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We’ve all been there before: you just got a new grill or pit and you’re ready to throw a nice slab of meat on there and get cooking. But don’t do it just yet. Before you get started, we always recommend cooking biscuits first on any new pit or grill to help you find its hot and cool spots.

There are all kinds of fancy gadgets that can help you do this, but we’ve found a simple roll or two of biscuits to be a far cheaper, and tastier, alternative that can get you results that are just as good as the most expensive tool.

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To get started all you need is a roll or two of biscuits, some fuel, and a new grill. Spread the biscuits around the cooking surface and make sure to leave some space between them for airflow. They should cover the entire cooking surface including the sides, center, and any additional racks you may have.

Light some coals and let the grill heat up to about 325 degrees, then just let it run for about 30 minutes.

Once the time is up, open the grill and observe the differences in how the biscuits cooked. Hotter spots in the grill will be more well done or even burnt, while cooler spots may still be under cooked. Make a note of these spots to use for your future cooks when you finally get some meat on there.

Subtleties can make all the difference in barbecue and even a difference of a couple degrees can be enough to take your cook from good to amazing. Play around with hotter and cooler spots to get a really good idea of what you like best or, if you’re cooking different meats with different temperature requirements, remember the hotter and cooler spots to help you get the best cook possible on each one.

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