It's summer and if you want to be the master of the grill this summer, there are a few rookie mistakes you need to avoid. Take our advice and impress everyone at your backyard BBQ this year. Here are the five things you're doing wrong when grilling.

1) You aren't preheating your grill.

Throwing meat onto an insufficiently hot grill is a great way to ruin everything. Your food is likely to stick and cook unevenly. Whether you're cooking with gas or charcoal, get that grill fired up ahead of time to ensure the best possible results. Use the hover test to make sure your grill is hot. Hover your hand a couple of inches above the hot grate. If you aren't able to keep it there for more than five seconds or so, that's a great indication that your grill is warmed up.

2) You aren't utilizing both zones of your grill.

Every grill has a hot side and a cool side. Properly using these zones can help to ensure the best possible food. Cased foods like hot dogs or sausages should start on the cool side where they can slowly come up to a consumable internal temperature. Finish them to your liking on the hot side of the grill. Burgers, steaks, chicken, and chops should all be started on the hot side of the grill. Mark both sides to lock in juices and flavor, then move them to the cool side of the grill to reach your desired doneness.

3) You're pressing your burgers.

Your favorite restaurant chains might press burgers onto their flat tops to create that delicious fast food crust, but it doesn't really work when cooking over open grates and flames. You just end up losing precious juices through the grates, which can in turn cause dangerous flare-ups resulting in dry, burnt food and excess smoke.

4) You aren't properly seasoning.

As traditional BBQ continues to grow in popularity, supermarkets and home improvement stores are stocking a broader selection of BBQ dry rubs. These blends of sugar, salt, and spices are designed to enhance the flavor and exterior bark of slow-smoked meats but they're also great for direct heat cooking on your home grill. Sprinkle some on your burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, or even vegetables before putting them on the grill. The rub will impart great flavor and also prevent your food from sticking.

5) You're cleaning your grill with a wire brush.

The best way to ensure that your cookouts are great all summer long is to maintain the integrity of your grill with proper care. You probably have a cheap wire grill brush and scraper combination that spent most of the winter on the floor in the corner of your garage. Those old wire brushes are likely to shed their bristles, which can end up on your grill, and in your food. Opt instead for a a scrubbing pad or a wooden grill scraper. Additionally, a natural, food-safe cleaning spray will keep your grill grates in great shape. Excessive, burnt-on food will impart your food with undesirable off flavors.

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