It’s summertime and when it comes to food, the man or woman commanding the grill reigns supreme. All too often, bakers will take a backseat to the fiery feats of grilling, but this year we decided to try something different. We decided we would try to make baked goods on the grill instead of in the oven. Our experiment showed us not only that it was possible to bake on the grill, but the food can be just as delicious as when it baked in the oven. The process for this was also surprisingly simple. We’re ready to show off how to bake while grilling at our next outdoor cooking event, and after reading these instructions, you will be ready too!
Baking on the grill is actually pretty simple. The most important thing to understand is how an oven and grill differ. Ovens use indirect heat, while grills use direct heat, for the most part. To successfully bake on a grill, you have to make your grill work like an oven. That means, you have to cook your prepped ingredients in a closed environment and use indirect heat for the cooking. This is easier on a gas grill than on a charcoal grill, but either should work.
Here is the equipment needed to achieve this:
- A grill with a lid: To create a closed cooking environment, it is imperative that the grill has a lid to entrap heat and emulate the functions of an oven.
- Cookie Sheet: This cookie sheet is not used to bake cookies. Instead, the cookie sheet functions to both change the direct heat of the grill to indirect heat, and protect our food from flares and searing heat coming from the bottom of the grill.
- Aluminum Foil: The cookie sheet may not be enough to protect the food item from the heat of the grill. Placing aluminum foil over the grill rack can help disperse the heat from the bottom of the grill to the entire closed lid cooking environment of the grill.
- Thermometer: Some grills have thermometers built into them and some don’t. This is important because temperature control is a priority for baking, whether you’re using a grill or an oven. An oven thermometer works just fine if the grill lacks a thermometer, or if it has one that is not functioning.
- Cast Iron Skillet: This item is not essential, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be cast iron, but you need a place to put the high temperature pans and sheets that come out of the grill. It is important to have a place to put the high temperature pans and sheets that come out of the grill. Placing a hot cookie sheet on certain parts of the grill can damage the grill. We like to use cast iron skillets for this because they can withstand high heat, and they will not warp or become discolored from the heat either.
Now let’s begin!
Step One: Prepare the Grill
First clean off the grill. Foods stuck to the grill can alter the taste of any items baked inside of it. Grill preparation will differ depending on whether a gas or electric grill is being used. For gas grills, do not turn on all the burners. Light roughly half the burners, and plan to cook above the area where no burners are lit. If the grill being used is charcoal, try to make a circle with charcoal at the base of the grill. When the charcoal is lit, there will be an area in the center with no direct heat under it. Above that area is where the cooking should take place in charcoal grills. Also, if you are using foil on your grill rack to help disburse the heat, this is the time to do that.
Step Two: Preheat the Grill
Light the grill. We preheated our grill to 25 degrees above the required temperature. The grill will lose heat when you lift the lid to place the unbaked items into it, and they do not regain heat as quickly as ovens do. Pay attention to how many burners are on or how much charcoal is in the grill. This will make a difference in how hot the grill can be, and how fast it can regain heat.
Step Three: Prepare your Cooking Surface and Place Unbaked Items on the Grill
To complete the transformation from grill to oven, you need to create a “middle rack” for your grill, just like in the oven. Grab that cookie sheet, flip it upside down, and place it on the highest rack available. If the grill only has one rack, you can use your cast iron skillet or cake pan to elevate the cookie sheet a little bit off the rack. Remember to place the sheet above the area where there is the least direct heat. Now place the pan or sheet with the unbaked goods onto the inverted sheet.
Step Four: Timing
Understand, the timing for traditionally baked goods may differ when cooking on a grill, but those times should be very similar. Try to restrain from frequent peeks into the grill. A grill can dramatically lose heat from constantly opening and closing. Try to be patient. If the baking is occurring unevenly, quickly rotate or adjust the position of the baking item.
Step Five: Remove and Enjoy
It’s exciting to see a baked item come from a grill, but don’t forget to check if it’s done with a clean toothpick. Place the toothpick in the item, and if it comes out clean, the item is done. Remove everything from the grill, and place in a safe area to cool. Lastly, enjoy the baked goods from the grill!
Baking on the grill presents benefits many people would not think of. It is great to escape the heat of the kitchen and experience some of that outdoor cooking. It saves on electricity, and it can create some unique foods. Charcoal or wood chips can alter the flavor of food baked in the grill. We haven’t quite mastered how to take advantage of that quality, but to the adventurous soul, that may be a project for the summer. So at the next cook out or barbeque, push aside those grillers and show them how a baker uses the grill!