What is the biggest mistake people make when grilling?
The biggest mistake is thinking it's just for burgers and hot dogs on a weekend afternoon. Anything you can cook in your indoor kitchen can also be cooked over the flame in your outdoor kitchen. Veggies, soups, stews, oysters, desserts, even bread. Personally, I love cooking breakfast and brunch over the grill. Our research shows that 12% of all grill owners did the same last year.

For those just starting out, what is the easiest thing to grill?
Burgers and brats are the most obvious, but you can't go wrong with adding veggies. Slather some herbs and butter with your veggies, wrap in foil, and let the grill take care of the rest. If you're going with potatoes, use Yukon golds. The veggie I've found the easiest to cook with would be a great portabella mushroom marinated in soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and your favorite herbs. It makes for a great veggie burger or side. It's nearly impossible to ruin a mushroom.

We love the taste of charcoal-grilled meats but like the convenience of gas. How can we get the most flavor?
A gas grill's best friend is a smoker box. Fill it up with flavored, soaked wood chips and toss it on the grates along with your dinner. It adds a delicious, smokey flavor you'd find not only with charcoal but a smoker or pellet grills.

What's the best way to avoid flare-ups?
Cooking over indirect heat is the best way. It not only prevents flare-ups but it encourages you to slow down the cooking time, which is always great for boosting flavor. Otherwise, don't over-sauce the food. The oils just drip into the flame and cause all kinds of issues. Also, trim excess fat from your meat, since dripping juices are even worse than dripping oils. You also want to maintain a clean grill.

Should I cook with the lid open or shut on my gas grill?
For thick, heavy foods like steaks, chicken, roasts, ribs, etc., keep the lid closed to capture the heat and keep the temps balanced. If you are cooking simpler, thinner, faster-cooking items like salmon fillets, asparagus, hot dogs, etc. — and it's a relatively warm Minnesota day — you can keep it open.

When should I use indirect vs. direct heat?
Use direct heat for simpler foods like burgers, brats and steaks. Cook indirectly for more complicated foods like ribs, chops or chicken, when you really want to bring out the tenderness and flavor. I like cooking with indirect heat for all foods. Take a little extra time if you are able to find it.

What is the ultimate grilling temperature, and how can I keep it steady?
Unless you're doing a major project like ribs over a number of hours, the ideal temp is between 350 and 450 degrees. Many newer grills feature technology that either maintains a consistent temp or lets you adjust from an app so you're not constantly moving the dials on your grill. But the most important temperature is the temp of the food after you finish cooking. Always be sure your food is cooked to the ideal temp. And remember, select foods like meat and seafood continue cooking, even when they come off the grill, so take them off right as they are hitting your target temp.

Craving grilled steak, but meat prices are high. What cuts will give me the most bang for my buck?
I take advice from [grilling expert] Steven Raichlen, who recommends discovering new steaks that are not as well-known. You might start with well-marbled cuts from the beefy-tasting chuck, such as flat-iron steaks and petite filets, also known as teres major; or steaks cut from the sirloin like filet of sirloin also known as baseball steak; and that specialty of Santa Maria, Calif., the tri-tip. Even though the per-pound price is substantially lower, these lesser-known steaks deliver a richly satisfying experience when grilled over a live fire. And don't forget to ask your butcher for recommendations.

Speaking of beef, any tips on keeping my hamburgers from turning into hockey pucks?
Back to mushrooms. We like blending finely chopped mushrooms like white or brown buttons in with the ground beef at about an 20-80 ratio. Mushrooms can wonderfully hold your moisture and if pink isn't your thing, it can make a medium-well burger taste like a medium-rare. You can also season your burgers heavily with coarse sea salt a few hours before cooking, which some call dry brining.

Grill prices range considerably. How do I pick the best one for me?
Talk to your local specialty retailer. They truly will help you find the right one. But here's a quick guide to help you pick the right grill.

Gas: For people who want convenience. Just like your kitchen stove, it can be ready to cook in 10 minutes, and it's easy to regulate cooking temps.

Charcoal: For those who love being hands-on with the nuances of outdoor grilling. Some say charcoal provides the best flavor experience. Good for low-and-slow cooking and high-heat searing.

Pellet: For people who want the most flavor. Wood pellet grills are among the most energy efficient and burn clean. With pellets coming in varieties such as hickory, mesquite and oak, you can enjoy a truly flavorful cooking experience.

Electric: For people who love simplicity. Electric grills are designed to produce constant heat and operate without an open flame. Ideal for apartment or condo dwellers since they don't require charcoal or propane.

Kamado: For people who love cooking in all styles and seasons. Kamado grills' excellent insulation [the egg-shaped grills are ceramic] is ideal for both grilling and smoking. They can use wood and charcoal and are ideal for roasting and baking."

The market is filled with grilling accessories. What are the must-haves?
Your best friend should be a good cooking thermometer. It's the must-have accessory. Also, go for: long-handled utensils, long-handled tongs, gloves/mitts, cutting board, grill cover, skewers, meat thermometer and grill cleaners.

On the other hand, my dad is a grilling fanatic. What are some cool out-of-the-box gifts for the cook who has everything?
If they've mastered the basics and are ready for the big leagues, we suggest fueling their creativity with these next-level accessories: Outdoor pizza oven or grill kit to open the world of flame-cooked pizza; Bluetooth clip-on grill light that will increase visibility in the dark while jamming out to their favorite tunes; high-quality knife set so they can slice and present their dishes with precision; grilling wok to help them explore and perfect world flavors; motorized rotisserie kit to help them reach a new level of slow-roasted perfection.

Smokers are all the rage, but I don't have room. Can I get the same effect with my gas grill?
Steven Raichlen recommends simply setting your grill up for indirect grilling by arranging lit coals in two piles on opposite sides of the grill. Place a couple of chunks of hardwood on the coals or use hardwood chips soaked in water for 30 minutes then drain, and arrange your food in the center away from direct heat. If you own a gas grill, you can adjust the burners to achieve the same effect. Place wood chunks under the grill grate or put the chips in a smoker box or an aluminum foil pouch.

No one likes cleanup duty. Any tips on making it as painless as possible?
Before lighting the grill, apply nonstick spray on the grates. The protective spray cuts down the cleanup time afterward. There are multiple options to scrub away buildup on the grates once the grill has cooled with various brush types and cleaning blocks. Once cool, squirt grease-cutting dishwashing detergent on the grill and grates. Scrub with a brush or abrasive pad, then rinse. A repeat may be necessary. Place cool grill grates inside a plastic garbage bag and spray them with oven cleaner for tougher jobs. Tie the bag shut and let it sit outside for a few hours. Wearing rubber gloves, place grates on a newspaper and scrub with an abrasive brush or scrub pad. Rinse with water. You can also spray oven cleaner in the grill bowl and, wearing rubber gloves, wipe the residue out using crumpled newspaper.

Emily McGee provided answers, which have been edited for length and clarity. McGee is director of communications for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, which represents the nation's grill manufacturers and retailers. For more information and resources, go to hpba.org