The Ultimate Grilling Guide

  • by Omaha Steaks
Two grilled New York strip steaks, one sliced showing medium-rare doneness. Served with an amber beer.
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The most popular person at every backyard cookout is the grillmaster. So, you’ve decided it’s your calling. Good! The call of the flames, smoke, flavors, and backyard barbecues is strong. Learn how to grill the perfect steak, chicken, burgers, seafood, brats, and veggies with our ultimate grilling guide for beginners.

Essential Grilling Guide for Beginners

We’re sure you’ve seen or heard horror stories of burned food, undercooked meat, and bad barbecue. But don’t worry — grilling is easy! It’s just heat and meat, two simple elements that play nicely together with only confidence and a little competence needed from you. And you’ll need something to grill. Now let’s get to work!

Managing Heat: Gas Grills vs. Charcoal

Gas Grills

Most backyard propane grills have 2 or 3 burners with settings from LOW to HIGH. That’s the best part about gas grills – quick heat and customization. You might be tempted to turn the burners on and slap down the steaks. But DON’T! First you want hot grates: preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes or so before cooking anything.

Then, set up the gas grill equivalent of a three-zone fire. Here’s how:

  • Starting from the left, leave one or two burners on HIGH.
  • Set the middle burner or burners to MEDIUM.
  • Leave the other side on LOW.

This way, you have a place to sear and grill steaks and other high-heat items, a medium zone in the middle for chicken and fish, and a low-heat area for longer-cooking items like bratwurst.

Charcoal Grills

Using a charcoal grill is almost as easy, but a bit more manual. Whether you’re using traditional or lump (hardwood) charcoal, we recommend using a chimney starter — it’s a cheap and natural way to start charcoal without any lighter fluid.

Build a three-zone fire in your kettle grill with one full chimney of lit charcoal. Once all the coals are red and hot, pour them in to the lower area of your grill. Use a long, heat-proof tool mound them over to one side, putting most of the coals in 1/3 of the grill. Allow that mound to shallow out across the middle of the grill and leave the other 1/3 of the grill without any coals at all.

Now you have a hot zone to sear and grill steaks and other high-heat items, a medium zone in the middle for chicken and fish, and a low-heat area for indirect cooking.

Cooking Times for Grilling

Next, make a schedule! Most popular grilling foods have fairly easy cooking guidelines. Basically, you’ll put the longer-cooking foods on first, on your low- and medium-heat areas. As those foods cook, you’ll add faster-cooking items like steaks and finish everything at just about the same time.

These guidelines are very general. See our detailed Steak Cooking Chart and Seafood Cooking Chart for complete cooking times on the most popular steaks and seafood. Or download the Omaha Steaks Mobile App with its steak and cooking timer.

How to Grill Steak

Times will vary depending on thickness and your preferred doneness, but most steak cuts will grill for about 3-7 minutes per side. Use our steak doneness guide to determine the internal temperature for your desired doneness and use the grilling guide below for the steak cut you’re grilling, or follow the steak cooking chart included in every Omaha Steaks box.

Steak Grilling Guides:

Whatever you do, avoid these 9 biggest grilled steak mistakes and you’re on your way to grilling success.

How to Grill Chicken Breast

Grilled chicken is a BBQ favorite and a quick and easy weeknight meal. Exact grilling times will depend on the thickness of the chicken breast. Grill chicken on medium to medium-high heat to an internal temperature of 165°F. View our chicken grilling guide for 5 tips for juicy, tender chicken breast and avoid these common grilled chicken mistakes.

How to Grill Burgers

Grilling a juicy burger is easy with our 4 tips for grilling a perfect burger. Grill burgers on medium to medium-high heat until meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F as measured by a meat thermometer. For an exceptional burger experience, try our PureGround™ burgers crafted from a single cut of beef or whip up one of our chef-created burger recipes.

How to Grill Seafood

Don’t be afraid to grill seafood! Grilling fish and seafood is easy and a healthy way to feed the family. Choose a firm fish to grill and follow our seafood grilling tutorials.

Seafood Grilling Guides:

How to Grill Bratwurst & Sausage

Grilling Gourmet Bratwurst, Cheddar Bratwurst or Italian Sausages is quick and easy. Just add your favorite toppings and a bun for a delicious meal. To grill our brats and sausages, preheat grill to medium-high heat and grill for 6-8 minutes turning frequently for even browning.

How to Grill Vegetables

Complete your meal on the grill with a simple vegetable side dish. Choose a great grilling vegetable like onions, corn, bell peppers, asparagus, carrots, squash, eggplant and more. Slice larger, denser vegetables into thick slices for even cooking. Coat veggies liberally with olive oil and season with your favorite blend or our Garlic & Herb Rub. Grill over medium heat and monitor closely until they reach your desired doneness. For more, check out our vegetable grilling guide and tutorial on how to grill sweet corn 4 ways.

The Omaha Steaks Mobile App Grilling Timer

Of course, if you want to do things the easy way, download the Omaha Steaks Mobile App. The built-in all-in-one steak timer tool is a griller’s best friend. Here’s what you get with this FREE app:

Cook Timer

Cook steaks, seafood, roasts, or barbecue with custom timers that tell you what to do and when to do it. Just enter the size, desired doneness, and name of each item you’re cooking. The app will tell you when to flip each and when it’s done perfectly.

Cooking Guides & Recipes

The app is loaded with steak cooking guides, information on meat and meal preparation, and chef-tested recipes. Sort recipes by steak, seafood, poultry, appetizers, sauces and more.

Steaklover Rewards

The Omaha Steaks App is the easiest way to track and redeem your Omaha Steaks Steaklover Rewards. That means more gourmet Omaha Steaks food, FREE.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

The Ultimate Grilling Guide

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