How to improve your outdoor BBQ party with water and drip pans

If you want to make sauces to serve with your BBQ and cook your meat more evenly, you'll need to know how to use your water and drip pans. While neither pan is strictly necessary, you may appreciate how these accessories increase the versatility of your grill.

How to improve your outdoor BBQ party with water and drip pans

Distinguishing between drip and water pans

  • A water pan is added above the heat source in a smoker or grill. It's used to maintain a steady temperature within grill or smoker, while also imparting some additional moisture to the meat.
  • A drip pan is added to a grill to catch any cooking juices, which can then be used to create a sauce to be served with the meat.

Using a water pan

  • Although they're called water pans, people sometimes add juice or sand to the pan instead of water.
  • You may have heard that some cooks believe that juice will subtly flavour the BBQ while it is on the grill.
  • However, others believe that juice will not permeate the meat and adding any liquid other than water is a waste of ingredients.
  • Cooks add sand to the water pan when they're interested in maintaining temperature within the grill, but don't want to constantly monitor the water pan for evaporation. If you use sand, line the water pan with foil for easy cleanup.
  • Otherwise, the sand will melt together and be impossible to remove after several uses.
  • Water is still the preferred addition to water pans because it maintains temperature better than sand and is easy to use. It also keeps leaner meats better hydrated during the cooking process.

Using a drip pan

  • Drip pans can be used solely to catch meat drippings, but they can also be used to slowly cook a sauce or stock while grilling.
  • By adding a combination of water, stock, juice and flavourings to the drip pan, the drippings are easily preserved and incorporated into a simple sauce without burning or evaporating.
  • For example, you can grill turkey and place a combination of turkey stock and vegetables into the drip pan.
  • Then, you can remove the mixture from the drip pan, strain it and make a superb gravy to serve with the turkey. Vegetables can also be cooked directly in the drip pan just before the meat is ready.

You should constantly monitor drip pans and additional liquid can be added if necessary. While some recipes call for wine to be added to the drip pan, you should be very careful when adding any alcohol to avoid fires.

Experimenting with your water and drip pans is an easy way to make your food better. Maintaining an even temperature is easier with a water pan, and drip pans can preserve meat flavours that would be lost. Of course, using these pans may require that you spend more time monitoring your grill, but your efforts should be rewarded.



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