Boost Your BBQ! Tips for a Stellar Spread

Hollud / / CC BY-NC-SA

When the weather is 70 and sunny, we forecast hot coals in our future. Firing up the grill creates a world of possibilities for flavorful eats. While we’ll gnaw on any perfectly charred piece of BBQ, we prefer to enhance our grill grub with fresh made seasonings that pack a big punch. So chuck that store-bought sauce off your porch and learn how to boost your BBQ with these simple DIY grilling tips.


Lighten your side dishes with a tangy vinaigrette. 

There’s a handful of reasons to support swapping mayonaise dressings with a tangy vinaigrette for sides like slaws and potato salads: it’s healthier, it’s more food safe at room temperature, and it’s easy! Just think of it as a blank canvas for balancing tart acids like rice vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice with spicy ingredients like diced jalapeno or grated horseradish and sweet notes like roasted cherries or honey.


Get a fresh, fiery flavor by making your own spice rubs.

Since smoke and spice were made for each other, don’t disappoint your grill with bland pre-mixed seasonings. Roasting dried peppers in a low heat oven will intensify their flavor, adding a fresh, bold kick to any dish.

Start with whole dried peppers like guajillo, ancho or pasilla (you can find them at Lucky supermarkets or most Mexican grocery stores) and give them a quick rinse so they rehydrate just a bit – this makes them easier to work with. Remove the stems and seeds and then toast your chiles on a baking sheet in a 250-300 degree oven until they become brittle (about 5-7 minutes). Once they cool down, grind them into flakes with a motar and pestle or in a food processor for a more fine finish. Sprinkle it over a thick steak or cubed tofu as a traditional rub or mix it with lime zest and toss it on top of juicy mango or pineapple.


Elevate the juices with a basic brine. 

Brining meat is most definitely a science, but don’t be intimidated: this extra prep step will keep your leaner cuts of meat moist by actually adding more liquid to the meat (like I said…science!).  Brining is a long process — we recommend a good 12 hours of alone time for small cuts like chicken breast or 24 hours for whole chicken or pork loin — so be sure to begin brining a day before the big BBQ.  

Combine 1/2 gallon of water with 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large pan and heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add seasonings like lemon zest, smashed garlic cloves and herbs then remove from heat to cool. The brine must be cold to use, so add about 2 lbs of ice to the pot to bring the temperature down.

Place your meat in a large ziploc bag and transfer the cold liquid to it (keep it in a pot to catch any escaping juices) and allow brine to distribute for 12-24 hours depending on the size of your meat (longer isn’t better — over brining will result in salty meat). Before you toss it on the grill, be sure to pat the meat dry to ensure a crisp golden brown coating.


How do you boost your BBQ? Share your steps below!

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