Mastering the Grill: How to Use a Grill Basket Like a Pro

Tired of running back and forth between your grill and your oven to cook your side dishes? Sick of stuff slipping through your grill grates, never to be seen again? We’ve all been there. But with a grill basket (or two), no one needs to sprint around or lament the loss of wayward food again.

A grill basket is an excellent tool to add to your arsenal of accessories and an easy way to enhance your grilling repertoire. Grill baskets make it possible to grill a greater range of food items, including smaller pieces that would otherwise slip through the grates and burn up, such as vegetables, shrimp, chicken wings, and just about anything else you can think of.

Best of all, grill baskets are easy to use, with no complicated setup to worry about. But if you’ve never used one, you may have questions about how to get the most out of your grill basket.

In this post, we will explore:

  • When to use a grill basket, including what can be cooked in a basket
  • Types of grill baskets
  • Where on the grill the basket should go
  • Lid open vs lid closed

Let’s get cooking.

When to Use a Grill Basket

You should use a grill basket when you are cooking small pieces of food that can slip through the grates easily, or when grilling delicate items like fish that can easily break apart when cooked.

What Can Be Cooked in a Basket

Grill baskets are incredibly versatile and can be used to cook a lot of different food items, including:

  • Fish, shrimp, scallops, and mussels
  • Vegetables, fruit, and potatoes
  • Small appetizers
  • Kebabs
  • Small or delicate cuts of meats
  • Bread
  • Desserts

Types of Grill Baskets

Grill baskets are metal baskets, often with handles, designed for the express purpose of going right on the grill to contain food items that would fall apart without support or otherwise fall between the grates.

There are different types of three main types of grill baskets, each designed for different food items:

1. Perforated & mesh shaker baskets

Perforated and mesh grill baskets are made from metal with a lot of holes (like a colander) or fine mesh (like a strainer). Their small holes make it easy to shake or toss the items around to avoid sticking and burning, and help ensure even cooking.

When to use perforated & mesh shaker baskets

Use them for cooking the smallest items at the greatest risk of slipping through grill grates, such as:

  • Shrimp and mussels
  • Cut fruits and vegetables (i.e. watermelon, peaches, sliced carrots)
  • Small fruits and vegetables (i.e. berries, peas, brussels sprouts)
  • Legumes (i.e. chickpeas, beans)
  • Other small but plentiful food bits such as appetizers or french fries

2. Wire baskets

Wire baskets are either hinged with bars (in the case of adjustable metal wire grill baskets) or are made from larger wire mesh to prevent items from falling out (such as flexible wire grill baskets for fish, which are specifically designed to move with the fish as it shrinks during grilling). These baskets work best for larger food items, such as filets. They protect food items from touching the grill grates directly, preventing them from sticking and breaking during the flipping process.

When to use wire baskets

  • Fish and scallops
  • Burgers and smaller or more delicate cuts of meat
  • Bread
  • Sliced vegetables
  • Desserts

3. Flat grill topper or wok-style grill baskets

Flat grill baskets are stainless steel trays with perforated holes in the bottom. They can have low sides similar to baking sheets or higher sides like a wok. This style of grill basket typically has more surface area and fewer holes, creating a greater barrier between the flames and your food. This reduces the risk of unwanted charring and makes this style of basket better for items you want to cook slowly.

When to use flat or wok-style grill topper baskets

  • Potatoes
  • French fries
  • Whole vegetables

How to Use a Grill Basket

Grill baskets are extremely simple to use—all you have to do is load them up with your ready-to-grill food, place the basket directly on the grill grates, and you’re good to go. You can also lightly oil the basket or the food item before placing it on the grill to help keep things from sticking and improve caramelization.

Vegetables and fish are among the most popular things to cook in a grill basket, so let’s take a closer look at how to use these specific baskets:

How to use a vegetable grill basket

Lightly oil and season the vegetables and place them in the grill basket, then place the basket directly on the grill. Periodically stir or toss the vegetables around to ensure they are cooking evenly.

How to use a grill basket for fish

Open the grill basket and place your fish and any additional items inside (i.e. citrus). Close the basket and place it directly on the grill once it has gotten up to temperature. Flip the basket after a few minutes and cook till done.

GRILL SPOT TIP: Make sure you use grill gloves when handling grill baskets as they can get incredibly hot.

Lid Open vs. Lid Closed

Whether you have your lid open or closed while using your grill basket depends on what you are cooking. With fish or meat or heftier vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, or broccoli, you will want to close the grill to keep the heat in and help your food cook. Otherwise, you would typically want to leave it open so you can keep an eye on the items since they are smaller and faster to burn.

Learn more about whether or not you should keep your grill open or closed while cooking.

Wrapping Up

There are several different kinds of grill baskets to choose from. Grill topper or shaker baskets are the most versatile, but you can use all of the different kinds for whatever food items you may be cooking, as long as your items won’t slip through the cracks or holes. Regardless of which kind you get, all you need to do is load your grill basket up with food, heat up the grill, and place your grill basket on the grill grates.