10 BBQ Hacks for Grilling Meat

When it’s grilling season, some of us just think MEAT. If you love making meat on the grill as much as we do, check out these ideas and hacks for steaks, ribs, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, fish, and more.

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
4-minute read

Meat Grilling Hacks

Getting Great Grill Marks on Chicken

Whether you’re grilling boneless, skinless breasts or juicy chicken legs, you’re definitely looking for one thing: those great-looking, delicious bar marks. Use a marinade that contains vegetable or olive oil to get the best marks, and preheat your grill for at least 10 minutes to get it as hot as possible. To get your grill even hotter (making sure the grill marks on your meat are extra impressive), cover it with a large sheet of foil for 10 minutes before cooking, then remove it immediately before placing the chicken on the grill. This will keep the heat concentrated on the grill’s surface.

Tongs Tip

When barbecuing, always use tongs, rather than a grill fork, when turning meat on the grill. When a fork pierces the meat, it releases some of its juices, making it dry out more quickly. Keep tongs in a mug near your grill!

Steak Grilling Lifehack

We told you about this tip in our 12 BBQ Hacks that Will Leave Your Guests in Awe post, but we love it so much we have to share it again: If you’re grilling a steak on a closed barbecue, open a can of beer and place it on the hottest part of the grill. It will create steam and keep the meat moist, while adding flavor, too.

How to Figure Out How Done a Steak Is

When cooking steak, it’s good to know that the internal temperature of a rare steak is 135°F, medium-rare is 145°F, medium is 160°F, and well done is 170°F. However, an experienced chef rarely whips out a meat thermometer. Meat has a certain resiliency at different temperatures, and a true grill master can often just press the steak with a finger to tell whether the meat is rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, or well done. As meat cooks it loses water, and the more it cooks, the firmer it becomes. Try pressing on your steaks to get a sense for how they feel at different stages of doneness, and you’ll never need to cut them open to find out again.

For Perfect Burgers Every Time

Keep your hamburgers from breaking apart on the BBQ grill by sticking them in the freezer for five minutes before cooking. The brief shock of cold will help them keep their shape.

Hot Dog Cheat

You have five gajillion kids coming to the party, and you know most of them are going to want hot dogs. Make it easier on yourself with a slow cooker. Throw as many hot dogs as you can fit into your slow cooker (which is a lot, if you stand them up on their ends), and cook them on low for 4 hours. If you want that grilled taste, you can throw them on the grill for a second before serving, but we actually prefer straight from the slow cooker—they taste like they were cooked on a roller grill at the ballpark! One tip: Make sure not to add any additional water to the slow cooker, as the hot dogs will release water as they cook.

Stop Sausages from Splitting

Keep sausages from splitting when cooking them by piercing the skin in one or two places while they are cooking. Rolling them in flour before cooking will reduce shrinkage.

How to Make Barbecued Ribs Way Faster

We love barbecue ribs, but we don’t always love the long cooking time required to get that lip-smacking, fall-off-the-bone texture. But if you didn’t leave enough time to cook them for hours, or you just want to make them on a weeknight after work, try this trick for getting them on the table in half an hour. Put 2 pounds of ribs in a bowl, and coat with a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Cover the bowl, and microwave it for 8 minutes. Then turn the ribs, and return them to the microwave for another 8–10 minutes. After you pull them out, grill the ribs over high heat for a few minutes per side until beautifully burnished. Result? Tender, juicy ribs in less than 30 minutes.

Thick Is the Trick for Grilling Fish

If you plan on grilling fish, be sure to purchase steaks that are at least 1-inch thick. Fish dries out very quickly on the grill, so the thicker it is the better. The skin should be left on fillets while grilling and removed after they are cooked. Coat the fish with oil before grilling, or better yet, mayonnaise—the thicker texture of the mayo makes it harder for the flesh to grip the metal. Plus, it adds a new layer of yummy seasoning!

DIY Fish Grilling Basket

If you have two small wire racks, you can make a DIY fish cage to easily cook a fish (and impress your friends) on your outdoor grill. First, find toaster-oven or cooling wracks and some fireproof wire. Oil the racks, then put the fish between them and tie the racks together. Grill the fish on one side, then flip your newly constructed basket with large tongs or a spatula. This makeshift basket will keep delicate fish from breaking apart.

For more great grilling tricks and recipes, check out our Grilling Time! board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!

Photo by Shutterstock.

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.