Before you start, be sure to get your grill ready (this will keep foods from sticking or falling apart). Get the grill grates hot, then scrub clean with a grilling brush. Just before you cook, use tongs to dip a paper towel in oil and brush over the grates to create a nonstick coating. Let's get grilling!
Hot dogs and burgers
Hot dogs can dry out quickly or get a little too charred on the outside if cooked over high heat. Stick to medium heat, turning every couple of minutes to get grill marks on all sides. For burgers, keep the patties cold in your fridge until it's time to grill so they cook evenly (this also keeps fat from melting and causing flare ups). Press your thumb into the center of each patty to help them stay flat as they cook. Grill over medium heat, flipping as little as possible.
Recipe: BBQ crunch burger
Fish and seafood
Delicate fish and seafood take just a few minutes on the grill, so don't walk away. Thread scallops into two skewers instead of one to keep them from sliding and make them easier to flip and cook over medium-high heat. For shrimp and shellfish, try using a perforated grill basket to avoid having your food fall through the grill. For fish, cook skin side down first over medium-high heat; it's ready to flip when the skin crisps and releases easily from the grill. Skip tongs and use a long, wide spatula so the fish doesn't tear. You can also try sturdy, thick-cut salmon steaks (cut crosswise through the bone) instead of fillets.
Recipe: Grilled scallops with grilled lemon butter
Unlike burgers, steaks will cook faster and stay juicier when brought to room temperature before grilling. Grill over medium-high heat, flipping just once so the steak can form a crisp, browned crust on both sides. Check the temp with a meat thermometer for your desired doneness (remember that the steak will go up by a few more degrees once off the heat). Let it rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices don't run onto your board when you slice.
Recipe: Grilled steak with corn salsa
A simple marinade will help lean chicken stay juicy and adds lots of flavor. Create two temperature zones on your grill (medium-high and medium or direct and indirect heat). Start cooking over a higher temp first, then finish over a lower heat, keeping the grill covered. If adding a barbecue or other sticky sauce, brush it on towards the end of cooking so it doesn't burn before the chicken cooks through.
Recipe: Herb and garlic–marinated chicken
Fruits and vegetables
Cut vegetables and fruits into long, thick slices or wedges so they have more surface area and are easy to grab with tongs. Thread smaller pieces onto skewers. Before cooking, lightly brush fruits and veggies with oil so they don't stick. Pick fruits that are slightly firm or underripe so they don't fall apart as they cook, and grill over medium-low heat. For vegetables, leave peels and husks on and cook over medium-high or medium heat.
Recipe: Pineapple-strawberry skewers