It's not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the thought of the mess that can come with barbecuing, especially when you are going to be cooking a large meal. Whether you're smoking ribs and brisket for a neighborhood party or grilling hamburgers and hotdogs for a family cookout, charred remains of food and greasy splatters from the grill can sometimes be difficult to clean up.
Luckily, there are some simple tips you can keep in mind before and during grilling or smoking that will make the cleanup process much simpler afterward. Here are 6 easy things that you can do:
Before any meat or other food goes on your grill grates, take a little extra time to brush them off on high heat with a good-quality, long-handled wire grill brush first. This will remove any residual food particles that are stuck to the grates and is extremely helpful in keeping your grill or smoker clean and free of rust and other debris.
It will also prevent the food you are about to cook from sticking to the grates and burning, while also providing a better-tasting and more evenly-cooked meal. Make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves when brushing to protect your hands from burns and brush away from yourself to prevent getting any food debris and grease on your clothing.
If you don’t have a grill brush, you can use long-handled tongs to rub a tightly crumpled ball of aluminum foil across the grates just like you would with a brush.
Another thing to keep in mind before anything actually goes on the grill is to be sure that the grates are well-oiled. This is especially true if you’re going to be cooking lean meats or vegetables. The oil not only helps prevent food from sticking but also helps create a protective barrier on the grill grates, which keeps the food from burning. Cleanup is much easier when you don’t have a bunch of burnt food remnants stuck to the grates.
Once you’ve preheated the grill to medium-high heat and brushed the grates off, use long-handled tongs to hold a cloth or paper towel dipped in a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, to lightly coat the grates. Make sure to cover all the grates evenly. When grilling vegetables, you can also lightly coat the pieces in oil before they go on the grates. Just make sure to never spray cooking oil directly on the grates of a hot grill.
It is an inevitable fact that meat will drip grease and fat while cooking, both of which can make for quite the cleanup. But, this is exactly what drip pans are for. Many newer model grills and smokers come with built-in metal drip pans located under the grill grates. If your grill does have these in place, take a little extra time before you start pre-heating it and line the drip pan with aluminum foil. This will make cleaning out the drip pan after your cooking session as easy as removing the aluminum foil and tossing it.
If your grill did not come with metal drip pans, disposable foil pans make great drip pans. Again, using these below your meat will make cleanup much faster and easier as well as help prevent flare-ups from occurring due to burning grease.
Grilling smaller items can be a challenge, but using a metal grill pan or grill basket makes the task much easier, allows for a nice char on all sides, and keeps things from slipping through the grates. When you’ve got small pieces of vegetables falling down into your grill, your cleanup becomes even more involved.
The grill pans and baskets themselves are very easy to clean and can be used for a wide range of items, including veggies, fruits, and seafood. Grill pans, specifically, are great for grilling fish filets and other more delicate meats that tend to want to stick to grill grates.
As mentioned above, a good-quality, grill brush is an essential part of keeping your grill clean and in good shape. And using it along the way as you are cooking multiple items can help make cleanup even easier. When you remove items from the grill as they are done cooking, before you put the next thing on the grates, brush that area of the grill grates off.
There is a wide range of BBQ grill accessories on the market these days. But, there are several essentials to have that will help you keep your grill area clean and make cleanup after a cooking session a much more tolerable task. Besides a grill brush, as we’ve mentioned above, these handy tools include:
Source: Traeger Grills
When cleaning up after your outdoor cooking session, there are some easy steps you can take to help keep your cooker clean and protected while also prepping it for the next time you cook:
Most will agree that cleanup is the least fun part of outdoor cooking. But, by following the things we covered above when grilling or smoking, you can make the process much easier and faster. These tips will also help keep your cooker in good condition and extend its lifespan. So, next time you're getting ready to fire up the grill, keep these things in mind and you’ll set yourself up for a much more enjoyable cooking session.
Do you have any other tips for easy cleanup when grilling or smoking that you want to share? Did you try out our tips above? If so, leave a comment below! We want to hear all about it.
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