What is a Grill Basket?
Grill baskets come in a lot of different shapes and sizes to serve different purposes. They all use some type of screen, mesh, or ventilated surface to allow you to put things on the grill that would otherwise fall through the grates. The grill basket also opens up the opportunity to grill some things in creative new ways using ingredients you normally wouldn't put on the grill.
What Can You Cook with a Grill Basket?
What you're planning to cook typically determines the style of grill basket you'll want to use.
The basket-type grill basket is most often a stainless steel wire cage or stamped metal. They tend to have higher sides and often have handles integrated into the design. Typical designs have ventilation holes on the bottom and sides to allow heat and smoke to penetrate the contents. These are appropriate for grilling vegetables, shrimp and other shellfish, and smaller pieces of meat. Fish tends to be difficult to cook in a basket-type design.
The tray-type grill pan is similar to the basket type but has shorter sides. These are most frequently made from metal sheets that have stamped openings on the bottom for ventilation. The size of the holes will determine the size of food items you can cook, but usually, these designs are appropriate for grilling all but the smallest items. They tend to work well for grilling fish.
The clamshell design has a hinged lid with a clasp. You just load it up, close and latch the lid, and grill away. This design makes it possible to flip the food item over on the grill, making it an ideal way to get an even sear on both sides. Clamshell baskets are perfect for oysters, fish fillets, and almost all vegetables.
A great accessory when you use a rotisserie on your grill, this type is similar to the clamshell type but uses the rod of a rotisserie to suspend your food in a stainless steel grilling basket. These come with various sizes of openings from very small to fairly large. This type is the best grill basket for vegetables but doesn't work well for fish. A small-screen rotisserie will even let you roast coffee beans on your grill.
Advantages of Grill Baskets
The most obvious advantage of a grill basket is that they prevent things from falling through the grill grates into the charcoal or gas burners to be lost to the flames. Not only does this waste food, but it can also create an unsafe condition with flare-ups and unsavory smoke as the food burns up.
Beyond that, the grill basket encourages even cooking by providing a surface for smaller items to set on. Many veggies like green onions are excellent when grilled, but the stalks tend to droop into the fire and get burned up. By using a grill basket, you get the perfect roastiness on the onions without sacrificing the tips.
Grilled fish is delicious, but it is also one of the most difficult items to pull off. Getting the fish just the right amount of cooked without it falling apart is made much easier with a grill basket. It's a simple way to make grilling oysters or clams convenient. Stainless steel baskets make cleanup easier, too.
Type of Food You Can Cook in a Grilling Basket
Most grill baskets are going to be ideal for a variety of vegetables. Slotted tray-types work well for things like mushrooms and tomatoes that can be troublesome on the grill. Deeper basket-type designs are ideal for larger amounts of items or things that you'll want to move around while cooking, almost like a grill wok.
Grilling shellfish like oysters, clams, shrimp, or scallops unlocks the delicate flavors. The right grill basket makes the process less messy and less wasteful while giving you great results. You can use a grill basket on your cooking grate to roast escargot for a European flair to a barbecue.
Light, flaky fish is the bane of the grill master. Just at the moment it's ready, it falls apart and chars away to nothing. Tray-type and hinged grill basket designs are just the right tools for flaky fish. This design is also an excellent solution for grilling chicken wings, frog legs, and gizzards.
What Type of Grill Basket is Best?
The best grill basket is one that is well-made and can handle the rigors of cooking and cleaning without fail. In order for a grill basket to be durable, it has to be made from quality materials and assembled in a way that is going to work. Stainless steel is one of the most preferred materials because it will resist heat well and is relatively easy to clean. Keep in mind that the more intricate a grill basket is, the more difficult it is to clean. A design with fewer holes creates a sturdy grill basket, but it might not circulate smoke as well as you would hope.
Cleaning a Grill Basket
One of the most daunting aspects of a grill basket is cleaning it. Some foods, like chicken or pork, tend to deposit grease and oil on the stainless steel that can be very difficult to get off. This is particularly difficult with wire-type construction because the smaller bars are more tedious to clean and are susceptible to being bent.
Cleaning wire-type grill baskets will begin with a soak in very hot, soapy water. Dish soap is one of the most effective ways to remove oil and grease, and a good pre-soak will help loosen everything up. This step is also effective for cleaning tray-type grill baskets.
Grill pan or basket designs made from solid stainless steel can be scraped free of stuck-on food and grease before cleaning. If you aren't concerned about unsightly small scratches, a stainless-steel scrubber pad makes short work of gross stuff.
Once you have your grill basket clean, apply a little non-stick cooking spray to make cleanup easier the next time around and help keep delicate foods from sticking.
We want to make it easy for you to find good-quality grill baskets that serve lots of different purposes. The following products include features you should look for when buying a grill basket.
This is a deep, stainless steel basket-type design that is perfect for large amounts of veggies, chicken quarters, or things you might want to stir while cooking. We like that it has reinforced corners that ensure it won't collapse when you've got it loaded up with goodies. It measures just under 9 inches long at the bottom and 11.5 inches on the top so it will fit on almost any gas grill, pellet smoker, or charcoal barbecue.
If you use a rotisserie on your grill or Big Green Egg, having a basket like this one opens up all kinds of possibilities. Toss in green onions, garlic, chives, or other veggies, and let the rotisserie evenly cook them. It works great for chicken wings and small meat parts and lets the food get the perfect smokiness while slowly cooking.
The Traeger grill basket is a great example of a quality grill pan design. This is a larger design measuring 15.75 inches long and 11.5 inches wide. It's perfect for oysters, fish, and of course, grilling vegetables. High-quality stainless steel construction means it is durable and easy to keep clean.
We like this clamshell design for the removable handle that makes it a snap to pop a couple fillets of fish on the grill without worrying about melting plastic into the grill. The hinged lid basket makes it possible to flip items on the grill to get an even char on things like tomatoes, onions, or fish.
We love cast iron, and this is an excellent design from Lodge. Rather than use stainless steel like most companies, this cast iron grill topper lets you sear veggies, mushrooms, and shrimp while also making it easy to grill fish, wings, and other small meat items. Of course, cleanup is as easy as your cast iron pan, but you will need to keep the grill topper seasoned.
The Best Grill Baskets Let You Grill Almost Anything
The best grill baskets give you the ability to cook almost any kind of food that is difficult to keep on the cooking grates. An affordable grill basket opens up the ability to grill veggies and other small items to add the perfect smokey flavor and crisp texture that only comes from the grill. These designs we shared today work well on pellet smokers, gas grills, and charcoal barbecues to add a new skill to your cooking repertoire.
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