Grilling For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Getting Ready to Show the Grill Who’s Boss

Part II: Adding Spice to Your Life

Part III: For the Fanatics of the Classics

Part IV: Grilling Everything Under the Sun

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Part I: Getting Ready to Show the Grill Who’s Boss

Chapter 1: Mastering Grill-Speak

Two Key Terms: Direct Grilling and Indirect Grilling

Searing food with direct, no-frills grilling

Staying away from the heat: Indirect grilling

Slow and Smoky: Barbecuing with Success

Even Slower than Barbecuing: Smoking

Dry smoking

Water smoking

A Whole Mess of Grilling Terms: A Griller’s Glossary

Looking at a Few Guidelines before You Begin

Chapter 2: Buying the Grill of Your Dreams (And Accessories to Boot)

Choosing the Type of Grill You’ll Shop For

Perusing your options

Comparing the two main types: Charcoal or gas?

What Do You Have to Offer? Looking at Grill Features

Playing with Tools and Toys

Kid in a grilling shop: Looking at basic grilling utensils

Surveying tools and toys for the serious griller

Caring for Your Grill

Oiling the grids

Cleaning the grill inside and out

Storing your grill

Chapter 3: To Build a Fire

Getting Your Grill Ready for Use

Fueling a Hunk of Burnin’ Fire

Using propane with your gas grill

Going with the old standard: Charcoal briquettes

Grilling like a pro with natural lump charcoal

Adding hardwood chips or chunks

Arranging the Coal to Suit Your Fancy

Let There Be Flames: Igniting Your Grill

Your very best bet: An electric charcoal igniter

The runner-up: A chimney starter

Old-school style: A butane lighter

Controlling and Maintaining the Heat

Part II: Adding Spice to Your Life

Chapter 4: Peeking Inside the Grilling Guru’s Pantry

Adopting Some Kitchen Helpers: Bottled and Canned Goods

Condiment-ry, My Dear Watson

Flavoring Foods with Oil

Adding Tartness with a Splash of Vinegar

Sweeten the Pot: Using Sweeteners in Sauces and Marinades

Wine and Dine Me: Marinating and Basting with Wines

Walking through a Griller’s Herb Garden

Adding Zest with Fruits and Veggies

Chapter 5: Infusing Foods with Flavor: Marinades, Oils, and Rubs

The March of the Marinades

Choosing your marinade ingredients

Preparing to marinate

Deciding how long to marinate your food

Using marinades for basting and finishing

Flavoring with Oils: The Slick Solution

Rub-a-Dub-Dub: Coating Foods with Dry Rubs

Chapter 6: The Saucy Side of Grilling

Adding Flavor with Warm Sauces

Chillin’ Out: Working with Cold Sauces

Complementing Foods with Condiments




Other condiments

Dressing Up Your Meal Using Compound Butters

Part III: For the Fanatics of the Classics

Chapter 7: Bun-Lovin’ Burgers, Sausages, and Hot Dogs

Everyone Loves a Burger

Choosing your burger meat

Creating the mixture of ingredients

Preparing your patties for the grill

Topping your burger

Simple Sausages and Fancy Franks

Knowing how long to cook ’em

Loading up on toppings

Chapter 8: Swordplay: Grilling Kebabs and Satay

Ladies and Gentlemen — Choose Your Skewers!

Mastering the Skill of Grilling Kebabs

Putting Veggies on a Stick: The Fun Way to Eat Them

Kebabing for Beef

Porky Pig on a Stick

Lamb Kebabs — the Real Deal

Chicken Flying Full Mast, Half-Mast, All Over the Mast

Gone Fishin’ and Sea Divin’ (For Kebabs)

Please Satay for Dinner

Chapter 9: Maybe Messy, Definitely Delicious: Ribs Worth Drooling Over

Back, Spare, and Country-Style: Recognizing Pork Rib Varieties

The Many Ways to Grill Pork Ribs

Getting to Know Beef Ribs

Chapter 10: Pair a Rotisserie with a Grill? Oh Yes, You Can

Grilling Off the Grid: A Primer on Rotisserie Cooking

Choosing the best meat for the mill

Keeping some general tips in mind

Heeding meat-specific rotisserie cooking tips

Let the Rotisserie Games Begin!

Part IV: Grilling Everything Under the Sun

Chapter 11: Beef: It’s What Grills Were Made For

All You Need to Know to Grill a Mean Hunk of Beef

Grading beef

Naming the cuts of beef

Preparing and Grilling Your Steaks

Love them tender: Marinating meats before grilling

Grilling ’em up!

Giving Grilled Beef Roast a Chance

Chapter 12: Pork — The King of Barbecue

Hit Me with Your Best Cut

Here’s the Rub: Flavoring Pork with Herbs and Spices

And This Little Pork Was Done Just Right

Chop, chop, who’s there?

Brine ’n dine

Tenderloin is the night

Chapter 13: Savoring the Peppery Meat of the Middle East: Lamb

Lamb and Spice and Everything Nice: What You Need to Know

Surveying the cuts

Looking for lamb by country of origin (yes, it matters!)

Seasoning your lamb

Grilling your lamb with TLC

Licking Your (Lamb) Chops

The Lowdown on Lamb Shoulders

A Leg Up on Lamb

Grill roasting a leg

Grilling legs, steak-style

Butterflying, marinating, and grilling legs: A no-fail method

Racking Up Lamb for the Grill

Chapter 14: Birds of a Feather

Finger-Lickin’ Chicken

Handling chicken with care

Grilling chicken breasts

Just wingin’ it

Chowing down on chicken quarters

It’s thigh time to grill some legs

Dishing up a whole chicken

Being Thankful for the Many Uses of Turkey

Game Birds Make for Healthy Eating

Comparing wild versus farm-raised game birds

Surveying game bird varieties

Chapter 15: She Grills Seafood by the Seashore

More Fish at Market, if Fewer Fish in the Sea

Cooking Fresh Fish by the Cut

Fish steaks: The thick and easy cut

Making heads and tails of whole fish

Being gentle with fillets

Holy Smoked Fish, Batman!

Mmm, Mollusks! Clams, Mussels, and Scallops

The Softest Swimmer in the Sea: Soft-Shell Crabs

Don’t Call Me a Shrimp (But Do Feed Me Some!)

Chapter 16: Not for Vegetarians Only: Vegetables and Side Dishes

Updating Your Mom’s Veggie-Cooking Technique

Simple seasoning (and brief marinating) is best

Exercising care while grilling

Simply Vegetables



Belgian endive


Brussels sprouts












Sweet potatoes


Not Grilled, but Still Good: Warm and Cozy Sides

Cool and Refreshing Sides

Chapter 17: Grill to Go: Sandwiches, Pizzas, and Other Finger Foods

Giving Pizza the Third Degree

Play dough perfect

Can you top this?

Adding charcoal and hardwood to the mix

Bring on the Bruschetta

Fixin’ Fajitas and Fajita Fixins

Let Them Eat Quesadillas

Sandwich Face-Off

Chapter 18: Sweets Can Take the Heat, Too (And Cocktails Cool and Refresh)

Grilled Fruit? Oh Yeah!

Care for a Cocktail?

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 19: The Ten Commandments of Grilling

Practice Patience with Your Fire

Organize Your Grill Space

Flavor Your Food

Don’t Skimp on Fuel

Police the Fire!

Build a Fire with Different Hot Spots

Understand the Grilling Variables

Figure Out When Food Is Done

Sprint from the Grill to the Table


Chapter 20: Ten of Our Favorite Barbecue Joints

Arthur Bryant’s

Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous

Kreuz Market

Goode Company Texas Bar-B-Q


Blue Smoke

Lexington Barbecue No. 1

Sconyers Bar-B-Que

Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse

Ono Hawaiian Foods

Appendix: Metric Conversion Guide

Grilling For Dummies®, 2nd Edition

by Marie Rama and John Mariani


About the Author

Marie Rama is coauthor of Cooking For Dummies. She has worked as a professional pastry chef and recipe developer for numerous food companies and associations, including The McIlhenny Company and The United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. Marie served as Director of Romance, Weddings, and Entertaining for Korbel Champagne and as a spokesperson for Sunkist Growers. She is a regular guest-chef on hundreds of TV and radio shows in the U.S. and Canada, and she lives with her husband, Mark Reiter, and their two sons, Nick and Will, in Bronxville, New York.

John Mariani is the author of several of the most highly regarded books on food in America today. His first book, The Dictionary of American Food & Drink (Ticknor & Fields, 1983), was hailed as the “American Larousse Gastronomique” and was chosen “best reference book on food for 1983” by Library Journal. It was later revised as The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink (Lebahr-Friedman, 1999). His history of food service in the U.S., America Eats Out (William Morrow, 1991), won the IACP Award for best reference book. The Dictionary of Italian Food & Drink, the most comprehensive study of Italian food published in the U.S., was published in 1998 by Broadway Books. He is also coauthor, with Alex von Bidder, of The Four Seasons: A History of America’s Premier Restaurant (Smithmark, 1999) and is coauthor with his brother Robert Mariani of a memoir entitled Almost Golden (Infinity, 2005), about growing up in the Bronx, New York. His latest book, with his wife Galina, is The Italian-American Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 2000).

Mariani is currently food and travel correspondent for Esquire; wine columnist for Bloomberg News; dining columnist for The Wine Spectator; food columnist for Diversion; restaurant columnist for Forbes Magazine; and publisher/editor of the online newsletter Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet (www.johnmarianicom). Mariani was born in New York City and received his B.A. from Iona College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He lives in Tuckahoe, New York, with his wife, Galina, and two sons, Michael and Christopher.

Author’s Acknowledgments

There is a long list of people we would like to especially thank, who helped make this book possible.

To gather accurate information for the sidebars and icons in this book, we turned to many food experts and associations. We’d like to thank Susan Lamb Parenti and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; Robin Kline and Ed Newman, consultants for the National Pork Producers Council; the American Lamb Council; and the National Institute of Fisheries. We are also grateful for the invaluable contributions of Donna Myers, editor of “The BackYard BarbeQuer” newsletter — after more than 25 years as spokesperson for the Barbecue Industry Association, Donna knows as much about grilling equipment, manufacturers, and techniques as anyone we know. And thank you illustrators extraordinaire, Liz Kurtzman and Rich Tennant.

We thank Galina Mariani for her creative and delicious recipe contributions to this new edition. We’d also like to thank the following manufacturers who generously donated our very reliable testing grills, grilling equipment, and accessories: Weber, Sunbeam, Char-Broil, Ducane, Jackes-Evans, and E-Z Fit Barbecue Parts and Accessories. We offer more information about these and other equipment manufacturers in Chapter 2.

We owe special, heartfelt thanks to our Project Editor, Kristin DeMint, and our Copy Editor, Jessica Smith. Throughout all these months, they kept us on track with their tireless devotion, editorial skills, and insightful questions. We also thank Acquisitions Editor Stacy Kennedy for her continuous, invaluable support and clear-sighted counsel.

And one final note: Marie would like to thank her friend, Ira Bart, who one perfect summer day, waved a two-inch-thick steak in front of his personally-designed brick grill and announced, “Marie, you ought to write Grilling For Dummies.” So, we did.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Kristin DeMint (Previous Edition: Tere Drenth)

Acquisitions Editor: Stacy Kennedy

Copy Editor: Jessica Smith (Previous Edition: Tina Sims)

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editor: Patricia Santelli

Recipe Tester: Emily Nolan

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Photographer: T. J. Hine Photography

Food Stylist: Lisa Bishop

Cover Photo: Jupiter Images

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Katherine Key

Layout and Graphics: Reuben W. Davis, Sarah Philippart, Christin Swinford, Christine Williams

Proofreaders: John Greenough, Nancy L. Reinhardt

Indexer: Estalita Slivoskey

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


If your grilling experience is limited to flipping a few burgers on a kettle grill or roasting a hot dog on a branch over an open fire when you were a kid at camp, you’ve just scratched the surface of what can be a very exciting (and somewhat intimidating) way to cook. After all, you’re dealing with an open fire, red-hot coals, and a certain amount of danger, not to mention the potential embarrassment of burning the heck out of a $10 steak.

What was once a backyard adjunct to the kitchen, the grill has become as essential an appliance as an oven, range, or microwave. The popularity of grilling shows on TV, the availability of new ingredients, bottled sauces and seasonings, and innovations to the grill itself show just how big grilling has become.

Grilling has become such a popular American pastime in the last decade that many people own two or more grills — a charcoal grill for weekend grilling, a gas grill for weeknight grilling, and maybe a hibachi or portable grill for tailgate parties or camping. Thus the need for a new edition of the original Grilling For Dummies.

Grilling For Dummies, 2nd Edition, takes you through the basics of grilling and then shows you the infinite possibilities of this terrific cooking technique. Even if you’ve done a certain amount of serious grilling out on the patio, this book can help you to refine your technique. It also introduces you to many foods that you may never have considered suitable for grilling, including vegetables and fruits. We also have updated the book to include new techniques and more information on grills, accessories, and the ingredients themselves — some of which weren’t even available a decade ago. Finally, we try very hard to take the intimidation factor out of the process and replace it with a whole lot of fun.

We’ve noticed such a sharp increase in ethnic cooking done on the grill that we’ve added a lot more Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian recipes in this edition. We think it reflects current tastes. But we would love to hear from you, the reader, as to what you’re interested in seeing and trying and tasting in a world of grilling that no longer starts at Memorial Day and stops after Labor Day.

About This Book

Grilling For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is a book that will make an expert grill master out of you — or at least make the exercise painless. But this isn’t just a book of recipes or tips on how to buy a grill. The recipes and tips are all in here, but the book includes a great deal more.

Grilling has its own jargon and requires its own accessories. So we explain everything you need to know and buy to be successful with your grill. Grilling has been so popular in the past decade that the market has responded by improving features of basic grills and by providing a wider variety of grill options. Even though all these new features make the grilling marketplace a bit confusing, we ask you to relax because you have this book to help you! We show you the differences — and they are numerous and significant — among different grills and tell you what you can expect to pay for grills and grill accessories.

In the recipe chapters, we discuss the kinds of foods that are great on the grill and how to select them. The recipes range from classic to contemporary — all perfect for the grill. We give you some quick information in the Part of Tens, including ten ways to become a grill master, the ten best barbecue places in America, and ten tips on how to throw an outdoor party — which, in the end, is the best reason to grill.

We also include a section of color photos that shows you what some of our recipes look like. (This section is located in the center of the book.) These photos are so mouth-watering that you’ll want to go directly to the recipes and start grilling.

You don’t need to read this book straight through. In fact, we’ve deliberately arranged it so it works for those who already know a bit about grilling as well as for those who are just beginners. Depending on your admitted level of expertise, you may want to skip directly to the recipes (see Parts II, III, and IV), or you may want to start with Chapter 2 to find out more about the differences between gas grills and charcoal grills. Go right ahead: Read the book in any order you want. That’s why this book looks and reads the way it does.

Conventions Used in This Book

Here are a few guidelines that’ll help ensure your success with the recipes in this book:

Pepper means ground black pepper unless otherwise specified.

All butter is unsalted.

Sugar is granulated unless otherwise noted.

All temperatures are Fahrenheit.

In addition to the conventions we follow for the ingredients, we use a few other conventions to point out helpful info:

We use italic to point out new terms that we define.

We use boldface to highlight the keywords in a bulleted list or the action parts of numbered steps.

We use monofont to point out Web addresses that you may want to check out for further information that we don’t dive into here.

What You’re Not to Read

Sidebars contain extra information, so you don’t have to read them. They do, however, often explain some fun technique or issue in more detail, and you may find the information helpful. So skip over these paragraphs if you want, but know that you may be missing some gold nuggets of additional info if you do!

Foolish Assumptions

We’re making certain assumptions about you, the reader, in this book. First of all, you obviously have a real interest in good cooking and grilling beyond the obvious burgers and hot dogs, so we gear this book toward you, the reader who really wants to take a little time to get the best results.

Although we never take our assumptions for granted, we believe that you’re well aware of the dangers of working with an open fire. But we still continue to stress the safety rules throughout the book. If you wish to skip around this book for information, that’s great. But we urge you to read every safety tip that you come across.

We keep our recipes as simple as possible in terms of their instructions, but we firmly believe that these recipes take grilling several steps higher than some of you may have thought possible. Even those with only basic cooking skills shouldn’t have the slightest trouble following any recipe in this book. But if you’ve never done much grilling before, go step-by-step through our simple, classic recipes for items like steaks and burgers. Then try some simple seafood recipes, like a swordfish steak. By the time you master those recipes, you’ll be able to reproduce anything in this book.

How This Book Is Organized

As with all the books in the For Dummies series, Grilling For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is arranged for maximum ease of use. We break down subjects into simple-to-understand units. We begin with a section we call a part, which is further broken down into chapters, within which we cover specific subjects and topics, often with lists for handy reference.

Part I: Getting Ready to Show the Grill Who’s Boss

In this part, we go over everything you need to know to decide among the various kinds of grills on the market, their relative virtues and problems, their costs, and what all those grilling terms mean when you’re ready to buy. We also provide a checklist of accessories.

This part also shows you the differences among hardwoods, charcoal, briquettes, self-igniting coals, flavoring woods, and any other fuel that makes for a good fire. This part also explains how to make a good fire for your particular intentions, whether you’re grilling fish, barbecued ribs, or kebabs. We discuss the strategies of safely starting a fire and maintaining it for maximum effect, and then we make some recommendations about the best fire starters on the market, from electric coils to metal chimneys.

Part II: Adding Spice to Your Life

This is the part where you really start to cook. First, we help you stock your pantry with the kinds of foods and seasonings that make for great grilling. Anyone can slap a sirloin down on a grill, but this part suggests herbs, spices, rubs, and marinades that can add flavor and texture to your grilled foods. We also provide some delectable sauces on the side that add measurably not just to the grilled foods but to the other ingredients on the plate.

Part III: For the Fanatics of the Classics

Ready, set, grill! In this part, we cover old-fashioned favorites like burgers (there’s more to a great burger than buying a frozen patty at the supermarket, you know), hot dogs, kebabs, ribs, and rotisseried foods. In Chapter 9, we also explain the distinctions between regular grilling and barbecuing (ribs, in particular), which can be easily accomplished at home with a little patience and a lot of time.

Part IV: Grilling Everything Under the Sun

This part takes you beyond the old-fashioned grilled foods and invites you to try a variety of recipes, including those for beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. We give you tips about how to buy the best cut for your purposes. This part also shows you that the grill is one of the most versatile cooking methods imaginable for adding flavor to seafood, vegetables, and even fruits. And if you’ve never considered making pizzas or other sandwiches directly over coals, we think that you’ll be surprised by the possibilities. We even include recipes for some side dishes and our favorite cocktails to serve with the food that’s coming off the fire.

Part V: The Part of Tens

We finish the book with some fun information that will make outdoor cooking even more enjoyable. Here, you get tips on ten crucial grilling guidelines as well as our personal pick of the best barbecue restaurants across the United States, where you may pick up a few pointers that even we missed.

At the end of this book, we include an appendix with a Metric Conversion Guide to help you quickly translate common abbreviations for cooking measurements and figure out how to change the recipe measurements to metric sizes.

Icons Used in This Book

This book uses icons that alert you to something you may not have thought of but that will help make outdoor cooking a lot easier and more pleasurable. Here’s what they all mean:

shoppingtip.eps This icon gives you tips on buying the best meats, seafood, vegetables, seasonings, and equipment.

onthegrill.eps These tips give helpful information about successful grilling techniques, from temperature control to ease of cleanup.

Remember.eps This icon highlights advice that we suggest you keep in mind as you’re grilling.

Warning(bomb).eps All cooking involves a certain degree of danger, and safety should always be on the mind of anyone cooking outdoors over an open fire. This icon reminds you of ways to avoid personal injury or property damage.

fatbuster(grilling).eps Grilling itself is a pretty healthy way to cook, but this icon tells you how to further cut the fat from grilled foods.

In addition, the following types of text offer ways to stretch the recipes in this book:

Vary It! When you’re grilling, there’s never just one way to prepare a recipe. So, we highlight ways that you can improvise and vary the preparation or the ingredients.

Go-With: These give you ideas for side dishes to pair with tasty grilled main dishes; marinades and sauces that work well with your chosen meat; and grilled fruits and vegetables that go with delicious recipes throughout the book.

If you’re just starting out in the wonderful world of grilling, we recommend that you read the first several chapters — especially those on safety and technique — before proceeding to the recipes. If you’re ready to start grilling, simply go to the chapter that discusses the food you want to prepare. Whatever your expertise level, remember that we’ve attempted to make everything about grilling as simple to understand as possible. We’ve sprinkled plenty of little tricks and bits of advice throughout the book — they’re sure to increase your knowledge and expertise as you become more experienced. Our aim is to get you going if you’re just beginning and to make you a master if you’re already good at one of the most popular and enjoyable social activities that surrounds the enjoyment of good food and friends.

Part I

Getting Ready to Show the Grill Who’s Boss


In this part . . .

Grilling has its own jargon, equipment, and strategies — all of which are completely different from traditional cooking. This part introduces you to the grilling basics: from a quick tutorial on Grill-Speak to guidelines on shopping for a grill and from tips for cleaning up those nasty bits of food and grease to sound advice for building a perfect charcoal fire — with or without wood chips. We also share a list of grilling gadgets and accessories that range from must-haves to nice-to-haves — many of them make perfect gifts for that special someone who lives to flip burgers on the weekends (as we do!).