25 Surprising Grilling Facts You Haven’t Heard 10 Times Before
After mastering these tips from professionals, you'll never look at your grill the same way.
Grilling is a way of life
Grills are more than just an appliance—it’s a way of life for many people. Grilling has brought families and communities together since the first humans cooked food over a fire about 1.8 million years ago. Read on for more little known facts, tips, and tricks that will make you fall in love with your trusty grill all over again. Find out answers to your 11 biggest grilling questions.
The people of Stonehenge loved to barbecue
It also might have been the site of some pretty delicious meals. According to researchers who analyzed the site where the builders of Stonehenge are theorized to have lived, fat residue inside pottery shards and burn marks on animal bones indicate evidence of barbecue-style roasting. In fact, some archaeologists believe that Stonehenge may have been a feast site. This is just one of the facts that make Stonehenge one of the most mysterious archaeological treasures on earth.
Grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing
“The key difference between the two is that grilling cooks foods directly over the heat and barbecue uses the heat through convection of hot air,” says Jack Timmons, owner of Jack’s BBQ in Seattle. “When you’re grilling, the fat from the meat hits the burning coals which turn into flavorful gasses that bring flavor to the meat.” When you’re smoking barbecue, it’s the gasses coming off of the burning wood that brings flavor to the meat. “One is low and slow, the other is fast and furious,” he shares.
Weber Grills were inspired by buoys
You’ve probably heard of Weber Grills but did you know its classic grill was inspired by buoys? Prior to the 1950s, most barbecues were open charcoal braziers, which meant the food and flame were susceptible to wind and rain. A salesman from Weber Brothers Metal Works solved this problem by bringing home one of the metal buoys the company manufactured, cutting it in half, and rigging up a homemade lidded grill. This became the model for the Weber Kettle Grill. Here are more fascinating stories behind inventions you use all the time.
There’s a grill in the majority of homes in America
Approximately 70 percent of Americans own a grill or a smoker, according to a 2017 survey by the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. That’s a lot of backyard action!
Simpler is better when it comes to grilling meat
“The higher the quality of meat, the less the need for lots of seasoning,” says Jay Swift, executive chef at the Harpeth Hotel in Franklin, Tenessee. In addition to salt and pepper, which Swift calls “essential”, he also recommends Montreal Spice a blend of dehydrated garlic and onions along with the salt and pepper.
Simple is best for seafood, too
“You should never have to hide the true flavor of seafood—when it is fresh, you want to highlight that freshness” explains Cesar Oceguera, the executive chef of the Carte Hotel in San Diego. Don’t kill the taste with an overly elaborate marinade, rather give it a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. After you’ve followed his advice, be sure to save your leftover lemon so you can use it as a natural cleaner around the house.
Kansas City, Missouri, was the site of the world’s largest grilling lesson
The largest barbecue/grilling lesson took place in 2017 when 336 people got together at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The group got together to learn how to grill prime rib and roasted garlic and herb marinated pork chops. Find out the craziest world record set in your state.
Metal brushes can be dangerous
Believe it or not, wire brushes can do more than just clean grills: It can send you to the emergency room. Those little bristles can get stuck on the grill and transfer onto your food; if you swallow one it can injure your throat or lodge in your intestinal tract. Switch to a cleaning spray, pumice stone, wood, or nylon brush instead.
Choose your cut wisely
“For grilling choose cuts that don’t require long cook times to be tender,” Swift advises. Depending on your budget, he recommends filet mignon, New York strip steak, rib eye, skirt steak, flank steak (slice it thin), beef top round (slice it thin), pork rib, pork loin chops, pork tenderloin, leg of lamb, or lamb round top. Before you head to the store, find out how long various cuts of meat last in the fridge.
You can grill a lot more than meat and seafood
Although grilling is most commonly associated with meat and seafood, you can grill everything from lettuce to peaches to avocados to watermelon to cheese and these other surprising foods you wouldn’t think to grill, but should.
Don’t soak your wood chips in water
There’s no advantage of soaking wood chips in water, and the steam it creates can actually slow down the cooking process, Timmons says. “The moisture in the wood that carries the flavor can only be released by burning the wood.” Follow these grilling tips from professional chefs for the most flavorful meals ever.
Grilled tofu is delicious
If you’re thinking of becoming a vegan, are a vegan, or simply like delicious food, you’ll love this recipe for grilled marinated tofu. Tofu is high in protein and there are numerous benefits to getting started on a high protein diet, including that it helps our body build muscle mass and helps with cellular regeneration. In addition to grilled tofu, here are more vegetarian meals ready in 30 minutes or less.
Mind your marinades
“Avoid thick, sugary marinades and ones that have a lot of herbs because they tend to burn much quicker,” Oceguera says. Shake off any excess oil prior to grilling to avoid creating soot, too, he advises. Skipping the marinade on your beef or chicken, however, is one of 13 grilling mistakes that could make you sick.
There’s no need to clean the inside of your grill
If you keep putting off cleaning the inside of your grill, there’s no need to worry; in fact, you can completely scratch it off your chore list. The smoky residue seasons the grill and flavors your grill. So, go ahead and let it be. Here are more household chores that are a waste of time.
Some grilling methods are healthier than others
Charring meat or fish over intense heat can potentially produce carcinogens, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. In order to mitigate the risk, they suggest pre-cooking meat to avoid the amount of time it’s exposed to the flame, cooking leaner meats to reduce charring, marinating meat to form a protective coat, or opting for grilled veggies instead. Learn how to keep fruits and veggies fresh longer so it’s at its delicious peak when you throw them on the grill.
Don’t dig in right away
“Let all your proteins rest. Always. Five to ten minutes will be plenty for most anything you’re going to throw on the grill,” advises Matt Welsch, aka, the Vagabond Chef, of Vagabond Kitchen in Wheeling, West Virginia. “This gives the juices a chance to be reabsorbed by the meat.”
Proper storage of your propane tank is essential
If you store your grill in a garage, shed, or anyplace indoors after you’ve winterized your grill, remove the propane tank as even the tiniest leak can explode and cause major damage in an enclosed location. Instead, store it upright and outside, away from the dryer or furnace vents and out of proximity of children. Last, cover the gas line with plastic to discourage insects from making a home in it.
Try this tip for juicy burgers
Dry burgers are so disappointing. Luckily, there’s a simple tip to making sure your burger is grilled to juicy perfection every time. Put an ice cube in the center of the patty, fold the meat around it, and grill as usual. The melting ice will keep your burger from drying out as it cooked. The end result? Delicious.
Removing corn husks is easier than you think
If you love grilling corn, but hate the chore of husking it, you’ll be interested in this simple trick. According to Chef John of Youtube fame, if you put each ear in the microwave for three minutes then chop off the bottom with a knife, the husks and silk will slide right off. (Be careful, because the ears will be hot.)
Prince Philip grills sausages
A documentary about the royal family aired on British television in 1969 and it’s never been seen since due to royal decree. The goal was supposed to make the royal family appear more normal and accessible but in real life, footage of Prince Phillip grilling sausages at the palace while Queen Elizabeth readied the salad was just…awkward. It’s one of the reasons the royal family doesn’t want you to see the documentary.
Don’t over handle your food
“The biggest mistake anyone makes when they’re inexperienced cooking is overhandling,” Welsch says. Let your burger sit for a minute before flipping it—set a timer if you have to. “Just like a watched pot never boils, and overly handled burger or steak isn’t going to be as beautiful or as tasty,” he says. Find out the most popular burger topping in America.
Skip the aluminum foil
Minuscule particles of aluminum can transfer from the foil to your food, especially at higher temperatures. Although the World Health Organization reports your body can release small amounts of aluminum, most people are consuming more than their body can process. Studies have found aluminum in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. Here’s a deeper dive into the health risks of grilling with aluminum foil.
The Ford Motor Company sold barbecue grills
It took a great deal of lumber to create the decorative wood trim for Ford vehicles, so much that Ford built a factory to turn that wasted wood into charcoal briquettes. To create a market for the briquettes, Ford created picnic kits containing portable grills and charcoal as vehicle accessories in the 1930s. Find out 31 delicious grill ideas for the tastiest barbecue ever.
Men grill more than women
A study at Michigan State University found that only 18 percent of the women surveyed were likely to take center stage at the grill in their household, while 67 percent of men stated they were the primary griller in their family. Prefer to eat out? Find the top-rated barbecue joint in your state.