If there’s one thing I know about grilling it’s this: There is always something more to learn. With the outdoor ambiance, smoky-grill flavor, and generally less cleanup, it’s basically the only way I want to cook during the summer. So I’m obsessed with any new tip or trick that helps me stay organized or grill with ease.
Here, some of the absolute best grilling hacks of the summer. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or expert pitmaster, you can always have a few more tricks up your (apron) sleeve.
10 of the best grilling hacks for summer
Grilling hack #1 – Make a plate work double duty. Cover your plate with plastic wrap (or parchment) when bringing raw meat to the grill. Once the meat is on the grill you can toss the wrap and now you have a clean plate to put the burgers on when done!
Yes, this may waste a little, but it’s eliminating an extra platter to wash, saving water and time. Just note that when I’m prepping a lot of chicken, I still use separate plates or trays.
Grilling hack #2 – Our contributor Anne’s husband uses a lemon to clean and oil the grill. I love that!
One of our awesome readers chimed in on that post to mention that she uses a cut raw potato sprinkled with salt to clean hers, which is also genius. I love the Cool Mom Eats brain trust!
Grilling hack #3 – If you’re low on lemons, improvise with a halved onion to clean your grill, for a natural oiling on grates that doesn’t need too much cleaning.
For really stuck on bits though, use a bunched up ball of aluminum foil.
Grilling hack #4 – Prep and organize all meats, veggies or anything that needs grilling in separate gallon-sized Ziplock bags. Write the contents and the grill times on the bag and place it all on a large rimmed baking sheet for easy transport from kitchen to outside. Keep one of the empty, used bags nearby to discard any trash.
I employ this sanity-saving tip whenever I’m cooking for a crowd and it really is one of the best grilling hacks of all.
Condiment tray | Yesterday on Tuesday
Grilling hack #5 – Use a muffin tray to organize all your condiments at the table, whether you’re sticking with hot dogs and burgers, or even need a place for grilled pizza toppings. It’s a particularly great solution for a kid’s table, to avoid endless “more ketchup!” requests.
Grilling hack #6 – I love this grilling hack from Martha Stewart: Grab a stainless-steel cooling rack and use it for grilling vegetables. Place it over the hot grill and you’ll get all the lovely color and flavor, but with those tightly knit wires, your precious vegetables won’t slip through the grates.
Grilling hack #7 – Grill fish in a cast iron skillet. The fish cooks beautifully and I feel as if I’m getting away with something. Which I kind of am. I recently started using this brilliant grilling hack, and it’s immensely pleasurable to achieve nicely cooked fish all while sipping a beer outside at the grill, oblivious to my kids arguing in the kitchen.
Grilling hack #8 – Take a cue from Alton Brown and grab a plastic water bottle to fill with water and skewers. When you’re ready to skewer those veggies, steak kebabs or shrimp, press gently on the bottle and a soaked-and-ready skewer will pop up.
Grilling hack #9 – Instead of using old newspapers to light your chimney starter, use an empty briquettes bag you’ve saved. Tear off a few pieces, then place in bottom before lighting. This is especially handy if you’re grilling away from home without newspaper, or grilling while camping.
Grilling hack #10 – Using kitchen shears, trim some — but not all — of the extra fat from fattier cuts, like chicken thighs or ribeye, before grilling. While fat often equals flavor, extraneous fat also equals flare-ups that will leave your meat black and with a soot-like flavor you don’t want.
I’m not entirely sure this counts as a hack or just a really smart tip — but who cares if it helps you nail your next barbecued dinner, right?
Top photo Declan Rex | Unsplash