10 Surprising Tips for Successful Grilling

In addition to including hundreds of bulletproof recipes, Master of the Grill features tips on food science, clever grill hacks, equipment guides, and shopping tips—everything you need to know to grill successfully. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find.

1. Lack of a Grill Brush Won’t Foil Your Fun

You can clean your grill in 3 easy steps—even without a grill brush.

  1. FLATTEN FOIL: Lay 18 by 12-inch piece of aluminum foil on counter, then center 2 paper towels on foil. Drizzle paper towels with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil.
  2. BALL UP FOIL: Crumple foil around paper towels and poke several holes in it with skewer.
  3. BRUSH GRILL: Using long-handled tongs, brush hot grill surface with foil, letting some oil leak out and season grill.

2. Dimples Aren’t Just Cute

To prevent hamburgers from puffing up during cooking, many sources recommend making a slight depression in the center of the raw patty before placing it on the heat. But we find that the need for a dimple depends entirely on how the burger is cooked. Meat inflates upon cooking when its connective tissue, or collagen, shrinks at temperatures higher than 140 degrees. If burgers are cooked on a grill or under a broiler, a dimple is in order. Cooked with these methods, the meat is exposed to direct heat not only from below or above but also on its sides; as a result, the edges of the patty shrink, cinching the hamburger like a belt, compressing its interior up and out.

But when the patty is cooked in a skillet, only the part of the patty in direct contact with the pan gets hot enough to shrink the collagen. Because the edges of the burger never directly touch the heat, the collaged it contains doesn’t shrink much at all, and the burger doesn’t puff.

THE BOTTOM LINE: When grilling (or broiling) burgers a dimple is in order to prevent burger bulge. On the stovetop, no dimple is necessary.

3. Raked Across the Coals

Use a common gardening tool for an easy (and safe!) way to arrange hot coals.Quick Tips


Arranging lit coals in a grill with a pair of long-handled tongs requires patience: the tongs can only grasp one or two coals at a time. Try  using a handheld garden cultivator to arrange the coals as desired.



4. 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.

5. Easiest Grill Cleaning

Emptying a kettle grill of cool ashes is a messy procedure. Neaten things up by fashioning a grill scoop out of a plastic 1-quart or half-galloon milk jug with a handle.

1. CUT Cut off the bottom corner of just to form scoop

2. SCOOP Plastic conforms to curve of grill bottom, which makes it easier to collect more ashes with single sweep.

6. Rib-Rack Stand-In

Quick Tips
A barbecue rib rack is a specialized tool that lets you barbecue twice as many ribs at once. However, there’s a more common kitchen tool that works just as well. If placed upside down on the grill grate, any fixed V-rack used for roasting easily serves as a rib rack, holding up to six slabs of baby back ribs.

7. Turning Two Tenderloins into One Roast

To get around the usual problems with grilling pork tenderloin, “fuse” two together and cook them as a single roast.

1. ROUGH UP: Scrape up flat sides of each tenderloin with fork until surface is covered with shallow grooves. This releases sticky proteins that will act as “glue.”

2. FUSE: Arrange tenderloins with scraped sides touching and thick end of one nestled against thin end of other. Tie tenderloins together.

8. Salt Isn’t Just for Seasoning

Quick Tips

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.

9. Building a Foil “Shield”

When grill-roasting pork shoulder on the grill, it’s important to prevent it from getting too dark on the side closest to the heat. For that, we use a foil shield—which also allows us to skip the awkward task of rotating the big hunk of meat.

1. FOLD: Make two 1/2-inch folds on long side of 18-inch length of foil to form reinforced edge. Place foil on center of cooking grate, with reinforced edge over hot side of grill. Position roast, skin side up, over cool side of grill so that it covers about 1/3 of foil.

2. LIFT: Life and bend edges of foil to shield sides of roast, tucking in edges.

10. Draining Wood Chips Outdoors

Soaking wood chips or chunks in water prevents them from burning too quickly on the hot coals. Rather than making a trip into the kitchen for a colander to drain the soaked chips, use a clean, perforated flowerpot that you can store outside with your grilling tools. Dump the soaked chips into the flowerpot, allowing the water to drain out of the bottom.