12 Grilling Tips From our Recipe Testers for Summer 2021

Whether you’ve been grilling for decades or this summer marks your big grillmaster debut, there’s always more you can learn. These grilling tips from our recipe testers deliver fantastic results that’ll crank up your grilling game.

Grilling tips: 6 juicy hamburgers of a grill : Jenn Garcia

1. For juicy burgers, stop playing with your meat

It’s simple: stop playing with your meat! Most grillers poke and prod and press their burgers and in the process cause those precious, delicious juices to be sacrificed to the hungry embers below. For the juiciest burgers ever remember to  a.) put your burgers on the grill and leave them alone, and b.) flip them once and only once!David Leite

Three bottles of Dawn detergent behind five ducks : Proctor & Gamble

2. Dawn detergent keeps you clean while handling charcoal

Actually, this tip is for before you actually handle the charcoal. First, rub Dawn liquid soap on your hands and they’ll be a cinch to wash afterward. (Yes, you’ll be able to get rid of ALL the charcoal soot.)Louisa Sadiq

grilling tips: two sets of metal skewers of grilled meats and vegetables : Nikolay Donetsk

3-6. Get the most out of grilling with skewers

Soak the entire package of wooden skewers in water as soon as you get them home from the store. Drain and store them, tucked in a plastic bag or in plastic wrap, in the freezer. They’ll be good to go anytime you want to make skewers….minus that annoying half-hour wait.Linda Pacchiano

We no longer put both meat and vegetables on the same skewer. By keeping them separate, we can add vegetables to the grill later and take them off when they’re ready without having to wait for the meat to be done or worrying about quick-cooking items, like cherry tomatoes, being overcooked.Terri L

It drives me nuts when wooden skewers catch on fire and burn up on the grill.  Even when they’ve been soaked, they still sometimes incinerate.  But if you place a triple thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the grill right under the naked edge of the wooden skewers, but not under the part that’s sheathed with meat or vegetables or whatever you’re grilling, the skewers won’t burn.Erin Bloys 

When skewering chunks of beef, pork, or chicken and small items such as shrimp, I tend to use two small skewers and insert them parallel to each other, so the meat can be turned easily without it spinning hopelessly on a single skewer, or I use a single wide, flat metal skewer. —Terri L

: magicbones

7. Have ice on hand to stop grill flare-ups

Keep a bowl of ice cubes near the grill. If flames shoot up when the melted fat drips between the grates, drop a couple of ice cubes over the flames. This puts out the flare-ups yet doesn’t completely suffocate or tamper with the overall heat.—Louisa Sadiq

A cook demonstrating how to grill asparagus with several rafts of asparagus spears connected with wooden skewers. : Ed Anderson

8. Make “asparagus rafts” so you don’t lose spears to the gods of grilling

Slender items, such as asparagus and green onions, turn out remarkably lovely when tossed on the grill until barely tender and striped with some char. Shame we usually end up feeling anything but lovely in the process of losing about half of them to slipping between the grates. No more. Not when you craft “rafts” out of the spears by threading toothpicks or wooden skewers through the spears to bond them together. When it comes time to flip, simply reach for tongs, a spatula, or a long grilling fork.—Renee Schettler via this recipe from Bryan Calvert

9. Foil makes for juicy grilled chicken

I like to grill my marinated chicken pieces low and slow for about 45 minutes while keeping them covered with aluminum foil. I flip them once halfway through cooking. The foil ensures juicy chicken yet you still get a nice grilled char.—Louisa Sadiq

A sous vide steak on a cutting board : Anova

10. Finish sous vide food in the grill for the perfect char

My favorite grilling tips: Finish meats that you’ve previously cooked sous vide on the grill. What results is charred or crusted meat that’s still medium-rare and chicken that’s safely cooked. You get those coveted grill marks without relying on all the “babysitting.”Ilda Costa-Sarnicki

Grilling tips: a pork chop being brushed with a mayo-herb glaze : Hellmanns

11. A little mayo can take the place of a marinade for extra flavor

I find that a thin coating of mayonnaise slathered on meat and chicken before grilling helps it brown better. It’s also a great way to quickly impart flavor to almost anything by simply seasoning the mayo with herbs, spices, citrus zest, etc.Marcia L

12. Use your grill as your outdoor oven

During those very hot months when you don’t want to turn on the kitchen oven or even the stovetop, you can use your grill as an outdoor oven. Most models that can hold a consistent temperature will bake bread and pizza to perfection. I also cook most of my food on a grill plate, whether eggs and bacon or veggies and seafood.—Ilda Costa-Sarnicki

In addition to these grilling tips, don’t forget to keep your summer laid back and curse-free by checking out our tricks for grilling cleaning up.

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