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Can you bake on a grill? Keep heat outside!
Why heat the kitchen?
We prefer to keep the heat outside during the warm summer months. Maybe your air conditioning is working hard to cool your home. Or perhaps you have your windows and doors open, enjoying summer at its best. Either way, you don’t want that oven heating up your kitchen. Not until winter winds begin to chill your home.
You use your outdoor grill for easy dinner prep as well as entertaining guests. Why not put it to good use as an outdoor oven!
WHAT? It’s a grill, not an oven, you say.
But what is an oven? An enclosed place with some source of heat. Most have adjustable heat.
And so let me introduce you to your outdoor oven.
If your grill has a closable lid as most do, it actually performs like an oven. Set the temperature according to your needs. Put the items to be baked on the grill, close the lid. You have a working oven!
What can you bake on a grill?
Realistically, almost anything that fits on the grill is an option. Casseroles, yeast bread, quick bread, and yes, even cakes! After all, baking on a grill merely simulates using an outdoor oven.
What do you need?
Of course, you need a grill. Most families use gas grills, some choose electricity. Either one works well for baking.
I enjoy charcoal grills, but they create some difficulties for baking. Not impossible, mind you, but challenging. In fact, it is possible to bake on an open campfire. But this discussion centers on gas or electric grilling options.
You need a good baking surface, such as a cast-iron griddle or sheet or a pizza stone. As long as your surface withstands the heat, it works.
However, you may bake cookies, pizza, and bread directly on your pizza stone. And use cast iron as a holder for everything from casseroles, cakes, brownies, crisps, and cobblers.
Consider adding an oven thermometer. Yes, most gas and electric grills have one included. But having a second one ensures your temperature reads correctly. When baking, as in much of life, redundancy helps secure success.
Other items you’ll need from your kitchen include well-padded pot holders or gloves, any tools for checking temperatures baking utensils, foil if needed, and of course, the items to be baked.
Prepare the Grill:
In order to use your grill as an oven, you need to turn direct heat into indirect heat. Grills vary so the first few times you’ll need to figure out what will work best with your grill. Patience helps here. But the payoff makes it worth the time. Consider starting with simple baked goods such as cookies, brownies, biscuits, fruit crisps, and pizza. Once you have the temperature and technique managed, you’ll want to use your grill for bread, cakes, and pies, too.
Whether you will set your baked goods on a tray or stone to bake, or perhaps just their baking container, your grill needs to be clean. Remember those delicious aromas drifting through the air? You and your guests enjoy them as you anxiously await diving into the food from the grill.
Now, imagine that aroma embedded in your chocolate chip cookies or your apple dessert pie. While that may be memorable, it’s not so happy so.
And that is why you need to clean your grill thoroughly before baking in it. Clean the grates, of course. And also wipe down the other inside surfaces. Indeed, tiny particles drift about while your food is roasting. Those odors and particles provide nothing good to your baked goods.
Turn on the Grill, Adjust the Temperature
If you are using a gas grill with only one burner, turn it on. If your grill has multiple burners, turn on only some. You’ll do your baking above the unlit burners. So, for a grill that has four burners, turn on the outside ones, bake over the middle (unlit) ones.
Aim for up to 25°F higher than your desired temperature. Just as with your indoor oven, some heat will be lost when you place your unbaked items inside. However, your grill temperature won’t be regained as easily as it would in an oven. So, if your cookie recipe needs to bake at 375°F, aim to get your grill to about 400°F. Getting the temperature just right may take a few tries. But don’t give up. The temperature factors into great baking.
Add your items to bake
If you are using a single burner grill, then it is essential that you place something on the grill. You will set your baking pan on top of this. Even when baking over burners that are off, such as the 4-burner mentioned above, using a buffer helps prevent baking trajedies. Lift the lid of the grill for only as long as it takes to slide your baking dish or pan inside. Remember, hot air tends to rise. An open grill is releasing heat quickly.
Adjust your heat
You need to peek occasionally, but resist the temptations to do so frequently. Remember, each time you open the grill you’re losing heat. As you get to know your grill, you will need to peek less and less. If it looks like your baked items are browning too fast or too slow, adjust the heat. Because each grill may be slightly different, it’s important to note what works on yours.
Again, if you’re baking cookies that normally bake at 375°F, try to keep your grill somewhere between 375°F and 400°F, adjusting the grill heat up or down as needed.
Is it time?
Maybe. Consider that most items, bake a little faster on the grill than they do in the oven. Assume it will be done sooner or at least on the lower end of the suggested bake times. After you have used your grill as an oven, you will know better how to manage the baking times. It takes some practice.
Enjoy your baked goods!
When the baked goods are done, remove them from the grill and enjoy! Of course, remember to turn off your grill, too. Enjoy the outside if the weather allows. Or return inside your home where your oven has NOT heated up your kitchen!
And so, we suggest that when the question is: can you bake on a grill? The answer is quite emphatically, YES!