get out and grill
charcoal vs gas
Grilling purists love cooking over charcoal. It takes some work to set up and heat the briquets (and you have to deal with the used ones at the end), but charcoal gives meats and vegetables a rich, smokey taste. Though gas grills don't contribute as much flavor, they light with the press of a button and require only brief preheating, so you can start cooking in a matter of minutes - a definite bonus when you have a crowd that's ready to eat.

Getting started
Make sure you have a full tank of gas or a new bag of charcoal and something to start the briquets with (see preheating sections for options). Check the tank gauge on your gas grill, if it has one, to see if you have a full tank. Since the gauge works by the tank's weight, you can also lift the tank to check; if a tank feels empty, it is. Use a fresh bag of charcoal for the most consistent results; once a bag has been opened, it doesn't burn as well.

charcoal
Grill Preparation
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Clean the grill. Before lighting new briquets, remove grill and clean out and discard ash and spent briquets (plus drip pan, if you used one the last time you grilled) in a fireproof container. Then, while the coals are heating, before you put the grill back over them, scrub it clean.
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Oil the Grill. If the recipe calls for an oiled grill, brush it with oil before you put the grill back over the hot coals. (When the recipe says "lightly oiled", use a very thin coat; "oiled": a medium coat; "well-oiled": a generous coat.)
Preheating For Direct Heat
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Open bottom vents.
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Cover fire grate with an even layer of charcoal briquets, edges touching, to determine how many briquets you'll need.
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Then mound or stack briquets to ignite them. Tuck up to 10 fire-starter blocks or quick-light briquets into the mound, or saturate the mound lightly with liquid starter (never pour liquid starter on hot coals).
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Ignite and let burn with grill lid off until briquets are dotted with white ash, usually about 20 minutes.
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Use long-handled tongs to spread coals in a solid layer around the grate.
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The grill is very hot (see grill temperatures below) when coals are just covered with ash. Let them burn a while for lower grill temperatures.
Preheating For Indirect Heat
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Open bottom vents.
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Mound or stack about 60 briquets on fire grate to ignite. You can use an electric starter (positioned under the mound) or a chimney starter (in which you stack the briquets). Or tuck up to 10 fire-starter blocks or quick-light briquets not the mound or saturate the mound lightly with liquid starter (never pour liquid starter on hot coals).
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Ignite and let burn with grill lid off until briquets are dotted with white ash, usually about 20 minutes.
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With long-handled tongs, push equal amounts to opposite sides of the fire grate. Place a foil drip pan between mounds.
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If cooking for more than 30 minutes, add 5 briquets to each mound of coals now and every 30 minutes to maintain heat.
gas
Grill Preparation
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Clean the grill. Empty drip pan (sometimes called a "grease catch" or "collection tray") beneath grill and discard fat and debris. Turn all burners to high; close lid. Let burn for 10 minutes, then use a wire brush to scrape grill clean.
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Oil the grill. If the recipe calls for an oiled grill, brush the grill with oil using a heatproof grill brush. (When the recipe says "lightly oiled", use a very thin coat; "oiled": a medium coat; "well-oiled": a generous coat).
Preheating For Direct Heat
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Turn all burners to high, close the lid, and let grill heat at least 10 minutes (if you've cleaned the grill as directed, this step is already done). When you're ready to grill, adjust heat for cooking temperature specified (see below for grill temperatures).
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Direct heat grill temperatures. For direct heat cooking, we specify a direct grill temperature at the start of cooking, from very hot to low. To determine the temperature of your grill, hold your hand as close to the grill as possible without touching it (use caution) and count how many seconds you can comfortably hold it there:
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Very hot-1 to 2 seconds
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Hot-2 to 3 seconds
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Medium-hot-3 to 4 seconds
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Medium-4 to 5 seconds
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Medium-low-5 to 6 seconds
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Low-6 to7 seconds
Preheating For Indirect Heat
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Turn all burners to high, close the lid, and let the grill heat at least 10 minutes (if you've cleaned the grill as directed above, this step is already done). When you're ready to grill, turn off the center burners(s), leaving on the two burners at edges of grill.