Baking on the Grill blog post with baked cornbread and hotdogs on cutting board

Baking on the Grill: How to Adapt Recipes for Outdoor Cooking

Love to bake, but hate turning on your oven during the summer? If you have an outdoor grill, you’re in luck; you can bake outside without needing to heat the inside of your house, all in the name of traditional oven recipes. Baking on the grill isn’t complicated; you just need to learn how to adapt recipes, so you don’t end up with burnt or undercooked foods. Here’s what you need to know to bake, steam, and poach on your grill to keep your kitchen cool all summer long.

How to Adapt Recipes That Require Baking

If you can make it in an oven, you can make it on a grill. We’re talking cakes, cookies, bread, casseroles, plus other dishes made from traditional recipes, using a new cooking method. The difference between baking foods in an oven versus on a grill is a conventional oven uses indirect heat, whereas a grill uses direct heat. To avoid hotspots and potentially scorched food when “baking” on the grill, ensure your baking pans don’t touch the heat source, whether flames or charcoal. For gas grills, depending on the (number of burners) this might mean you need to only turn on one burner or the outside burners and bake your food in the off-burner section. So, for example, a three-knob grill at medium-off-medium would be the oven temp equivalent to 300° to 350° F. A four-knob setup would be medium-off-off-medium. For charcoal grills, place your briquettes in a circle with the middle open for your cooking area. 

How to Adapt Recipes That Require Steaming or Poaching

An aluminum foil packet is excellent for steaming or poaching foods on the grill. This ” pan ” type is easily made into any size or shape and can be recycled when finished. Lay an appropriate size piece of foil shiny side down on a hard surface, like your countertop, and place your food in the middle of the foil. Pull one edge of the foil to the other and roll them together, creating a seal. Repeat with the other two sides. Avoid sealing too tightly as you want some room in the foil packet for the steam to expand, steaming or poaching veggies and fish

Tips on Cooking Indoor Recipes Outside

Our tips can help ensure your indoor recipes turn out delicious outside with your grill.

  • Start with easy recipes like cookies or brownies until you get used to the heat fluctuations of your grill.
  • Follow your traditional recipe, including the ingredients list and mixing directions. 
  • Keep an eye on your grill’s temperature gauge and check your dish toward the end of the bake time to adjust the temperature if necessary.
  • NEVER use glassware in a grill. While cooking with indirect heat, glassware is not worth the risk; stay with aluminum, cast iron pans, and aluminum foil. You can use stainless steel pans, but know the hot temps of a grill may warp this type of cookware. Stainless steel is best used on a grill’s side burner.
  • Preheat the grill as usual. 
  • Set initial temp 25°F higher than your desired temperature as you’ll lose heat when placing your foods on the grill. Return the temp to your desired temperature once you close the lid.
  • To maintain heat when cooking on a grill, avoid opening and closing the grill lid too much because grills lose more heat than your standard oven when opened. If you do have to open the cover, do so quickly.
  • Place a sheet of foil between your pan(s) and the grate to prevent scorching your pan.
  • Use your nose to determine doneness. Foods smell different throughout the cooking process, for instance, when starting to brown, when done, and when overdone.
  • Foods on the grill tend to cook faster than in a standard oven. If a traditional recipe has a range of baking times, go with the shortest amount to be safe.

Time to get outside and use your grill for all your baking, steaming, and poaching needs and say goodbye to your kitchen for the summer.