10 Grilling Hacks To Show Off At Your Next Cookout

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pouring in crushed ice to ground beef for burgers

The heat of summer is on, so it makes sense to move your culinary adventures outdoors. The next time you’re about to fire up your grill, try out some of these genius cookout hacks to show off a little to your family and friends. We’re pretty sure they’re going to be impressed!

1. Clean your grill with a halved onion for flavor (and safety!)

rubbing onion on grill grates

Did you know countless people have rushed to the hospital annually for ingesting shards from wire grill brushes? Yikes! Toss the bristle brush aside! Plus, onion adds flavor to your grillables.

2. Skewer multiple hot dogs and sausages for easy, one-time flipping.

sausage skewers on the grill

Tired of your dogs and brats rolling around on the grill? Use two metal (or wooden) skewers for even grilling on both sides of the links. Just be sure to soak wooden skewers in water beforehand to prevent burning.

3. Prevent sticking with an oil-soaked paper towel.

tongs with an oil soaked paper towel wiping down grill grates

Graze a paper towel or kitchen cloth dipped in oil over the grates of the grill (before lighting the grill!) for non-stick slats. This will help create those photo-worthy grill marks, too!

4. Zone your grill for multiple heat levels.

adjusting the dials on a propane grill

Create two different zones on your grill for direct and indirect heat. Just adjust the dials on a propane grill, or move the coals to one side (or the outer edges) for charcoal cookers. The direct heat will provide the charring effect on meats and vegetables, while the indirect heat will continue to cook the food’s interior.

5. Use your hand to test for doneness.

palm showing different doneness areas on the hand

Truthfully, a meat thermometer will give you the most accurate reading of if meat is cooked to your liking, but, in a pinch, you can use your hand to gauge how done the protein is.

With a clean finger, press into the center of your meat. Compare this feeling to three different areas on your hand— the lower thumb, between thumb and palm, and the center of the palm. Do this by holding your hand out, relaxed, with the palm side up, and press with a finger from the opposite hand.

  • If the meat feels like the lower thumb area, it’s likely rare.
  • If it feels like the area between your thumb and palm, it’s likely medium.
  • If it feels like the center of the palm, it’s likely well done.

6. Ignite coals with an egg carton.

cardboard carton of eggs in front of grill

According to Lifehacker, you can skip the lighter fluid and place charcoal briquettes inside the individual holders of a cardboard egg carton (do not use this hack with styrofoam or plastic cartons). Light the carton on fire, and the cardboard will burn off by the time the coals are fully lit.

7. Cook a frozen pizza on the grates.

papa murphy's take and bake pizza on charcoal grillPhoto from Papa Murphy’s

Thanks to this tip from Papa Murphy’s, you can enjoy pizza night without the oven. Place a take-and-bake pizza on a sheet of foil (or a pizza stone) in the center of a hot grill. Rotating frequently, your pizza will cook for roughly 20-30 minutes and should be left to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

8. Check propane levels with water.

propane tank hooked up to grill

No one wants to run out of fuel mid grilling session. For an easy way to check propane levels, detach the tank from the grill and pour hot water over the side. Where the tank feels cold indicates the level of propane (warm areas indicates the portion of the tank that is just air).

9. Faux smoke your meats and veggies.

packet of wood chips underneath grill grates

Love the rich flavor that comes with cooking on a smoker? You can achieve a similar effect by wrapping wood chips in an aluminum foil pouch, poking some holes in the foil to let the aroma through, and placing the packet underneath your grilling grates.

10. Add crushed ice to your burgers for juiciness.

pouring in crushed ice to ground beef for burgers

Nobody likes a dry burger. Adding crushed ice to your ground beef helps keep your patties nice and juicy for the ultimate burger. You could also add cold cubes of salted butter for flavor and juiciness.

Check out 3 grills we love (and one we HATE) over at Hip2BeHome.

About the writer:

Emily obtained her Bachelor's degrees from Clarkson University with 5 years of content writing experience specializing in health, beauty, fashion, home, & living frugally.

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Comments 19

  1. Brandon

    Sous vide all your meat and just sear for marks.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Great idea, Brandon! That’s the best of both worlds!

  2. Jackie

    Also don’t over mix the ground beef for juicier patties.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks, Jackie!

  3. Ger

    I agree with throwing away WIRE cleaners!!! I worked at the hospital where this patient felt like she had something stuck in her throat & thought it was a tiny piece of chicken bone. We did all kinds of X-rays, Cat Scans, & scopes & could not find it to remove it. She ended up having to get surgery bc it was actually a tiny piece of grill brush wire!!!ever since that day years again, I made my hubby throw away all grill brushes & never clean with them again.

    • Laurie

      Omg!!!! I never knew!!! I’m throwing mine out now!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      That is terrifying, Ger!

    • Summer

      Yup. A patient came into the hospital where I worked and had the same thing lodged in her throat.

    • Lina

      What you use clean your grill with now

      • Ana

        We used crumpled up tin foil😁 but I’m gonna try the onion idea!

        • Joy

          I have tried the onion and it makes a mess. Not a clean wipe at all. The onion just falls apart and turns to onion sludge. I use crumpled foil.

    • Anna

      Ahh! Throwing ours away too!

  4. Joy

    I have tried the onion and it makes a mess. Not a clean wipe at all. The onion just falls apart and turns to onion sludge. I use crumpled foil.

  5. eric

    We learned of horror stories like that years ago and stopped using wire brushes. They make the sa,me type of brush but it has plastic bristles and works just as good. Onions won’t clean everything thing like clumps and baked on sauces or cheese.

    Char-Broil Cool Clean Nylon Bristle Grill Brush


    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the suggestion, Eric! What a great find!

  6. Miss Kitty

    This actually happened to be. As I was eating a bite of a delicious grilled burger, I felt a poke under my tongue. A small wire bristle had lodge itself on both ends, in the skin under my tongue, leaving just the middle part Of the bristle exposed. I was able to remove it and then called my doctor. It was crazy! The grill had been cleaned with a wire bristle Brush. I decided to investigate the remaining part of my burger and sure enough, there was yet another very tiny metal bristle stuck to the surface of my burger. Needless to say it all went in the trash! Lol!! I don’t use those brushes any more for my grill. Aluminum foil is a great idea.

  7. redsoxgirl

    I read several stories of the dangers of wire brushes. I replaced mine with another that has nylon(I think) bristles. Looks the same as the old one other than the bristle change.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh cool! Thanks, Erin! Good to know!

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