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Become a Grilling Genius with These 11 Tips

Master the grill this summer with these cheap, easy tricks.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,

Improve your grill-game without expensive gadgets or materials. These tips are easy, inexpensive, and sure to impress your guests.

Easy Prep & Tools

1. Dress Your Grill
Don’t spend big money on a grill cover! Just look for an inexpensive poncho at a discount store—it’ll do the trick and protect your grill just as well.

2. DIY Chimney Starter
Using one of these metal canisters makes getting charcoal good and hot a cinch! You simply place crumpled newspaper at the bottom and pile charcoal on top. Then light the crumbled newspaper. The upward draft created by the chimney shape helps spread the heat to the charcoal in no time. You can buy one, but it’s simple to make your own. All you need to do: remove both ends of a large coffee can with a can opener, and you’ve got a canister ready for charcoal. A set of pliers helps you lift off the hot chimney and free the coals once the charcoal is ready for cooking.

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3. Wood Chips Made Easy      
Getting wood chips ready for the grill by soaking them? It’s easy to make sure they stay submerged in a zipper-lock bag filled with water. And it’s easy to carry the bag right out to the grill.

4. Add a Warming Rack
While gas grills usually have a built-in warming rack, most charcoal grills don’t. But you can create your own with a simple technique. Just set a smaller rack on top of two empty tin cans placed on the main grill rack. Now you can keep food warm until you’re ready to serve. The lift also gives you control for when you want to toast (not burn!) buns.

The Main Event

5. Juicy Burgers Begin with Ice
The secret to a super-juicy burger that will impress your barbecue guests is closer than you think. Just head to your icemaker! Fold an ice cube into the center of each burger patty, or use your thumb to make an indentation and set the ice cube on top. As it cooks, the ice cube melts and locks moisture in the burger.

6. Give Meat a Spritz
While you’re grilling, keep some 100% apple juice in a spray bottle nearby. Periodically spritz your meat for more flavor and tenderness and better color. So simple! Just resist the urge to spray your guests.

7. Grilling Something Delicate?
To prevent a free fall through the grill, place an extra grill rack perpendicular to the rack beneath it.

8. Double-Team Your Kebabs
When barbecuing meat and veggies, use two skewers per kebab. It’s a simple trick to stop food pieces from spinning when you rotate the skewers. Be sure to soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes beforehand, to keep them from burning.

9. Naturally Seasoned Skewers
Skip the usual wooden or metal skewers, and swap in rosemary sprigs. Look for long sprigs that have especially thick and sturdy stems. Simply remove the leaves from about three-quarters of the sprig to allow room for your kebab ingredients, and set aside the rosemary leaves for another use. No presoaking, plus you add amazing flavor and aroma! They look gorgeous, too.

10. No More Smoke in Your Eyes
The simple secret: Lift the grill’s lid away from your face. And make sure that you are not standing downwind from a breeze.

11. Sweet Finale
You’ve enjoyed your main grilling event and started to shut down the grill. While the heat remains, make a fun dessert: banana boats. Slice deep lengthwise cuts along the curves of unpeeled bananas, being careful not to cut all the way through. Now fill in the banana slits you’ve created with chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, chopped nuts, or any other topping you dream up. Wrap the banana in aluminum foil and place on the grill, cut-side up, for 8 to 10 minutes before spooning out the gooey goodness.

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