12 BBQ Hacks That Will Leave Your Guests in Awe

Let’s be honest: When meat and flames are involved, it can be fun to show off. If you’re having a backyard barbecue or going tailgating, you’ll love these tricks to make your food taste better, chill beer faster, clean up your grill more easily—and impress your friends!

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
3-minute read

Hack 1: Clean a Grill with an Onion

Dirty grill? Clean it with an onion! The sulfur compounds in onions combined with their rough texture make them a perfect green cleaner for barbecue grills, whether they're in a public park or in your own backyard. First, remove any large bits from the grates and heat the grill. Then apply cooking oil to the cut side of a halved onion, spear it with a grill fork, and rub it on the dirty grates. It will not only leave a yummy taste behind, new research has shown that onion juice might even be able to inhibit the growth of e coli!

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Hack 2: Use Sugar to Light Charcoal

Can’t get the charcoal going, and don’t have any lighter fluid? Try using sugar. Once sugar is exposed to a flame, it decomposes rapidly and releases a fire-friendly chemical that can help ignite that stubborn charcoal. Simply apply a light dusting of sugar to the coals before you light them.

Hack 3: Another Lighter Fluid Substitute

When the coals start to die down on your grill, don’t squirt them with more lighter fluid, which not only costs money, but can leave your food tasting bad (not to mention, burn the hair off your arm). Instead, blow a hair dryer on the base of the coals. The hairdryer acts as a pair of bellows, and your fire will be going again in no time.

Hack 4: DIY Utensil Caddy

An old oven mitt makes a great holder for barbecue utensils. Use its hanging loop to attach it to your grill and it’s perfect for tongs or anything else you need.

Hack 5: Chill Beer Fast

The best way to chill beer or soda rapidly is to fill a cooler with layers of water, ice, and salt, then plunge the beers inside. They'll be ice cold in about 20 minutes! Even if the ice water is warmer than your freezer, it absorbs the warmth from the bottles or cans more rapidly and more efficiently than the cold air of the freezer does.

Hack 6: More Flavorful Grilling

To get the most out of that grilled flavor everyone loves so much, add a few sprigs of your favorite herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and savory, directly to the top of the charcoal as you grill. It will infuse whatever you’re cooking with mouthwatering flavor.

Hack 7: Skewer Trick

Grilling up kebabs this summer? Make meat-removal as easy as possible by spraying skewers with cooking spray before assembling them. The food will slip right off the skewer, no knives necessary! And, more importantly, no risk of flinging your meat from the skewer to the floor.

Hack 8: Super Steak

If you’re grilling a steak on a closed barbecue, here’s a neat trick to impress your friends. Open a can of beer and place it on the hottest part of the grill. It will boil and keep the meat moist, while adding flavor, too.

Hack 9: The Best Corn on the Cob

Nothing says summer like freshly picked sweet corn. Try this simple trick to keep those kernels juicy. First, husk the corn, removing any silk. Then soak the ears in salted water for 10–15 minutes. Not only will you season the corn, but the water will help the corn stay moist on the grill.

Hack 10: Best Way to Grill Fish

Grilling fish is always a drag because the skin inevitably gets stuck to the grate—particularly when cooking salmon. Avoid this by placing a few thin slices on lemon or lime on the grill, and then the fish on top. Not only will your clean-up be easier, but the citrus flavor will taste great with the seafood.

Hack 11: Quick Grill Clean-Up

When you’re done grilling, place a large piece of aluminum foil over the entire top of your grill, then put the top back on and let it sit for 10–15 minutes. The caked-on mess from the burgers and hot dogs will turn to ash.

Hack 12: Make Charcoal Easier to Light

After your barbecue, make sure to store charcoal briquettes in airtight plastic bags—they absorb moisture very easily and won’t be as easy to light if exposed to air.

For more great barbecue tips (and some of our favorite recipes), check out our Grilling Time! board on Pinterest. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!

The suggestions offered here are for informational purposes only.  The Authors and Publisher do not accept liability for damages arising from the use, attempted use, misuse or application of any of the suggestions included on this website.

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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.