Cooking out is so much fun. There are few things as good a freshly grilled meats. But many avoid it because it does have its pitfalls.

We have provided you with all the information you need to grill like a master. So now you have no excuse. Clean off the barbecue, call your friends over and have a cookout!

If you are a grilling novice, or if your cookouts have been somewhat less than spectacular, then following these simple tips will help you become an expert.

1) Allow plenty of time. Cooking out inevitably takes longer than expected. Don't leave your guests waiting for the charcoal to heat up.

2) Marinate meat over night in the refrigerator. This will allow the flavors to mingle and really sink in. Avoid sugary marinades as they can burn easily on the grill.

3) Keep the grill clean. If meats are very lean, coat the grill with cooking spray to keep them from sticking.

4) Stack the charcoal in a pyramid when lighting. The fire is ready when the briquettes are covered with a layer of ash. This could take up to 25 minutes.

5) Flare-ups won't be a problem if you trim the fat on your meat to about a quarter of an inch. This is enough to keep the meat moist and the flames down.

6) Forks are great for eating but not for grilling. Use the right utensils. Long handled tools keep the hands and the heat a safe distance apart.

7) Thermometers and timers can take the guesswork out of grilling. Remember, every time you raise the lid, you increase the cooking time.

8) Allow the food to cook evenly on each side. Turning too often slows the cooking process and results in meats that are tough and dry.

9) Keep flammable substances away from the cooking area.

10) Stay vigilant! It is the key to becoming a grill master.

one - chimney starter
There are those out there who have very sensitive taste buds. For them, the taste of the residual lighter fuel on the food is unbearable. A chimney starter is a perfect way to get the coals going and it is very affordable.

two - grill brush
This is a no-brainer for anyone who has left the grill to enjoy the party only to find sticky, gooey barbecue sauce on the grill next party.

three - long handled tongs
To turn the food on the grill you need to use tongs and not a fork. A fork pierces the meat and allows all of the delicious juices to ooze out, drying out your meat. Long handled tongs also keep your hands safely away from the flames.

four - metal spatula
Of course you want the handle to be long. A metal spatula is a necessity for all of those delicate meat and fish dishes.

five - squirt bottle
Keep a squirt bottle nearby to control flare-ups that can burn and char food.

six - thermometer
Get a good instant read thermometer to determine when foods are properly cooked.

seven - oven mits
There are many new materials available now for oven mits. Get a good pair for removing foil cooked food from the grill as well as the lid handle that can get suprising hot.

eight - metal skewers
If you decide on metal, rather than bamboo, skewers, get the long flat ones. This will allow you to easily turn the food on the grill. Round blades are useless and simply spin in the meat.

nine - basting brushes
Keep several brushes around. One for oiling the grill for use and the other for basting. These always have a way of falling apart, so don't invest in expensive brushes.

ten - grill grid
These are useful for cooking small food that might otherwise slip through the grate. The best are made from porcelain coated metal. Great for delicate fish and small vegetables.

boneless steak

Marinate if desired. Steak should be 1/2 - 1" thick. Grill for 8 - 14 minutes for medium rare, 12 - 18 minutes for medium, turning once.

bone-in steak

Marinate if desired. Steak should be 1/2 - 1" thick. Grill for 7 - 14 minutes for medium rare, 11 - 18 minutes for medium, turning once.

chicken breasts

Boneless products cook more evenly. Chicken breasts can be cooked as is, or pounded thin for quicker cooking time. Grill until thoroughly done and juices run clear, about 8 - 12 minutes, turning once.

fish fillets

Cook until fillets flake easily when tested with a fork. Grill for 4 - 6 minutes per 1/2" of thickness, turning once.

fish steaks

Tuna, salmon, halibut, swordfish steaks should be 1/2 - 1" thick. Marinate before cooking if desired. Grill for 4 - 6 minutes for each 1/2" thickness.

ground beef patties

Patties should be 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Grill until thoroughly cooked. Cook for 10 - 16 minutes, turning once.

ham steak

Precooked ham steaks should be grilled until heated through, 6 - 10 minutes, turning once.

hotdogs and sausages

For precooked products, cook until heated through, 4 - 6 minutes. For raw products, first precook in skillet until almost done, then finish cooking on grill 8 - 12 minutes until thoroughly cooked, turning frequently.

lamb chops

Chops can be bone-in or boneless, 1/2 - 1" thick. Grill for 12 - 16 minutes, turning once.

pork chops

Chops can be bone-in or boneless, 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Grill until only slightly pink in center, about 12 - 16 minutes.

pork tenderloin

Cut boneless tenderloin in half lengthwise. Cook for 12 - 18 minutes, turning several times.

shrimp

Grill until shrimp turn pink and are springy to the touch. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes.