A Drizzle Of Honey Is An Easy Cheat For Satisfying Grill Marks

There's just something so inherently satisfying about beautiful, well-defined grill marks when you grill meat. Whether it's beef, pork, or chicken, deeply-set grill marks are not only a sign of that drool-inducing smokiness found on grilled meats, but they're also a sign of a master griller who has total control over the amount of char they impose on their food.


Perhaps the idea of excellent grill marks being a sign of quality (both in the food and in the one preparing it) lies in the fact that they're a deceptively tough task to perfect. But the trick to nailing perfect grill marks every time may just lie in the marinade you choose for your meats. Besides presenting an opportunity to introduce new flavors and complexity to your grilling meats, a marinade can also help you establish some great grill marks with the addition of one crucial ingredient: honey.

The cheat code to better grill marks

It's no secret that honey is full of sugars, and it's these sugars (plus the Maillard reaction) that make honey such a useful item for making wonderful grill marks. The Maillard reaction is the phenomenon by which proteins and sugars are changed when exposed to intense heat, also changing the color and texture of the affected area. This reaction is how bread obtains its crust and how coffee beans become roasted, and is the reason why seared meats get that charred browned surface when seared. The sugar in honey kicks that beloved Maillard reaction into overdrive. Put simply, when you add honey to meat, you're introducing more sugars to the equation (one of the things crucial to the Maillard reaction) thereby amplifying that reaction and giving you extra browning and some deep-set grill marks as those sugars and proteins work their magic.


If you've tried to cook sugars before, though, you'll know that there's a chasm of difference between caramelized and burnt, so you'll have to keep a close eye on your grilling meat so as to not burn the honey. Unfortunately, honey burns faster than regular sugar, but the Maillard reaction only kicks into full effect at high temperatures; this means you'll need to find the happy balance where your honey makes those marks but doesn't burn too egregiously.

Honey: a multipurpose tool

Honey is not only a great addition in your grilling game for its ability to make some next-level grill marks, but it also has other uses that you can use next time you plan on firing up your grill. Honey is a great addition to your marinating toolkit for a variety of reasons. Aside from the fact that it attracts moisture from meats, therefore locking in juices while grilling, it also brings the bonus of making your marinades last longer by virtue of its sugar content. You can add honey to a variety of marinades, from a simple olive oil base to a lovely honey soy option. The relative mildness of honey compared to other sugary substances will give you some extra complexity to your marinades without overpowering your other flavors.


A humble dollop of honey is an understated game changer to any prospective grillmaster. On top of the benefits it provides to your grilling experience, its unique flavor is unmatched, and its effect on creating perfect grill marks may just become your new favorite secret. As well, honey is an incredibly versatile ingredient, even when it has become crystallized. Start using honey in your marinades and level up your grilling game immediately.