Nothing says “summer’s coming” like the mouthwatering smell of a flaming barbecue blowing through the neighborhood. Whether you churn out the best burgers on the block from a modest charcoal grill or your Weber’s been squatting on your deck all winter, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 15 genius grilling hacks that will take your ‘cue to the next level.
1. Use a muffin tray for condiments
This grilling season, skip the condiment chaos by keeping all your barbecue trimmings in one neat place: a muffin tray. The 12 sections are perfectly suited for housing your ketchup, mustard, relish, BBQ sauces, pickles, tomatoes and any other toppings to douse your hot dogs. This also works great if you have several different basting sauces in use. Your guests will know exactly where to find anything they need, and best of all, you’ve only got one condiment serving dish to wash.
2. Clean with an onion
Isn’t it annoying when you’re ready to start grilling only to find that your grate is covered with caked-on gook? Grill cleanup is finally hassle-free with this hack.
The next time you use your grill, clean it while it’s still hot. Slice an onion in half, and use it to scrub the drippings and other gunk off your grill. It should come off easily. As a bonus, you’ll be giving your grill a tasty seasoning for your next barbecue.
3. Layer your grate for veggies
Grilled greens are delicious, but fishing out those slippery peppers and zucchini slices from the bottom of your grill isn’t all that fun. Have your grilled veggies and eat them too with this hack.
Use an old barbecue grate or purchase a spare one and place it across your existing grate before grilling vegetables. The grid should keep your veggies from slipping, while still giving you the flame-licked taste you savor.
Be sure to let this extra grate heat along with your grill grate so you get those awesome grill marks.
4. Vegetable parcels
If you like chunkier vegetables, try this hack. Wrap spiced sweet potato, potato, or zucchini squares in foil and place it on the grill while you work on your entrees. After 10 minutes or so, you’ll have a delicious, healthful side dish. Tip: You can do this with any veggie.
5. Use two skewers
Kebabs are fun to eat, but turning them can be tricky. Make it easier by doubling your skewers per kebab so individual pieces of meat or chicken don’t rotate on their own as you flip the entire kebab. Also, don’t forget to soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before you start grilling.
6. Add a smoker to an electric grill
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for that sensational smoky flavor. Turn your electric grill into a smoker by wrapping some wood chips in foil, poking some holes in the parcel and tossing it on top of the grill’s burner and underneath the grate. Now get on with your grilling, being sure to keep the heat on medium-low. Your small parcel of wood chips will lend your food a hint of delicious smokiness.
7. Check how much propane you have left before you start
You don’t want to run out of propane when you’ve still got food on the grill. Check the level in your tank with this hack: Tilt your tank a bit and pour boiling water on its side – but not on its top. Now feel your tank. The area where there is propane inside the tank will feel cool to the touch.
8. Smoke lemons
For an easy burst of flavor, halve some lemons and grill them on low heat for a few minutes, peel-side down. Your grate will pick up a terrific, citrusy flavor.
9. Spiral your hot dogs
Give your hot dogs a gourmet touch by cutting them into spirals. It’s easy to do: Skewer a hot dog and rotate it slowly as you cut it along its length. Spiraled hot dogs cook more evenly, give you lots of places for holding condiments, and most importantly, look super cool.
10. Out of time? Nuke it!
If you’ve got a craving for BBQ fare but you don’t have the time or patience to stand over the flames, cook your chicken in the microwave until it’s nearly ready, then throw it on the grill to give it a flaming finish!
11. Use a foil tent
To help your cooked meat retain its moisture and to distribute its juices evenly, let it rest under a loose foil tent for 10 minutes before serving.
12. Get your grill flaming fast
To get the heat going, use a chimney starter with your charcoal grill. You’ll be rewarded with a flaming hot fire – and fast.
13. Try some grilled cheese – literally
A BBQ is hardly the setting for grilled cheese, but just wait until your guests taste this. Throw a wheel of cheese directly on the grill and let it partially melt. Scoop it off the flames before it completely liquefies and then serve up the most delicious, gooey spread.
14. Long tongs
Don’t bother with an assortment of grilling tools. All you need is one extra-long pair of tongs. They’ll allow you to flip your food without poking holes in it (which also dries it out). You can also use an old pair of tongs to shift your coals around and/or lift your grates.
15. Use all the heat
Your grill will usually stay warm for a while after you’re done cooking. Don’t let that heat go to waste. Instead, pile your grate with any foods that need to stay warm, toast your buns over the fire, or even throw on some foil-wrapped s’mores for a delectable dessert.