Brushing food with liquid while it grills helps seal in moisture and creates a delicious, attractive finish. Basting large cuts of meat will prevent them from drying during their longer cooking times.
A basting liquid can be as simple as a good-quality oil, or it can be a vibrantly seasoned mixture with flavorful liquids and aromatic ingredients. It should always include some fat to carry flavor and prevent the food from drying out.
Avoid basting too often as uncovering the grill lets heat escape and prevents proper cooking. Use a long-handled brush, and avoid dripping oils and fats on the coals to prevent flare-ups.
Adding sugar and other sweet ingredients, such as honey, maple syrup or melted jellies, will create a delicious, glossy glaze. Baste with sweetened mixtures only during the last few minutes of grilling because the sugars will burn easily. Brined meat and poultry in particular benefit from a final glazing since the salt solution may inhibit deep browning.