If your ready to become a pit master (or want to cook some delicious meals) there is a couple things you need to know.
Knowing exactly what temperature to cook at and the perfect time to pull your food off the heat.
Below I have made an easy to use reference chart.
You can use this chart to know the exact temperature to grill or at. For how long to grill, the resting period and the temperature your food should be when it’s done.
Even the most well seasoned pit masters use a digital meat thermometer. While the meat is cooking they measure the real time temperature of the food.
This allows them to know exactly what part of the cooking process their meat is at.
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Note: I have tried to make this chart as accurate as possible. However, all these temperatures and timings are approximate timings.
You should always use your temperature to gauge when the meat is finished cooking.
What’s the Problem with Temperature Charts?
Cooking time and temperature charts are a great guide. If you are starting out its a good way to get an idea of the cooking time and temperature for your meat.
There are a few different variables that you need to keep in mind when referencing a time and temperature chart.
- Different Cooking Styles: Most pit masters have different styles of cooking. You can expect delicious food from both cooking at high 350+ temperatures as well as low and slow. It is hard to determine what temperature the “best” pork belly or ribs.
- Shape of The Meat: Different cuts need to be treated different.
- Thickness, Diameter & Weight: The density of the cut can affect the penetration of heat and smoke.
- Volume: Are you loading your grill with 5lbs of meat or 1lb?
- Bones: Are you cooking with deboned or bone in cuts?
- Connective Tissue and Fat: Fatty cuts can speed up the cooking process, so you will want to make note of this.
- Weather & Insulation: Your cookers insulation and ability to hold heat will play a large factor in your cooking. Both humidity and snow and slow down your cooking time.
- Type of Smoker: The type of smoker you use can affect your cook. According legend Meathead at Amazing Ribs an electric smoker will produce a quicker cook due to the lack of airflow.
Health & Safety of Smoking & Grilling
First things first, make your safe aware of the meat danger zone. If meat temperature is between 40 and 140° F bacterial can start to multiply.
Cook your food within two hours of removing it from refrigeration. Always remember if the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour. See the USDA Danger Zone fact sheet to learn more.
The last thing you want is to make your friends or family sick. To avoid any problems make sure you follow those guidelines as well as these tips below.
- Never reuse marinade from raw poultry or meat.
- Always grill your poultry above the USDA recommendations
- Always totally thaw your meat before grilling.
How to Control the Temperature Inside of the Grill
Maintaining a stable temperature on a grill can be challenging.
Don’t worry if you see a temperature jump. Try to diagnose the problem and don’t over adjust.
I have included an instruction guide of how to maintain temperature of ever type of grill below.
Gas and Electric Grills
Electric and gas grills are relativity easy to control.
They have easy to use knobs and burners to control the heat output. All you need to do is set the dial to give you the heat required.
One thing to note is that electric grill does come with vents that allow you to release heat as you cook rather than take in air.
Charcoal grills are one of the toughest grills to control. Charcoal burns much faster and can get very hot if you let them go.
So how do you reign in the charcoal? Take note of the following things tips;
You have three options when it comes to positioning. Left & right distribution, one-sided positioning and even distribution.
Left & Right Positioning: Once your coals are hot arranging them in the box with a large gap in the middle. This way you can use both the indirect and direct method of cooking. Not only that you move the food from left to middle or right to middle as the cook progresses.
One-Side Positioning: Place the hot coals on one side of the firebox. Move the food from the hot to cold side as you need it as well as well as using the direct and indirect method.
Even Distribution: Spread out the hot coals in the firebox evenly. This will need you have only direct method of cooking. You need to be careful with method as food may blacken on the outside before it is cooked inside.
Dampers and Vents
The vent and dampers allow/deny flow of oxygen into the fire. This helps increase and decrease the temperature of your coals.
Use these in conjunction with your temperature gauge. After some practice this will allow to maintain cooking temperatures for your food.
Amount of Coal
Large lump of charcoal will burn slower, try and have a mix of both large clumps, medium and chippings.
Kamodo and Infrared Grills
Kamado & Infrared grills are different than other grills. Particularly when it comes to cooking times.
This difference is because of the design and materials. Kamados have a heavy ceramic build which allow them to hold heat much longer than other grills.
To use a Kamado
- Set the charcoal in left & right positioning.
- Light the grill and heat the two sides to the temperature required for your food.
- When you’re at temperature close the lid and keep the vents open.
- Cook until your food reaches the desired temperature.
If you are looking to cook your food quickly, infrared grills are a good choice.
These types of grills only require a few minutes to heat up and are a very efficient way of cooking.
This section is a summary of how to control temperature on specific brands.
How to Control Temperature on Traeger Grill
Traeger grills are generally powered by wood pellets. They have an automated system which monitors the temperature and feeds pellets into the firebox as needed.
This system makes it simple for the user. Perfect for beginners. They also have a mechanism which will alert you when the preset temperature is reached.
To control the temperature of your unit all you need to do is set it the dial to your ideal temperature and the unit takes care of all the hard work. Just make sure you keep the unit well stocked with pellets.
How to Control Temperature on Weber Grill
Unlike the Traeger, Weber has a variety of different powered units.
Its charcoal units are controlled by two dampers which are located at the top and bottom of the grill.
The gas grill is easily controlled by the knobs on the front of the unit.
Both the charcoal and gas grill can reach temperature as high as 500 °F and as low 220 °F
How to Control Temperature on A George Foreman Grill
The George Foreman is one of the simplest yet effective grills to use. It portable and only needs to be plugged into an outlet.
It has two grilling plates which cook food on both sides at once, it also has a temperature range of 350 °F to 400 °F.
All you need to do to get started is plug it in and let it preheat for 3-5 minutes. Different models have the option to increase or decrease the temperature. This knob is situated on the lid.
How to Control Temperature on Green Mountain
Similar to the Traeger, the Green Mountain is fuelled by wood pellets by an automated auger.
Most units are able to be controlled by WIFI. Set your temperature on the control pad on the grill or your smart device. Then simply monitor the temperature when anywhere in your home.
Just remember to keep your auger full!
What Types of Food Should You Grill?
This all comes down to personal taste and preference. You can grill almost anything that is edible.
More often than not the grill will add a new depth of flavor that you have never experienced before. It’s all about experimenting, trial and error and seeing what works.
Obviously I can’t list out all the different times and temperatures for everything. So below I have picked out the most basic cuts of meat. If your preferred cut is not there, don’t stress. Pick out the cut that is similar in thickness and weight and use that as a rough guide.
What Thickness of Meat Should You Cook?
There are lots of factors that come into play when talking about thickness.
A lot of the time different butchers or supermarkets will have their own way they like to cut their cuts. This can get a little bit frustrating if you are not getting your meat from the same place consistently.
The thickness of your cuts will change the cooking time, ideal temperature and even serving sizes.
In the guide below I have tried to make the timings of an average cut you get from most shops. If you feel that you have a larger, or smaller cut please make adjustments as necessary.
The Different Types of Heat
Direct heat is exactly what it sounds like. It is when you are cooking the food directly over the heat source. Think gas flame, fire, element etc
Direct heat cooking is better for thinner cut of meat, fish, shellfish and veggies.
You guessed it that means indirect cooking is when you are cooking your food away from the heat source. Think offset smokers, charcoal smokers or when you are cooking your food on the side of your grill that is not on.
Since there is less heat (and less chance of your food burning) indirect cooking is better for cooking low and slow, and thicker meat cuts.
Grill Surface Temperature
The surface temperature of your grill is the temperature of the cooking surface.
You should always let your grill preheat. There are several main reasons why;
- If you place your food on a cold grill it will take a long time to come to temperature (if it does). This results in food that is undercooked, dry and tough.
- Your food has a much higher chance of sticking to the grill if it is placed on it cold.
- You will never achieve a beautiful caramelization on your food.
- Each different food type has a different ideal grill surface temperature. This is determined by the foods thickness, weight and texture.
Cooking Your Food Right
9 times out of 10 you need to cook your food on both sides.
This ensures that your food is cooked through evenly. The last thing you want to do is to leave your steak on the grill on one side. This will give you raw on top and super well done on the bottom.
When looking at the cooking times make sure that you keep in mind that the times are total cooking times.
When appropriate you want to half the cooking time and cook your meat on each side for that amount of time.
What Are The Ideal Cooking Temperatures for Food?
The temperature of your grill will be different for each different cut and texture of meat.
For example: A steak is going to need a might higher temperature than a fillet of fish.
It is important to pay attention to the temperature of your cooker. This is one of the most common mistakes when cooking on a grill.
Chicken Cooking Times and Temperature Chart
Many people are scared to cook chicken. This is because most people don’t know when it is actually cooked.
The main thing you need to remember is that the thickest point needs to be at least 165 °F.
Here is my grilling times and temperature chart for chicken.
|Cut of Chicken||Grill Temperature||Done Temperature||Cook Time||Resting Time|
|Breast Halves||350 F||165 – 175 F||6 – 8 Minutes||1 Minute|
|Whole Chicken||350 F||165 – 175 F||60 – 75 Minutes||15 Minutes|
|Legs or Thighs||350 F||165 – 180 F||10 – 15 Minutes||10 Minutes|
|Wings||350 F||165 – 180 F||8 – 15 Minutes||10 Minutes|
|Drumsticks||350 F||165 – 180 F||8 – 15 Minutes||5 Minutes|
Beef Cooking Times and Temperature Chart
When the word barbecue is mentioned most of us automatically think steak.
Steak is one of the most popular meats out there. Coincidentally it is one of the most wrongly cooked meats out there too.
Beef is a fantastic type of meat. Because the animal is so big there are many different cuts. There is a cut for everyone and every occasion.
Here is a grilling time and temperature chart of the most common cuts of steak.
|Cut of Beef||Grill Temperature||Done Temperature||Cook Time||Resting Time|
|New York Strip||360 F – 400 F||130 – 160 F||4 – 10 Minutes||8 Minutes|
|Filet Mignon||360 F – 400 F||130 – 165 F||4 – 10 Minutes||8 Minutes|
|Sirloin||350 F||130 – 160 F||18 -25 Minutes||15 Minutes|
|Burgers||400 F||160 F||2 – 5 Minutes||4 Minutes|
|Tenderloins||400 F||135 – 170 F||8 – 15 Minutes||15 Minutes|
|Kababs||350 – 400 F||135 – 155 F||2 – 14 Minutes||3 Minutes|
|Roast||380 F||135 – 170 F||16 – 22 Minutes||17 Minutes|
Pork Cooking Times and Temperature Chart
Pork is another meat that is very under used.
The most popular cut of pork is by far ribs. Ribs are usually slow cooked and slathered in beautiful barbecue sauce.
Pork is another meat that a lot of people tend to stay away from. This is mainly because a lot of people don’t actually know when pork is safe to eat.
Here is a grilling time and temperature chart of the most common cuts of pork.
|Cut of Pork||Grill Temperature||Done Temperature||Cook Time||Resting Time|
|Chops||325 F – 350 F||150 F||2 – 7 Minutes||4 Minutes|
|Ground Pork Burgers||400 F||150 F||2 – 4 Minutes||3 Minutes|
|Kabobs||350 – 400 F||135 – 160 F||2 – 4 Minutes||3 Minutes|
|Uncured Ham||285 F||150 F||6 – 10 Minutes||3 Minutes|
|Ribs||350 – 400 F||145 F||30 -120 Minutes||3 Minutes|
|Tenderloin||400 F||140 F||10 – 25 Minutes||6 Minutes|
Turkey Cooking Times and Temperature Chart
Turkey is something that we often use for big occasions. But most of us really don’t know how to cook it to rise to the occasion.
Here is a grilling time and temperature chart for turkey.
|Cut of Turkey||Grill Temperature||Done Temperature||Cook Time||Resting Time|
|Breast||350 F||165 – 175 F||10 – 20 Minutes||15 Minutes|
|Turkey Roll||350 F||165 – 175 F||60 – 105 Minutes||15 Minutes|
|Whole Turkey||350 F||165 – 175 F||60 – 120 Minutes||20 Minutes|
|Thighs & Drumsticks||350 F||165 – 175 F||10 – 20 Minutes||16 Minutes|