Beef and pork are undoubtedly the most popular items on the grill, but too often we’re left with burgers that are charred on the outside and raw on the inside, sausage that’s chewy, and chops that could double as hockey pucks. What gives? Follow our time-tested grilling tips for these backyard superstars and you’ll be skipping around the fire in no time.
The appropriate heat level and cooking time are crucial for grilling meat that is tender and juicy. Follow specific guidelines for each type:
- Use direct heat for sausages, chops, steaks and hamburgers.
- Use indirect heat for roasts and larger cuts of meat.
- Cover the grill when cooking less tender cuts of meat.
- Slash the edges of steaks and chops on the diagonal, about 1/4 inch into the center to prevent the edges from curling.
- Steaks like filet mignon, rib-eye, top sirloin and New York strip are naturally tender and need nothing more than a seasoning rub or a bit of salt and pepper.
- Larger steaks like flank, skirt steak and London broil are best when soaked in a flavorful marinade before grilling.
- Cuts like brisket, shank and chuck demand long, slow cooking.
- Some experts say the best steak for grilling is rib eye because of its marbling and ability to hold up to strong flavors in spice rubs and marinades.
- Lean, tender pork chops can be marinated or rubbed and then cooked over the coals.
- Pork spare ribs and baby back ribs can be pre-baked and then grilled to achieve an irresistible smoky flavor.
- Pork tenderloin grills quickly, is low in fat, and can be sliced easily for a beautiful presentation.
- Treat larger cuts of pork like pork shoulder the way you would larger cuts of beef.
- Start sausage off on high heat to get a really nice char on the outside, then move sausage to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking through.
- Always cook meat thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria. The best way to ensure perfectly cooked meat is to use an instant read thermometer. Whole cuts like steak, chops, roasts and tenderloin should be cooked to a minimum of 145°F with a three minute rest time. Ground meats (beef, lamb or pork) should be cooked to 160°F.
For more tips and recipe ideas, see our complete Guide to Grilling. How do you cook up a juicy and tasty sausage or burger on the grill?