Ten Top Tips for Grilling Meat to Perfection!

June 26, 2024 by Kenmore

checking grill temperatures

Spring has sprung, and it’s time once again to turn up the heat on your grill game and get the most out of the outdoor cooking season! Like the George Harrison song says, “it’s been a long, cold winter… here comes the sun!”

Some health-minded Beatles fans will likely remind us that ol’ George was a strict vegetarian. Nothing wrong with that at all, but if you’re someone who celebrates the fabulous flavor and savory sizzle of quality steaks, chops or poultry, you’ve come to the right blog.

Cooking on a hot grill over an open flame can be more of an art than a science, but we have a collection of useful and timely tips that can help you achieve the tender, juicy, flavorful results you crave.

1. Before You Get Started

We know you’re more than ready to get out there and enjoy your outdoor entertainment zone right away, but first things first… do you have the right grilling equipment and accessories to suit your needs? If you’re unsure, please remember: Kenmore carries a full lineup of top-quality grills, accessories, spare parts and outdoor comfort products to help get your backyard BBQ party started right. Regardless of your skill-level, we have the goods you need!

2. The Warm-Up

tips for grilling meat
© MdKamrul / Adobe Stock, generated by AI

Okay, enough with the pitch. Back to the meat of the matter! Be sure to bring your steaks or chops out of the fridge a good 30 minutes before grill-time. Let them rest on a plate on your countertop for a good 30 minutes or so to let them warm up to room temperature gradually. And while they’re resting…

3. ‘Tis the Seasoning

© ahirao / Adobe Stock

It’s a good idea to season your meat well ahead of time to let the flavor get inside the meat before grilling. The 30-minute warm-up period is the perfect time to season well with a sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper on both sides. We like to add just a pinch of garlic powder as well. You can also use a dry-rub spice mix to add even more flavor to your meal.

4. Clean the Grates

Kenmore Grill Shopping Tips

While the meat warms up and soaks up some flavor, let’s get the grill ready to perform. Take a couple minutes to clean off any stuck-on bits from the grill grates with a stiff grill brush. Remember: a clean grill is a happy grill!

5. Fire Up and Oil Up

grilling for beginners

Fire up your grill at full power to preheat to a proper grilling temperature (about 425°F to 500°F for steak). While the temperature rises, take a moment to oil up the grill grates to help prevent sticking as you cook. Take a small piece of wadded-up paper towel and soak it in cooking oil, then hold it with a pair of grill tongs while you spread the oil evenly on the cooking grates. Use enough to cover the grates, but not so much that it trickles down into the burners. Then close the lid and keep track of the temperature inside until the preheating is done.

6. Maintain the Proper Heat

Once the grill has reached your desired cooking temperature, the goal is to keep it steady at that temperature throughout the cooking process. If using a gas grill, turn the burners down to medium-low, then open the lid and place your meat on the grill. Quickly close the lid and keep an eye on the temperature gauge, making adjustments as needed to keep the temperature in the recommended range.

It’s important to note you should always visit the U.S. Food and Drug administration website for the latest on recommended temperature ranges for cooking food.

Grill Meat       Grilling Temp.

Steak                425°F to 500°F

Pork Chops      350°F to 450°F

Chicken            350°F to 450°F

Roasts              About 350°F

7. Keep That Lid Closed!

new grill setup, tips for grilling meat

We know, we know… it’s super-tempting to lift the lid and take a peak when you hear all that sizzling inside. But, as we said before, you want to keep the temperature consistently in the desired cooking range, and opening the lid again and again will let the heat escape. But don’t worry – your patience will soon be rewarded.

8. Turn In Time

tips for grilling meat

Many people believe the best way to cook premium meats on a grill is to flip them often throughout their cooking time. At Kenmore, we prefer to keep it simple (and we’d like you to keep that lid closed). That’s why we tend to favor the 60-40 rule. Spend 60% of the total cooking time on side one, then flip once and cook 40% of the time on side two. Voila! Easy-peasy, and cooked evenly.

9. Is It Done Yet?

When is the right time to take your meats off the grill? That’s the question that separates novice grillers from true grill-masters. Obviously, unless you have super x-ray vision, you can’t just peak inside the meat! But there are simple ways to tell how done a steak is.

Before we start, it’s important to note you should always refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for the latest on what temperatures food should be cooked to and how to tell if what you’re cooking is thoroughly cooked!

The first way is an informal technique used by grill chefs for generations, sometimes called the “finger test”. Poke at the meat and feel how much “give” there is. Now, here’s the cool part… take your thumb and touch it lightly to your fingers, one at a time. Feel the fleshy part of your hand just below the thumb (as shown above); it will feel more or less firm depending on which finger your thumb is touching!

Thumb to index finger — feels like rare

Thumb to middle finger — feels like medium-rare

Thumb to ring finger — feels like medium

Thumb to pinky — feels like well-done

Want a little more science and a little less old-fashioned folksy wisdom in your cooking results? Get a Kenmore grill thermometer and you’ll have an accurate temperature reading in seconds!

Here are the recommended temperatures for grilled meats. A complete set of temperature recommendations can be found here. Always refer to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website for the latest on what temperatures food should be cooked to.

Steaks:      Rare:120°F

                  Medium-Rare: 130°F

                  Medium: 140°F

                  Medium-Well: 150°F

                  Well: 160°+F

Pork:         145°F or more

Chicken:    165°F or more

10. Rest Up

tips for grilling meat
© Joshua Resnick / Adobe Stock

Once more, we’re going to ask for your patience. Because once your meat is cooked to perfection at the correct temperature, you’ll need to let it rest on a platter for about 5-10 minutes before you slice and serve. This will allow time for the juices to redistribute so that every bite is a mouthwatering masterpiece!

Once it’s rested and ready to slice, be sure to cut across the grain of the meat, not parallel, to ensure maximum tenderness. Enjoy!

Thinking of getting a new grill for your outdoor entertainment space? The best time to buy is right now! Check out our new Grill Buying Guide today.

Tips for Grilling Meat FAQs

The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about grilling meats properly.

Is it better to grill with the lid open or closed?

During preheating and cooking, it is always desirable to keep the grill lid closed as much as possible. Opening the lid allows heat to escape, making it harder to maintain a consistent cooking temperature inside.

What should I do before putting meat on the grill?

About a half-hour before you start up the grill, you should take the meat out of the refrigerator to let it rest and season well with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Just prior to igniting the grill, you should clean off the grates with a stiff brush. You should then preheat the grill and, just before cooking, you should cover the grates with cooking oil to prevent sticking.

How do I know when meat is cooked just right?

The easiest and most reliable way to determine doneness is to insert a cooking thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat. Compare the temperature reading you get to the USDA recommendations found here.


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