After all that’s being said and observed about grilling, there is the obvious fact about temperatures that cannot be ignored in this process.
Paying a good worth of attention to the grill temperature and cooking time during this activity will either turn your food into scrumptious or run it down as unenjoyable.
For this reason, as BBQ enthusiasts, we share this BBQ grill temperature chart to guide you as you cook. Be it beef, fish, seafood, veggies, lamb etc, the guide gives you options to achieve varying levels of doneness.
Meanwhile, it is important to note that this chart is built on approximate estimations to serve as a grilling aid. The technique of grilling comes with experience and skill, so, do not be surprised when you see a Pitmaster alter grilling times and temperatures and still turns out a whopping good dish.
Feel free to do a few adjustments as you desire but ensure that you know what you are about.
As the basics require to put this guide into full effect, equip yourself with a good grill, the choice of fueling that you prefer to use, not forgetting some wood chips (use the perfect type for the perfect cook), your meat of choice, a digital thermometer, and then most importantly, your abling Pitmaster hands.
We can’t wait for the amazing results that you are yet to pull out!
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Now quickly before we delve deeper into some more details about this chart, there’s a valuable trick that differentiates a regular BBQ from that which is done by a pro – “the resting time”.
You will observe in the chart a resting time required to follow before serving your meat and may wonder if this is necessary at all. It is super necessary as there is a thin line between great tasting BBQs and just an okay tasting BBQ. A part of this line lies between cooking and its serving which is its “Resting Time”.
Eating the food right after it has been removed from the fire prevents you from enjoying a balanced and complete taste as compared to it being rested.
The resting time allows the meat to sit in its generated heat from the cook for a few minutes. In the process, the meat finalizes its cook, locks in juices, tastes, flavors, and cools it down slightly making it just very ready to bite in with royalty.
Veggies, however, do not necessarily need this sitting time, simply because you do not want to have them cooking too soft. Therefore, cook your veggies to the level of doneness as you prefer and eat right away!
Now, to the beginning of the infographic and let’s take a majestic walk through the items on the list.
Types of food to grill
As clear as the name sounds and as adventurous and creative as you can be, grilling allows you to barbecue just anything (food though!) as you will want.
For the sake of commonality and easy understanding, we use basic food types that can be easily related to. So in here, we talk about beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, and veggies. Choose your lot!
The thickness of the food
This relates to the weight of the food rather than its length. Each piece of food weighs differently as a result of the piece of cut that is chosen or offered at the supply store.
For this reason, the heat levels in correlation to time vary when grilling hence the necessity to know what kind of thickness calls for what.
Here, we stick to using an average level of thickness with a serving size of 2 – 4 people to aid you in multiplying your numbers based on your desired serving size.
The type of heat to use
What’s the best way to cook your meat to perfection? The answer relies on the recipe being used. Grilling is a faster way of cooking as compared to smoking, however, there is still the option to cook your foods either over direct heat or indirect heat.
This positions the food on the grates just exactly above the fire which is an ideal method for cooking fish, veggies, seafood and thinner cuts of meat.
Here, food is cooked by the heat source and not directly over the flames. Often the fire is set on one side of the grate at medium or medium-low and the food is cooked on the other side of the grates.
This style of grilling is best used for thicker cuts of meat that need long slow heat to offer a good cook.
The surface temperature of the grill
This is the temperature of the grill/grill grates after preheating which is right for the food to be introduced to.
It is wrong to place foods on the grates immediately the fire is lighted. You stand the chance of sticking your food to the grates which will affect its doneness and beauty, and deteriorate the grill grate faster than its lifespan.
Hence, the necessity to preheat the grill and for the different types of food, there is a call for an ideal temperature to use.
Grilling Temperature and Time Per Side
Specifically, you have to cook on both sides and this section talks about the approximate cooking temperature and time to use on each side of the food.
The range reflects the level of doneness to be derived. So, starting from rare to doneness, a higher adjustment from the least to the highest temperature in the range gives you the level of doneness of your food respectively.
Due to the use of heat when cooking, either directly or indirectly, the only appropriate way to detect the doneness of your food is by reading its cooked temperature using a digital meat thermometer with the aid of a temperature guide.
Ideal grill temperature for different food types
The temperature control per food type varies mainly by the thickness, cut and recipe of the dish being prepared. In this section, we walk you through the different categories of food to aid you in understanding the chart better as well as many tips to get your A-game on.
Grilling time and temperature for beef
Beef is one of the commonest go-to choices when the thought of barbecues sets in. Fortunately, the structure of beef in the cow’s body allows for many different cuts, hence, the names like sirloin, tenderloin, rib eye etc as you hear. They are simply derived by the different cuts and we look at the most common and their ideal grilling time.
Steak covers 4 main cuts of beef which are New York Strip, Tenderloin, Rib Eye and T-Bone. These are similar cuts but often bring about the question of what the perfect grill temperature for steak should be.
When grilling steak, a similar range on the grill meat temperature chart follows and in requirement by the USDA the best medium steak internal temperature is 145 °F for nutritional safety. However, for the different doneness desired, a good span of 130 °F to 165 offers you the best.
Steak grilling times are influenced by the level of doneness hoped to be achieved following a similar pattern as temperatures which is totally dependent on the recipe at hand and what beef grilling times are required. Omaha steaks for example work with a 2 to 10 minutes grilling time which is a standard for many others.
If still in a limbo on finding the perfect specifications to grill, it is safe to run on the average as beef tenderloin, rib eye steak, and flank steak grilling times and temperature serve as a basis for achieving equal results on the entire category of steak.
Now, what temperature should the grill be for steak? Simply, work within a range of 360 °F – 400 °F for a good start.
This is a thicker cut of beef than steak and requires a little extra of time and temperature to get a good barbecue.
So, for an inch thickness, the filet mignon grilling time and temperature spans across the same range for the same levels of doneness for a light thickness of steak.
Interesting fact about the filet mignon, translated to be beef fillet from the French word proves to be the best piece of meat for romantically inspired dishes. It holds up juices and flavors just right.
Fast forward, add this to your surprise romantic recipes and thank us later for the taste.
This cut of meat is one of the most loved for busy cooks due to its versatility. It comes between tender and tough cuts, ideal for varying recipes.
The sirloin steak grilling times and temperatures are very flexible spanning across the different ranges for steak because of its versatile texture.
Marinate your sirloin or simply boost it up with a good rub and the results are just incredible. This is why we love the sirloin! Very easy to work with without disappointments.
In a nutshell, the steak grilling times are driven by the thickness of the cut and from the chart, we make it simple for you to multiply numbers averagely for the number of people that you hope to serve.
If unsure about the level of doneness to use, the temperature for medium-rare steak on the grill at 140 °F – 145 °F is a good mark to consider.
Grilling time and temperature for pork
Just like beef, the pork grill temperature and times follow a similar trend.
The consumption of pork is one of the oldest to hit the earth’s surface and has not disappointed in taste and aroma over the centuries.
When grilling pork, the first key thing to take charge of is marination. Pork has the tendency of exuding a foul odor when not treated well, therefore to avoid this, marinate with stronger spices like garlic, ginger and soy sauce to override the odor.
Now, prep up the surface of the grill to between 300 °F – 400 °F for a great start without the food sticking.
This cut of pork is mostly leaner than most parts of the pig and often includes some rib bones. Hence, the question to ask is what temperature is best to grill pork chops? Straight up on that, we suggest sticking to a medium internal temperature of 145 °F .
It is a faster cooking portion as compared to the other cuts, so to achieve the various levels of doneness, the grill time can be altered between 2 to 7 minutes for such results.
This is a long thin cut of meat best used for bigger serving sizes. It is fast on the cook and requires as much attention as needed for other portions of meat.
The pork tenderloin grill temperature follows the same suit as the pork chops at 145 °F but requires a cooking time of between 10 to 25 minutes per side for the range of doneness.
The meat grill times chart for this goes longer due to the case of length.
Also known as Spare Ribs, these are a snacky kind of delicacy and can be cooked in almost all forms of cooking that comes to mind.
However, for the love of barbecue, we love the grilled versions best. They are cuts from the lower belly of the pig and are often categorized by beautifully aligned bones.
Due to their snacky nature, spicing ribs usually has no limits. Take a wild recipe from varying cultures and make some scrumptious dish that will leave you sucking on the bones.
The best form to grill ribs is on indirect heat due to its bone structuring. The ideal pork ribs and baby back ribs grill temperature are 145 °F and spans across 30 to 120 minutes of cook.
Pork loins are lengthier and thicker cuts similar to the tenderloin but with a different set up of tissues.
In grilling this cut, aim for a temperature range of 140 °F to 165 °F , and a pork loin grilling time of 4 to 8 minutes.
Grilling time and temperature for chicken
Chicken is the most commonly consumed piece of meat in the world because it is cheaper to raise and cheaper to purchase. Also, on the grill, it is one of the fastest to cook with mouth-watering results.
What is the perfect grill temperature for chicken? A minimum of 165 °F will keep you safe from any nutritional problems.
Preheat the grill to 350 °F and be ready to cook varying cuts aiming at the same chicken internal temperature of 165 °F on the minimum working across different chicken grilling times.
If you will be working with an oven or a beer can, you should work with a range of 165 °F to 180 °F as the chicken oven grill temperature and 165 °F to 170 °F as the beer can chicken grill temperature.
These are often the chunkiest of meats and have the tendency of running dry when cooked for long. Chicken breasts serve well with main dishes and are the ideal cuts for chicken kabobs.
In order not to dry out your breasts after a subtle spicing, work with a chicken breast grill temperature of 165 °F – 170 °F for between 6 to 8 minutes per side over direct heat.
Direct heat aids the meat to cook faster attaining this temperature in no time to avoid dryness.
What is the perfect temperature for chicken kabobs then? A 150 °F to 170 °F range working between 2 to 4 minutes per side serves as an average estimation for a good cook.
Thighs or Legs
These have larger proportions of meat to bones and are great for main dishes or snacks.
With this, the perfect chicken thigh or leg grilling temperature sits well at 165 °F to 180 °F working at 10 to 15 minutes per side based on the level of doneness you prefer.
This range should often be between medium rare to well done because of the taste and aroma of chicken.
Spice up your thighs with some rubs and a nice coat of finishing sauce after the cook, and be in all awe at the amazing tastes.
No one ever goes wrong with a good spicing of chicken wings. Although with a chemistry still yet to be understood for its heavy bone structure and why it is loved, these have been the best accompaniments for football watching and appetizers.
Now, to get your wings piping hot with flavor and taste, splurge them with a good dose of rub or an overnight marination. Then, barbecue them to a grill temperature for chicken wings at 165 °F – 180 °F over direct heat for 8 to 12 minutes on each side.
They cook very fast so an eye throughout the BBQ will prevent them from burning as they do easily.
Grilling time and temperature for turkey
A quick run through this thicker portion to chicken just so we have you prepped up for Thanksgiving already. Plan for a longer turkey grilling time than chicken but the same internal grill temperature.
Aim for a range of 165 °F to 175 °F with a time range of 60 – 110 minutes over direct heat.
This approach serves as a basis for other birds like duck, ostrich etc due to their thick-skinned nature.
Grilling time and temperature for vegetables
Vegetable grilling times take very few minutes to attain a perfect cook at a standard temperature of 350 °F .
Greens, leaves, fruits and stems alike will often work between 3 to 10 minutes on each side because of their lighter, easy heat penetrating textures.
However, tubers like potatoes tend to take a longer time to barbecue due to their tougher textures. Baked potatoes on a gas grill will require a surface temperature of 325 °F to 350 °F but cooked to an internal temperature of 200 °F in the center which is about 90 minutes over indirect heat.
Average temperatures for other types of food
They are often compacted soft meat and require very less time to cook. The best temperature for grilling hamburgers is 160 °F over direct heat of 400 °F .
Sausage and hot dogs should be grilled to an internal temperature of 150 °F to 160 °F over direct heat of 200 °F to 225 °F
Fish & Seafood:
These work across very similar times and temperature. For example, the salmon and swordfish grill temperature is 140 °F over direct heat of 400 °F which works the same for many other types of fish.
The temperature to grill shrimp works at 145 °F over direct heat of 450 °F and works alike for other seafood.
Controlling temperature on different grills
The level of heat produced by the grill in combination to the management of fire aids with the skill in controlling temperature.
These kinds are usually the hardest to control because of their very natural state. Charcoal burns faster and could create too much heat if you let them loose.
How then do you control temperature on a charcoal grill? The charcoal grill temperature control is simple. Just take note of these three (3): the amount of coals being used per time, the mode of layering the coals and the vents/dampers.
Amount of coals used: Although grilling is a faster form of grilling than smoking, this does not mean a dump of plenty of charcoal lumps in the firebox for a good cook.
Work with a minimal amount of lumps based on the quantity of food you are hoping to cook. Larger lumps of charcoal burn slower than chippings so you will want to consider having more of this kind in your selection.
The mode of layering: After the charcoal has been placed in the firebox and lighted, spread them out in the fire box for heat distribution as you will prefer. Some options are:
Even distribution: Here, you want to spread out the pieces across the firebox to allow for an even and direct distribution of heat to the food. This approach will require you to use as little fire as possible so as to not burn the food.
Left and right positioning: Arrange the fiery coals on the left and right side of the firebox leaving the middle blank. This way you can move the food from the left to middle or right to the middle as you cook signifying heating to cooling levels.
It is a good method to give you much control over the amount of heat that gets to the food. A trick to this is to mount one side of the fire box with more charcoal than the other for a higher to lower levels of direct heat. Then, the middle section can serve as an indirect heating zone.
One-sided positioning: Arrange the fiery coals on just one section of the firebox. Move food from the hot side to the cold side as and when there is a need for it.
Vents/ Dampers: These are responsible for the flow of air into the fire hence closing completely, partially closing and completely opening allows for equal quantity of oxygen to get to the fire. Hence, more oxygen leads to more fire and less oxygen leads to less fire.
Working with the above chart which also serves as the charcoal grilling temperature chart, a control of temperature by the above will get you cooking right.
Gas and Electric Grills:
These are pretty much easier to control temperature with as they come with burners and knobs to aid control the level of fire being produced. Turn it high or low to give you the amount of fire desired.
Natural gas versus propane gas grill cooking temperatures often give off the same levels of temperature reach as the chart above but are often quickly attained than a charcoal grill. For example, the highest temperature a gas grill gives ranges between 450 °F – 500 °F which implies the fast cook.
In inclusion with electric grills, these come with vents also that allow you release heat from the grill as you cook rather than take in air.
Kamado and Infrared Grills:
These grills take up a slightly different design and cooking time as compared to the other types of grills.
Kamados are heavily ceramic built meaning they hold up more heat and for longer than many other grills, however using charcoal for fueling mostly.
To control temperature on a kamado grill, simply set up the lumps in the grill, light them up and allow the grill to heat up to the surface temperature required for the food. At that temperature, place your food on the grates, close the lid and keep the vent opened quarterly.
Keep cooking and control temperature using the vents.
On the other hand, infrared grills are one of the fastest cooking grills you can find, cooking food in very few minutes.
Infrared grilling times often last about 5 minutes on the average because of the technology used. Preheat the grill for 1 minute to medium-high heat, then cook your food, about 2 minutes on each side.
Due to the fastness of this grill, it is wise to stick to the grill throughout the cooking process so as to not burn the food. Some grills can be very expensive. If you are looking for more affordable models, check out this list of grills under $500.
A few questions and answers on the right temperature
- What temperature is low on a grill?
Answer: 250 °F – 270 °F .
- What temperature is medium-low on a grill?
Answer: 300 °F
- What temperature is medium on a grill?
Answer: 350 °F
- What temperature is medium-high on a grill?
Answer: 400 °F – 450 °F
- What temperature kills mold on the grill?
Answer: 140 °F
A further look at grill temperature controllers
Basing this section on how some known grills work on temperatures, we do a quick summary on what to expect on some brands and their likes.
Control temperature on Traegar grill
This grill works solely by wood pellets and is designed to feed the grilling system with wood pellets as the barbecue is on. The Traeger does not hold accurate temperature often starting at 250 °F , drops to about 215 °F and rises again.
However, a good thing about this make is its grill temperature control that monitors the levels of heat attained by the grill while hot. It has the ability to turn off the feeding system and set off an alarm to notify the user of high levels of heat being attained.
Control temperature on Weber Grill
Weber on the hand has varying fueling designed units. For the gas grill, temperature control is simply done using the control knobs while the charcoal grill controls temperatures by two dampers located at the bottom and the top of the grill.
It is good to keep the lower damper opened through the cook while you use the upper damper to control the airflow to the fire.
Weber grill temperatures span from 225 °F to 500 °F giving you enough room to work at different levels of heat at different grilling times. The Weber grill temperature chart follows the same pattern as ours to keep you on the safe side.
Control temperature on George Foreman
George Foreman grills are very unique in design, very portable to fit into any kind of space. It offers a temperature chart or range of 350 °F to 400 °F and shorter grilling times due to its ability to cook food on both sides at a go.
Hence, with our chart, you will only need to stick to the time of cook as given without the need to flip the food.
Preheat the grill for 5 minutes before placing the food in it and then simply use the grill temperature control situated on the lid to increase or decrease the heat levels.
Control temperature on Green Mountain
Also a wood pellet grill, the Green Mountain simply works by feeding the firebox with wood pellets by a motor. A grill temperature control is located on the grill or a WIFI enabled feature to control the amount of pellets that are being fed into the fire to increase or decrease heat.
Its grill temperature problems are mainly known to be slower to preheat as compared to other grills which take up to 45 minutes to do so.