Temperature Best Bets

Sports coaches like to remind their players that “to excel beyond the limits – you must be a master of the fundamentals.” Wise words. The best players can do more because they are, first and foremost, masters of the fundamentals. Grilling is no different. If you’re new to grilling, or just need a refresher course, here are some points to keep in mind for ensuring delicious, safe and perfectly-cooked food, every time.

Know your heat.

There is nothing more fundamental to cooking than to understanding how heat transfers to your food. Different cookers use different kinds heat. When you learn about heat – how to make it, manage it and use it to produce the desired results – you are on your way to becoming a great cook.

Know your temps.

Most grills have thermometers built into the hoods. Keep in mind that these read the air temperature. They are an excellent guide for roasting, much the same way you cook in your kitchen oven. But for grilling, knowing the temperature at the grates is important because that’s the temperature that’s cooking your food. That said, you also need to take into account the temperature of your food. If you’re cooking from frozen, your cooking times will be much different than cooking fresh.

Know your range.

It can be frustrating to read a recipe that calls for a HIGH or MEDIUM heat setting. Know that these instructions refer to the surface temperature of your cooker. Since each grill type is different, those with hood-mounted thermometers can use a grate thermometer for a more accurate reading. Use your thermometer and this guide as a reference to the temps in the HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW spectrum.

HIGH – Approximately 450°F to 550°F on the surface of the grates
MEDIUM – Approximately 350°F to 450°F on the surface of the grates.
LOW – Approximately 250°F to 350°F on the surface of the grates

You’re ready.

Once you know your grill top is at the right temperature, you’re ready to cook. Make sure to use a meat thermometer and always follow USDA guidelines for proper internal meat temperatures to ensure your food is safely cooked to your liking. With a little practice, you’ll be a master of the flame.