Grilling

8 Seemingly Small But Ingenious Tips That Will Improve Your Grilling

How toothpicks, a muffin tin, and a carpenter’s tool belt can make you a better griller.

By America's Test Kitchen | May 11, 2018

We’ve explained the five grill setups you should use this summer. We’ve given you tips on cooking with a charcoal grill and a gas grill. We’ve even shared our cast members’ summer entertaining menus. (Yes, Jack’s menu included a shoutout to “Despacito.”) Now we’re providing you with some clever tips that will improve your grilling—and maybe even make you ask yourself why you didn’t think of them first.

Choose Your Own (Grilling) Adventure

Master of the Grill

Our bestselling cookbook Master of the Grill has more ingenious grilling tips, foolproof recipes, top-rated gadgets, ingredient reviews, and fascinating food science.
 

Tagging with Toothpicks

When grilling for a crowd, you need a way to tell well-done burgers from medium-rare at a glance. Try assigning each level of doneness a particular number of toothpicks (e.g., one for medium-rare, two for medium, three for well-done) and pegging the proper marker into the patties as they come off the fire.

Dressed to Grill

Grilling requires a lot of equipment. (And we've tested most of it. Check out all of our grilling equipment reviews.) To keep everything at the ready and easy to find, and keep your hands free at the same time, you can wear a carpenter's tool belt. Slip everything from grill brushes to timer and thermometer into it.

Sharpen Your Own Skewers

While we prefer metal skewers, you can pinch hit by turning to the collection of wooden takeout chopsticks lingering in your kitchen drawer: Transform them into sturdy skewers for meat or veggies by honing one end with a pencil sharpener.

Nonstick Measures

Making a sweet, sticky glaze? Honey, molasses, corn syrup and other sticky fluid ingredients can stubbornly cling to the inside of a measuring cup. To vanquish sticking woes, spray the inside of the measuring cup with vegetable oil spray. The nonstick coating helps sticky ingredients release quickly and cleanly.

Double Duty Dishes

Keep your food safe and clean while still saving yourself from having to wash any extra dishes by reusing the same platter to hold meat before and after cooking. Simply cover the dish with plastic wrap or foil before putting the meat on it. Remove the protective layer after all the meat is in the pan or on the grill and voilà—you have a clean platter ready for the cooked food.

Salt Isn’t Just for Seasoning

Cleaning a basting brush can be risky business, with lots of goo and grease clinging stubbornly to its bristles—and the brush just gets worse with every use. Try this clever technique to ensure a thorough cleaning job. After washing the dirty brushes with liquid dish soap and very hot water, rinsing them well, and shaking them dry, place the brushes, bristles pointing down, in a cup and fill the cup with coarse salt until the bristles are covered. The salt draws moisture out of the bristles and keeps them dry and fresh between uses.

Squeaky-Clean Squeeze Tops

Squeeze bottle tops can get caked with ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard. Save the cleaned tops from empty bottles and store. When the top of a new bottle gets dirty, unscrew it, throw it in the dishwasher, and replace with a clean one.

Condiment Cups

When serving condiments at your next backyard barbecue, use a jumbo muffin tin to contain condiments like ketchup, mustard, relish, chopped onion, and pickles. The toppings stay together and you have only one container to clean at the end of the party.


What shortcuts and efficiencies do you use when you grill? Let us know in the comments! And for more articles on grilling and lots more, check out the features section of our website.
 

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