The Biggest Grilling Mistake To Avoid, According To BBQ Expert Chris Lilly - Exclusive

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Outdoor grilling is always fun, regardless of the time of year, but it can also be challenging to do right — especially if you're working over an unpredictable charcoal fire. If you've been struggling to make the grilled feast of your dreams, pitmaster Chris Lilly wants to help.

When it comes to all things barbecue, there is one fundamental truth: When Chris Lilly offers advice, you should listen. He has spent decades in charge of the pit at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Alabama, and he runs a barbecue team that has won more than 20 competitions (via Charleston Wine and Food). The man definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to cooking food over a fire.

Lilly gave an exclusive interview to Tasting Table and shared many tips and techniques for grillers of all skill levels. One of the most useful topics he talked about was the number one way he sees people mess up their grilled meals.

It's all about temperature control

According to Chris Lilly, the biggest mistake he sees novice grillers make is cooking their proteins for too long. It's an understandable impulse. Nobody wants to serve their guests raw chicken or pork, but many people go too far in the opposite direction and cook meat until it's dry and tough.

Ideally, you want to leave meat on the grill just until it's done and not a second longer. If you have a ton of experience, you might be able to feel when proteins are done cooking, but for the rest of us, Lilly recommends a meat thermometer, because "it tells you instantly when your food needs to come off the grill." No matter what cuts of meat you grill, the thermometer will help you achieve a perfect end result.

Besides a thermometer, Lilly's other recommendation to ensure proper meat cookery is a two-zone fire. If you distribute the charcoal so that half of your grill is scorching hot and the other half is set to a low temperature, then you have the flexibility to make sure your food is properly seared on the outside and cooked to the correct internal temperature. Once your proteins have charred to your liking on the hot side of the grill, you can move them to the cooler side to gently finish cooking.

For other grilling recipes and tips, visit Kingsford Charcoal's website.

To taste Chris Lilly's cooking, you can go to Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, which also ships meat and sauce nationally. His books, "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book" and "Fire and Smoke," are available on Amazon.