Temperature is everything when it comes to grilling. The right temperature can create the perfect sear, cook food thoroughly, and achieve the texture and flavor that you want.
While cooking temperature is one of the most important aspects of grilling, it’s also one of the things that people struggle the most with.
Even getting your grill up to the right temperature can be difficult, especially if you don’t know when to start.
Getting the perfect temperature from the moment you put food on the grill is a skill that you can learn. Here are some useful tips to help you know when your BBQ grill is hot enough to start cooking.
What’s the Ideal Grill Surface Temperature?
If we’re discussing temperature, it’s best to know the range that most home cooks work with. Most grilling recipes are cooked in the range of medium to high.
- Medium-Low Heat (325°F) is ideal for food that is more sensitive to temperature. Sausages are a good example. If they aren’t pre-cooked, they will need to be cooked slowly to ensure that they are finished all the way through. A lower temperature will also prevent bursting.
- Medium Heat (350°F) is ideal for raw meat that is thicker or that has a bone in it. For example, most poultry should be cooked at this temperature to ensure it is consistently cooked through to the bone. This temperature results in tenderness without a burnt exterior.
- Medium-High Heat (375°F) is getting closer to a searing temperature. It is ideal for burgers, hot dogs, and fish with the skin on. This temperature will ensure that food is cooked quickly and thoroughly, but without charring the outside. If you want more complex flavor with less searing, this is the ideal temperature range.
- High Heat (450°F) is what you want to get a sizzling sear on a steak, pork chops, or prepared slices of chicken and game meat. This temperature will render juices and then vaporize them, creating a flavorful crust on the outside of your food. 450°F is just the starting point, some foods will tolerate up to 650°F for rapid cooking and searing.
How to Know When the Grill Has Hit the Ideal Temperature
Knowing the range of popular grilling temperatures is one thing. Getting your grill to the right temperature is the challenging part. That is until you learn our simple tricks.
Some grilling enthusiasts work entirely by hand. Simply holding your hand around three inches above the grilling surface can give you an indication of the surface temperature. Not everyone will be comfortable with this, and it’s never a good idea if flames are flaring up from your grill.
- For Medium-Low Heat, your hand will become uncomfortable after around ten seconds.
- For Medium Heat, the hand test tops out around seven seconds.
- For Medium-High Heat, you should last up to five seconds.
- High Heat will become uncomfortable within one or two seconds.
Everyone has a different tolerance and perception of heat, so it’s hardly a scientific method. To get the most accurate reading, rely on a grill surface thermometer.
A simple analog thermometer can rest directly on the grill surface. In addition to letting you know when your grill is up to temperature, it can also be used to find hot and cold spots on your grill.
There are several options available today. For something simple, reliable, and accurate, take a look at this Cooper-Atkins Grill Surface Thermometer.
It measures from 100°F to 600°F, making it perfect for most charcoal and gas grills. It can even be used in a griddle pan for recipes that call for highly specific temperatures.
Getting your grill up to temperature is simple with our tips. With the hand method or a surface thermometer, you’ll know when your BBQ grill is hot enough to start cooking.