Nothing says summer quite like the smell of meat and smoke in the air. With the weather starting to warm up, it’s that time of the year when you dust off the old grill and show your friends and family what you can do with that thing. But before you fire it up, let’s make sure you have the essential techniques down to cook up some deliciousness this summer.

Grilling—like painting or acting—is an art form. It evokes emotion. It’s challenging yet rewarding. It gets people’s attention; it gets them fired up. (Pun intended.) The key to mastering the grill is to first of all learn the basics, and then elevate it by adding your own creative spin. Here, we break down those basics to get you started. We’ll leave the rest up to you. Happy grilling!