Sizzling BBQ Hacks That Will Make Your Meals The Talk Of The Town

There’s nothing like the smell of barbecue. Even vegetarians can appreciate a grilled veggie patty or kebab. From doubling up on skewers to cleaning the grill with an onion, there are plenty of tricks to make the process easier from start to finish. There are also hacks to enhance the taste of your favorite barbecue items, like topping meat with broth ice cubes or adding leafy herbs to the coals. Read on for grilling tips that will have your neighbors craving a taste.

Use An Onion To Clean The Grill For Safety And Flavor

Grilling Every Season/YouTube
Grilling Every Season/YouTube

Wire brushes are becoming a thing of the past since their bristles can be a safety hazard. To get the job done without the paranoia, try using an onion to clean the grill instead. Simply slice the onion in half and place it facedown on the grill.

Pierce it with a fork or prongs to glide it along the grate. Onions not only have antibacterial properties, but they’re also packed with flavor. Simply toss it into the coals when you’re done to enhance the taste of your meat.

Use Boiling Water To Check Your Propane Levels

Susan Biddle/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
Susan Biddle/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

It can be challenging to tell how empty or full your propane tank is. Savvy grillers solve this problem by using the hot water trick. First, grab a cup of boiling water and pour it all over the tank.

Next, carefully place your hand at the side of the tank, starting from the bottom. The empty part of the container will be hot, while the part that is still full will be cold. The spot where the hot and cold meet is your propane level.

Use Two Skewers To Prevent Twisting

Jessie Beck/Unsplash
Jessie Beck/Unsplash

Many of us are familiar with the thin wooden skewers that are available at your grocery store. While they are inexpensive, these skewers don’t have a firm grip on food, resulting in your kebabs twisting around.

In addition to being a minor nuisance, twisted kebabs can cook unevenly. Rather than buying specially-designed metal ones, simply pierce the food with two skewers. This way, the food will stay in place when you turn the skewers around.

Keep Your Meat Moist With Ice Cubes

burger-ice
Charles Hillyer/Pinterest
Charles Hillyer/Pinterest

If you feel like no matter what you do, your meat keeps drying out, consider plopping an ice cube on top. The ice cube gradually releases liquid into the meat as it melts, keeping it full of moisture.

Better yet, make the ice cubes out of beef broth to enhance the flavor while replenishing the juices. You can also freeze garlic butter to infuse your meat with the popular topping. Be sure to time it appropriately so that the butter or broth doesn’t burn off.

Use Mayo To Keep Your Food Moist And Stick-Free

Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The LA Times discovered a secret among renowned chefs that may shock you: they use mayo to cook their meat. The reason is that mayo has a unique composition that causes it to stick to foods better than oil alone.

The condiment releases oil slowly while clinging to the meat, which keeps in moisture and prevents sticking and flareups. It’s especially helpful for lean means like chicken and fish. The result is a softly browned filet your guests won’t believe you pulled off.

Wait For The Grill To Heat So The Meat Doesn’t Stick

Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images
Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

Depending on your level of patience, you may be used to popping an item in the oven a few minutes before it has finished preheating. When it comes to grilling, it’s worth waiting for the coal to properly heat.

The reason is that the meat is more likely to stick to the grate if the coal isn’t fully heated, resulting in an off-flavor. Instead, close the grill and let it heat up until the coals are gray and ashy.

Place Condiments In a Muffin Tin

muffin-tin-condiments
Iltis/Pinterest
Iltis/Pinterest

For some of us, no barbecue meal is complete without an assortment of condiments. Rather than cluttering your counter with bottles and jars, use a muffin tin to create a clean and organized look.

Place each condiment and topping in a compartment with serving spoons. It gives you a place to put chopped vegetables and homemade sauces, and it takes up far less space. Plus, it makes for much quicker cleanup and prevents perishables from sitting outside all day.

Write Temperatures In Ketchup

ketchup-writing
Donna Bensing/Pinterest
Donna Bensing/Pinterest

When it comes to throwing a barbeque, your guests will likely have varying temperature preferences. To keep track of how each burger patty is cooked, write the temperature on the bun in ketchup.

You can also use the trick to distinguish between veggie patties, especially when they are covered in cheese. To make things extra simple, use shorthand such as “R,” “M,” “MW,” and “V.” For steaks, write directly on the plate with a toothpick and some A1 sauce.

Light Charcoal By Placing It In An Egg Carton

charcoal-egg-carton
@Foodiechats/Twitter
@Foodiechats/Twitter

If you’re having a hard time lighting the charcoal, try using an egg carton. Place each charcoal in an egg spot and place the entire carton into the grill. The cardboard will catch fire easily and spread it throughout the coals.

Since the coals will be surrounded by fire, they’re more likely to catch. If you must resort to lighter fluid, you’ll likely use less with a carton than without one. For best results, close the carton before you place it in the grill.

Get Juicier Cuts By Letting The Meat Rest

TheAndrasBarta/Pixabay
TheAndrasBarta/Pixabay

Sometimes the person barbecuing will pick up a hunk of meat off the grill and place it right on your plate to eat. As appetizing as a steamy steak can be, resist the urge to cut into it right away.

When meat is hot, it constricts, causing the juices to move to the center. If you cut it right away, that moisture will pour right out. Letting the meat rest allows the fluid to redistribute throughout so that it doesn’t dry out so quickly.

Create A Smoky Taste With Wood Chips

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for the Washington Post/Getty Images
Stacy Zarin Goldberg for the Washington Post/Getty Images

One thing that gives grilled meat its distinct flavor is the taste of smoke. To enhance this smoky flavor without using a smoker, throw a couple of wood chips into your grill.

Be sure that the coals are fully heated first, as they are what will burn the wood chips. Wait until the initial fire dies down so that it doesn’t get too high. Once you add in the chips, the extra smoke will infuse into the meat, creating that trademark taste.

Take The Meat Off Early To Prevent Overcooking

Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Whether you love your steak well done or rare, you’ll want to be sure to take the meat off a minute or two before it seems ready. The reason is that the meat holds the heat in for some time even after being removed from the grill.

As a result, it can overcook if you removed it as soon as it seems done. After all, you can always cook meat up, but you can’t cook it down.

Grill Brie To Make It More Dippable

FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images
FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images

Grilled cheese is arguably the king of comfort foods, but this trick takes the idea of grilling cheese to a whole new level. Soft cheese that has a rind isn’t liquified enough to use it as a dipping sauce.

To solve this minor mishap, throw the wheel of cheese on the grill. The rind is tough enough to hold the cheese in while creating a pocket for the soft interior to melt. Cut off the top of the rind to reveal creamy, melted brie that’s perfect for dipping.

Create A Two-Zone Grill By Only Lighting One Side

GettyImages-1144118833
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you’re grilling various foods or want to use one side as a warmer, you may benefit from a two-zone grill. You can accomplish this by placing coals on just one half of the grill.

Place uncooked foods on one half of the grill, and then move them to the other side to keep them warm or to cook them less vigorously. Be sure to remove the items from the hot side a little sooner than normal since it will continue cooking on the warm side.

Use Leftover Marinade As A Glaze

Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images
Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

When making a marinade for your meat, consider whipping up a little extra or storing some on the side that hasn’t touched anything raw. This way you’ll still have some leftover juice to glaze your meat while you cook or after it’s prepared.

Using the same marinade as a dipping sauce or glaze helps to ensure that you don’t have competing flavors. Plus, if you accidentally dry the meat out you don’t have to worry about it losing all of its taste.

Let The Steak Reach Room Temperature For An Even Cook

Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s widely known that you should let your frozen meat defrost in the fridge before you chuck it onto the grill. But you may be surprised to hear that meat that’s still chilled from the fridge can also result in uneven cooking.

The problem is that the inside will take longer to heat and start to cook, resulting in a finished outside and undercooked center. To ensure your meat is evenly grilled, let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches room temperature.

Soak Skewers In Water To Prevent Them From Burning

Alfio Giannotti/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Alfio Giannotti/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It seems counterintuitive to use wooden skewers since they can catch on fire. Still, these are the most widely available and cheapest option. To ensure that they don’t dry out or scorch, simply soak them in water for an hour or more.

Since wood is porous, it will soak up the water and retain it throughout the grilling process. The longer you soak them, the more likely they are to remain moist until your food is ready.

Burn Herbs To Enhance The Smoke Flavor

Guy FELIX/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Guy FELIX/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In addition to spicing your meat, enhance the flavor even more by throwing some herbs into the coals. Coating your coals with spices and herbs will give your food a smoky taste that’s uniquely powerful.

For best results, use whole herbs and leaves as opposed to ground spices. They’ll burn more strongly, adding to the smoke. They also will last longer, creating a more potent taste. The burning herbs smell incredible as they fill your smoke with flavor.

Use Aluminum Foil To Hold In Moisture

DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

As soon as you remove something from the grill, you’ll notice all of the steam rising off of it. Steam is a sign that the food is not only losing heat, but also moisture. Cut down on these losses by covering the food with an aluminum foil tent.

Grab a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half. Then place the triangular-shaped foil over the food to catch the steam without trapping it. The technique also blocks insects.

Flatten Uneven Meat With A Foil-Wrapped Brick

brick-on-meat
@danieltrivino76/Instagram
@danieltrivino76/Instagram

If you’re cooking foods that are still on the bone, it can be challenging to grill the meat evenly. Since the awkward shape can leave some parts closer to the grill than others, you may need to flatten the meat.

Rather than applying pressure to the meat yourself, wrap a brick in foil and place it on top. The brick is just the right amount of weight to hold the food against the grates without squeezing out the juices.