Grilling Hacks & Tips

One of the bright spots of summer is the opportunity to get outside and barbecue. To help you get the most of your outdoor cooking experience, here are some grilling hacks and tips from Ralph Thayer Automotive in Livonia.

The Set-Up

Types of grills

There are two main types of grills for outdoor cooking. Gas grills that run on propane come in a wide variety of sizes and models. Some have added perks such as a side grill and the ability to rotisserie. Charcoal grills require that you light charcoal and wait for the coals to get hot before grilling.

Extra surface

Grab a collapsable TV tray to use next to your grill. You can bolt it on for extra stability or just fold it up and store it when not in use. Adding hooks to one side gives you a handy place to hang your grill tools.

Check your tank

Use this tip to find out how much gas is left in that tank. Pour a cup of warm water down the side of the tank. The gas will absorb the heat, leaving the side cool to the touch. When you start to feel where the side of the tank is still warm from the water, you've found your gas level!

Get better heat

A tip from is to use lava rocks on your gas grill to distribute the heat better and get the grill burning at least 500 °F hotter. Having trouble getting things going? Try using chips! Tortilla chips and Doritos are the most popular, but most of the oil-fried snack chips will work.

While Cooking

Preheat the grill

Heating your grill before you barbecue is important for food safety and taste. A preheated grill sears food on contact, which keeps the interior of items like meat and vegetables moist and helps prevent the food from sticking to the grates.

Stop the sticking

Lean foods such as vegetables and fish stick to the grill rack. Prevent this from occurring by rubbing the grates when the grill is hot with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Use tongs to rub it over the rack, and never use cooking oil spray on a hot grill. Or, for a little additional flavor, set the fish on top of some sliced lemon.

Use grill tools

A fork from the kitchen may work in a pinch, but your grilling experience will be more successful, convenient and safe if you use proper grilling tools. Barbecue tools are made to use over open flames. Grabbing two sets of tongs isn't a bad idea – one for food and one for coals.


Marinades take your barbecuing to the next level. They consist of acidic ingredients like soy sauce, lemon juice or vinegar, which tenderize meat. Marinades also add flavor and keep otherwise dry pieces of meat, like chicken breast, moist. Sugary sauces tend to burn when added to meat while grilling, so opt for putting on barbecue and teriyaki sauce right before you take the meat off the grill. A quick and easy way to impart flavor to the items you're grilling is to place herbs like rosemary and thyme on the coals. When the herbs cook, they will impart the flavor to the meat and veggies. Check out the marinade recipies at Food Network.

After Care

Keep the grates clean

Remove any food that becomes cooked onto grates after grilling. Debris that becomes stuck on the grates is easy to remove when the grill is hot by scrubbing with a wet, wire grill brush. You can also clean your grill with an onion to avoid using any chemicals.

We hope you enjoy these grilling hacks and tips from Ralph Thayer Automotive in Livonia.