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Your Guide to Cooking Outdoors

As summer approaches and temperatures start to climb, probably the last thing you want to do is overheat your house by turning on the stove or oven. Take the cooking out of the house and into the backyard, where you can enjoy all the benefits of cooking at home in the great outdoors.

Admittedly, throwing a meal together in your kitchen can seem much quicker and simpler than firing up the barbie, since most meal preparation happens there. But with these insider tips, you'll be the envy of every backyard cook around.

Gas or Charcoal?

Your first step to getting started with grilling is to choose your preferred heat source. A charcoal grill is generally inexpensive and easy to transport, which makes it great for lugging to the park or tailgating parties. But it does take longer to heat up: at least 15 minutes. It also requires more cleanup, as ash and food bits need to be emptied frequently. As for taste, charcoal grills provide a smoky and distinctive flavor, and they're especially useful for searing over high heat.

For gas grilling, you'll put out more cash to start for the grill itself, but they can be simpler and more versatile to cook on. They're quick to get to grilling temperature, and it's easy to adjust the heat. Gas grills are easy to clean up, too — grab your grill brush and go to town! And bonus: They emit about half the CO2 of charcoal, making them more environmentally friendly.

Let charcoal briquettes burn past the "white" stage and go to glowing embers before you place food over them. To make lighting the coals easier and shorten heating time, skip the lighter fluid and use a charcoal chimney.

Your Grilling Toolkit

Consider the length, weight, heat protection, and ease of cleanup when shopping for grill tools.

Easy Cleanup

Cleaning your grill will prevent flare-ups that cook your ingredients unevenly. A sturdy wire brush is usually all you need to clean your grill grates, and you should use it both before and after grilling. Some experts recommend wiping the grate off with a wet rag as well to get rid of clinging food bits that can affect the taste of future meals.

Grilling Techniques

No one method is best for all grilling, and many times you'll use a combo of the methods below.

Skip well-done. Studies have shown that overcooked and charred meat contains carcinogens. Use a food thermometer to ensure your food is cooked through.

You Can Grill a Lot More Than Meat!

Here are a few less traditional dishes you can make on your outdoor grill.


Some of the best memories can be made in your own backyard. This summer, make your home the coolest — and most exclusive! — dining destination in town, and get reacquainted with cooking outdoors.

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