Planning & Prep

How to Grill: Tools, Tips, and Step-by-Step Instructions



Last Updated: May 10, 2022

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques that are simple to learn and can transform you from a barbecue novice into a grill master. Having the correct tools, proper preparation, and knowledge of proper techniques will make grilling easy.

What tools do I need to grill?

Having the correct tools will not only make the grilling process easier but will make the food tastier. Have the following tools on hand and understand their uses to grill like a pro.

  • Grilling tongs: These tongs come in longer lengths so you can maneuver your food around the grill without getting burned. They are preferable to a meat fork since they do not puncture the meat, which leads to moisture loss.
  • Grilling spatula: Another tool that comes in a longer length, a grilling spatula is perfect for flipping delicate grilled foods like fish.
  • Thermometers: A thermometer ensures you are cooking your meat to both a safe and juicy temperature. Whether you are using an instant-read thermometer to quickly check the final temperature of your food or a probe thermometer to follow the progress of a larger piece of meat, they guarantee the perfect doneness.

How to prepare the grill

Before you cook on the grill, there is a little prep work involved. The grill has to be lit, which is a different process depending on if you are using gas or charcoal, and it must be cleaned. 

How to start a charcoal grill

There are two ways to start a charcoal grill. One involves using a charcoal chimney, and the other uses lighter fluid.

  1. To use a charcoal chimney, just fill it up all the way with either lump or briquette charcoal. Place a wadded-up ball of paper that has some cooking oil drizzled on it underneath the chimney and light it with a grill lighter. Make sure to do this on top of your grill grate so the chimney gets plenty of oxygen from underneath. The charcoal is ready once the top layer of briquettes in the chimney is white.
  2. To light a charcoal grill with lighter fluid, start by filling up the grill with as much charcoal as you need. Douse the charcoal with lighter fluid until it is soaked. Carefully light the fluid with a long grill lighter. Once the charcoal turns white, it is ready to go. 
Barbecue with flames just being lit with lawn in background

How to start a gas grill

Lighting a gas grill is as simple as opening the valve on your propane tank and then turning the knobs for the burners you want to use. Depending on the grill, there may be an ignitor button, or it will automatically light when you turn the knobs.

How to clean the grill

Whether you are using gas or charcoal, wait until the grill grate is hot before you clean it. Next, take a grill brush and scrape all of the debris off from the previous use. Finally, oil up a paper towel with canola or peanut oil and rub down the grates using your grill tongs.

How to grill steak

A good cut of steak is one of the most popular foods to grill for dinner.

  1. Get your grill as hot as it can go to quickly sear the steak without overcooking it.
  2. Season your steak with your favorite seasoning, or keep it simple with just salt and pepper, and then place it on the grill.
  3. Depending on how thick the steak is, it can take anywhere from 2 minutes a side for a thin steak to 5-6 minutes for a thicker one.
  4. Turn your steak 90° halfway before you flip it to get those perfect crosshatch patterns.
  5. Grill it to 125° for rare, 130° for medium-rare, 140° for medium, 145° for medium-well, and 150° for well done.

How to grill chicken

Chicken is an easy protein to grill and the dark meat is especially forgiving to overcooking. Use bone-in, skin-on chicken as well for extra flavor. If you don’t want to deal with bones, you can buy boneless chicken.

  1. If you are using bone-in, skin-on chicken, apply a dry seasoning or marinade your boneless chicken.
  2. Heat your grill to a medium-high heat level.
  3. Start bone-in chicken skin side up then flip after 15 minutes. Flip deboned pieces every couple of minutes until it starts to get grill marks.
  4. Bone-in chicken will take at least a half-hour to cook, while deboned tenders or thighs can be done in a few minutes. White meat is safe when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°, while dark meat needs to hit 165°.

How to grill salmon

Salmon isn’t a delicate fish and holds up well to grilling. 

  1. Heat your grill up to between 450-500° and then oil it.
  2. Place the salmon filet skin side down and cook for 6-8 minutes until the flesh is no longer pink. 
  3. Flip with your spatula and cook for another couple of minutes until the internal temperature hits 130°.

How to grill corn

Making corn on the cob on the grill adds more flavor than simply boiling it. 

  1. Snip off any excess corn silk.
  2. Soak the corn in its husk in your sink for at least an hour before grilling. 
  3. Heat your grill to high.
  4. Place the corn on the hot grill and rotate it every 5 minutes. 
  5. Wondering how long to cook corn on the grill? Keep it on the grill until all sides of the husk have a char to them. 
  6. Carefully peel and serve with butter and salt. 

Grilling Tips

Try a few of these additional tips to help your grilling go perfectly.

Hamburgers cooking on the BBQ
  • Let your meat come up to room temperature before you grill it so it cooks evenly before burning.
  • Avoid using lighter fluid, as it can leave traces of lighter fluid taste on your grilled food.
  • Use flat skewers instead of round ones when grilling kabobs. Flat skewers prevent foods from spinning when the kabobs are rotated like with round skewers.
  • If you use wooden skewers, soak them for at least an hour beforehand so they don’t burn.
  • Place a foil packet with your favorite type of wood chips on the grill for a nice smoky flavor.
  • Use high smoke point oils like canola and peanut to prevent smoking.

Final thoughts

Once you learn the basics on how to properly get your grill ready and cook on it, it is time to decide what you want to grill first. Pick out all of the meats and vegetables you will need for your next cookout on Instacart. You can have your ingredients delivered the same day as your cookout by picking same-day delivery at checkout—or schedule it for a future date that works for you. 



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 750 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 70,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

Most Recent in Planning & Prep

20 Essential Cooking Utensil Names + How to Use Them

Planning & Prep

20 Essential Cooking Utensil Names + How to Use Them

Every home cook has acquired a number of cooking utensils over the years, some of which they use all the time and others which they never touch. The more you know about your tools, the…...

May 2, 2022
What is Sous Vide? Everything You Need to Know

Planning & Prep

What is Sous Vide? Everything You Need to Know

Lately, it seems like you can’t turn on a cooking show or browse through Pinterest without coming across the term “sous vide.” This cooking trend, which was once reserved for professionals, has become popular thanks…...

Apr 27, 2022
Types of Cooking: How to Choose The Right Cooking Method For Your Next Meal

Planning & Prep

Types of Cooking: How to Choose The Right Cooking Method For Your Next Meal

Are you struggling with what to use to cook your next meal? From cultural backgrounds to environments, there are many elements that factor into what cooking method you use. What is the best cooking method…...

Apr 20, 2022