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The Basics of Grilling: Knowing When to Use Hot or Low Temperatures

The Basics of Grilling: Knowing When to Use Hot or Low Temperatures

While there are now high-end grills that feature no shortage of special tools, precise controls, and convenient accessories, the basic principles of grilling have not changed much over the years. Grilling food perfectly takes skill, attention, and practice. Professional and amateur chefs alike take great pride in their grilling prowess.

The basic challenge lies in knowing how best to grill different foods. You’ll find that there are different practices for cooking chicken, steak, fish, vegetables, pizzas, and other items. Some must be grilled fast and hot, while others require a slow, low heat.

Your grill may have an integrated temperature gauge that shows you the precise internal temperatures. Even if it doesn’t, there’s a trick for gauging how high or low the heat is: by holding your hand just over the grates and counting how many seconds pass before you pull it away.

5 seconds Low heat
4 seconds Medium heat
3 seconds Medium high heat
2 seconds High heat
1 second Super high heat

Cooking at high heat

Thin meats, like hot dogs, burgers, kebabs, steaks, and pork chops, are best grilled fast and hot. At these settings, it’s important to keep a close eye on the grill to avoid burning your food. Flip the food as needed and move it around the grill to get the best grill marks. Shifting food around not only takes advantage of your grill’s cooking space, but it also helps prevent flare ups.

These spurts of flame are not wholly avoidable, however. Whenever greasy foods drip their juices down into the grill, flame ups can occur. Don’t panic, just move the food out of the way.

Cooking at low to medium heat

Certain foods like fish, vegetables, chicken, and fruit require a low to medium heat and take longer to cook. With a gas grill, it’s easy to simply keep the dials turned down low. For a charcoal grill, however, you’ll need to create a small fire to begin with.

When you have a large piece of meat that needs a long time on the grill to cook all the way through, it’s best to set it on one side of the grill with the heat coming from the other side. This indirect method of cooking lets items like whole birds, ribs, and roasts bake thoroughly without getting a charred outside.

Brittany Rowland Brittany Rowland researches new developments in Appliances, Kitchen and CE products features with a vigor to which few would aspire… but someone has to do it. See more about Brittany

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