7 Household Items That Make Great Grilling Tools
Save space (and money) with these multitasking products that you probably already own.
Can't stand the heat in the kitchen? Head outside! More than 79 million Americans grill out each year, and nearly two-thirds of all Americans own a grill or smoker.
Once you have that treasured, timeless tool for al fresco cooking in the gas or charcoal variety (oh yes, and our tips for grilling successfully), you're pretty much all set for a grate season of fresh-air feasting. Especially once you study up on the unique ways to put items you likely already own to good use as grilling tools. That way, you need not dedicate extra storage space or invest more money in tools you'll only use one or two seasons each year.
7 Ways to Use Household Items During Your Next Cookout
1. Use foil as a make-shift grill basket.
Smaller grillables, such as shrimp or okra, taste amazing cooked over open flame — but they can easily fall through the grates and end up in the embers rather than your stomach. If you don't have a grill basket to corral and keep all those petite portions in place, cover up with a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, dull-side (AKA non-stick side) up.
Or create a foil packet by wrapping the ingredients loosely inside a folded-in-half sheet of foil that's crimped around the edges. Either route you choose, use a fork or knife to poke small holes for drainage and to allow heat to circulate. This saves the food from slipping through and keeps your grill cleaner all at once.
2. Then use that balled-up foil as a grill brush.
Don't trash that foil! Wad it up and use it as a grill brush. Follow our instructions for how to clean a gas or charcoal grill, simply substituting a ball of foil and tongs for a grill brush. Your surfaces will be squeaky-clean and just like new in a matter of minutes.
3. Use a lid covered in plastic wrap to easily make uniformly-sized burger patties that pop right out.
If burger recipes are your cookout cuisine of choice, then you've probably tried your fair share of patty hacks. The secrets to the juiciest, tastiest burgers really all come down to the fundamentals: season well, don't overmix it, and pretty please don't smash that meat!
To ensure evenly-sized burgers that will be a breeze to flip and cook, gently shape them in a plastic wrap-lined lid that's about ¾ inches tall. (Something like a peanut butter jar lid works well.) Extend the edges of the plastic wrap to fall outside of the lid, then use those as "handles" to pop the patty right out. Press a slight indentation in the center to keep the burgers from cooking up too puffy in the middle and you're good to grill.
4. Blow cool air from a hair dryer onto chicken before grilling.
We know this sounds a little out there, but stick with us — drying out the skin is clutch to ensure the crispiest skin on your grilled chicken, like Beer Can Chicken or Grilled Chicken Under a Brick. Many roast or grilled chicken recipes call for patting the skin dry and allowing it to rest, uncovered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours to allow it to dry even more. Blowing the chicken on the "cool" setting of a hair dryer (like this one) simply speeds up this process to dry off any damp portions of the skin. This way, the bird will showcase the magic of the Maillard Reaction, a tasty chemical reaction involving sugars, protein, and heat that results in browning and lots of rich, deep flavor.
5. Fill a standard spray bottle with olive oil to grease the grates.
Yes, we're talking about those simple spray bottles, such as the ones you might use for cleaning products, hair care, or essential oils. They work great as a portion-controlled way to distribute oil on the grill grates or your recipe. If you find the oil is getting stuck in the sprayer, mix one part water with two parts olive oil for a DIY cooking spray.
6. Use empty soup cans and a wire rack to create a DIY warming zone.
Keep a couple cans handy after making that batch of chili or chickpea hummus. They can play double duty as a free grill tool! Remove the labels and use a can opener to take off both ends (the top and bottom lids). Carefully clean the cans or pop them in the dishwasher to do so for you. Then stand them upright on the grill grates. Place a wire rack on top, then use this surface to warm buns or keep ingredients warm to enjoy later as you finish cooking.
7. Employ a muffin tin to act as a condiment caddy.
Now that your cookout recipes are done, it's time to dig in. For a quick-fix condiment station that's easy to transfer from kitchen to picnic table, grab your muffin pan and fill each well with a different sauce or garnish, including ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, mayo, pesto, pickles, sliced onions, jalapeños and/or shredded cheese.