You’ve cleaned up your grill and are ready to go. Your meat is ready; it has been cleaned, cut, and marinated to perfection. But here’s the catch: your recipe specifies medium heat on the grill. What’s that? On a grill, what is medium heat? Grill newcomers aren’t always aware of how temperatures translate to heat levels, making recipes and grilling instructions quite perplexing.
If you’ve ever burned a couple of steaks or had a half-cooked chicken come out of the grill, you’ll need to understand what different heat levels mean. Knowing what medium grill temperature means is important because it is specified in most recipes.
Continue reading to learn more about what all of these different temperatures and heat levels mean!
Grill Temperature Checklist
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the broad temperature ranges for the three major types of heat we encounter when cooking or grilling.
This cheat sheet will help you remember the temperatures and more easily translate more precise heat levels.
Grilling, on the other hand, is more of exact science, so we must go a step further to determine exactly what medium heat means in terms of temperature.
Similarly, the chart does not explain what it means to grill something over medium-high heat. This brings us to the next section of this article.
What is the Definition of Medium Heat on a Grill?
The Temperature of Medium-High Heat
When it comes to grilling, precise temperatures are usually required to achieve the best results. Certain temperatures are ideal for slow cooking for an extended period, whereas higher temperatures are required for a quick sear.
If you have an older grill, the heat settings may be labeled low, medium-low, medium, and so on. But what do these terms mean, and to what temperatures do they refer? What exactly does a medium-high heat grill setting imply?
Here are the temperatures associated with each of these terms:
A temperature range of 225-250F is considered low heat on a grill. This is for low-temperature cooking—you’re not grilling anything at this point; it’s more of a BBQ temperature.
It is ideal for slow-cooking larger, tougher cuts of meat, transforming rigid joints and tissue into melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
Low heat is also a good option if you want to smoke meats and spices. Even mushrooms can be smoked on low heat, especially if you have a smoker box.
Smoking meat is an excellent way to preserve and flavor it, so keep plenty of wood chips and charcoal.
At temperatures ranging from 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, this is another perfect setting for slow-cooking food. If you’re grilling with charcoal, you need to add more fuel. Because this is the temperature for indirect heat on gas grill recipes, your meat is unlikely to brown at such a low temperature.
After searing something on high heat, such as steak or pork chops, this is a good temperature to cook through the meat without burning it gently. It is also an excellent choice for warming cold items on the grill, such as heating cold tamales and reheating burritos.
The temperature range for medium heat is 325-375F, which is right in the middle of the heating range. It is hot enough to brown meat and vegetables while remaining cool enough to cook the insides of the food gently. This temperature is designed for grilling most foods, including whole chickens, geese, roasts, and even turkeys.
Cooking a Weber grill chicken under indirect heat is best done at medium temperatures. The medium heat cooks most meats, charring the surface and leaving the flesh soft and tender.
A chicken will take 45 to 60 minutes to cook through completely with a secure lid, depending on its weight.
The medium-high heat temperature ranges from 375 to 450F. This temperature is used for a lot of high-temperature grilling, especially for things like cooking burgers, fish fillets, and certain joints of meat. Tougher and firmer vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, can also be grilled.
The food sears quickly at this temperature, browning the surface with intensity. However, the heat is still ‘low’ enough to completely cook certain foods. It cooks food much faster than the medium heat range, so you have a 10-15-minute window on an open grill.
If you want to grill ultra-thin cuts of meat or delicate fillets, this is the setting. The hottest temperature is 450F+, which your grill reaches immediately after the coals are dumped into the flames.
Although this may appear to be the ideal charcoal grill temperature for achieving a smoky, charred surface on BBQ chicken, it is not sustainable. It is best for a quick sear before cooking the rest of the meat on a lower, more indirect heat.
Checking the Temperature of your Grill
The Temperature of the Grills
If you have a modern propane gas grill, you might be tempted to use the thermometer on the lid to monitor the grill’s temperature. However, this device is nothing more than a temperature gauge that indicates whether or not your grill is hot.
When cooking, however, you need something much more precise. What is our recommendation?
A meat probe thermometer is used. This will let you know when your meat is cooked to perfection, regardless of the type of grill you’re using, especially if you’re using an old-fashioned charcoal grill.
A remote temperature monitor may be the best option if you use your grill frequently. An IR thermometer is another good option, but these tools only measure the temperature of the grilled metal, not the temperature of the air inside the grill.
Many people use a grill surface thermometer, which is considered accurate and reliable. They are also reasonably priced, but they tend to get dirty quickly and require frequent replacement as they become difficult to read after a few months.
Changing the Temperature of your Grill
The temperature range of charcoal fluctuates quickly, going from searing-high to low and mellow heat in less than an hour. As a result, gas grills provide better temperature control as your meat cooks.
Charcoal, like any other type of fire, requires oxygen to survive. You can control the temperature more effectively by controlling the amount of oxygen available to the flaming charcoal. Most good charcoal grills have at least two sets of air vents, one at the bottom and one at the top.
By adjusting these vents, you can control the heat produced by restricting airflow into and out of the grill. When you are finished with your grill, close the vents completely to cut off the airflow and put out the fire.
Why is Temperature Important When Grilling?
When you first start grilling, there may appear to be a lot to learn about the temperatures for each food type and how long to cook in each setting.
However, this will become easier with practice and knowledge of when each meat type is fully cooked.
But why is temperature such an important factor when grilling?
Changing the grill’s temperature affects how long each side of the meat or fish needs to cook, as well as the skin’s crispiness.
When burgers and steaks are cooked on a grill, they often have a smokey and savory flavor, with the outside crisping while the inside remains juicy.
How to Measure Medium Heat in the Absence of a Thermometer?
It’s important to keep your grill at a specific temperature, but what if your grill doesn’t come with a thermometer?
Although this is unlikely because many come with one, if it is broken, unreadable, or tends to be off by a few degrees, you should use another method to gauge the heat.
To do this, use your hand to determine how long you can keep it four or five inches from the fire. Keep your palm flat out over the fire and see how long you can do it.
If you feel the heat right away and can’t keep your hand over it, it’s probably on high, and you need to lower the temperature. It is still too hot if you can only stand the heat for two or three seconds.
If you can keep your hand above the fire for 5 seconds, the temperature is medium-high. If you are cooking more delicate foods, such as poultry, you should reduce the heat slightly.
When the temperature is just right, you should be able to handle the heat for about 7 seconds. If you can hold your hand still for more than that time, or about 10 seconds, the grill is at a medium-low temperature.
And, even if your thermometer isn’t very accurate, you can still use it to see if the temperature is within the acceptable range. If you are significantly off, you may need to recheck the temperature with your hand.
What Foods Work Well with Medium Heat Cooking?
Another consideration when grilling is which we will use foods at which temperatures. You don’t want to mess up this step and overcook or undercook your meats.
Steak, for example, is one of the best meats to cook on medium heat, and this is because you can make it savory and juicy inside while slightly crisping the outside.
Furthermore, this temperature is ideal for steaks because medium-rare steaks are delicious.
Hot dogs and hamburgers
Burgers and hot dogs are also popular options. Burgers can be as juicy as steaks, so grilling them on medium heat will bring out the flavor of the meat.
Hot dogs are an excellent alternative because they require less heat than other meats, and this is due to their propensity to split open when overcooked.
To get the perfect game day dog for your next barbeque, use lower heat on the hot dogs and flip them over faster.
Skewers and Kebabs
On medium heat, grill some veggie skewers or fruit and meat kebobs. This is ideal for these foods because it allows the juices of the fruits, vegetables, and meats to flavor them while cooking quickly.
Pineapples and bell peppers with beef or steak are popular because the pineapple juice’s sweetness balances out the peppers’ spiciness and savory meat.
How Long do I Need to Preheat my Grill?
Preheating the grill for 15 minutes is a good rule of thumb because it brings it up to the desired temperature. Later on, you may need to add more charcoal or adjust the vents.
Adjusting the vents on the top and bottom of a charcoal grill allows you to control the heat level.
The following are some safety precautions to take when grilling on medium heat:
Before lighting the grill, make sure it’s on a level surface.
When using lighter fluid or matches near the grill, use caution.
Protect your skin from the heat by wearing long sleeves and gloves.
While the grill is lit, keep children and pets away from it.
When the grill is lit, never leave it unattended.
You can enjoy grilling without fear of accidents or injuries if you follow these safety tips.
As you can see, once you get the hang of it, the temperature range is quite easy to remember. After a few different grilling recipes, you won’t have to ask what medium heat is on a grill because you’ll understand the temperatures instinctively.
Investing in a good thermometer, as always, will allow you to grill things to the perfect temperature every time. You will also be able to smoke items such as meat, vegetables, cheese, and spices.
So familiarising yourself with your grill (and its temperatures) will bring you one step closer to becoming a pitmaster pro!