This Simple Vegan Grilling Hack Lets You Cook With Your Meat-Eating Friends

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
Being vegan has plenty of perks: You get to magically manifest protein-packed cheese out of nuts, pile your pizza sky-high with endless veggies, turn tofu into literally anything, and devour all forms of potatoes like it's your job. But there's a glaring problem with being meat-free: Trying to grill with friends who aren't aboard the plant-powered bandwagon.

When I'm using my own grilling tools, I don't need to worry about cross-contamination with my carnivorous friends' ingredients: The grill gate isn't covered in caked-on animal products from the past. Going to someone else's place who eats meat, though, usually involves wrapping my trusty Beyond Burger or faux dogs in a sad, tinfoil mound, and I just know the product won't taste nearly as good as when it's charred in true BBQ-fashion. Until I discovered the best. hack. ever.

After rummaging around all the kitchen cabinets, I came across a steel cooling rack—you know, the grill-looking essential that's typically used in baking. And, a hunger-fueled light bulb went off.

Recently while prepping my meal at my fiancé's parents' house, I just couldn't bear to ruin another perfect vegan burger by wrapping it in tinfoil. After rummaging around the kitchen cabinets, I came across a steel cooling rack, just like this one. (You know, the grill-looking essential that's typically used for fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies). After some googling, I discovered that the material can withstand heat of up to 450 or 500 degrees—the temp to which many grill masters fire up. And then a hunger-fueled light bulb went off.

Little grilling hack for vegans + vegetarians who live with meat-eaters! ? If you want that yummy charred taste on your burger but (obviously) don’t want to use the same grill grate the real stuff is cooked on, just clean the grate and set one of these steel cooling racks (that are typically used in baking) on top of it. It sits high enough above the grate that it’s no where near touching anything nasty. ?? Now instead of having to cook on tinfoil—which, let’s be honest, isn’t nearly as appetizing!—you can get that same grilled taste you love *without* eating leftover animal products. ? This one from Target is only $10 and can withstand heat up to 450 degrees, which is around the temp you’ll probably be cookin’ on:

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By placing the portable cooling rack atop a grill grate, vegans can enjoy the same BBQ smoke and char as the meat eaters—without cross-contamination. After cleaning the grill grate as best as you can, simply set the nonstick steel cooling rack right on top. It fits perfectly and sits just high enough above the actual grate that you won't have to worry about eating secondhand hamburgers from previous BBQers. So, just turn on the machine, and cook your meal as you normally would—and enjoy those same, mouthwatering grill marks that makes food so appetizing (and photogenic!).

One more pro tip: When possible, grill your vegan specialty first so it doesn't soak in the meaty fumes of friends' dinner selections. Don't worry—no one will be annoyed since plant-based burgers cook super quickly and thus won't cut into prime grilling time.

Hello, summer; goodbye mediocre vegan grilling!

This article was originally published on May 4, 2018. Updated on May 25, 2018.

Here are 10 other brilliant foods hacks you need to try ASAP. Or, discover 7 smart new ways to use lemons.

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