Meat + grill = one of summer’s purest pleasures. While grilling meat seems simple, there are many ways it can go wrong—and countless tips and tricks to make it even better than you’ve ever had before. Hence, this BBQ meat guide that covers every part of the process.
From steaks and sausages and slabs of ribs, to burgers, hot dogs, pork chops, and chicken, there truly is no meat that doesn’t taste fantastic cooked on the grill. But don’t just toss on a porterhouse and hope for the best. Get our help at various points along the way and learn how to make perfect grilled meat every time.
Beginning with sourcing meat and safe food storage and handling (because nothing wrecks a summer BBQ like salmonella) and continuing through the first kiss of marinade (or dusting of dry rub) to the actual cooking process, to the final stages of pairing your grilled protein with the perfect sides and wine, these guides will help you nail every detail.
The first step to great grilled meat is choosing the best protein you can find (and afford)—but not everyone has access to a great butcher (or can even find much meat at the local grocery store right now, period). Luckily, there are several high-quality meat subscription services that will deliver prime cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and more straight to your door every month; many also offer one-off boxes if you don’t want to commit. See our guide to The Best Meat Delivery Services. And see CNET’s picks for The Best Coolers for Summer 2020 if you need to take it on the road.
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Meat Deals for Labor Day Weekend
If you have a weakness for the classics but still prize both maximum deliciousness and sustainability, there are plenty of gourmet burgers and dogs to be found these days too. We picked nine of The Best Hot Dogs and Hamburgers You Can Buy to Grill in 2020.
Here’s a brief pocket guide with notes on grilling nearly every type of meat (plus some other things for good measure), for when you just need a little reminder. See our Brief Guide to Grilling Almost Anything.
We spoke to steak savant Tom Perini to get his tips on how to grill the best meat ever—you’ll want to beware of hangover heat and be sure to get good grades, among other things. See How to Grill Meat Like a Pro.
Marinades can be multi-purpose, but there are certain ingredients that pair best with specific proteins, both in flavor and in what they do to the structure of the meat itself. So check out our primer on How to Marinate Meat for Grilling, According to Chefs.
The answer may seem obvious, but there are interesting differences in what each can do for your meat (and veggies!)—and you should know when to use which one, or maybe both. Learn all about The Difference Between Rubs and Marinades.
Making your own marinades is fairly easy, but when you’re crunched for time, these store-bought options are all delicious. See our picks for Best Marinades On the Market.
Similarly, when you want a dry rub, you’ve got a lot of great options available to purchase too, whether you’re seasoning steak or salmon. See our list of The Best Grilling Rubs You Can Buy.
Expandable grill grates and lava rocks can make your gas grill burn way hotter, resulting in even better steaks and burgers. See How to Hack Your Gas Grill to Burn Hotter.
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Gas Grills for 2020
Running out of propane mid-BBQ is the pits, but if you don’t have a fuel gauge, it can be hard to tell how much gas is left in the tank. So Try This Trick to Tell How Much Propane Is Left.
It all depends on what you’re cooking—and sometimes a combination effect is in order. Learn When to Use the Lid on Your Grill.
Smoking meat is a whole different animal…er, activity, than grilling. If you’ve never tried it, it can seem intimidating, but here’s a basic overview so you can DIY with confidence. Learn How to Smoke Meat for Beginners.
Drilling down, let an expert teach you the finer points of perfect smoked brisket. It’s not only an art and a science, but a time commitment—and so totally worth it. See our Guide to Smoking Brisket Like a Pro. (And get even more pitmaster tips from Aaron Franklin.)
Aaron Franklin Teaches Texas-Style BBQ, $15/month from MasterClass
For all the visual learners out there.
It can be intimidating to cook a pricey piece of prime meat, but with these expert tips, you have nothing to fear. Learn the Best Way to Cook Wagyu Beef Steaks.
We’ve published a lot of grilling recipes over the years, and it’s hard for us to pick favorites, but not so for our community members. So take a look at The Most Popular Grilling & BBQ Recipes on Chowhound—there’s plenty of meat on the menu, including our Juicy Lucy burger.
We called on the wisdom of the crowd for time-tested, easy ways to ensure a perfectly moist burger every time, whether or not you stuff it with melty cheese. Check out 7 Tips & Tricks for Perfect Juicy Burgers.
Just for fun, or for when you’re bored with all the usual standbys, try something different, like alligator sausage or ostrich over open flames. Get our guide to The Most Interesting Meats to Grill at Your Next BBQ.
Then again, a classic rack of ribs is always a primal pleasure. See our guide to The Best Baby Back and Spare Ribs Ever.
Are you a newly vegan BBQ lover looking for a steak replacement? Or a diehard carnivore who has no idea what to cook for your vegetarian BBQ guests—or who just can’t find any meat to grill for your own Memorial Day dinner? Whatever the case may be, you’ll be happy to have this list on hand. See our picks for The Best Meat Alternatives to Grill This Summer.
It can be tricky to pair smoky flavors and intense BBQ sauce notes with wines, but we asked some experts for their top picks, and they delivered. Check out The Best Affordable Wines to Serve with BBQ & Grilled Food.
Learning is a life-long process, and many meat pros have shared their knowledge in the form of books. So check out our picks for The Best BBQ & Grilling Cookbooks to Buy.