Why You Should Clean Your Grill with Only an Onion

published Jul 3, 2023
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Open grill, heating up
Credit: Joe Lingeman

I may be an urban dweller forever resigned to living without a backyard, but I’ll readily admit that there are some things that do just taste better on the grill. From flank steak and grilled chicken kebabs to cauliflower steaks and eggplant caprese, the joys of savory, crisp-yet-tender meats and veggies are all I crave once warm weather arrives.

Because I’m generally confined to borrowing someone else’s grill, I try to maximize my efficiency and avoid common pitfalls like stuck-on food where I can. That’s why I was delighted to learn a handy new trick for cleaning a grill without a wire brush and instead with a cheap and readily available grilling staple.

How to Clean a Grill Without a Wire Brush 

According to a Tiktok tutorial from endlessly knowledgeable home cook Babs Costello, you don’t need a wire brush or grill scraper to clean your grates. Instead, simply use a halved large onion (any type will do) to scrub away any residual burnt bits from your grill. Here’s how Babs gets a clean and seasoned grill in just a few steps.

  1. Heat your grill to a high temperature: You want the grill to get hot enough for stuck-on bits to easily be removed. 
  2. Cut the onion in half and pierce with a large fork or a meat fork: Pierce the onion far enough so that it is steady on the fork. 
  3. Rub the cut-side of the onion along the grill grates: Use a back-and-forth motion to scrub the onion along the grates. The juices will produce the steam needed to lift charred bits from the grill. 

Babs also adds, “Instead of eating loose metal bristles, an onion will add a little flavor to your food!” Plus, if your wire brush is old, the bristles are more likely to break off and fall into the grill and/or on the grill grates. As someone who relishes the chance to enjoy dinner al fresco, I won’t pass up this cheap and easy way to keep (someone else’s) grill clean and give my outdoor meals an extra kick.

More Tips to Up Your Grill Game

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: Here’s the Best Way to Clean Your Grill for Less than $1