Getting excited about grill season? From juicy burgers to smokin' hot wings to saucy ribs, there's a lot to look forward to! But did you know that a barbecue can handle more? Take that 'cue beyond the classics this year and try turning it into a pizza oven, a smoker, a breakfast station, and more.
1. Use the barbecue as a pizza oven
A hot grill can deliver a perfectly blistered, charred, and chewy crust. All you need are the right ingredients, plus a few simple steps to turn a weeknight in backyard pizza night. Find our grilled pizza recipes here.
- Lightly oil a clean grill. Brush or spray it with vegetable oil, then turn on the BBQ. (Safety tip: Do not oil a hot grill. It presents the danger of flare-ups as you work.)
- Heat grill to medium-high.
- Roll pizza dough into a rough oval shape, ¼-in. (5 mm) thick. Brush both sides of dough with 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil.
- Place dough on the grill (you may have to do them one at a time, depending on the size) and cook until bubbly and rigid, 2 min. Using tongs or a metal spatula, turn crusts over.
- Divide the sauce and toppings over each crust, close the grill lid and cook until cheese (if using) is bubbly and crusts are golden brown, 2 to 3 min. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.
Tip: Keep sauce and toppings ready on a tray next to the barbecue to dress crust quickly after the flip.
2. Use the barbecue as a smoker
Test out making deliciously tender smoked meat at home by turning your barbecue into a hot smoker. From tender ribs to smoky turkey or chicken, there's a lot you can try when you know how to make the switch.
Choose smoke chips
You'll need smoke chips for that rich smoky flavour. Hardwood is what you want, and flavours vary from hickory to cherrywood to pecan to whisky-oak-barrel-aged chips.
Prepare smoke chips
Soak a generous handful of chips in water for an hour; this increases the amount of smoke produced from the chips. Drain the chips and wrap in heavy-duty foil packets you make yourself, poked with fork-tine-sized holes to allow steam to vent. Ideally, you'll make a few of these wood chip packets to switch out as meat smokes.
Lift the grill grate and place 1 to 2 wood chip packets directly on top of the burner (under the grate), then replace the grate. If using a wood chip box, this sits on top of the grill with the pre-soaked chips.
The burners directly below the wood chips should be at medium heat only, around 107°C to 121°C (225°F to 250°F). This allows wood chips to heat up and smoke without the food being subjected to direct heat. (Think of your grill working like an oven, where food cooks with heat trapped in the grill, not flames.)
Watch and wait
Once the packets are in place and the grill is hot, keep on eye on the chips. You don't want the wood chip pack to catch fire (have a spray bottle filled with water handy in case). When the chips start to smoke, add the meat to the other side of the grill, cooking on indirect heat.
Check the temperature
Keep a meat thermometer handy and look for your chosen meat selection to reach its ideal internal temperature. Here's a temperature guide.
4. Use the barbecue to make dessert
Take your grill skills beyond dinner, to dessert. Leverage indirect heat (more on that below) to bake a skillet-sized brownie outside on hot days. Lightly grill fresh fruits to a warm, juicy finish, or grill thick slices of pound cake and top with warmed fruit and fresh cream or yogurt. The sky is the limit.
5. Use the barbecue like an oven
You can use indirect heat, or heat sources, on one or both sides of the food on your grill, for a variety of applications, including cooking more delicate foods or foods that take longer than 25 minutes to cook. Why? Putting these kinds of foods on direct flames can dry them out or burn them, especially if they take longer to cook.
A whole chicken, like in this Grilled Flattened Paprika Chicken recipe, is ideally cooked over indirect heat so you get crisp skiny and juicy meat. For the best results, grease the BBQ grates well before turning on your grill and preheat one side to medium-high, leaving the heat off on the other side for indirect cooking. You'll start by grilling the flattened chicken, breast side down, until the skin starts to crisp and releases from the grill easily 8 to 10 min. Flip and cook for another 10 to 12 min., then move chicken to indirect heat side of BBQ. With the lid closed, cook for another 20 to 25 min., turning occasionally, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the inner thigh registers 82°C (180°F).