It feels like summer is finally here, and we all want to carpe diem and embrace these months that are supposed to feel carefree. And since many of us are opting out of vacations, we’re looking for ways to spice things up at home. Adam and I have been setting aside one night of the weekend as our “at-home date night,” which inevitably means letting the kids eat an early dinner (let’s be real, it might be a bowl of cereal) and settle in with a movie, while we pour ourselves a glass of wine and fire up the grill. And as long-time grill lovers, we’ve had time to perfect a list of grilling tips that are tried and true.
For us, grilling evokes memories of laid-back nights that are all about savoring the moment. Simply smelling that delicious char makes me relax into that slower, breath-easy state—plus the grill always equals the most flavor-packed meals, if you ask me. I learned my grilling skills from the best (ie. Adam), and since many of you have shared in the past that you’re intimidated by the grill, I thought it was the perfect time to encourage everyone to get on the train as soon as possible. These foolproof grilling tips make it easy, promise! So keep reading to discover a few of our easiest, go-to secrets for grilling success.
Consider adding these grilling tips to your summer grilling cheat sheet.
Marinade vs. Rub?
First things first: the way you prep your ingredients before they go on the grill is a major key to flavor-packed success. I usually opt for either a dry rub or a marinade to infuse the meat with flavor. Here’s the breakdown:
Dry rubs use a combination of color, sweetener, flavor, heat, and salt bases. Rubs are applied to the pork before cooking—anywhere from an hour to a few hours, depending on how much time you have available.
Marinades combine dry spices with liquids. Vinegar, oil, and condiments are common ingredients. The pork must sit in this mixture for several hours before grilling to allow the flavor to soak in.
So which one should you choose? The good news is that they’ll both deliver delicious results, so let your creativity be your guide. I’m sharing my go-to recipe for my Honey Citrus Soy Marinade, it takes any cut of meat to the next level. It is particularly delicious on this pork tenderloin—tender, juicy perfection.
Let’s talk cuts.
There are so many options when it comes to cuts from lean to more indulgent, and I love cooking with them all. The most familiar cuts for grilling are chops, loin roasts, tenderloin, ribs, and shoulder. Italian sausage and ground meat (for lettuce wraps!) are also faves, and I’ve got a favorite happy hour recipe coming soon that involves throwing bacon on the grill. Yes, please!
Time and temperature.
The secret to great grilling is all about careful timing and even temperature—it’s the difference between meat that is dry (from overcooking) or succulent and juicy, which is what we want. I usually use an instant-read thermometer when I’m cooking meat to ensure I get the perfect amount of doneness.
For tenderloin and chops, I shoot for an internal temp of 145 degrees, then I remove the it from the grill and let it rest for five minutes (which cooks it a bit more, and redistributes the juices) before slicing. Here’s a handy guide for foolproof grilling temperatures.
My go-to summer marinade.
This, my friends, is the summer marinade you’re going to want to put on every cut of meat in your fridge. I’ve got to give the credit to an old family friend of ours who gave my parents a similar recipe years ago—it became an instant family favorite. My dad has gained quite a reputation as a master griller, so he may not love the fact that I’m spilling his secret: this marinade. I’ve adapted it a bit to make it my own this summer, adding the orange zest and juice for more sweetness and flavor.
The meat absorbs the marinade and gets infused with the flavor throughout. It’s an especially great complement to the sweet grilled carrots. You can let it marinate for up to eight hours, but if you’re pressed for time, even one hour of marinating will make a major difference.
Marinating hack: for optimal flavor-enhancing, I like to take a fork and pierce the tenderloin all over to form tiny holes that encourage the marinade to get into every nook and cranny. (Scroll to the bottom of this post to get the recipe card for my Honey Citrus Soy Marinade.)
This Citrus-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Pesto & Grilled Carrots is truly one of my favorite meals of summer.
Scroll on for my go-to marinade recipe, and leave a comment or tag me on Instagram if you give it a try!
This post was originally published on August 7, 2020, and has since been updated.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Pour over meat and let marinate for 2 - 8 hours to infuse with flavor.