It’s grilling season, and in between containing grease fires and swatting off mosquitos, we took some time to round up our favorite hacks to take anyone from BBQ zero to grilling hero. Warning: Master these hacks and expect friends and frenemies alike to invite themselves over for a few follow-up dinner parties.
1. Smoke some lemonade. Want the perfect sweet base to compliment a summertime mixed drink? (We’re looking at you, whiskey.) Smoke halved lemons on low heat for a few minutes to create some savory undertones before squeezing. Don’t have a smoker? Grill the lemons (or other citrus) peel side down on the top rack — briefly! — for some great flavor notes.
2. Master the gas tank. When cooking with propane, it always pays to put safety first. So what to do when it’s time to figure out how much fuel is left in the (propane) tank? For a quick gauge, heat up some water to around boiling, tilt the tank in question on a slight angle, and gently pour the water on the side — NOT the top! — of the tank. Carefully feel the side; the part of the tank that remains cool contains the remaining fuel, giving a rough estimate of how much is left inside.
3. Grill in a fraction of the time. Pressed for time, but guests are arriving any minute? For a quick, faux-BBQ fix, cook meat most of the way through in the microwave, then throw on the grill to finish cooking and impart the look and taste of a fully grilled cut. Microwaves can be cooking no-nos, but that's what the flash grilling is for. We promise not to tell anyone!
4. Clean the grill with an onion. We’re sick and tired of scrubbing grills after dinner’s wound down. But scrub no more! While the grill’s still hot, take a freshly halved onion, stick it on a fork, and use the cut side to scrub residue off the grate. The oils in the onion will take care of most if not all of the grit without the elbow grease.
5. Magic cinnamon skewers. Grilled fruits make excellent — and often healthier — desserts for a light summertime meal. Make seasoning and cooking a breeze by using long cinnamon sticks as grill skewers for soft fruit. The cinnamon will impart flavor into the fruit while also making it easy to rotate and remove from the fire.
Bonus: Season Like a (Healthy) Pro!
Grilling can be a great lower-calorie option for cooking, since it usually requires little to no oil to get the job done. But store-bought marinades and seasonings can pack on excess sodium, oil, and some not-so-great preservatives. The simple solution? Make your own for healthier cooking and tastier food. We've got a list of the 37 Healthier Dressings, Spreads, and Marinades to get started.
How do you hack your barbecue? Are you excited for grilling season? Share your tips in the comments below.