Grilling Questions for Diane Morgan: What’s the Difference Between Leaving the Grill Open or Closed?

published Jul 17, 2008
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Here’s another question and very helpful answer from Diane Morgan, author of Grill Every Day. She’s talked to us about cleaning grills and grilling fish and now she’s answering our question about grilling with the top open or closed.

We often get confused too about when the grill is supposed to be open, and when it’s supposed to be closed. Read on for her answer…

Here’s the question: What is difference between leaving the grill closed or open when cooking meat? How will my chicken or steak differ?

And here’s Diane’s answer…

Think of grilling with the grill cover open as another form of searing meat in a pan, except with grilling you are cooking over a live fire. With the grill open you are likely cooking meat or fish that is 3/4 – to – 1 1/2 –inches thick. You are looking to get a caramelized, seared flesh with slight char at the edges on both sides of the meat and still have it rare to medium in the center.

For fish, you want a crusted, sear on the flesh and it moist and just opaque at the center. This is best achieved with a higher heat, shorter cooking time, careful eye, and thermometer to check for doneness.

Grilling with the lid closed creates more smoke, if that is desired, and allows the food to grill-roast, creating a fully heated area all around the food, not just under the meat.

This is ideal for poultry and thicker cuts of pork, when you want to sear the food on both sides and then move the meat to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking all the way through. I always cook steaks with the grill open. Poultry is best seared on both sides for crisp, browned skin and then cooked indirectly so it cooks all the way through.

Thanks Diane! Watch for another question and answer with Diane tomorrow.

Yesterday’s Grilling Question for Diane: How to Clean a Grill?

(Mod grills image: Flickr member misocrazy licensed for use under Creative Commons)