdone. Remember, undercooked food can be returned to the grill, but once overcooked, you can’t un-cook food.


Meat Desired Result Finished Temp





Medium Rare






Medium Well






Medium Well






Medium Well




150°F - 165°F
(held for 5 minutes)





9. Give It A Rest

You’ve done it! You have cooked a meal on your BBQ. Now comes the hard part; waiting for the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving it. There are a few excellent reasons to do this. First and foremost, you don’t want all the delicious juices to leak all over the plate leaving the meat you just painstakingly grilled dry. The juices that are now all over the plate take flavor away from your meal. Be a better BBQ-er and remember to rest your meat before serving.

Oatmeal Cookies


10. BBQ Isn’t Just For Meat

Did you know your BBQ isn’t just for meat? You can cook just about anything imaginable on the grill. Roasts and holiday dinners, breakfast, even baked goods! It’s all about utilizing your grill in the appropriate way.

By following these ten secrets to becoming a better BBQ-er you are well on your way to mastering the fine art of cooking over fire. This is a skill should be cultivated. It’s not difficult or as scary as you think. Napoleon’s JETFIRE™ Ignition makes lighting the BBQ a breeze - that was my first stumbling block. Once you prepare your first meal successfully, you’ll be hooked, just like me. Take your first steps to becoming better at BBQing today.