Essential grilling tips for Labor Day weekend

Everything you need (and need to know) for perfect burgers, dogs, sides and more.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech | Health | Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read
Getty Images

All good things must come to an end, and that includes summer. Don't kill the messenger but it's time to bid farewell to that sweet sun-soaked season with a few final barbecue moments. Labor Day weekend may not be the absolute last chance to get a fire under the grates but it is one of the best chances to make it happen.

If you waited this long to get your grill game going, we don't blame you. Summer is busy and goes by in a flash but it's never too late to make it right. Before you grab the meat and veggies and fire up the grill, peruse these helpful grilling tips to have a fun and safe cookout.

Read moreThe best meat delivery in 2021: Snake River Farms, Omaha Steaks, Rastelli's and more

Set up your space right

Preparation is the key to success with grilling (and everything in life). Make sure your meat and vegetables are ready to go, your cooking area is set up for safety, and you have the right tools.

That means chopping your veggies and prepping patties, seasoning your grill so your food doesn't stick, and grabbing a fire extinguisher to keep close to the grill.

Take these five steps before you fire up the grill to make your next BBQ perfect.


Always keep a fire extinguisher close by while grilling.

Josh Miller/CNET

Do you have enough propane?

If you've been grilling all summer with your gas grill, there's a chance you're low on propane. Go check. We'll wait...

Before you head to the store, use these four simple ways to check whether you are running low or if you have enough to last through one more BBQ.

Make Google Assistant or Alexa part of your BBQ

Alexa and Google Assistant are helpful all around the house and outside, too.

If you have a Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) or Alexa-enabled speaker, use it to create your shopping list and look up wine and beer pairings while planning your cookout.

Once you start grilling, you can use Alexa to set timers for your food or ask Google Assistant to play music to get the party started. Check out the five ways Alexa can help at your next BBQ, and five ways Google Assistant can help while you grill.

Turn your grill into a smoker

Maybe you're tired of burgers and want to cook some ribs this Labor Day. You don't need to run out and buy a smoker. Just turn your grill into one instead.

With just an aluminum pan and these tips, you can smoke a pork shoulder or brisket this weekend.

Watch this: 4 unexpected tricks for a better cookout

Break out the cast-iron pan

Grab your cast-iron skillet and bring it outside to grill a better burger. Cast iron holds up perfectly on the grill and can help you make a juicier burger.

CNET's grilling experts tell you four reasons you should grill with a cast-iron pan.

Make your grill nonstick

When you go shopping for your BBQ, make sure to pick up a few potatoes. Cut them in half and rub them on hot grill grates to keep your food from sticking while it cooks.

This trick is perfect for delicate items like fish and chicken that just love to stick.

More on Chowhound: How to grill pizza


Peaches and strawberries belong on your grill.

Josh Miller/CNET

Try something new on the grill

Everyone expects hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken on the grill. But what about grilled salad or dessert?

We have eight unexpected ways to cook with your grill, including grilling lettuce and using herbs for extra smokey flavor.

Clean up the grill

Once the cookout is over, take the time to deep-clean your grill before you put it away for the season. Our guide walks you through all of the steps to deep-clean your grill. Do it now and you will thank yourself next summer.

Pellet vs. charcoal vs. gas: Grill types, explained

2 quick ways to clean your grill without a grill brush

More outdoor and grilling goodness