When you should grill with lid open or closed

Hosting your barbeque parties are great fun – but there’s always the worry that the food won’t turn out quite as you intended. Very often the success of the food depends on making just a couple of decisions during the cooking time – when to have the lid open or closed! Whilst this is not an exact science, it doesn’t have to require a degree in physics to get it right – here are some basic guidelines as when best to cook with the lid open or closed:

When cooking different cuts of meat

Open

Thin cuts of meat are best grilled with the lid open. Foods like burgers, pork chops and some seafood, like shrimp and prawns, cook quickly and therefore you will want to slow down the cooking process by reducing the heat around the meats.

Closed

The thicker cuts of meat you’re doing on the barbeque are best grilled with the lid closed. This keeps the temperature high and even, for an extended period of time – this helps the cooking of food items like chicken, large steaks, and roasts. These foods have more depth for any heat to penetrate and, by closing the lid, you create the time for the food to cook through properly – much the same as a conventional oven in the house.

What type of grill are you using?

If you are cooking with a charcoal burning grill, then you should always cook with the lid closed. This is because of the way charcoal grills actually cook the food – they emit heat that then circulates around the food – if you have the lid open then the heat escapes and cooking takes longer, is more uneven and can lead to the food drying out – not what you’re after!

Meat preparation

For most people, the very essence of barbeque grilled food is that intense ‘smoky’ flavour. This is often enhanced by the ‘flare-ups’ of intense heat the meat gets whilst cooking – these sudden bursts of heat are usually caused by fat dripping onto the flames and briefly igniting. If, however, there are too many of these ‘flare-ups’, they can result in the meat being overcooked on the outside in places – grilling with the lid closed can reduce these occurrences by closing off the air flow that ignites the fat.

Depending on how expert you are as a barbeque cook, you can regulate this by using your own judgement as to when to open and close the lid during the cooking process.

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