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10 Tiny Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Grilling

This grilling season might be your best ever!

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grilling toolsTaste of Home

Stay organized.

Whether you’re learning the basics or looking for new recipes to perfect, a few tiny changes can instantly upgrade your grill game. Your first tip: Be prepared. No one wants to have to scramble for tongs in front of a bed of hot coals. Having everything in order–veggies chopped, grill tongs ready–will go a long way.

Go beyond the grill this summer with our best tips for outdoor entertaining.

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Old Grill BrushMissionMike/Shutterstock

Don’t skip cleaning your grill.

It’s not the most exciting task, but keeping those grates clean is essential. Extra residue can cause food to stick, or worse—cling on to unwanted flavors. For stainless steel grates, the Char-Broil Great Book of Grilling recommends using a grill brush to keep them spotless. For serious buildup, check out our grill cleaning guide.

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Add a hint of wood flavoring.

You don’t have to spend all day slow-smoking pork to get that smoky wood flavor. In Any Night Grilling, author Paula Disbrowe suggests soaking wood chips, then placing them with your grill’s hot coals. The smoke will bring bold flavor to grilled pork or grilled pizza!

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grilling steaks on flaming grillJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Cut notches in external fat on your steaks.

To stop steaks from getting that dreaded curl, the Char-Broil Great Book of Grilling suggests adding small notches every few inches before putting steak on the grill. (Here’s how to pick the right steaks.)

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Getting the grill ready for some cooking - rubbing halved onion on the hot grate.elbud / Shutterstock
Shutterstock / elbud

Oil your grill with an onion.

The cookbook Any Night Grilling says that onions help prepare your grill for any cooking ahead. You slice an onion in half, grab it with a two-pronged fork and dip the cut side in vegetable oil. Then, use the oily onion to coat the grill grates. Here are a few more easy ways to get your grill ready for summer.

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Use spatulas to skin a salmon.

There are so many amazing grilled fish recipes! When you’re cooking fish that’s skin-on, the Char-Broil Great Book of Grilling suggests grabbing two spatulas to work some magic. When the salmon’s fully cooked on the skin side, it should be easy to slide a spatula beneath the skin to remove it.

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Flipping burgers on a grillG Allen Penton/Shutterstock

Don’t touch the food too early.

As Disbrowe explains in Any Night Grilling, meats should be easy to flip when they’ve spent enough time on the grill. But if you try to flip a beautiful burger too soon, it might stick to the grates. Give your food time before turning!

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Pair of hand mixing raw ground beef mixture preparing to make fresh gourmet hamburgersTeri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Don’t form burger patties too tightly.

Saxon and Parole‘s Brad Farmerie explained to Men’s Health that looser burger patties retain their juices better while grilling. So don’t worry too much about packing the meat into perfect circles–how you cook them is way more important. That’s just one of the most common mistakes people make when cooking burgers.

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Try using a “two-zone fire” with your grill.

This tip comes courtesy of Kingsford. The charcoal brand recommends putting coals beneath one half of your grill. That way, you have part of the grill devoted to direct cooking, while the other half is the perfect way to cook indirectly at lower temperatures.

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You don’t have to marinade everything.

Turns out that adding a glaze is the perfect way to bring on flavor! The Char-Broil Great Book of Grilling suggests adding a glaze to your chicken (like a barbecue sauce) within the last 10 minutes of cooking when it’s no longer over direct heat.

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Think beyond meat and veggies.

Grilled vegetables and steaks are wonderful, but your grill can make so much more. Grilled fruit makes a delicious dessert, and it’s the perfect way to end a night of cooking. Between pineapple slices, bananas, apples and other fruits, the possibilities are endless!

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