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8 unexpected ways to cook with your grill

Level up your grilling skills with these cooking tips and DIY upgrades.

Josh Miller/CNET
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So you've already mastered cooking steaks and burgers on the grill. But are you using your grill to its full potential?

With a few easy tricks and new recipes, you can truly call yourself a grill master this summer. I've rounded up eight ways to make your grill work better for you and help expand your cooking horizons.

Add a warming rack to your grill

If your grill doesn't have a built-in warming rack, here's a dead-simple DIY way to make one.

Grab three or four equal-size empty aluminum cans, and make sure the labels and lids on both ends are removed.

Position them on the grill grate and then rest a metal cooling rack (like what you would use to cool cookies) on top.  The extra distance from the heat source helps prevent burning hot dog or hamburger buns while still toasting them. Plus, you can still use the area under the rack for grilling food.

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A few aluminum cans and a cooling rack become a DIY warming rack.

Josh Miller/CNET

Grilled lettuce (Yes, lettuce)

Who says your salad can't be part of the grilling experience? Grilling lettuce might sound weird, but it's actually a great way to impart some smoky flavor into a salad.

Just don't pour a bag of mixed greens on the grill though. You'll need to use a head of lettuce cut into large wedges or hearts of romaine, both of which will hold together while grilling.

Get the full step-by-step directions for grilling lettuce on Chowhound.

Perfect grilling, every time

If you're new to grilling and want your meat to come out just right every time, grab a disposable aluminum pan. It might sound weird, but place the empty pan on the grill grate while you're cooking and then just leave it there.

Aluminum is fantastic at absorbing heat, and can bring the temperature inside the grill down nearly 30 degrees. And because it can lower the temperature, it's also a good tool for evening out hot spots in your grill.

The lower temperature means you'll cook your food a little longer, but it gives you a bigger window of time between undercooked burgers and charred to a crisp. This is great for a charcoal grill, where you have less control over the heat distribution than on a gas grill.

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Who knew that an aluminum pan is the secret to better grilling?

Josh Miller/CNET

Throw herbs into the coals

Add a bit of herbal, smokey flavor to whatever you're grilling by tossing fresh herbs directly onto the coals. Soak the herbs first in water and then add them to coals. Even with soaking, they'll burn off quickly, so cover your grill quickly after adding to keep the smoke inside.

Woody herbs like rosemary and thyme will hold up in the heat a bit longer than basil or dill, but experiment with whatever flavors you choose.

More on Chowhound: How to grill pizza

Use two skewers instead of one

Kebabs are great for grilling sliced veggies and small pieces of meat that might slip through the grates. But if you've ever made them, you know that flipping them can be a hassle because the food tends to spin as you flip.

There's a really easy fix for this: Use two skewers instead of one. This adds more stability to the kebab and prevents the spinning.

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Two skewers are always better than one.

Josh Miller/CNET

Roast in the coals

Cooking for a big crowd? Maximize all of the free space in your grill by roasting potatoes in the coals.

Here's how:

  • Prick a whole potato a few times with a fork, coat the skin in melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  • Wrap the potato well in heavy-duty aluminum foil (or don't, if you prefer) and nestle it into the coals using tongs.
  • Cook until fork-tender, about 30 to 60 minutes depending on potato size.

Turn up the heat

Gas grills are convenient and require less setup than charcoal, but they don't always get as hot as charcoal. If your gas grill's maximum temperature output is just not hot enough for you, try adding lava rocks. The rocks hold onto heat very well, so whenever you lift the lid of your grill, you won't have to worry about big temperature changes.

Get the step-by-step instructions to add lava rocks to your grill on Chowhound.

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Peaches, berries, pineapple and other fruits belong on the grill.

Josh Miller/CNET

Dessert time!

If you haven't tried grilled fruit, this is your year to do it. Stone fruits (think peaches, nectarines, plums) and thick slices of pineapple are prime candidates for grilling. But don't stop there – delicate berries or cherries can also spend time on the grill. You'll just want to cook them in a grill pan, skillet, or on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Learn everything you need to know about grilling fruit over on Chowhound.

How to grill smarter: Consider this your guide to cooking like a pro at your next BBQ.

What kind of grill should you buy? Here's how to pick a great grill this summer.