Improve Your Grill Skills

Graduate to grill-pro status before the summer ends with these tips for beef, pork, and chicken, plus a recipe for beef at its best and a roundup of recipes including burgers, fish, and more
Grilled T-Bone Steaks with BBQ Rub

Photo courtesy of Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

As family reunions, graduation parties, and a number of get-togethers become summer routine, grilling is a big part of the season—and Father’s Day weekend is a perfect time for a little grilling. Plus, it’s a perfect excuse to spend a little more time outdoors and brush up on your grilling skills—or let Dad or the father figure in your life take the tongs.

While some folks mix it up by grilling fruits and veggies, meat is a grilling staple. No matter if it’s beef, pork, or chicken, a few basic guidelines can apply. To start, if the meat is frozen, keep it safe by thawing it in the refrigerator or under cold water rather than on the counter. Know the nuances between cooking on your charcoal or gas grill, and always keep a close eye on the meat while it’s cooking. Here is a brief rundown of tips to keep in mind for some meaty favorites, a T-bone steak recipe, and a roundup of more grilling recipes I have highlighted.


From burgers to steak, beef encompasses all levels of grilling skill. While most can figure out how to grill a burger, for grilling steak, there are differences in cooking and marinating times for various cuts. Here are some tips from Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner (the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) to help you get fired up for grilling.

  • It is best to trim visible fat before grilling to prevent flare-ups.
  • Some of the best cuts for grilling include strip (including filet mignon), flank, and rib-eye. For medium-rare (145°F), 1-inch cuts of each take 11 to 15 minutes, 16 to 21 minutes, and 9 to 14 minutes, respectively.
  • When marinating to add flavor, time makes all the difference. For tender beef cuts like rib or sirloin, marinate for 15 minutes up to 2 hours. For less tender beef cuts like round, marinate for 6 to 24 hours.
  • Since beef is cooked to preferred levels of doneness, it’s best to measure the internal temperature to achieve desired results. Use a meat thermometer to tell the perfect beef doneness. For steaks ½ inch or thicker, insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally from the side, so that it penetrates the thickest part or the center of the steak, not touching bone or fat. For medium-rare the temperature should read 145°F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes. For medium steaks the temperature should read 160°F, and well done is 170°F. After cooking, let steaks rest before serving.
  • For a cooking style that requires less attention, try indirect grilling, which positions the meat on the grill rack to the side of the heat rather than directly over it. Keeping the lid closed lets the grill cook like an oven from all sides. Good cuts for this method include ribeye petite roast, strip petite roast, and top sirloin petite roast. Season beef with preferred herbs and spices. Prepare the grill (gas or charcoal) for indirect cooking according to manufacturer’s directions for medium heat. For charcoal grilling, position an aluminum drip pan in the center under cooking grid to catch meat juices and divert heat. Place meat on grill and cover with the lid. Let cook 40 to 80 minutes, (depending on cut and size), turning once. When desired internal temperature is reached, tent meat with aluminum foil on a cutting board for 10 to 15 minute to preserve juices before serving. Season with salt after carving, as desired.


Like beef, many different cuts of pork are available for grilling with pork chops, ribs, loin, sausage, and tenderloin good choices. In general, pork chops take 8 to 9 minutes to grill, and pork should reach an internal temperature of 145°F to be done, followed by a 3-minute resting period before serving. Do not pierce pork with sharp utensils before or while cooking, as it can cause the meat to lose juice and therefore flavor. Bone-in selections often yield a juicier and more flavorful product.


Chicken is especially popular for grilling since it absorbs other flavors easily. Marinate for 20 minutes up to 2 hours, and pierce the meat for even more flavor absorption. Leaving the skin on the meat (even if removed before eating) makes it juicier, since it holds in the flavor. Chicken is typically done when it reaches an internal temperature of 170°F. Thighs and drumsticks take twice as long as wings and breasts, approximately 30 minutes versus 10 to 15.

With these tips, you can work on achieving grill-pro status before the summer ends and you will be set for recipes to try or revisit all season long with this steak and the roundup below.

Grilled T-Bone Steaks with BBQ Rub

Makes 4 Servings | Recipe courtesy of Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

This could be called beef at its best. A simple rub including chili powder, garlic, and brown sugar adds that special touch.

For the BBQ Rub
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

2 beef T-Bone or porterhouse steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 2 pounds)

  1. Combine BBQ Rub ingredients; press evenly onto beef T-Bone Steaks.
  2. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 16 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 15 to 19 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally. Remove bones and carve steaks into slices, if desired. Season with salt, as desired.

Cook’s Tip: To broil, place steaks on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 15 to 20 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning once.

Nutrition info Grilled T-Bone Steaks with BBQ Rub (per serving): 470 Calories; 270 Calories from fat; 30g Total Fat (12g Saturated Fat; 2g Trans Fat; 1. g Polyunsaturated Fat; 12.3g Monounsaturated Fat;) 120mg Cholesterol; 290mg Sodium; 10g Total Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 36g Protein; 6mg Iron; 465mg Potassium; 14.9mg NE Niacin; 1.1mg Vitamin B6; 2.7mcg Vitamin B12; 5.9mg Zinc; 36.5mcg Selenium; 83.3mg Choline

Chicken with Spicy Soy Marinade

Photo by Terry Brennan, Food styling by Lara Miklasevics

Hungry for More Grilling Ideas?

• Sautéed Filet Mignon with Sherry Mushroom Pan Sauce Recipe What Dad may really want for Father’s Day—or any day—is a thick, juicy steak.

  • And an all-time favoriteA Chicken Recipe with Spirit: Tequila turns chicken from everyday to terrific. This recipe by grilling guru Steven Raichlen is bursting with southwestern flavors—lime, cilantro, and jalapeño chilies, so it’s only appropriate that tequila is in the mix.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.