When To Use A Grill Basket Vs. Skewers For Small Grilled Veggies

Grilled food tastes better for a reason. It's more than the experience of listening to the sizzle, succumbing to the aroma, and getting so giddy with anticipation that you start to salivate. Grilling tastes better because of a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar that is usually triggered by heat. It's called the Maillard reaction, and it is also responsible for other tantalizing tastes, such as caramel, toast, and maple syrup.

While skewers are a fairly common sight on a grill, a grill basket is not something that everyone uses. These handy baskets let you heat food on a grill that would otherwise slip between the grates. They're best for ingredients that are small, thin, or delicate, such as vegetables like green beans and broccoli florets.

Deciding whether to use a skewer or a grill basket when grilling vegetables is really about common sense. You should only use a skewer for vegetables that are small enough to slip through the grill but large enough to be skewered, such as sliced bell pepper or fennel. The ideal skewering vegetable should also hold its shape after being cut and not slide around too easily. Any small ingredients that don't meet these criteria should be placed in a grill basket.

How to use skewers and grill baskets correctly

Grilling vegetables on a skewer isn't simply done for presentation value — there are actually several benefits to using this essential tool. The food on a skewer is cut, making it smaller and giving it more surface area for caramelization. This means your vegetables will cook faster, more evenly, and have a better flavor profile. Health-wise, grilling on a skewer usually means less oil, and it helps with portion control.

To have the best skewering experience, remember to clean the grill thoroughly before cooking and soak wooden or bamboo skewers for about 30 minutes before use to keep them from burning. While it might not look as sleek, if your vegetables have a tendency to slide off when turning, consider using two skewers to keep them in place. 

When it comes to using a grill basket, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Before cooking, close the lid of your grill for about 10 minutes to preheat. Also, lightly oiling the grill basket can help prevent sticking and aid in caramelization. However, the most important tip to remember is to stir, flip, shake, or agitate your vegetables roughly every four minutes (depending on what type of grill basket you're using) to make sure they are thoroughly cooked.