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.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
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 and allow you to make the best food on your grill, be it side dishes, ribs, and more.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
The people of Stonehenge loved to barbecue
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.
That love of grilling has carried on throughout the ages. Today, the bestselling grill on Amazon is the Cuisinart CCGI190 Portable Charcoal Grill which features a dual locking system, enamel-coated firebox, and an ash catcher for easy cleanups. It’s portable so you can take it on the road, to get-togethers in the park, and camping trips.
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 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 the burning wood that brings flavor to the meat. “One is low and slow, the other is fast and furious,” he shares.
If you’re a fan of barbecue you’ll love Virgil’s Barbecue Roadtrip Cookbook, which rounds up the most mouthwatering, finger-licking barbecue and grilling recipes in the country, including delicious side dishes like Southern Accent Grits and Virgil’s Perfect Banana Pudding.
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.
Today Weber Grills has expanded their line. In addition to their iconic line of charcoal grills, they also sell propane grills and accessories like the Weber Barbecue System Griddle, which sits on top of your grill so you can saute or make pancakes, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches in the great outdoors.
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!
If you want to take your grilling skill to the next level, try incorporating a spice rub to your regular barbecue fare. We like the Spiceology rubs because the spices are ground fresh and the company is masters with flavor combinations. The Black & Bleau Cajun and Blue Cheese Spice Rub adds a gourmet touch to everything from steak, burgers, and mushrooms.
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.
For additional ideas for preparing seafood and more from top chefs, check out the gorgeous new Washington Wine and Food: A Cookbook. plus food. This beautifully photographed book features recipes and wine pairings from the best chefs in Seattle. The coffee-braised short ribs recipe on page 113 is surprisingly easy and absolutely amazing.
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.
The first lesson in grilling is simply firing up the grill. If you need a little help, the Zippo Flex Neck Utility Lighter makes it easy. This reusable metal lighter features wind-resistant and dual-flame technology. There’s even a dial so you can adjust the flame.
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. A great alternative is the Q-Swiper BBQ Grill Cleaning Set. It comes with a pack of easy to use wipes and a wire-free scrubbing pad to clean up baked up messes. Cleaning up has never been so simple.
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.
If you want a great cut of meat every time, the folks at D’Artagnan ship the same quality meats chefs use straight to your door. Choose from fancy cuts like Wagyu beef to hamburger, chicken, duck, bacon, and more. All their products are raised naturally on small farms without hormones and you can taste the difference. Before you head to the store or order online, 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.
For a quick, easy, outside of the box meal, try throwing a pizza on the grill. Start with an Angelic Grains Sprouted Seven Grain Flatzza flatbread pizza crust. They’re healthy and come two to a pack. Dress them up with your favorite toppings or leftovers from the fridge and barbecue until the cheese is melted and bubbling. It’s a delicious lazy night meal.
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.” These Western Premium BBQ Smoking Chips come in a range of flavors, including apple, hickory, and maple to add smoky goodness to your meats. Follow these grilling tips from professional chefs for the most flavorful meals ever.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower grilled at the White House
Eisenhower famously loved to cook. As proof, there are even pictures of him setting up his portable grill on the patio of the solarium at the White House. Groceries are one of the few things presidents have to pay for on their own.
Even if you don’t live in the White House, it’s still easy to grill at home with the Char-Broil Performance 36,000 BTU Stainless Steel Gas Grill With Side Burner. This sleek machine is reasonably priced and features an electric ignition, exterior temperature gauges, and a removable grease tray to make clean up a breeze.
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.
If you’re grilling your tofu (or anything else), kabob-style, the innovative O-Yaki Stainless Steel Skewer Set makes life so much easier. The innovative design allows it to stand up on your grill for an even cook that doesn’t require rotating your skewers. As an added bonus, it works just as well as in your oven, too.
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. For all the great taste of amazing barbecue without the sugar, try Sweet Baby Ray’s Original No Sugar Added Barbecue Sauce. The flavors are so tangy and delicious you won’t miss the sugar.
There’s no need to clean the inside of your grill
$39.99 for six
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 and flavors your grill. So, go ahead and let it be. Cooking with spices instead of heavy oils will make cleaning up your grill much easier. The Fit Cook Spice Set makes it easy to conjure up flavors like Southern Creole and Green Chile Lime. They’re keto-friendly, grain-free, gluten-free, and absolutely delicious.
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. For a unique twist on a traditional marinade, Primal Kitchens Organic Mango Jalapeno BBQ Sauce is not only tasty, but it’s also USDA organic, Whole30-approved and Paleo-certified so you don’t even have to feel guilty about it. 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.” The Broil King Stainless Steel Roasting Pan is the perfect place to rest your meat. It’s sturdy and has high sides to catch the juices and marinades. It’s handy year-round, also because when you aren’t grilling, you can use it in the oven.
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.
It’s important to protect your grill, too. The Simple Houseware Heavy Duty Gas Barbecue Grill Cover is waterproof, weather-resistant, wind-resistant, with easy-to-use fasteners to keep it in place. It’s easy to clean, too. Just spray it with water and set it out to dry in the sun.
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.
If you’re looking for a way to make a healthy burger without sacrificing flavor, Outer Aisle Cauliflower Thins are a tasty alternative to traditional hamburger buns. They’re gluten-free, grain-free and made with fresh cauliflower. You can get a super sampler of four packages including jalapeno and Italian on Amazon. They’re great for sandwiches, too.
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.)
Corn on the cob with butter is a wonderful thing. What makes it even better? Ghee, a type of clarified butter that dates all the way back to Ancient butter. It’s absolutely delicious. If you’re trying it for the first time, California Grass-fed Garlic Ghee butter by 4th & Heart is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, smooth, creamy, and spreadable.
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.
You don’t even have to be a minor royalty to grill up some of the best sausages you’ve ever tasted. Omaha Steak Company offers polish sausages made of 100 percent filet mignon. Lightly spiced with garlic and paprika, they’re shipped straight to your door. You’ll never go back to regular hot dogs again.
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, an overly handled burger or steak isn’t going to be as beautiful or as tasty,” he says. The ThermoPro Digital Kitchen Timer makes it easy to keep track of time and can be set up to 23 hours and 53 minutes for longer cooks like smoking. It’s sleek and stylish enough to use inside the house, too.
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. Skipping the aluminum foil doesn’t mean you have to accept a mess on your grill. Pam Grilling Spray was made for higher temperatures and it protects your grill for fat-free, non-stick cooking. 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.
Unfortunately, most cars don’t come with picnic kits anymore, but luckily eBags makes it easy to pack up your picnic with the high quality, reasonably priced Crew Cooler Jr. The top compartment holds dry items and the bottom holds your drinks and cold items. It even features pockets for your silverware, napkins, and other accessories. Find out 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. No matter who you are, removing the food from your grill will be easier with these KitchenAid Classic Silicone Tipped Tongs. They’re durable, easy to clean in the dishwasher, and resistant to your grill’s high heat.
Want more deals and product picks sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter!