ultimate summer grill & bbq guide

As Labor Day looms (and so does the end of summer), we’re grilling as much as we can—and relying on all the best BBQ tips and intel we’ve gathered to make it count.

Grilling and barbecuing are synonymous with summer, and appeal to some primal part of us: meat, fire, feasting outdoors. What’s not to love? Whether you’re a self-proclaimed pitmaster, backyard griller extraordinaire, or just an avid eater of BBQ, there’s a lot to learn about the art and science of grilling. From the differences between wood and charcoal and the knowledge of when to use the lid on your grill, to the nuances of regional barbecue sauce styles and international BBQ techniques, we’ve got everything you need to know about grilling and barbecue right here.

We kicked off grilling season 2019 back on May 13 with BBQ Week, in conjunction with our sister site, CNET. We updated some of our best BBQ content, plus posted brand new grilling guides, all of it corralled in this master directory, and while that initial burst of BBQ enthusiasm is far behind us, there’s still a bit of summer left—which means there’s still grilling to be done. So refer back to these handy links all season long (and if you’re willing to bundle up, for the rest of the year too).

Below, you’ll find a wealth of information broken down into the following categories:

Dig in!

Grokking Grilling

Before we branch out into all the finer points of barbecue, let’s get back to BBQ basics.

Grilling 101

If you’re new to BBQ (or at least to grilling), start here—this handy guide will cover all the bases so you can grill with confidence even if it’s your first time. See our Guide to Grilling: How to Become a Barbecue Expert.

how to grill for beginners (how to use every type of grill)

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Barbecuing vs. Grilling: What’s the Difference?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are entirely different things. Learn the important distinctions so you can school everyone at your next cookout. What Is the Difference Between Barbecuing and Grilling?

When Should You Use the Lid on Your Grill?

It’s not just for desperately smothering flare-ups. Find out the ideal times to close it up even when the food’s not on fire: When to Use Your Grill Lid.

Which Is Better: Gas or Charcoal for Grilling?

Everyone prefers one or the other, but is one objectively better? We break down the differences to help you settle the score—or at least decide which type of grill is right for you. Read about The Difference Between Charcoal and Gas for Grilling.

What’s the Difference Between Wood and Charcoal for Grilling?

Yet another question of fuel: wood vs charcoal. Which is better? That depends—and sometimes they’re best when they’re working together. Find out about The Difference Between Wood and Charcoal for Grilling.

charcoal and wood: which is better for grilling?

What Grilling Really Means in the Midwest and South

The American south may be the first place you think of when you think BBQ, but the Midwest has its own grilling traditions too. James Beard Award-nominated chef Thomas Boemer explains, and gives some great tips on barbecuing (wherever you are). Learn about What Grilling Means in the Midwest.

A Guide to Barbecuing Internationally

The rest of the world also has delicious BBQ and grilling customs, from Korean barbecue to South African braai. Take a virtual world BBQ tour and try a global grilling recipe next time you fire up your barbie. See our Guide to International Barbecue Styles.

How to Use Your Wok on the Grill

While we’re on the subject of trying new things, if you’ve never used your wok on the grill, now is the perfect time. It makes for some of the best stir-fry possible at home. See our Guide to Grilling with a Wok.

how to use a wok on the grill

Neil Tierney


The Best Grills, Grill Accessories, BBQ Tools & Services

When you’re ready to get into the grilling game, you need the right equipment. From the best grills to the best marinades, and even prime meat delivery services, this should help set you up for success.

The Most Popular Grilling Products on Amazon

Harness the wisdom of the crowd to help you find a new grill and everything to go with it. See The Best-Selling Grilling Tools and Accessories on Amazon.

All the Other BBQ Tools You Need

Get chef recommendations on a few more grilling essentials for the season. Check out The Best Grill Accessories for Summer.

A Guide to Different Types of Grills

Trying to decide which type of  grill to get? See the pros and cons of all the major options—and not just gas and charcoal. Get our Guide to Different Types of Grills.

The Best Gas Grills

In an effort to pick the best of the best, CNET tested a lot of gas grills. See which ones came out on top: The Best Gas Grills of 2019.

Grilled Chicken with Nectarine BBQ Sauce

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The Best Small Grills for Apartment Dwellers

Because sometimes good things—and good grills—come in small packages. Get our picks for The Best Compact Grills for Small Spaces.

The Best Meat Delivery Subscription Services

Don’t have a good local source of high-quality meat? No problem, since you can have it delivered right to your door. See our round-up of The Best Meat Delivery and Butcher Subscription Services.

The Best Marinades You Can Buy

A good soak (or dip) in a flavorful marinade improves most meats, seafood, and veggies. So get our picks for The Best Marinades You Can Buy for Steak, Chicken, Pork, and More.

grilled steak with green bean and tomato salad

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The Best Dry Rubs You Can Buy

Go on, rub it in. In the case of grilling, it’s a good thing. Check out The Best Dry Rubs You Can Buy for Every Type of Meat and Seafood.

The Best Grilling & Barbecue Cookbooks

Never wonder what you should grill tonight again—at least not for long, when you have one of these fantastic BBQ cookbooks to consult. See our picks for The Best Summer Grilling & BBQ Cookbooks.


Getting Saucy

What is BBQ without BBQ sauce? Ideally, still pretty delicious, but who doesn’t love getting slathered in saucy goodness? Break out the Wet-Naps and dive right in.

A Comprehensive Guide to Barbecue Sauce Across the Country

From Kansas City style BBQ sauce to Alabama’s white sauce, get to know Regional Barbecue Sauce Styles Across America.

A Brief History of Barbecue & Barbecue Sauce

Stepping back for a minute, where did barbecue as we know it even come from? Did it have a single origin, a one true birthplace? Find out in A Brief History of BBQ.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce with Bacon

Chowhound

Guide to Barbecue Sauces of the Carolinas

North and South Carolina BBQ sauces are each distinctive, and delicious. Grab a roll of paper towels and get elbow-deep into our Guide to Carolina Barbecue Sauce.

What Is White Barbecue Sauce?

Most barbecue sauce is some shade of red, maybe mustard-yellow in S.C.—but go to Alabama and it’s likely to be bright white. How did that happen (and what’s in it anyway)? Find out All About Alabama White BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Battle: The Best in the South

You could argue all day about which style of BBQ is best (well, some people could), but we’re picking one fight in particular: Georgia vs South Carolina. Choose a side and join in on our Battle of the Barbecue: Best BBQ in the South.

The Best Store-Bought Keto Barbecue Sauces You Can Buy

If you’ve gone keto (or paleo), you may have said bye-bye to BBQ sauce, since most kinds are sugar-heavy. But you do have options for slathering your meat in sticky, delicious sauce that won’t break your diet. Check out our round-up of The Best Keto BBQ Sauce You Can Buy.


How to Grill Fruit, Veggies, Pizza, Dessert & Everything That Isn’t Meat

Meat may be the star of the show at most BBQs, but there’s a whole lot else you can grill. Here’s how.

How to Grill Romaine Lettuce

Like to start your meal with a salad? You can grill that too. See our Guide to Grilling Romaine Lettuce.

grilled corn

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How to Grill Corn on the Cob

Summer corn is essential, and summer corn on the grill is chef kiss-worthy—if you do it right. Here’s How to Cook Corn on the Grill.

How to Grill Watermelon

Another summer produce all-star, watermelon happens to take surprisingly well to the fire. See How to Make Grilled Watermelon.

How to Grill Fruit

Because watermelon is only the beginning; open that gateway and you’ll want to throw everything on the grill, from cherries and peaches to strawberries—and you should. Learn How to Grill Summer Fruit.

Grilled Apricots and Herbed Strawberry Salsa recipe

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How to Grill Pizza

Unless you have a wood-fired pizza oven (in which case, can we come over?), your grill is actually the best place to cook your pizza at home. Learn all the fundamentals of Grilling Pizza.

How to Cook Cheese on the Grill

In case you want to ditch the crust—give “grilled cheese” a whole new meaning when you cook everyone’s favorite dairy product directly on the grill. Find out How to Grill Halloumi and Other Cheese.

How to Grill Lobster Tail, Shrimp, Oysters, Crabs, and Other Shellfish

Is fish meat? Sort of, but…sort of not—salmon steaks are in a whole ‘nother realm than porterhouses, at least. So when you’re in the mood for surf over turf, learn How to Grill Seafood.

Salmon Asparagus Kebabs

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How to Grill Satisfying Meatless Meals

When meat is not on any part of the menu, there are still lots of meatless BBQ options, from tofu to veggie burgers. See some pointers on Grilling Meatless Meals Everyone Will Love.

How to Grill Dessert

Fruit is not the only sweet treat you can grill (but it does appear in a lot of these desserts, because it’s seriously so. Good). When dinner’s done, see How to Grill Dessert.


The Meat of the Matter

Naturally, we must give meat its due (and some would say we saved the best for last—but we also pay respects to meatless alternatives, because BBQ is for everyone!).

How to Marinate Different Types of Meat for the Grill

We spoke to some chefs about pairing marinade ingredients with their perfect protein partners. See our primer on How to Marinate Meat for Grilling, According to Chefs.

Grilled Country-Style Pork Ribs

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What Is the Difference Between Rubs and Marinades?

Beyond the obvious, do you know what each one does for your meat (and veggies)—and when you should use which? Learn all about The Difference Between Rubs and Marinades.

Smoking Meat 101

Smoking meat can be intimidating for beginners, but here’s a basic overview so you can DIY with confidence. Learn How to Smoke Meat.

The Best Way to Smoke Brisket According to a Pitmaster

Got smoked chicken down but nervous about handling a whole packer? Allow an expert to walk you through the process of perfect smoked brisket. See our Guide to Smoking Brisket Like a Pro.

how to smoke brisket pitmaster tips and tricks for perfect brisket

Shutterstock

A MasterClass with Aaron Franklin

You also have the option of signing up for a 16-part pro course in Texas BBQ from barbecue guru Aaron Franklin—but he shared some tips and tricks with us too. See Aaron Franklin’s Texas BBQ Tips.

Chowhound’s Most Popular Grilling & BBQ Recipes

We can’t pick favorites, but our community sure can—here are the grilling recipes they’ve loved most over the years. See The Most Popular Grilling & BBQ Recipes on Chowhound.

Interesting Sides for Summer BBQs

Yes, potato salad and pasta salad are always welcome, but branch out and try adding a few more interesting summer sides to your BBQ spread too. Get our Best BBQ Side Dishes for Summer.

Best Wines to Pair with BBQ & Grilled Food

And don’t forget wine pairings—wine can be tricky to match with barbecue, but we picked the best bottles for the job. See The Best Affordable Wines to Serve with BBQ and Grilled Food.

grilled steak, corn, tomatoes, wine (best wines for bbq barbecue grilling)

The Picture Pantry/Lisovskaya Natalia/Getty Images

The Most Interesting Proteins to Grill This Summer

Tried of hot dogs and plain old steaks? See some more interesting (and potentially divisive) options for your next barbecue. Check out 9 Unusual Things to Grill at Your Next BBQ.

The Best Meat Alternatives You Can Buy for Grilling Season

From the Impossible Burger to good old veggie sausages, there are plenty of options for meatless grilling—but some are far better than others. See our picks for The Best Meat Alternatives to Grill This Summer. (And if you like to DIY, check out some of the best veggie burger recipes.)

What to Do with Your BBQ Leftovers

BBQ Chicken Potato Skins with Coleslaw recipe

Chowhound

Because the party has to end sometime, but you don’t want to waste any precious bits left behind. Luckily, you can transform everything, from brisket and BBQ chicken to your leftover potato salad, into delicious lunch and dinner the next day. See What to Do with Leftover BBQ.

Header image courtesy of Strauss/Curtis/Getty Images.

Jen is an editor at Chowhound. Raised on scrapple and blue crabs, she hails from Baltimore, Maryland, but has lived in Portland (Oregon) for so long it feels like home. She enjoys the rain, reads, writes, eats, and cooks voraciously, and stops to pet every stray cat she sees. Continually working on building her Gourmet magazine collection, she will never get over its cancellation. Read more of her work.
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