The grill is a versatile machine that can be used for so much more than burgers and hot dogs. A unique advantage that a barbecue has over many cooking methods is its ability to apply high, direct heat to any ingredient. This allows it to create incredible searing, caramelization, and smoky flavour. It’s a fire-charged stove top and oven that can give you a prime environment to use new and innovative techniques. Check out a few of our BBQ hacks below and get the most out of all the fresh summer flavours this season. Be on the lookout for future iterations of our “hacks” series to get more helpful tips throughout the year!

BBQ with friends

Prepping the Grill

The start is just as important as the finish when it comes to the perfect barbecue experience. At the centre is the all-important grill! This machine is the force that drives most of the dishes that you and your guests will enjoy. Properly preparing the BBQ is essential in achieving the correct cook and taste.  Below we have a few tips and tricks along with a list of items you should consider picking up from the folks over at to get the “Q” looking new again!


Good Old Soap and Water

Your Garden Hose

From the exterior of your barbecue to the oil pans, make sure everything is in tip-top shape. With soap, a sponge, and your garden hose, you can get the barbecue squeaky clean from interior to exterior. Clear out any grease, debris, outdoor dirt, and grime in order to prevent any cross contamination with foods or potential fire hazards.

Tools for the job:

  • Sponge
  • Grease fighting dish soap
  • Garden hose
  • Steel wool (for grill grates)
  • Steel Kitchen/Spackling scraper (to periodically remove interior grime/buildup)

Use an Onion.

Using onion and grill fork to clean grates

You read correctly! Use an onion, lemon, or lime for a quick and easy way to clean grease and residue off of your grill grates.

Tip: use a grill brush in combination with your onions or citrus veggies for optimal cleaning. 

How to:

  • Turn the grill on high heat when cleaning.
  • Use a long pair of tongs or a grill fork when cleaning.
  •  Slice your onion (or citrus fruit) in half and use the open halves to clean your grill grates.  
    • These work to not only to clean, but also help to season the grates. 


  • To create a non-stick surface drizzle a little oil on the open halves before cleaning or place them face down in a bowl containing a small amount of high burning point oil (grapeseed is nice).  
  • Greasing can also be done with a paper towel. 


Tools for the job:

Lighting the Grill and Maintaining Heat

Gas Grills

The advantage of a gas grill is its ability to regulate temperature more easily compared to charcoal using dials that control the flow of gas. Always start by turning your grill on high heat whether cleaning or prepping the grill to cook! 

Heating Tips

  • Keep the hood closed to allow the grill to reach a high internal temperature (usually 500F) 
    • This allows for the perfect cleaning and searing conditions 
  • Maintain different heating zones in your BBQ 
  • Once you’ve reached your searing heat, turn your temperature dials down to their proper heating zones.
    • As a rule of thumb: set each dial to high, medium, and low according to the zone. 

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grill.

What makes a charcoal grill special is the ability to impart smoky flavour into your foods using the burning of coal or wood. Charcoal grills can reach high temperatures and create charr with open flames.

Light it with an egg carton

  • No lighter fuel necessary!
  • Use empty cardboard egg cartons as fuel to start your fire.
    • Place pieces of charcoal within each compartment and light.  
  • Once your coals are red hot, start to add more fuel (charcoal) and spread the hot coals evenly across your barbecue basin. 
  • Make sure there is plenty of oxygen flowing to the lit coals. Most grills will have openings at the bottom or along the sides to allow air to reach your fire.  
  • Fan coals periodically until you get red hot coals throughout your grill. 
    • This also allows temperatures and flames to rise to create charr on the ingredients above.

Tip: Create hot and cold zones by placing less coal on one end and more hot coals on the other. 

Heating Zones:

  • Slow cook/hot holding zone (185F to 200F)
    • Always leave one side of your grill on low heat for foods that are nearly finished cooking. This prevents them from drying out, burning, and allows you to serve everything at their best.
  •  Medium zone (350F to 385F)
    • Think of this area as your oven. This is where most of your ingredients will be cooked through to the proper doneness. 
  • Searing zone (450F – 550F)
    • This area of the grill will be at your highest heat setting and where you will lock in the moisture of meats and veggies.  

The Food.

From seasoning to finishing touches, each step along the way adds layers of delicious flavour when you’re working the grill! There are many things you can do both prior to, and post cooking to bring out the summer tastes that you crave. Below are three ways you can boost the deliciousness of your fresh ingredients and turn them into tasty memories. 

Flavour Boosting Tricks

marinated steak
  • An hour or more is the golden rule of marinating! The longer these flavours sit together, the more infused they become.  
  • If you forget to marinate, simply season before the food hits the grill. If you try and marinate for too short a period, this will draw moisture out of your meats. 
Smoke Pouch
  • A smoke pouch is an easy way to impart a quick, smoky flavour on your ingredients.
    1. With aluminum foil create a pouch filled with soaked wood chips. 
    2. Poke some holes with a fork to allow smoke to release.
    3. Place on one side of your grill grates or directly onto your coals.  
    4. To boost aromatics, add your favourite fresh herbs and dry whole spices. 
The 10 & 2 Rule
  • Think of a clock when you’re trying to achieve those professional grill lines.
    1. Once the grill is at searing temperature place your ingredients on the hot grates at the 10 o’clock position.  
    2. Close the barbecues lid and allow it to return to searing temperature (550F) 
    3. Open the lid and gently lift your ingredients. If the lines are dark and visible proceed to pick up and turn your food to the 2 o’clock position. 
    4. Follow step #2, flip, and repeat the process. 


  • Always sear meats to prevent them from drying out. This simply means to quickly cook the outside surfaces at high heat before moving on to the main cooking area. 
  • When turning your food move them to unused areas of the grill grates as these will be the hottest and help to create those smoky lines of charr. 
  • Close the BBQ cover to allow the grill grates to reach the searing temperature again.

Keeping Things Moist

Stacked Ribs.
Stack em’
  • Stack cooked meats (hamburgers, steaks, chicken thighs etc.) on top of one another in the holding section/low heat zone of your grill. This ensures that a minimal amount of juiciness escapes while you are waiting for your other ingredients to finish cooking. 
  • Stack larger sized meats at the bottom and smaller ones at the top 
Flavoured Ice cubes
The Ice Cube Trick
  • Place an ice cube upon the middle of your raw burger patty once it has hit the grill. This will melt and reintroduce moisture to your burger as it cooks. 
  • Try making ice cubes with stock and your favourite herbs for more yummy flavour!

Awesome Accessories. 

Cast Iron Pans

Pans on the grill

Yes. Pans can be used on the grill as long as there are no plastic parts, rubber, or chemical coatings! Whether you are looking to sauté vegetables, make a sauce, or cook some tricky items, a good cast iron pan can get the job done. You’ll get that smokiness and sear without losing any of the delicious goodness. 

Key Attributes:

  • Great conductors of even heat. 
  • Excellent for searing. 
  • Can be thrown right into the oven or on the grill. 
  • Perfect for delicate items.
  • Can be used for to make sauces.

Tip: Make sure you are using an oven mitt or towel when handling the pan. 

Great pans to consider:

Perforated Steel Pans

These pans have holes to allow excess moisture to escape which allows bursts of smoke and flames to rise and flavour whatever is being cooked. These pans are ideal for herbed vegetables and fish.  Use them in the same way you would use a steel pan over the stove. 

Key Attributes:

  • Great conductors heat. 
  • Allows excess moisture to escape to help create caramelization. 
  • Perfect for delicate or small items like fish and vegetables.  

Tip: Make sure you are using an oven mitt or towel when handling the pan. 

Great pans to consider:

Muffins on the Grill?!

Cheesy Jalapeño Cornmeal Muffins

Did you know that you can bake on the grill? Whether you are looking to multi-task, to give your pastries a smoky aroma, or perhaps, your oven is out of commission; the grill is a great tool to use for baked goods! Try this recipe for sweet and spicy jalapeno cornmeal muffins for a delicious side to add to your BBQ feast. 

Recipe here: Cheesy Jalapeño Cornmeal Muffins

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