Add More Surface Area To Your Grill With This Nifty Can Trick

Whether you're cooking for a party or preparing multiple components for a meal, there are times when you just need more room on your grill. Before you give up and resign yourself to faux "grilling" the food that can't fit on the grill elsewhere, there's a simple and inexpensive way to add a few more square inches of grilling surface area. You probably already have all the items you need in your pantry.

Create more room to grill by gathering three or four empty metal cans, removing the labels or anything else that could burn, and then using a can opener to take off the top and bottom. You'll be left with a few metal tubes that you can stand upright on the surface of your grill as "legs" to support a second grill grate. The cans should be the same height to create as stable a base as possible for the grate.

Now, there are some limitations to this trick. You might find it challenging to move or flip the items underneath the second grill grate without jostling it too much, so you'll likely want the second cooking surface to be smaller than the lower grilling area. That way, you can slide items that can cook relatively undisturbed underneath the secondary grate and arrange your meats and other items on the regular grilling area where you can easily tend to them.

How to use the secondary grill grate

The secondary grill grate you've added will function almost like a warming rack would on barbecues that have them as a built in feature. The lower grate is closer to the heat, so it'll get a lot hotter, while the secondary grate is elevated a bit, offering a bit of a barrier between the heat of the coals or gas and the food you're cooking. When deciding which items to place on which grill, use the secondary for tasks like toasting bread or buns, cooking vegetables, and keeping meat warm. It's also a great place to sauce your food. Lower heat means a sugary sauce is less likely to burn on the secondary rack. You may need to be aware of sauce drippage, but hey, there's no such thing as too much flavor.

Just don't get too excited about all the extra surface area and decide to double the volume of what you're making, as overcrowding your grill is one of the most common ways people use their grills wrong. And, since safety is critical when working with such high heat, before you even worry about setting up your grill to deliver maximum flavor, an important part of the set-up is ensuring both grates are as clean as possible. Lingering greasy food residue has the potential to cause dangerous flare ups, so before you position that second grill grate, give it a good scrub with soap and water.