Aluminum foil is up there with duct tape and WD-40 when it comes to solving different problems around the house. And for BBQ lovers, aluminum foil can be an MVP in even more ways!
Below, we’ll talk about three important ways that people use aluminum foil on the grill. Plus, we’ll cover some ways you shouldn’t use aluminum foil, including why you should never wrap your grill grates to clean them.
Three Ways of Using Aluminum Foil on the Grill
1. The Texas Crutch
The “Texas crutch” is the most common use of aluminum foil in grilling and smoking. When smoking a piece of meat like ribs, brisket or pork butt, a pitmaster can wrap the meat in foil to help it reach the right temperature.
Anyone who smokes meat probably knows about (and has experienced) the “stall” or “plateau.” That’s the BBQ term for when the internal temperature of meat stops rising. It can happen at pretty much any temperature from 150º-190ºF. It happens when the moisture evaporating from your meat lowers its temperature.
A stall will eventually end on its own, so it’s not necessarily a problem if you’re not under any time pressure. But if you’re cooking in a competition, or your friends are coming over for pulled pork tacos later, a Texas crutch will save the day.
To do this technique, you’ll take the meat off the smoker and wrap it in foil until it’s completely covered. (Watch those rib bones — they’ll poke holes in your foil!) When you’re done, return it to the grill. The foil will keep heat and moisture contained, bringing the meat’s internal temperature up rapidly. Make sure to wait at least 2-4 hours into your cook before implementing this technique.
It’s worth noting that the Texas crutch is mainly a technique for low-and-slow cooking. There’s no need for foil wrapping on fast-cooking, higher-temperature foods like burgers and hot dogs. These foods already cook so quickly that wrapping them in foil is actually counterproductive.
There’s a little more to the Texas crutch, so read up about it in our guide to wrapping your BBQ. Find out when to use the crutch, when to avoid it and when to remove it to get a perfect texture on your meat.
2. Grill Packets
Making foil packet meals on your grill is also a great time-saving hack for cooking tasty dinners all at once. Through this simple and versatile technique, you can make anything from chicken fajitas to a shrimp boil!
Most foil packet recipes follow the same basic structure: Chop the meat and veggies you’d like to include and then toss them with butter and your choice of seasonings. Make a packet using aluminum foil and place the whole mixture inside. Then, just throw it on the grill at the time and temperature that your recipe specifies.
The foil will keep heat and moisture contained inside, and your food will come out juicy and delicious! However, these packets will have some serious steam and heat inside when you open them, so go slowly. Give them some time to cool and then plate, serve and enjoy.
This is perfect for camping, tailgating or any time you’ve got to eat on the go!
3. Grill Cleaning
Finally, aluminum foil can even double as a tool for cleaning grill grates if you don’t have a grill brush handy. It’s especially useful for giving your grates a quick scrub as you’re shutting down the grill.
Take a sheet of foil and crumple it into a ball. While the grates are warm, grab the foil ball with your tongs and use it to scrub away the grime. If you’re starting from a cold grill, it’s also a good idea to spray some gentle, non-flammable grill cleaner on to loosen up grime first. See our guide to DIY grill cleaner for a simple recipe you can use to make it yourself!
When Not to Use Aluminum Foil
There are also some circumstances where you definitely shouldn’t use aluminum foil while grilling. What’s the number one thing to avoid?? DO NOT wrap any part of your grill in foil!
It’s easy to see the appeal of wrapping a part like a drip pan in foil. In theory, it should make it easier to clean, right? You also might see tips that advise grill owners to cover their grates in foil as part of a cleaning process.
However, wrapping any part of a Grilla Grill in foil can interrupt airflow, which is critical for keeping everything working properly. It’s especially a problem in pellet grills, which have internal heat and airflow sensors for burning wood pellets that aluminum foil can disrupt. Instead, see our grill cleaning tips for other ways to keep your Grilla Grill looking and working great!
When you’re really ready to level up your grill game, browse the latest innovations in WiFi pellet grills from Grilla.