The Best Grilling Secrets, According to Dads

·3 min read
“Hi, Hungry, I’m Dad!”
“Hi, Hungry, I’m Dad!”

Hank Hill knows a good steak. Medium rare, firm but with a little give, forged by propane and propane accessories. Got a problem with that? You’ll be asked, politely but firmly, to leave. With his endless selection of white tees, tasteful beer gut, and year-round grill mastery, Hank Hill is the ultimate dad. Now, Father’s Day weekend is upon us, and dads everywhere are whipping out their novelty aprons. (“BEST FLIPPIN’ DAD EVER!” “DADDIO OF THE PATIO!”) In honor of the occasion, we checked in with a few sandal-wearing, spatula-wielding dads to get their best grilling tips.

Get a good thermometer

“I have gotten into cooking a bunch in the last five years or so, but my grill game isn’t what it should be. That said, once I got an instant read thermometer and started timing my burgers and chicken, the meals got much, much better. I don’t know enough about food to rely on senses only. Has anyone ever done the stupid ‘feel your palm for doneness’ B.S.? It’s nonsense. Has never worked.”—Owen, dad of three

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...Or don’t use a thermometer at all

“I live by the credo of knowing your grill, and that only comes from experience. Know how long you need to cook steaks, burgers, or chicken without the use of a thermometer. It’s cool to have the toys, but when you’re cooking for a group (even if it’s just extended family), you should be able to perform the grill master tasks without them.”—Matt, dad of three

Get funky with garnishes

“Grill some onions. Trust me, they won’t go to waste.”—Matt, dad of three

“Marinades keep meat juicy while you sear the outside. I love ones with citrus, beer, or wine—they add flavor as well as tenderize meat.”—Dave, father of three

Give your meat a break

“My biggest hack is off-center heat, setting the fire to one side of the grill so you can sear and get a good char over the flame. Then move [the meat] off the heat and cover the grill to finish.”—Chris, father of one

“Rest time. Take the meat off the grill, let sit for five to 10 minutes loosely covered. It’s the best advice I can give.”—Matt, dad of three

Keep the heat in check

“Keep a water bottle handy to control flames.”—Dave, father of three

(Note: This contrasts with my own father’s objectively terrifying grilling practices, which once very nearly singed my younger brother’s eyebrows clean off. His advice is below. Please take it with many, many grains of salt.)

“Never, ever clean the grates on the grill. Years of seasonings and flavor are locked inside.”—My dad, who may or may not have been joking

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself

“Grab a beer, have the speaker nearby, and be a part of the party. Playing grill master is cool, but so is being a good host. A group of friends and I even have a Twitter account of our grilling exploits. We’re at @smokeboiz and we’re fun because we take it very lightly and just enjoy grilling.”—Matt, dad of three

“Cook for people. Food is love. Feed friends, family, people who have food security issues. That’s the best tip.”—Dave, father of three