Grilling a great meal takes a lot more than just slapping a steak on the barbie and waiting until it’s no longer pink. Achieving impeccably seared foods combines the science of grilling at the right temperature and the art of manipulating the heat to reach your desired outcome. But you don’t have to be a professional to grill your meats and veggies to perfection.
When you’re using a gas grill, raising or lowering the temperature is as easy as turning a knob. But working with a charcoal grill requires a bit more intuition. Sure, you can shell out some money and buy a fancy grill thermometer, but there are other simpler ways to ensure you’ve turned up the heat to the right level.
The easiest way to measure your grill’s temperature is to carefully hold your hand a few inches above the burning coals and count how many seconds you can leave your hand there until you have to pull it away. Once you’ve figured out how hot the grill is, then you can determine the optimal time to cook each type of food. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide to help you out:
High (450 F or More)
Number of Seconds: 2-3
What to Grill: Anything that is thin and requires minimal cooking time, like slender pork chops. Your grill will remain at this temperature for 5-10 minutes.
Medium-High (375 F to 450 F)
Number of Seconds: 4-5
What to Grill: Anything that requires thorough direct grilling, such as hamburgers, fish and vegetables. Your grill will remain at this temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Medium (325 F to 375 F)
Number of Seconds: 6-7
What to Grill: Anything that requires longer, gentler cooking time and indirect cooking, like chicken and turkey. Your grill will remain at this temperature for 45-60 minutes.
Medium-Low (250 F to 325 F)
Low (225 F to 250 F)
Number of Seconds: 11-15
What to Grill: Anything that can be smoked for a very long period of time, such as ribs and briskets, to reach ultimate tenderness.
Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll grill up a succulent meal that’ll leave your guests licking their fingers long after dinner’s over.