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The Top 8 Ways to Hack Your Grill

‘Tis the season for BBQ. But if you’re going to spend weekend after weekend standing at the grill, you might as well apply a couple of time-saving (and flavor-enhancing!) tricks to improve the experience, not to mention your food. These 8 summer grilling hacks take minimal effort to pull off, but you—and your guests—will be amazed by the results.

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Clean Your Grill with a Cut Onion

Forget those fancy grilling tools—to clean the grit off the grate of your grill, all you need to do is halve an onion and run it up and down each rung. The acidity will cut right through any residual grease and grime, plus it will add a subtle onion flavor to whatever you cook next. (It’s best to do this before the grill is hot.)

Related: 9 Potent Cleaners You Didn’t Know You Had

Check Propane Levels with Hot Water

YouTube via Howdini

It can be tough to determine how much gas is left in the tank attached to your grill. A simple trick? Heat up some water (FYI, it doesn’t have to be boiling, but if it is, proceed with caution), then pour it down the side of your propane tank while it’s completely off and cool. Slide your hand down the outside of the tank. Where the tank is empty, it will feel warm; where there’s still propane, it will feel cool to the touch.

Related: No Sweat: 7 Best BBQ Shortcuts

Soak Your Skewers

There’s almost nothing tastier than meat or veggie kebabs. The next time you’re grilling up a bunch, keep the skewers from getting scorched by submerging them in water for an hour (or two) before you use them. This will prevent the skewers from drying out, burning, and starting to smoke before you’re ready to remove ‘em from the grill.

Related: 18 Design Ideas to Make Your Deck a Destination

Light Coals with an Egg Carton

YouTube via HouseholdHacker

The one big drawback of grilling with briquettes is having to wait for them to heat up. Speed up the process by taking an empty cardboard (not Styrofoam!) egg carton and placing one Match Light briquette in every slot. Think of it as DIY kindling—you’ll be grilling in no time.

Related: 20 Summer Life Hacks Everyone Needs

Divvy Up Your Coals

If you don’t want your burgers to get too well done too quickly, try this: Before you light your grill, arrange the coals so that one side of the grill is heaping with briquettes while the other side is only one layer deep. After you’ve flipped the burger a couple of times on the side with extra coal and it’s almost ready to eat, move the meat over to the side with less coal so that it can continue to cook, but with much less heat. (This also works with veggies.)

Related: 10 Gadgets to Make Yours the Best BBQ on the Block

Throw Herbs Over the Charcoal

If you want to punch up the flavor of the food you’re grilling, you can certainly add herbs to the meat and veggies, but you can also add them to your charcoal. Dust woody herbs like rosemary as well as leafier herbs like basil or sage over charcoal to enhance the taste of your grilled fare and make the area around your grill smell amazing.

Related: 7 Herbs That Clean House

Tent Your Food with Tin Foil

After your meat—whether burgers, steaks, or chops—has been cooked, take it off the grill, then mold a piece of tin foil into a loose tent shape and rest it over your meat for about five minutes. This simple trick helps to contain moisture and steam so the juices in the meat will meld together. 

Related: 11 Surprising Uses for Aluminum Foil

Build a BBQ Smoker

Flickr via dongkwan

No, you don’t have to have a professional setup to pull off that delicious smoky meat flavor. You can DIY a smoker quite easily with an aluminum bread pan, foil, and some hickory wood chips. Simply presoak the chips in water for a couple of hours before adding them to the bread pan. Then, cover it in foil and use a sharp knife (or a skewer) to puncture the surface so the smoke can escape. Put your smoker on the grill over one heating element, put the meat on a different rack, and close the lid. That’s it!

Related: 19 “Zero Dollar” Upgrades for Your Outdoor Living Area

Sizzlin' Secrets

These grilling hacks will have you cooking in the backyard all season long.