Growing up in my house, dinner was always one of three things: take-out, frozen pizza, or BBQ. While my dad may not have had a diverse set of culinary skills, my dad certainly knew a thing or two about cooking on the grill. That is why I have assembled this list of 13 of his best grilling hacks to help guide some of the grill novices out there to use their grills for more than just meat. 

1. Pre-Heat Grill to Clean 

chicken, pork, sauce
Karolina Zaborowska

There's nothing less appetizing than meat that carries all the old flavors from the last time you grilled. That's why it's so important to clean the grill every time before you cook. If you clean it while it's heating up, leftover food will be much easier to clean off. 

2. Plan Time to Defrost Your Meat 

meat, fish, sweet
Emma Glubiak

If you are working with frozen meat, make sure to take it out of the freezer at least two hours in advance so that it has time to properly defrost. 

#SpoonTip: If you forget to take your meat out in advance, no worries. Just fill up a medium sized bowl with warm water and place your packaged meat in the water. Your meat should be ready to grill in about 20 minutes.

3. Soak Your Kebab Skewers 

seafood, vegetable, barbecue, pork, kebab, chicken, meat
Cassandra Bauer

Kebabs are a great way to create really simple and flavorful meals. Just make sure that if you are using bamboo skewers, soak them for at least 20 minutes in water to keep the skewers from catching fire in the grill. 

4. Take Advantage of Tin Foil

Andrea Baysa

Tin foil serves multiple great rolls when grilling. It can be used to keep your meat from getting too dry, to keep delicate foods like fish from falling apart, or as a holder for cooking your veggies.

5. Grill Fish with Lemon

Kristine Mahan

If you take advantage of the previous tip and use tin foil to cook your fish, make sure you rest your fish on a bed of lemon slices. Not only will this keep your fish from sticking to the tin foil, but it will also gives your fish a nice flavor to it. 

6. Spiral Cut Hot Dogs

vegetable, carrot, meat
Mira Nguyen

Another great grilling hack is spiral cutting your hot dogs. It can be a great way to make sure that your hot dogs are fully cooked and pack the most flavor. All you have to do is stick your hot dog on a skewer and cut in a spiral down the length of the hot dog. You can watch this video here to see how it's done. 

7. Melt Your Cheese

hamburger, meat, cheese, beef, french fries, lettuce, bread, sandwich
Bernard Wen

If you want an easy way to melt cheese on cheeseburgers or on roast beef sandwiches, just place a slice of cheese over your burger and close the grill for about 30 seconds. Your cheese will be perfectly melted and ready to eat. 

#SpoonTip: You can also place your burger buns on the grill for a few seconds to toast them. 

8. Turn Your Grill Into a Pizza Oven 

Sophie Maschinot

Burgers are truly a summertime classic, but after a while it can get a little bit old. If you want to grill but aren't feeling up to meat, try this creative grilled pizza. The BBQ lends this pizza a great smoky taste and it's ready in a fraction of the time. 

9. Cook a Whole Chicken 

chicken, turkey
Morgan Goldberg

If you're trying to feed a crowd, you can cook whole chickens or turkeys in a grill. Just keep in mind that the grilling will take a little bit longer (about an hour and a half) and the skin will need to be brushed with sauce about every 15 minutes. 

10. Grill Your Veggies

chicken breast, salad, chicken
Shea McCollum

To get the most flavor out of your vegetables, brush your vegetables with olive oil, season them, and add them directly to the grill. Try it on bell peppers, zucchini, or even avocado halves.

11. Grill Your Fruits

grapefruit, tangerine, sweet, citrus, juice
Grace Bodkin

Grilling also helps bring out the flavors in your fruits. You can make fruit kebabs out of fresh berries or place bigger fruits like watermelon or peaches directly onto your grill. Just make sure you brush them in olive oil first to make sure they cook.

12. Make Your BBQ Vegetarian-Friendly

guacamole, beef, meat, lettuce, bread, sandwich, avocado
Parisa Soraya

BBQs aren't just for the meat eaters. There are also a ton of different vegetarian options you can make on a grill. Experiment with grilling black bean burgers, cilantro lime tofu, or some Mediterranean halloumi

13. Grill Your Desserts

cream, chocolate
Devon Flinn

Grills are for more than just savory foods. You can also use your grill to make all sorts of desserts, from grilled pound bread with fresh berries, delicious banana boats, or some classic s'mores.

I hope that these grilling hacks were helpful and will encourage everyone to take advantage of the beautiful summer weather by having a BBQ.