11 Grilling Hacks to Try Before Summer Ends
HIDE ICE CUBES IN BURGERS
At a cookout, a dried-out burger is as unwelcome as a swarm of mosquitoes, so some barbecue gurus like to add a single ice cube inside the patty before cooking. To ensure the ice doesn't melt and soak the meat, assemble the patties right before you put them on the grill. As the burger cooks, the ice cube will dissolve, leaving the inside of the patty moist and the outside crispy.
THROW HERBS OVER HOT COALS
The Oregonian has a list of herbs that can be placed directly over hot charcoal to infuse your food with a subtle flavor. We like rosemary: Its thick, woody stems means that it will burn longer than more delicate options. It's also considered a natural mosquito repellent and will make your yard smell incredible.
TURN A COOLER INTO A WARMER
Of course you knew that your trusty Foreman is just the thing for ice and drinks. But if you've made a cooked dish like brisket or pulled pork in advance, you can use that double-walled insulation to your advantage and hack your cooler into a meat warmer. Website the Virtual Weber Bullet has a handy, step-by-step tutorial on how to do it. The most important tip? Use a probe thermometer with a long wire so the temperature can be monitored from outside the ice chest; for safety reasons, meat should remain above 140 degrees Fahrenheit until you're ready to serve it.
USE AN EGG CARTON TO LIGHT COALS
Karen Way of blog Sew Many Ways wrote about this handy trick to start a fire quickly. She simply takes a cardboard egg carton and places one Match Light briquette in each slot. This technique puts the kindling and coals into close proximity – just be sure your carton is made from cardboard, not styrofoam. "Make up several cartons and keep them on hand to take with you camping," she writes, or just to keep in a safe place for those last-minute backyard marshmallow roasts.
CLEAN THE GRILL WITH AN ONION
Of course you can clean your grill with a special brush or, in a pinch, tongs and a balled-up piece of aluminium foil. But we love blogger Kim Denne's method of scrubbing her grill with half an onion, which she does before making grilled caprese pizza. Not only do the veggie's ridges help loosen stuck-on grime, it helps give a mellow onion flavor to whatever you're cooking next.
WRITE ORDERS ON BUNS WITH KETCHUP
If you're planning to cook your guests' burgers to order, this ingenious trick from Victoria Hudgins will make your life easier: Simply write the order in ketchup on one side of a bun so the cook knows where to put which burger. Keep the writing facing up when you hand out the plates so folks will be guaranteed to get the right patties.
USE A SIX-PACK CONTAINER TO CORRAL CONDIMENTS
This storage hack from professional organizer Robin Bastian of Neat Nest Organizing is simple: Find a six-pack container, plunk condiments inside it and keep it in your fridge until you're ready to head outside. If you're feeling fancy you can cover your caddy with colorful contact paper like Bastian did, or leave it as is and show the love for your favorite beer.
DOUBLE YOUR SKEWERS, DOUBLE YOUR FUN
If you're grilling small items like shrimp or sliced vegetables, two skewers are definitely better than one. "It keeps food from rotating around the skewer when it's time to flip. It also ensures even cooking and makes basting easier," writes Chandler Tomayko on The Chef with the Red Shoes.
SPIRAL-CUT A HOT DOG
Presenting the ultimate hot-dog hack: This seriously simple technique looks complicated but takes mere seconds to execute. Why do it? Besides the "ooooh" factor, "the spiral cut creates more surface area giving you more crunchy, caramelized meat while creating nice little pockets for your sauces and condiments," writes Kyra Swain on the blog Caramel Potatoes.
WET A PROPANE TANK TO CHECK THE FUEL LEVEL
It's fitting that we found this ingenious way to check your gas grill's propane level on a site called Barbecue Tricks. If your grill doesn't have a gas gauge, expert Bill West explains you can figure out how much fuel is inside using only warm water and your hand. Because seriously, we can't think of a bigger barbecue fail than an empty propane tank.
GRILL FISH ON A BED OF LEMON SLICES
Ever experienced the frustration of buying a gorgeous piece of fish and then having it stick to (or even fall through) a grill's grate? You need this clever technique explained by Jessica Quinn on blog Live Love North. Along with acting as a physical barrier, the lemon slices add moisture and a lovely hint of citrus. To round out the flavor, Quinn topped the fish with garlic and butter.