Tips for Summer Grilling Success

May 3, 2011 by Amy Clark

Nothing says summer like dinner prepared outdoors on the grill. I relish those al fresco dinners even more because of how easy it is to clean up afterwards! What mom wouldn’t enjoy fewer dishes to wash and making dinner in the fresh sunshine?

Grilling success was harder to come by for our family. The first year we began grilling outdoors was a year of trial and error.  Over the years, we discovered that our key to success fully relies on a good meat thermometer, an arsenal of good marinades, and a little bit of patience.

May just so happens to be National Barbecue Month, so today I want to share a few tips for grilling success… to kick the month off right!

  • If you don’t want your food to taste like last year’s burger, start with a clean grill. I take the simplest approach possible when cleaning my grill racks by using the self-cleaning function on my oven. I simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them inside my oven. I then run the oven through the self-cleaning mode and I end up with a clean oven and beautifully clean grill racks.
  • Maintain those shiny grates by oiling them before you grill. When you’re done grilling, use a wire brush to clean off the grates while the grill is still warm.
  • Plan your menus in advance: prepare meat in bulk and store in freezer bags (I double-bag mine to prevent messes) or freezer-safe containers. I love to prep a few different marinades at a time. Most marinades have similar base ingredients (olive oil, vinegars, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce) and it’s so much easier to do it all at once. Chop meat for kabobs and jot down any cooking times or special instructions on the outside of the bags. Then just stick the containers, marinade and all, in the freezer!
  • Consider investing in a digital meat thermometer to ensure that your meat will be fully cooked and at its optimal flavor. Look for a thermometer with a probe that beeps when the internal food temperature is reached. The best part is that many now come with a separate receiver that you can take indoors with you, letting you prep the rest of the food without worrying about burning the meat.
  • To get the best flavors from your meats, always preheat the grill to medium-high heat (to prevent the meat from sticking), season both sides of meat generously with salt and pepper, apply sauces at the end of the cooking time to prevent charred meat, and let meat rest ten minutes after removing from grill, to allow the juices to redistribute.
  • Grilled vegetables are the perfect side dish. Large veggies like eggplant, squash or onions can be cut into chunks and placed on the grill rack. Smaller vegetables like cherry tomatoes or sliced veggies work best in kabobs. My favorite trick is to throw veggies into a cast iron skillet right on the grill, to save on time threading kabobs. And just enjoy the delicious taste of grilled flavor throughout.

Our favorite summertime food has always been grilled corn on the cob. Our new favorite is this herb-buttered version that you must try. This recipe is a great way to use up any herbs from your herb garden. The finished product is delicious, buttery and so fresh tasting!

Herb-Buttered Grilled Corn (adapted from

  • 6 ears fresh corn, cleaned
  • 6 tablespoons sweet butter, softened and divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 6 pieces aluminum foil, big enough to wrap cobs

Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and dissolve the sugar and salt into it. Add to the remaining butter and blend well. Mix herbs together and add to butter. Rub mixture onto each cob. Wrap foil around the corn and grill 15 minutes, turning often.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.