Summertime is known for warm, sunny days, vacations (and staycations), family time and, of course, grilling and barbecues. After all, what better way to make the most of a beautiful day than to spend time outdoors with your family and enjoy a delicious meal together, right? However, not every meat can be grilled the same way.
It’s true - chicken, steak, pork and seafood all taste great when grilled, but there is a proper way to prepare and cook each protein. In this blog, we’ll give you helpful grilling tips to make sure your grilled meal is as tasty as it can be. Plus, we’ll provide you with some recipe inspiration, too!
Tips for Grilling Chicken
When it comes to the best way to grill chicken, it really depends on the cut of meat. However, you should always make sure to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F. For white meat cuts, such as chicken breasts and tenderloins, they contain a lower amount of fat content, which means they have a higher tendency of being a little tough or dry when overcooked.
To make sure your white meat chicken is as juicy as possible, use a marinade - either homemade or a store bought bottled option. If you decide to pick up a bottle of your favorite marinade from your local Food Lion, you’ll see that there are some quick marinades that only take about 30 minutes per the instructions. But, there are also some that take a little longer, and can even marinate the chicken overnight. So, just keep in mind how much time you have before barbecue-time when choosing the right marinade.
Dark meat, on the other hand, such as wings and thighs have a slightly higher fat content, so they remain juicy and tender easily when cooked. That means a simple dry rub is all you need for a flavorful and juicy main dish. However, you can also choose to toss the wings and thighs in a sauce before and/or after grilling if you prefer.
And here’s another tip for grilling chicken thighs - consider buying this protein with the skin on (like our Food Lion or Nature’s Promise Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Thighs). When grilled, the skin becomes nice and crispy. You can put that to the test and try the Smoky Grilled Chicken with Cherry Pepper Relish recipe below!
Smoky Grilled Chicken with Cherry Pepper Relish
Enjoy the familiar taste of seasoned grilled chicken thighs, but with a fun and flavorful dipping sauce made with cherry peppers, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, honey, olive oil and parsley. And just as we mentioned above in our tips for grilling chicken, this recipe calls for a simple dry rub using the following ingredients:
- Salt & pepper
- Garlic powder
We also have a selection of spice options at Food Lion that combine multiple seasonings in one bottle, making your dry rub as simple as sprinkling it over top of the chicken. No mixing of spices required!
Tips for Grilling Steak
Our tips for grilling steak are simple. It’s all about adding some salt and pepper (or your favorite steak seasoning) for flavor, as well as the temperature of the steak. So, as you’re grilling your sirloin, filet, ribeye or another cut of beef, make sure to have your meat thermometer ready. Here’s a quick guide for temperature and steak doneness:
- Well Done (no pink visible): 155℉ or higher
- Medium-Well (pale pink in the middle): 150℉
- Medium (seared outside, but pink center): 140℉
- Medium-Rare (seared outside, hot pink center): 130℉
- Rare (seared outside, red center): 125℉
Once you’ve cooked your steak to your preferred doneness, melting a tab of flavored butter on top is an absolutely delicious addition. Our Grilled Steak with Lemon Herb Butter recipe below is the perfect way to give this a try.
Grilled Steak with Lemon Herb Butter
This simple, but tasty grilled steak recipe features ribeyes as the star of the dish. Just like we suggested in our tips above, you’ll season your steaks with salt and pepper before grilling. Then, while the meat is resting for a few minutes, you’ll melt a homemade lemon-herb butter overtop for a punch of flavor.
Tips for Grilling Pork
Similar to our suggestions for chicken, our tips for grilling pork vary depending on the cut of meat. So, we’ll talk about the two most popular - pork tenderloin and pork chops. Also like chicken, the tenderloin with pork is less fatty, and therefore, marinating the meat before grilling helps make sure that it’s juicy once cooked. A homemade marinade with fresh thyme, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper is a delicious option, but you can, of course, use a bottled marinade to save time.
Not sure how to know when your pork is done? 145 to 150℉ is the recommended internal temperature for pork, but if you prefer yours a little more well-done, continue grilling until the internal temperature reads 160℉ on your meat thermometer. This is true for all cuts of pork.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the tips for grilling pork chops. Because they have a higher fat content, a simple seasoning with salt and pepper is really all you need, but a quick brush of barbecue sauce either while cooking or afterward (or both), tastes fantastic! You can also top your pork chops with fruit salsa or salad like in our Grilled Hawaiian Pork Chops recipe.
Grilled Hawaiian Pork Chops
Just like ham and pineapple taste great together, this tropical fruit also pairs perfectly with pork chops as well. That’s why we crafted this Grilled Hawaiian Pork Chops recipe! The fruit salad piled on top is a combination of grilled pineapple and red bell pepper, as well as red onion and green onions. And although the recipe calls for fresh pineapple, you can always use canned slices instead.
A drizzle of teriyaki sauce would make a great addition too if you’re looking for even more flavor!
Tips for Grilling Seafood
Let’s face it - there are many types of seafood. There’s tender, flaky fish like tilapia, firm fish like salmon, as well as shellfish. And each one should be cooked a little differently on the grill. Here are some quick tips for grilling seafood:
- Tender, flaky fish should be cooked in a foil packet with lemon, salt, pepper and fresh herbs. The foil will help keep the fish from sticking to the grill and falling apart.
- Firm fish can be cooked directly on greased grill grates or on a cedar plank, which can be conveniently purchased at Food Lion. We even offer Atlantic salmon on cedar planks in our meat department. Make sure to check your neighborhood store for availability!
- Shrimp can also be cooked directly on greased grill grates. But, to avoid any of your shrimp falling through, use wooden skewers to pierce through the shrimp (4 or 5 per skewer). This also makes it much easier to flip the shrimp to cook on both sides. We also recommend seasoning your shrimp with salt and pepper, plus a squeeze of fresh lime for flavor.
And, speaking of grilled shrimp, we have a recipe you may want to try - Sweet & Spicy Grilled Shrimp! Take a look below.
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Shrimp
This simple grilled dish is so easy to make. All you have to do is mix up the sweet & spicy marinade, toss the shrimp, put them on your skewers and cook them on the grill. And since this recipe incorporates ingredients like lime, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and cumin, these shrimp are packed with Mexican flavors. So, they make the perfect protein for tacos and fajitas. You could also craft a Mexican rice bowl and top it with these grilled shrimp!
Want to make this recipe? Visit our recipe portal to get the full list of ingredients and step-by-step directions.
There you have it! We’ve now detailed our grilling tips for chicken, steak, pork and seafood. You also have four new recipes to pick from for your next cookout. But, if you want some additional recipe inspiration, we have a large collection of dish ideas ready for the grill. Now, go enjoy the rest of summer with lots of family time outdoors and, of course, tasty grilled meals!