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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.

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Barbeque Grill With SausagesHinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

Grilling Is a Way of Life

Grills are more than just an appliance; they symbolize 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.

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Stonehenge, DawnBrian Bumby/Getty Images

The People of Stonehenge Loved to Barbecue


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According to researchers who analyzed the site where the builders of Stonehenge are believed to have lived, fat residue inside pottery shards and burn marks on animal bones indicate evidence of barbecue-style roasting. Some archaeologists believe that Stonehenge may have been the site of a major feast.

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, sporting events or camping trips.

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Two Iberico Steaks On A Grill With High FlameKay Fochtmann / EyeEm/Getty Images

Grilling and Barbecuing Are Not the Same Thing


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“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, Timmons says, the gasses coming off the burning wood brings flavor to the meat. “One is low and slow, the other is fast and furious,” he says.

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. Check out these 12 tips for planning the ultimate backyard barbecue.

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Close-Up Of Fire In Barbecue Against PlantsOscar Robertsson / EyeEm/Getty Images

Weber Grills Were Inspired by Buoys


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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.

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.

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Family cooking on grill in their gardenKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

There’s a Grill in the Majority of Homes in America


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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 come in intriguing flavor combinations. The Black & Bleau Cajun and Blue Cheese Spice Rub adds a gourmet touch to everything from steak, burgers and mushrooms.

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Close-Up Of Steak On GrillAdam Sargent / EyeEm/Getty Images

Simpler Is Better When it Comes to Grilling Meat


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“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, Tenn. 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. Check out these 25 grilling tools you need this season.

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A small barbeque with three fresh mackerel fish on the grill, and a person using tongs to turn the fish.Mint Images/Getty Images

Simple Is Best for Seafood, Too


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“You should never have to hide the true flavor of seafood — when it is fresh, you want to highlight that freshness,” explains Cesar Oceguera, executive chef of the Carte Hotel in San Diego. Don’t kill the taste with an overly elaborate marinade, he says, 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.

For additional ideas for preparing seafood and more from top chefs, check out the gorgeous new Washington Wine and Food: A Cookbook. 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.

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Welcome to Kansas City roadside sign illustrationBruceStanfield/Getty Images

Kansas City, Mo., was the Site of the World’s Largest Grilling Lesson


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The largest barbecue/grilling lesson took place in 2017 when 336 people got together at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The group learned how to grill prime rib and roasted garlic and herb marinated pork chops.

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. For more backyard fun ideas, check out these seven outdoor games you can make with stuff you already have.

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Person hand show loose bristle form bristol grill cleaning brush. Danger when it sticks to meat and person accidentally swallows it. Digestion damage, life threatening situation at home concept.Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty Images

Metal Brushes Can Be Dangerous


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Believe it or not, wire brushes can do more than just clean grills — they 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.

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Butcher tying up beef bottom round at counter

Choose Your Cut Wisely


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“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, rib eye, skirt steak, flank steak (slice it thin), beef top round (ditto), 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.

You have the grill, you have the tools and now you need the perfect backyard setup to showcase your grill skills.

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Tongs turning heads of romaine lettuce on grillLisa Romerein/Getty Images

You Can Grill a Lot More Than Meat and Seafood


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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-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, then barbecue until the cheese is melted and bubbling. It’s a delicious lazy night meal.

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Holding Wood Chips Biomass Fuelgeorgeclerk/Getty Images

Don’t Soak Your Wood Chips in Water


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There’s no advantage to soaking wood chips in water, and the steam it creates can actually slow the cooking process, Timmons says. “The moisture in the wood that carries the flavor can only be released by burning the wood,” he says. These Western Premium BBQ Smoking Chips come in a range of flavors, including apple, hickory and maple, adding smoky goodness to your meats. Follow these grilling tips from professional chefs for the most flavorful meals ever.

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Courtesy Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas

President Dwight D. Eisenhower Grilled at the White House


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Eisenhower famously loved to cook. There are even pictures of him setting up his portable grill on the patio of the solarium at the White House.

Whether you live in the White House or a house of a different color, 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. Here’s how to tune up your outdoor gas grill.

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Grilled Tofu Is Delicious


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If you’re a vegan, thinking of becoming 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 a high protein diet. 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. It works just as well as in your oven, too. This is how to accurately determine propane tank levels.

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Uncooked Marinated Flank SteakGeorge Crudo Photography/Getty Images

Mind Your Marinades


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“Avoid thick, sugary marinades and ones that have a lot of herbs because they tend to burn much quicker,” Oceguera says. Shake off 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. Here are 13 brilliant ways to store grill tools.

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Midsection Of Man Cleaning Barbecue Grill With Wire Brush

There’s No Need to Clean the Inside of Your Grill

$39.99 for six

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If you keep putting off cleaning the inside of your grill, there’s no need to worry; in fact, you can 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.

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Full Frame Shot Of Barbecue GrillJure Gasparic / EyeEm/Getty Images

Some Grilling Methods Are Healthier Than Others


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Charring meat or fish over intense heat can potentially produce carcinogens, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. To mitigate the risk, they suggest pre-cooking meat to limit the 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 also USDA organic, Whole30-approved and Paleo-certified so you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Learn how to keep fruits and veggies fresh longer so they’re at their delicious peak when you throw them on the grill.

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Grilled tomahawk steak

Don’t Dig in Right Away


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“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, a.k.a. the Vagabond Chef of Vagabond Kitchen in Wheeling, W. Va. “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 with high sides to catch the juices and marinades. It’s handy year-round because when you aren’t grilling, you can use it in the oven.

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Large outdoor bbq cooker with lid in open position on home concrete patio

Proper Storage of Your Propane Tank Is Essential


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If you store your grill in a garage, shed or anyplace indoors after you’ve winterized it, remove the propane tank. Even the tiniest leak can cause an explosion and major damage in an enclosed location. Instead, store it upright and outside, away from the dryer or furnace vents and where children can’t get at it. Last, cover the gas line with plastic to discourage insects from making a home.

It’s important to protect your grill, too. The Simple Houseware Heavy Duty Gas Barbecue Grill Cover is waterproof, weather-resistant and 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.

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Close-Up Of Meat On Barbecue GrillHugh Johnston / EyeEm/Getty Images

Try This Tip for Juicy Burgers


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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 jalapeño and Italian on Amazon. They’re great for sandwiches, too.

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Grilled corn cobs in mexican styleNelliSyr/Getty Images

Removing Corn Husks Is Easier Than You Think


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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.

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Royal Family Lunch

Prince Philip Grills Sausages


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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 need to be a minor royalty to grill up some of the best sausages you’ve ever tasted. Omaha Steaks 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.

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Man Preparing Food On Barbecue GrillLars Szatmari / EyeEm/Getty Images

Don’t Overhandle Your Food


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“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. This is why you should use a cast-iron skillet to grill your steak.

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close up on the barbecue grill with a tong turning the meat during cookingchee gin tan/Getty Images

Skip the Aluminum Foil


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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. These are the 15 must-have grilling tools from Amazon.

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The Ford Motor Company Sold Barbecue Grills


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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. 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.

Don’t let winter weather stop you. Grill all year with these 11 tips.

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Chef standing in a garden, grilling fish on a barbecue.Mint Images/Getty Images

Men Grill More Than Women


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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. Be sure you know these 16 ways you’re using your grill all wrong.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane

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