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The Importance of Preheating

Ahhh, summertime. The sun is up. The weather’s warm. There truly is nothing quite like a great summer barbecue, and as the season heats up, so do my Weber grilling classes. Throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on the road teaching grilling technique classes at some very exciting events, one in Chicago and another in San Francisco.

Both festivals were fantastic and I can’t even tell you how much I enjoy sharing my secrets with Weber fans from all over the country. I really feed off of my students’ passion to become better grillers. 

It’s funny actually, in every grilling class there is one technique that I am amazed still remains a “secret.” Class after class, barbecue fans tell me that it’s the one tip they constantly fail to remember. So, in the interest of helping every griller become a great one, I’m going to expose the mystery right here and now: preheat your grill.

Okay, okay, I know you were probably expecting something a little more exciting, but it really is that simple. Many times I see people light their charcoal, electric or gas grills and then immediately throw food on the grates. I cringe every time I see it.

Pre-heating your grill is critical for having success. Without this key step, you are quite literally putting all of your food in jeopardy. This is true for two reasons. First, since your grill will not reach the optimal cooking temperature, your food will end up staying on the grill too long. This can easily lead to overcooked and dried out results. Yuck.

Second, if you put your food on a cool or lukewarm surface, you can kiss your tasty, crosshatched steak goodbye. Placing uncooked food on cool grates will essentially eliminate your chance at creating flavorful sear marks. These marks are where the sugars in your food get caramelized for that delicious smoky grilled flavor we all love.

Not to mention failing to preheat your grill may lead to problems with your food sticking to the grate. When food can sear and caramelize on a nice hot grate, it will release itself easily and make flipping a breeze.

So don’t forget to preheat your grill for at least 10–15 minutes the next time you fire things up. You’ve been warned, and if I happen to catch you skipping this all-important step at one of my classes, you can bet your apron you’ll lose your grilling privileges. Don’t test me, folks. When it comes to grilling, I mean business.

Until next time, happy summer and happy grilling to all!