Satisfy your cravings for restaurant-quality steak from the comfort of your own backyard using these genius grilling tricks.

By Maki Yazawa
June 22, 2020
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Summer is officially in full swing, which means it's time to treat yourself to some much-needed fresh air, sunlight, and bonding time with your favorite home appliance: the barbecue. Before you get started, set yourself up for success with these simple (and life-saving) grilling hacks that will make you look like a professional grill master. Learn how to serve restaurant-quality steaks, avoid newbie grilling mishaps, make the perfect roasted bell peppers, and more with these genius techniques.

1

Muffin pans aren’t only for baking. Whip out your muffin tin and fill with your favorite condiments like mustard, ketchup, mayo, and relish for an easy, portable condiment bar. Prepare ahead of time and store in the refrigerator to make cleaning up quick and easy.

2

Instead of using a greasy, grimy grilling brush to clean your grill, opt for a disposable tin foil ball to quickly rub the grit off of your cooking grates. Simply roll a sheet of tin foil into a compact ball and use a pair of tongs to secure it while you scrape the dirt off of your cooking surface. And, if you realize that you just ran out of your last piece of foil, don’t fret—slice an onion in half and use it to wipe down your grill instead.  

RELATED: How to Clean a Grill Checklist

3

Avoid ever serving rock-hard, dry patties again with this genius hack. Place a couple of small ice cubes or cold butter in the center of your raw burger. As it cooks, the ice or butter will melt and distribute much-needed moisture for a juicy, succulent burger. Don’t forget to make a thumbprint indentation in the center of your burger to help the patty maintain its shape as it cooks.

RELATED: 6 Simple Steps to Grilling the Best, Juiciest Burgers Ever

4

Pour a glass of hot water over the side of your propane tank. Next, feel the tank and find the point in which it turns from being hot to cold to the touch. The hot areas will indicate where it is empty and the colder area will show where it is filled with propane. As a rule of thumb, a standard 20-pound propane tank, fueling a medium-size grill, will provide about 18-20 hours of grilling time.

5

Craving the smoky flavor of authentic barbecue? Turn your gas or charcoal grill into a DIY smoker with just three components: water, a tin pan, and wood chips. For a charcoal grill, place your charcoal briquettes with pre-soaked wood chips overtop on one half of the grill and lay a disposable tin pan filled halfway up with water or apple juice (for added flavor) on the other. The liquid will help regulate the temperature and maintain the moisture as you cook your meats at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. As the wood chips smolder, they'll impart the delicious, smoky flavor of real-deal barbecue. If you're using a gas grill that does not have a designated wood chip compartment, you will want to place your pre-soaked wood chips in a tin pan, cover with tin foil, and poke holes for ventilation. Light the grill underneath the chips and cook on the opposing side to circulate the smoke flavor and infuse your meats.

RELATED: Does Your Instant Pot Double as a Smoker? We Tested It and Weird Things Happened

6

Thinly slice citrus such as lemons or oranges one-quarter inch thick, and layer on your grill to create a bed to rest your delicate cuts of fish. Not only will this infuse flavor, it will help prevent your fish from breaking or sticking to the grill when cooking or flipping. You'll gain plenty of presentation points by adding grilled lemon halves to serving plates, too.

7

Turn your grill on to medium-high heat and place a single layer of sliced bread across the entire surface. Cook for 90 seconds and turn off your grill. Flip them over in the order they were placed to visually inspect the doneness level. This will help you better determine where to position the more delicate cuts of meat and veggies the next time you’re grilling.

8

Take an empty cardboard egg carton and fill with coals, then light the entire carton in your grill. This method's a foolproof way to get your fire going minus the unwanted taste of lighter fluid. Once the embers start to emerge from the box, add some additional coals and in minutes you’ll be ready to get grilling. 

9

Instead of using just one skewer, opt for two to help prevent your cuts of meats and veggies from twirling around as you flip them. By securing your food with two skewers, you can turn them around on the grill with ease, ensuring even cooking all around.

10

Create perfect diamond grill marks by placing your meat so it points to 10:00, and sear until charred lines form. Resist the urge to lift your meat prematurely, as you don’t want to accidentally create additional, unwanted lines before the marks have formed nor lose precious moisture. Then, rotate your meat (on the same side) so that it points to 2:00. You’ll want to flip and repeat the process on the remaining side. Additionally, when serving, always make sure to cut your meat against the grain for maximum tenderness. To do so, locate the direction of the grain (the muscle fibers) and slice across in a perpendicular direction. 

RELATED: How to Cook Steak Perfectly at Home

11

Place the peppers directly over the heat and grill until all sides are completely charred. Once the peppers are completely cooked, transfer (while still warm) into a bowl and cover with saran wrap. After they have cooled down for a few minutes, the moisture between the charred skin and pepper will allow you to easily remove the skin with your fingers.

12

Season your meat at least an hour before grilling in order to lock in the maximum amount of flavor. However, if you’re running short on time, season immediately before grilling—anything less than 30 to 40 minutes will only pull moisture from your meat.

Remember to add a little extra seasoning than you normally would, as most of it will fall off as it cooks. Lastly, before your meat hits the grill, make sure to pat it dry in order to form the best crust and grilling marks.

13

For thicker cuts, allow your meat to come to room temperature before you grill it in order to ensure more uniform cooking. However, for thinner cuts, you may want to cook refrigerated meat to prevent the inside from overcooking too quickly.

Keep a thermometer handy to check the internal doneness temperature of your protein, and make sure to let your steak rest once it's finished cooking. Hold it in a warm spot and allow it to sit for a couple minutes before slicing to prevent moisture loss.

14

Prevent your veggies from slipping into the cracks of your cooking grates and use a cast iron skillet instead to sauté your veggies on the grill. You can use this method to cook everything from onions to asparagus to mushrooms on the grill without worrying about losing half of them in the process.