Clean Your Grill Grates With An Onion And Thank Us Later

Grill grates are notorious for being difficult to clean thoroughly. Any fantasy of effortless barbecuing inevitably gets tarnished by the time you need to scrape off every burnt bit with a wire brush. Therefore, it's no surprise that many home cooks have developed countless hacks for cleaning the grill that involve common kitchen items. The suggestions are endless online, but one of the most convenient (and inexpensive) methods is simply rubbing the hot grates with half an onion.

To clean a grill with an onion, start by chopping the vegetable in half. After piercing the round end with a skewer, just rub the cut side onto the grates while they are still hot. The acids contained in onion flesh are good at not only killing bacteria, but also removing rust and other mineral deposits, allowing the gunk to come off the grill in less than 10 minutes. This method eliminates the annoyance of your wire brush's needles breaking off, and you'll be left with seasoned, savory grates that are ready for use. When you're done cleaning, don't throw out the remaining onion — tossing it into the hot charcoal is one of the crucial onion cooking hacks that result in more flavorful grilling.

Lemon juice and vinegar help eliminate residue

Sometimes, an onion alone won't be enough to get rid of every burnt bit on the grill. Don't reach for your steel brush just yet, as you typically just need a bit more acid to get everything dislodged. Before you begin to rub the grill with your onion of choice, use a spray bottle to douse the grates with some lemon juice or white vinegar. The extra acidity will help you cut through the residue without having to resort to harsh household cleaners. Common cleaning chemicals such as bleach will easily eat away at most metal surfaces, so it's best to stick to alternatives like lemon juice or white vinegar to avoid damaging your grates.

If you're still finding that your onion isn't removing every piece of gunk from the grill, try using some aluminum foil instead. When crumpled into a ball, aluminum foil can easily be used as a makeshift scrubber that, unlike a brush, will not leave steel bristles on your grates. Aluminum remains a potent kitchen cleaner, so don't dismiss its uses outside of cooking. To avoid burning yourself, you'll still need to reach for a long skewer or a pair of grilling tongs. While you won't get flavored grates with some balled-up foil, it can be used in conjunction with the onion for particularly stubborn messes.

Other tips for maintaining your grill grates

While any type of onion will work for cleaning your grill, it's probably best to avoid using shallots or other small varieties of onions, as they are not large enough to scrub a grill properly. The most suitable choices include white, yellow, or red onions.

When you're done cleaning everything with the onion, it's a good idea to season your grates to prevent any foods from sticking to the grill in the future. Just a dash of canola, peanut, or vegetable oil will do the trick, as they have a high smoke point and can withstand powerful temperatures. To further prevent sticking, rub a potato on the grill before you begin barbecuing. The starches will act as a non-stick coating that will keep your best cuts of meat from clinging to the grates. When combined with the onion cleaning hack, these tips will help keep your grill grates in mint condition.