This Could Be Why Your Grilled Meat Tastes Funny

Cooking on the stove or in the oven is great, but when summertime rolls around and the temperatures warm up, there's nothing better than taking your dinner-making outside. Grilling is a (literal) hot hobby during the warmer months, as many of us gather around for backyard BBQs and juicy burgers and dogs slathered in ketchup and mustard. It's a method of cooking that anyone — even the most beginner of home cooks — can learn and, at its most basic, requires little more than firing up the grill, tossing on your food, and waiting.

However, becoming a true pit master takes a little more skill. There are a lot of hacks to preparing the best grilled food, whether you're making chicken, steak, veggies, or even pizza. And there are also a lot of mistakes that people make. One of those can leave your food tasting a little "off." If you've ever experienced that common complaint, here's what you're likely doing wrong at the grill.

You're using fuel to start the grill

That weird flavor you notice after biting into a hunk of grilled meat might have little to do with the food itself, but rather the heat source you're using to fire up your grill. "Burning fuel to start the grill can make meat taste funny," Olivier Senoussaoui, executive chef at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, told Mashed. "Use a chimney starter to light charcoal, which is available at any hardware store." A chimney starter takes just a few minutes to get the grill going and costs as little as $9 (via Rachael Ray).

However, the blogger behind Totally Smokin' explains that you actually can use lighter fluid and end up with good-tasting food — as long as you use it correctly. He says to make sure the fuel only touches the charcoal (and never the grates of the grill) and to wait a few minutes for the charcoal to soak up the fluid before lighting it.