1. You're using lighter fluid.
Sure, you might be hungry and want that fire to start blazing ASAP, but it's better to go low and slow and red-hot and then fizzle out. Get a nice flame building on your charcoals using crumpled newspaper and wait for them to fully turn grey before you spread them out and get to grilling. You should also give your grill grates time to heat up once your charcoal is ready to rock.
2. You sear steaks fresh from the fridge.
Billy Oliva, executive chef at Wall Street's favorite steakhouse, Delmonico's, told Business Insider that this is the No. 1 mistake people make when preparing their steaks or other grilling meats. "In the restaurant, we always like the steaks to come up to room temperature because you get a more even cooking process," he says. "If it's too cold, the outside will char and the inside will be a little bit rarer than it should be."
3. You're using direct heat all the time.
Unless you're looking to totally char those chicken legs or pork chops, sear them over the flame and then give them some distance afterward. "What we like to do is sear it to give it color, and then move it to a slightly cooler part of the grill when we're grilling," Oliva says. "You want to cook around the open flame."
4. You forget to clean your grill grates.
Baked-on bits of food and carbonized char doesn't add an ideal flavor as some people might tell themselves and others. The best time to scrub those grates is when minimal elbow grease is involved — just after you finish grilling. Heated grease and food remnants will scrape right off and will save you effort for the next time you want to grill. Your future self will thank you.
5. You aren't cranking up the heat enough.
You basically need those grill grates to be screaming hot. "High heat helps steaks adopt a steakhouse-worthy crust," Marc Forgione, the chef behind New York City's American Cut, says. If your grill isn't hot enough, you could end up steaming your steak and all the juices will escape, leaving you with a sad grey meal. There's a lot of room inside the grill for the heat to move around in so don't be afraid of high heat.
6. You're messing around with the meat.
Forgione stresses that you should never toss and turn your cuts on the grill. "When you place the steak on a hot grill or pan, leave it alone until you begin to see a crust forming on the side of the steak that's in contact with the grill grates," he says. "Around 3 to 4 minutes." That goes double for poking and proding it — putting pressure on the meat with a spatula or pair of tongs is almost as bad as puncturing it with a fork and letting all the juice out. The less you mess with your meat the faster it will cook and the better it will taste.
7. You're cooking too many things at once.
Backyard barbecues are great and all, but when you've got a horde of people to feed the pressure's on. And that doesn't play out well on the grill. Instead of tackling everything at once and crowding your burgers, hot dogs, corn, kabobs until some are overcooked and others are undercooked, stick to grilling one type of meat at a time. This way you'll also avoid cross-contamination and make sure everything is cooked to perfection.
8. You're playing guessing games.
When it comes to doneness, you need to know the facts. Poking your steak or pork chop to test how rare it is doesn't bode well for most unless you're a professional chef. Instead, use a tried-and-true-meat thermometer to be 100 percent sure about how cooked your meat is. Though you should be strategic when you puncture the cuts: doing so too early and lose a lot of the juices along the way.
9. You aren't giving it a rest.
Forgione also recommends giving steak and other meats a moment to rest after their time on the grill. "Remove the meat from the pan and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain so that the juices redistribute inside the steak," he says. "Slice and sprinkle with additional sea salt, then serve." You've put in all of this hard work so don't ruin it by cutting in too early. We PROMISE your steaks will still be hot after resting 10 minutes.