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The Secret to Evenly Grilled Meat

Want perfectly cooked meat? Pay attention to the two Ts: temperature and thermometer.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

There’s nothing more disappointing than cutting into a piece of beautifully charred meat only to find it underdone or tough and overcooked. Here's how to avoid these pitfalls and make sure the meat is evenly grilled at your next barbecue.

 

1. Temperature Control

Keeping an eye on the temp is key. On a gas grill, setting an area to a specific intensity will produce the same heat each time. A charcoal grill is less consistent: Check your grill’s built-in gauge, or place an oven thermometer on a rack above the grates in an indirect heat zone. For indirect heat in a gas grill, preheat over high, then reduce one area to medium-low or off; in a charcoal grill, leave one side free of coals. Begin cooking larger cuts over direct heat; move to indirect if the outside is charring before the meat is cooked through.

 

2. Thermometer Check

Get a good meat thermometer and you'll never have to guess whether your steak is done again. To tell when meat has hit the right temperature, stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the flesh, avoiding bones. Match the reading to our guidelines, then let rest (off heat) 10 minutes. (Note: For some cuts, the USDA recommends higher temperatures, especially when you’re cooking for pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems.)

 

Meat Temperatures 101

 

Medium-Rare

Beef: 130 degrees

 

Medium

Beef: 140 degrees
Ground Beef: 160 degrees
Pork: 140 degrees
Ground Pork: 160 degrees
Poultry: 165 degrees

 

Well-Done

Beef: 160 degrees
Pork: 160 degrees

 

For more advice on how to become a cookout pro, watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert Thomas Joseph share his must-have grilling tips for juicy steak, burgers, and kebabs.

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