You have just bought that new shiny barbecue grill you’ve been eyeing for months, and even tackled the weed jungle you call a backyard. You are excited to host a barbecue party with friends and family. You are almost ready. Why almost? Well, you need to learn and perfect one thing, and it’s probably the most important thing you need to learn – how to keep burgers from sticking to the grill.
There is something about barbecuing and grilling meat that makes backyard parties more fun and exciting. It brings people together. Plus, it’s super easy to do – but that is if you can keep your meat from sticking to the grill. There’s nothing more irritating than seeing your perfectly shaped and seasoned burger patties’ outer layer coming off due to sticky grates. Scraping from the bottom will only result in a rip.
Fortunately for you, you can avoid this kind of mess (and headache) at your next BBQ party. Here are some great tips on how to keep burgers (and other meat, fruits, and veggies) from sticking to the grill.
Why your food is sticking to the grill
First off, here’s a quick science lesson. There are three main reasons why food sticks to the grill: the grill is not hot enough, the grill is dirty, or there’s not enough oil in both the grill and/or meat.
How to Keep Burgers from Sticking to the Grill
Knowing the reasons why burgers stick to the grill, you can determine what can be done to make sure it won’t happen again in the future. Make sure that the grill is clean, the grates are hot, and that you properly oil the grill.
Clean the grill – and always keep it clean
If the grates are dirty, food, whether it is meat, vegetables, or fruits, will always stick to the grill. Oils and carbon residue stuck on the grates will stick to the food particles, making a sticky glue-like substance. So before you start grilling, make sure you remove all food and pieces of leftovers from the last time you used the barbecue grill.
You can easily clean the grates by brushing and scrubbing it with clean warm water. You can also allow the grates to heat up a little before gently scrubbing the residues. This step only takes a couple of minutes, but it can prevent a lot of mess later.
If you’re cleaning it cold, the best thing to use is a scrubbing pad. This can easily wipe off those gooey residues.
Get the grates hot
One surefire way to mess up your barbecue is to put cold food on top of a cold grill. That’s just the perfect recipe for a barbecue disaster. Grilling at the right temperature will help your food to naturally release from the grates when it is ready to be flipped. This is why it’s important to get the grill hot.
To preheat the grill, turn it on and keep it at a high setting for at least five to ten minutes. You want to hear that steaming and sizzling the second you place your burgers and meats on the grate. This sound means there is enough steam and moisture in the air to keep the food from sticking to the surface. The steam also creates a barrier between the grates and the surface of the meat that keeps the two from sticking together.
Use high-smoking point oil
You may have your own favorite cooking oil for whatever reason, be it taste, nutrition, etc. Whatever your reason for your choice of oil is, the oil should have a smoking point of more than 400˚ F. High-smoking point oil keeps the meat from sticking to the grates while being grilled, this is because the oil doesn’t evaporate too quickly.
Refined canola oil is a good example, as well as most corn, sunflower, and palm oils. Also, note that using lots of oil on the grate will not make things easier for you, as any excess oil will turn into carbon and make a lot of mess.
Oil the meat
Oiling your meat is the easiest way to keep it from sticking to the grates. Before oiling, make sure the meat is dry. Use clean paper towels to remove any excess moisture from the meat before oiling. Then, lightly coat the meat with oil before putting it on the grill. You can use a brush or old rag to lightly rub oil on the grill as well. Do not use too much oil though, as it can catch fire and can be dangerous.
Place the meat on the preheated grates to make sure the oil runs through the pit and other parts of the metal.
Grilling Tips for Burgers
Unlike most meats like chicken, fish, or steaks, burger patties have a unique chemical composition that requires a specific grilling procedure. Here are some tips to grill the perfect burgers.
Before grilling, make sure you put non-stick spray or cooking oil on both the patty and on the grill. When using a non-stick spray, make sure you spray it on a cold grill. Using the spray on a hot and burning grill can cause it to burst into flames, which can be dangerous.
You can also oil the grates naturally using onions. Cut an onion into two halves and rub the inside of the onion over the warm grates. The juices and residue from the onion will act as a natural oil to provide a non-stick barrier between the burger patty and the grill. Not to mention they taste amazing when grilled. You can use forks if the grill feels too hot.
Another easy way to oil the grates and prep it for burger patties is to dip a paper towel into the oil and then rub that paper towel on the grates. Use long tongs when rubbing a paper towel on the grill, excess oil will drip and cause flames.
Lastly, do not flip your burger too early and too often. This is probably the most common mistake when grilling burger patties. A good sear will keep the patty from sticking to the grates.
Subsequently, never press down on the patty while grilling. This will cause natural juices from the meat to escape and will leave your meat dry.