Good cooking needs more than good recipes. The best chefs understand “why” as well as “how” and they have developed tricks and techniques that can make major differences in the outcome. Here is more of the science behind cooking and some of our favorite tips and tricks that make cooking easier, and the outcome better.
If you are new to BBQ and grilling, start here. These articles will give you a solid foundation on BBQ and grilling equipment, recipes, and techniques. You'll learn about thermodynamics, how to control temperature, meat science, smoke science, top recipes, product buying guides, and more.
What is meat and how does cooking alter it? Discover the science of what meat is made of, including water, fat, protein, connective tissue, salt, and other minerals. And find out what happens when meat meets heat.
What is the right cooking temperature for barbecue? It depends. Not all food should be cooked low and slow or hot and fast. Sometimes, a combination of both is best, as seen in the reverse sear and in sous-vide-que. Read more about 2-zone cooking and when to grill with the lid up or down for perfectly cooked BBQ.
What's the best way to set up your grill and smoker? The secret is to have temperature control, and for grills, that almost always means using a 2-zone setup. For smokers, the secret is to get a small hot fire that makes clean "blue" smoke rather that billowy white smoke.
Salting and brining can significantly improve your cooking. Salt is unlike any spice and herb in the house physically and chemically, and it behaves in strange and wonderful ways when applied properly to food. Don't overdo it. When used judiciously it can seriously amplify flavor and juiciness.
January is National Meat Month and Americans are eating more meat, looking to get more protein and fewer carbs in their diets. Here are our top 5 meat cooking tips from our own bbq whisperer, Meathead Goldwyn.
BBQ cooks are some of the most inventive cooks around. Live fire, hot coals, grill grates, heavy hunks of raw and cooked meat...they can all present some serious challenges. Here are our favorite outdoor cooking hacks to save both time and money while also creating delicious BBQ!
"Tender at the bone" is a common phrase in cooking. It leads many cooks to believe that bone-in meat tastes better than boneless meat. Is it true? Do bones add flavor to meat or somehow make meat more tender near the bone? We have the answers, and they may surprise you.
More and more people are cooking at home. And more cooks are asking us: How do I smoke a brisket? What's the best way to clean my grill grates? How do I mail-order a gas grill? What's the best way to build a wood fire? Here are answers, including how to stay safe when handling food in the post-COVID era.
Stop trying to get perfect grill marks! Yes, grill marks make us drool, but they are a sign of lost potential. Fact: the most flavorful meat has the most browning across its entire surface, not just a few browned stripes. Let's bust that myth. Read on to find out how to make the most flavorful browned crust on meat.
Here are four offbeat methods for cooking steaks that work amazingly well: The Afterburner Method where you cook on a hot charcoal chimney, the Vigneron Method where you cook with twigs, the Caveman Method where you cook right on hot coals, and the Stripsteak Method where you sous vide in butter then sear on a grill.
Sorry folks: searing meat to seal in the juices is a myth. Of course, searing meat has other benefits, most notably creating the delicious flavors of browned meat! Here are the facts about meat juices, searing, browning, and a better way to sear your meat called the reverse sear.
The fat on the outside of meat does not melt and penetrate the muscle fibers making the meat moister. That is a myth. Here's the science on different types of fat, what happens as fat heats and melts, and the best way to trim meats before cooking to create the most delicious browned bark or crust.
Do not bring your meat to room temperature before cooking it. That is a myth that poses a food safety risky. Letting meat sit at room temperature for a few minutes may be OK, but it's safer and better to simply take your meat from the refrigerator to the cooker. Here's why.
Here's how to thaw or defrost meat safely. Surprisingly, you can do it in hot water! That method works best for thinner cuts of meat. For thicker cuts, find out what works best, including thawing in the refrigerator and in cold water. It's all food safety and preserving precious meat juices.
Removing the paper-thin membrane from the bone side of ribs prior to smoking ensures that the ribs come out as tender as possible without guests having to gnaw through the membrane's tough texture. This how-to guide features step by step photos for trimming a slab of ribs and removing the membrane.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are among the most popular meats in America. But they have a problem. One side is thick and one is thin, so they don't cook evenly. Pounding chicken breasts flat solves a lot of cooking and serving problems. Here's how to make an even piece of meat quickly and easily.
Spatchcocking, or butterflying, a whole turkey, chicken or any other bird is a great way to make moist, delicious birds that are browned all over and evenly cooked in less time. It's a simple matter of cutting out the bird's backbone, a deboning process that is easy and painless with good kitchen or poultry shears.
What influences cooking time? So many variables, such as the total volume of meat in your cooker. Are you using rib racks to squeeze more meat into a small area? Beware. The meat is almost touching, and that could add up to an hour of cooking time. Here are more tips on cooking more than one hunk of meat at once.
Want to be a better cook? Learn mise en place. This French term means, roughly, 'everything in its place.' It is a mindset and a practice that helps you plan ahead and stay organized, which streamlines the prep and cooking processes. It can help shorten cooking and cleaning times and help prevent cooking disasters.
Check out our handy step by step photo sequence of how to dice onions properly. This is how the professional chefs do it. It doesn't requires any special knife skills, but this method is safe, easy, and fast. It's help you can get on with the rest of the food prep and finally get down to enjoying your meal!
Buying a new knife? Wondering what is VG-10 steel? How do you hold a chef's knife? How do you clean one? How do you hone and sharpen a knife? Get incisive answers to these sharp questions and more in our ultimate guide to knives.
Before you drop serious cash on a knife, bone up on what distinguishes a good knife from a great one. The science of different metals, shaping techniques, and manufacturing technologies all influence how a knife sharpens, dulls, feels in your hand, and holds up over the long haul.
So you're cooking for a crowd. How much food do you need? Here's how to plan for a party or special occasion, including some basic rules of thumb and tips on how to handle dietary restrictions, how to prep ahead, and how to calculate the right amount of food so no one goes hungry.
Why are exact cooking times so hard to predict? Because the actual time it takes meats and other barbecued foods to reach a certain level of doneness depends on many variables such as the weather, the cooking method, the type of meat, meat thickness, humidity in the cooker, and the accuracy of your thermometer.
We all strive to create tender, juicy, and flavorful meat, but we also want it safe. Monitoring the internal temperature is the best way to have the best of both worlds. Here's the ultimate guide to understanding proper cooking temperatures and food safety to ensure that your meat is cooked perfectly every time.
Salt helps protein hang onto water during cooking so brining is a great technique to make food moist. But which is better, wet brining or dry brining? It all depends on which meat you're cooking and the results you want. Get the details.
There are times when basting helps and times when it hurts. Find out how applying liquid to the surface of meat with basting, mopping and spritzing may inhibit the formation of your crust or bark and lengthen cooking time while attracting smoke and improving flavor. It depends on what you're cooking and for how long.
There is no need to soak wood before cooking with it. Water doesn't penetrate wood. That's why they make boats from it! Discover the science behind wood combustion, smoke, and the best way to use chips, chunks and logs for smoking and grilling with wood.
What is the difference between a drip pan and a water pan? And why do I need some humidity when I make barbecue in the first place? Find out here along with tips on indirect grilling and an answer to the question: What should I put in my water pan on my grill or smoker? Hint: It's not wine, beer, or juice.
Planking is a popular method for cooking fish like salmon on a grill. Fans claim that soaking the wood in water gently steams the fish, which gets nice and smoky from the smoldering wood. Planking makes a nice presentation and helps keep fish from sticking to the grill, but the rest is mostly bunk. Here's the science.
Sous-Vide-Que combines the best of three great cooking methods: grilling, smoking, and sous vide. From grilling you get the rich flavors of browning. From smoking, you get the alluring aromas of wood smoke. And from sous vide, you get evenly cooked meat that is incredibly tender and juicy.
Don't you hate it when food sticks to your grill grates? This article explains how to prevent it: keep your grill grates clean and use the right temperature for the food you're cooking. Maybe lubricate the food (not the grates) with some oil. Some fish baskets and grill toppers may also help prevent sticking.
Can you make a potato cook faster by driving a nail through the center? In theory, the metal nail conducts heat through the potato, speeding up the cooking. To test the theory, our AmazingRibs.com science advisor, Professor Greg Blonder, ran a simple experiment. The results may surprise you.
Recipes often tell you to cook food until it is browned. Why? Browning is flavor! The most important chemical changes in food occur when heat initiates the Maillard reaction and caramelization. These processes make food GBD: Golden Brown and Delicious. Read on to find out how it all works.
Bark is that sweet, rich, crusty surface on low and slow cooked meat, and for many of us, the best part. It is part pellicle and part spice crust, but how does it form? The Maillard reaction, polymerization, and evaporation are key. Find out how to get better bark on your brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder.
Here's a useful technique for tenderizing, moisturizing, and speeding cooking by wrapping meat in aluminum foil for an hour or two. The Texas crutch beats the stall, in which meat stops cooking during barbecuing, sometimes for hours. This simple trick works for brisket, pork shoulder and ribs on any smoker or grill.
Conventional wisdom says you should keep the grill lid closed at all times. What do precise measurements tell us? It turns out that opening the lid may not have a huge effect on the grill's ambient temperature. Learn about all the variables and whether or not a steady temperature makes a big difference anyway.
Here's what you need to know about when and how to use BBQ sauce. There are tricks to know, including how much sauce to use on smoked ribs, pulled pork, and other barbecue. Find out when not to apply BBQ sauce, how to avoid burnt sauce, how to use a kitchen torch, and how to sizzle, glaze, paint on barbecue sauce.
We're crazy for incredible BBQ ribs and have plenty of smoked ribs recipes, cooking techniques, equipment recommendations, and mythbusting secrets throughout the site. But we know sometimes you just want to see the highlight reel instead of watching the whole game. No problem. Here are the 8 key steps you need to take.
Many recipes say to cook poultry 'until the juices run clear'. If you do, you could end up overcooking your poultry or spending the night on the toilet. Find out the real science behind pink juices, undercooked chicken, safe doneness temperatures, salmonella, and why the best tool for food safety is a good thermometer.
Does poking meat drain way all its juices? No. A piece of meat is not a water balloon. If you test it with a thermometer, all its juices will not drain away. In fact, using a thermometer is the only sure-fire way to judge the internal doneness temperature of meat. Find out why in this mythbusting article.
Is meat color an accurate indicator of doneness? A lot of cooks cut into meat and judge doneness by the meat color. But the color of meat changes when it is exposed to oxygen. The only reliable way to judge doneness is with a good digital thermometer. Here's everything you need to know about meat color and doneness.
What is carryover cooking? It's true that the internal temperature of food can continue to rise after you've taken the food off the heat and placed it at room temperature. How long does carryover cooking continue? By how many degrees will the internal temperature rise? Here are all the variables you need to know.
Stop worrying about resting meat after it is cooked. Serve it hot. We bust this myth with a review of the scientific research, some tests of our own, some basic meat science, explanations of carryover cooking and what makes meat juicy, a look at doneness temperatures, and how carving comes into play.
How do caterers hold cooked meats safely for so long? It's called a hotbox or Cambro and you can make a faux Cambro with a simple beer cooler. It's the secret to resting large cuts of BBQ like brisket, pork butts, and whole turkeys while keeping them warm and transporting them. Here's how to set up a faux Cambo.
Smoked meats often have a pink layer below the surface called the smoke ring. But you don't need smoke to create it! It is created by myoglobin, a protein in meat, reacting with combustion gases. Read on to learn how removing the fat cap from meat, keeping the meat moist, and cooking low and slow create the smoke ring.
If you must cook your meat in advance and serve it the next day, here are some useful tips, courtesy of award-winning pitmaster Mike Wozniak. His tips and tricks work wonders for make-ahead smoked beef brisket and pork shoulder and can even be used for barbecued ribs if you're in a pinch.
Don't throw it away! Leftovers are just future meals waiting to happen. Here's what you need to know about freezing leftover meat, thawing, reheating, and using a vacuum sealer, along with some meal planning tips. Yes, it is possible to freeze and reheat leftover barbecue ribs.
Tailgating can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be. Here's your ultimate guide to the gear, the recipes, and the planning tips that will make your next party in the parking lot the best ever.
You can ruin a perfectly cooked piece of meat by carving it horribly. Why? Because meat consists of long parallel muscle fibers. If you cut parallel to the fibers, they remain intact and are difficult to chew. When you slice across the fibers or across the grain, you make them easier to chew and hence more tender.
My foil-wrapped lasagna has holes in the foil: what's going on here? Some chemicals in foods react badly with certain metals and can even create toxins. Here's what you need to know about reactive and corrosive metals, how your lasagna can create a sort of electric battery cell, and how to avoid this problem.
Most RV kitchens are tiny. But with some planning and key pieces of equipment, you can turn our world class BBQ while traveling. Check out these key tips from our resident thermometer guru and avid RV traveler, Bill McGrath.
Here's everything you need to know about cooking with cast iron on your grill, in a campfire, and in your kitchen. Learn the science behind cast-iron skillets, Dutch ovens, and griddles, why they work so well, and how to season, clean, and repair vintage cast-iron pans. Try some of our favorite cast iron recipes too!
There's only one thing to remember with cast-iron cookware: maintain the seasoning. All the tips about cooking and cleaning cast-iron are meant to maintain its seasoning. Find out what seasoning is, how to build it up, how to clean cast iron, and how to repair it if it's badly rusted. We bust a few myths along the way.
Here is what you need to know about stainless steel when buying a grill or smoker, including terms like austenitic, ferritic, 304 steel, and 430 steel. Find out why thickness matters, what is heavy gauge, and how to interpret gauge numbers. Find info on powder coated and enameled steel and how to clean stainless steel.
Cooking on a salt block amps up flavor and makes a great presentation. You can put the salt block right on your grill, heat it up, and then cook on the salt block like a griddle. You can also bring a hot salt block to the table and sear meats tableside! Here's everything you need to know about cooking on salt blocks.
You want to make the best pizza? Here's what you need to know from thin crust to deep dish, Naples to Rome, Detroit to New York, baking stones to steels, grills to pizza ovens, reliable dough recipes to the best topping combinations, and everything in between.
Frying is a project for your grill. If you do it on your grill, who cares if there are spatters, smoke, and there is no smoke alarm. Here are some articles and recipes that will show you how to make great fried chicken, onion rings, and more on your grill.
Beef jerky, chipotle chilies, and smoke-dried tomatoes taste fantastic. To make them, you need to dehydrate them. Learn about which foods you can dehydrate in a smoker for extra smoke flavor and which foods dehydrate best in an indoor electric dehydrator. Hint: kale chips don't work as well on a smoker.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans alone are sickened every year by their food, and some even die. Thousands more are hurt by knives, wire brush bristles stuck to meat, burns and other hazards around the grill. Here's an overview of the hazards and how to reduce the risk
Want to cook better barbecue? Keep a log of your previous cooks and learn from them. In your log, include the meat, its weight, how you prepped it, what seasonings you used, the cooker and ambient air temperatures, the wood used, and how much. Here's the log that Meathead uses. Download it as a pdf or Excel copy.
How do you avoid the worst BBQ mistakes? Undercooked chicken? Burnt chicken? Burned outside and raw inside? We ran a contest to hear some of the juiciest stories, so you can learn from the trials and tribulations of others. Here are the best of the worst cooking disasters and how to avoid them the next time you grill.
Here are some very useful weights, measures, and equivalents that come in handy in the kitchen. You'll find an online conversion calculator for metric, imperial, volume, weight, length, and temperature, plus various handy food equivalents for salt, fat, sugar, and many other ingredients.
Garbage in, garbage out. So true of cooking. The quality of ingredients is paramount to quality dining. And there are subtle but important differences among salts, vinegars, oils, flours, and so on. In this section we will try to explain the differences.