The Ten Most Common Grilling Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Photo by Molly Dunn
Grill beef patties on direct heat.

7. Use One Temperature Zone

Use your grill to cook products on direct heat and indirect heat. Chef Goncalves says, "Use the very hot zone to fill all those juices inside the meat or vegetables, then move them to a lower temperature zone to make sure it cooks through. Dual temperature zones will help you manage things on the grill." You will need to keep an eye on any meat cooking over direct heat as it can burn quickly.

8. Check the Temperature with a Thermometer

Chef Goncalves says the Fielding's Wood Grill staff checks the temperature by touching the meat to determine its tenderness. "If it doesn't spring back at all, it is rare," chef Goncalves says. "When it springs back, it is medium, and when it is tough and hard, it is well done."

Chef Killen explains that checking the meat with a thermometer punctures the meat, which releases the juice, creating a not-so-tender protein. Use the fat pat between your index finger and thumb as a reference for determining doneness. There are a variety of methods to test for tenderness, but one of the best is to press the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger forming a circle, then poke the fat pat -- that is what a rare steak feels like. Place the thumb tip on the tip of the middle finger for a medium-rare steak, on the ring finger for a medium steak and on the pinky for a well-done steak.

Photo by Kimberly Park
All of those juices in this tender beef rib will be lost if you cut into it too soon.

9. Remove Meat From Grill and Immediately Slice

Even if you followed every step up until this point, you would throw it all away by cutting into the meat once you take it off the grill. Yes, it is tempting when you have starving friends and family members insisting you serve the main attraction, but don't do it. Wait at least 10 to 12 minutes. Chef Goncalves says letting the meat rest after it cooks actually helps the fibers tenderize.

If you cut into the meat and see a puddle of liquid on the plate, then you didn't wait long enough. Like chef Killen says, "The key to a nice juicy steak, or anything you grill, is allowing it to rest."

10. Not Cleaning Your Grill

You should always clean any piece of equipment you cook with, especially your grill. Leftover ash from burning coals and residue from food is gross. But, before you begin to clean your grill, you need to make sure the fire is gone. Never clean a grill with flames present. (Yes we had to add that).

Location Info

Killen's Steakhouse

2804 S. Main, Pearland, TX

Category: Restaurant

Killen's Barbecue

3613 E Broadway, Pearland, TX

Category: Restaurant

Fielding's Wood Grill

1699 Research Forest Drive, Shenandoah, TX

Category: Restaurant

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FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Cutting into a steak does NOT make it lose its moisture and I can find multiple sources to back that up. I'm disappointed if Ronnie Killen actually said that.


By far the part we struggle with every single time we invest in beautiful VERY THICK filets (tenderloins) to grill is waiting to cut! Not necessarily cuz we're starving, but just for the simple fact that it's hard to let the grill run for what might be no reason at all for 10+min. If 1 or more steak isnt done enough, we'll need to throw it bk on a HOT grill. Doest help that my dad absolutely refuses to use a thermometer! Even bought him 1 for xmas & all he did was insist that surely it isnt accurate cuz meat wasnt done according to him (who tends to overcook most of what he grills, although we wont let it fly with steaks anymore...unacceptable !)


After your coals become ashy or white in color...use as little lighter fluid as you possibly can...

Why in the heck would anybody put lighter fluid on hot coals?

And far be it from me to disagree with Mr. Killen on how to grill meat, but I like a liberal amount of salt on my steak. Seasoned just before it hits the grill, of course. If you have a nice thick steak you've got a lot of meat there that won't be touched by seasoning; when you slice it, you're only going to have the salt on the edge, so I like a good amount. It's one of the few times I can rationalize using sea salt, too. Not so much that you have a coating of salt but the crunch of the charred meat with those big crystals of salt is really nice. 


It's a myth that you need to let your meat reach room temperature before cooking.  Here is article that did the research and tested both ways -

I'm sure that Chef Killen and Chef Goncalves have cooked 1000 times more steaks in their lives than most of us and can tell internal meat temp with a finger, but for the rest of a digital thermometer like a thermapen is a great device.


@Anse  J.C. Penny would never hire a person for store manager if the person salted their steak before they tried it.

Bruce_Are topcommenter


I followed your link. Not exactly scientific. One biased guy takes one steak and does one test and declares victory for himself.


@ball_go_far @Anse You shouldn't add salt at the table before trying your food because the chef should have already seasoned it before and during the cooking process.

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