What is Medium Heat on Grills

What is Medium Heat on Grills- Everything on Grill Temperature

Medium heat on grills means that the grill is set somewhere between 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148 C) and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 C), which is a temperature used for a lot of recipes.

Cooking on grills is a great way to practice your skills. You get to deal with different and simple problems that will hone your cooking skills over time.

The essential thing to remember when cooking on grills is temperature and control. You need to know what temperature your recipe needs, how to get to that temperature, and how to maintain it.

Medium Heat on grills

Flare-ups and sudden heat fluctuations can ruin your recipe, so it is important to remember the settings on your grill, the temperature they mention, and how you can control it.

The first step to knowing how to make the perfect recipe on your grill is to understand temperature. We are here for and what we will be looking at.

So, what exactly are medium heat, medium-high, medium-low, and all these confusing terms? Let us figure them out together with this post; read on!

How To Check Your Grill’s Temperature

The most efficient way to measure the temperature of your grill is to use an infrared thermometer. Simply hover it over the grill’s surface, and then it will give you the temperature.

Most infrared thermometers have a display that will give you the accurate temperature of the grill’s surface. I recommend investing in one as it will also come in handy in other things.

How To Check Your Grill’s Temperature

If you do not have an infrared thermometer, there are also simpler ways to check the temperature of your grill, like hovering your hand about 3 inches above the surface of the grill.

The burning sensation on your hand can give you a rough estimate of the temperature of the grill’s cooking surface.

Here is a rule of thumb is when testing the grill temperature with your palm:

  • High heat – 1 to 2 seconds
  • Medium-high – 2 to 4 seconds
  • Medium – 4 to 5 seconds
  • Medium-low – 6 to 7 seconds
  • Low – 7 to 9 seconds

Of course, these are not that accurate but it is a good way to learn how to measure the temperature and train your mind to have rough estimates of the temperature of your grill.

In a perfect world, we would all have a grill with a built-in thermometer, but for now, you can use an infrared thermometer or the palm of your hand to measure the temperature of your grill.

What Is Medium Heat On Grills?

Medium heat on grills is simply the temperatures between 300 degrees Fahrenheit and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Within the 100-degree difference, medium heat is separated into three: medium-low heat, medium heat, and medium-high heat.

You might have heard of medium-high heat often when you are cooking and following a recipe. That is the higher end of the medium temperature range on your grill.

Medium heat on grills is widely used for searing burgers and steaks and putting grill marks on food to give that slight grill BBQ flavor.

Medium heat is hot enough to cook thick cuts of meat all the way through but is not quite hot enough to develop chars or crust on the cut of meat you are grilling.

It is a pretty wide range, and you can cook different types of recipes with medium heat on your grill.

How To Gauge Medium Heat Without A Thermometer

Like when checking the temperature, you can use your hand to gauge medium heat without a thermometer.

No matter what type of grill you use, keeping the temperature at medium heat is beneficial to ensure that the food continues to cook without burning it easily.

Place your hand above the grill’s surface, about 5 inches from the cooking surface, and if the heat is too hot to keep your hand for 2 seconds, the temperature is too high.

How To Gauge Medium Heat Without A Thermometer

With medium heat, you should be able to tolerate the heat at that distance from the grill’s surface for 4 to 5 seconds. 

So adjust the temperature or remove some of the fuel you are using to reduce the heat until the grill reaches the right temperature – medium heat.

You can also check if the grill is on medium heat by looking at the food you are grilling. The grill is on high heat if it is meat and chars within a minute.

Charring will not happen over medium heat within just a minute. Adjust either the temperature of the grill to go down to medium heat or adjust the height of the grill grate from the flames.

Grill Temperatures And What They’re Used For

Heat SettingTemperatureWhat To Cook
Low Heat225 to 250 degrees FahrenheitSlow-cooked meat or smoked meat –  brisket, pork shoulders, ribs, pork loin roast.
Medium-low Heat300 to 325 degrees FahrenheitIndirect grilling – hot dogs, kebabs, vegetables.
Medium Heat325 to 375 degrees FahrenheitRoasting and indirect/direct grilling – finishing burgers and steaks, hot dogs, sausages, barbecue, and skewers.
Medium-high Heat375 to 400 degrees FahrenheitDirect and indirect grilling – pork chops, burgers, steaks, and tough vegetables like potatoes and carrots.
High Heat400 to 600 degrees FahrenheitQuick sear for developing crust – steaks, burgers, fish, pork chops.
Higher 600 degrees Fahrenheit
and above
Quick sear and baking – pizzas and steaks.

Low Heat

The lowest temperature for grilling is low heat which is 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you can also use wood chips to smoke thick cuts of meat.

It will not put too much crust on the food that you are cooking, instead, low heat just slowly heats up the food until it is cooked inside.

Foods To Cook At Low Heat

  • Pork shoulder
  • Brisket
  • Ribs
  • Pork loin roast
  • Beef
  • Whole lamb or pig

Medium-Low Heat

Medium-low heat is the lowest range of temperature under Medium Heat and is 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. It is good for cooking meat like roasting as well as baking.

While medium-low heat does not quickly cook food, it allows your recipe to develop deeper flavors and basting seared steaks that are almost ready for serving.

Foods To Cook At Medium-low Heat:

  • Sausages
  • Hot dogs
  • Bratwursts
  • Bread
  • Vegetables 
  • Fish
  • Chicken

Medium Heat

The “true” medium heat is between 325 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In theory, the optimal medium heat is 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

A slightly hotter temperature can develop flavors and texture on meat like steaks and burgers. I usually finish steaks and burgers on medium heat to cook the interior properly.

Medium heat is also great for cooking a whole chicken and the more tender cuts of pork such as pork chops, pork tenderloin, and sausages.

Grill Temperature

Foods To Cook At Medium Heat:

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Fried rice
  • Pork chops
  • Finishing burgers
  • Finishing steaks
  • Whole chicken

Medium-High Heat

Medium-High heat is somewhere between 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the hottest temperature you can get when grilling with medium heat.

I prefer grilling at medium-high heat if I want the burgers and steaks to have that slight char and grill mark on the surface. This is a great temperature as well for developing perfect crusts on food.

Medium-high heat browns food perfectly and cooks them all the way through. However, it is not hot enough to burn the food easily, so I like cooking at this temperature.

You should be warier of flare-ups at this temperature and ensure your food does not get burnt.

Foods To Cook At Medium-High Heat:

  • Burgers
  • Pork chops
  • Chicken
  • Steaks
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus

High Heat

High heat means that your grill is over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. These are searing temperatures where you want to get a char on the food you are cooking.

Flare-ups are also more frequent at this temperature, so ensure you do not burn the food you are cooking and yourself.

Most people use this temperature to quickly sear food like steaks before finishing them over lower temperatures and more indirect heat.

Foods To Cook At High Heat:

  • Steaks
  • Burgers
  • Chicken breasts
  • Fish

What Is The Ideal Grilling Temperature?

The best temperature for grilling is medium heat to medium-high heat. That is somewhere between 350 degrees Fahrenheit and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

At this temperature, you can cook a lot of recipes. The heat is just enough to put some char on your food without burning it.

Internal Temperature of Meat

You can also cook meat between medium heat and medium-high heat. You can then finish at higher temperatures for the char or crust you want.

Reverse-searing is also best finished over 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. If the crust of the meat is already cooked and you just want to cook it all the way through, it should be done within minutes at this temperature.

Even at this temperature, you can still cook thicker and tougher vegetables like potatoes and carrots that you can put as garnish or sides for your steaks.

What Foods Are Good For Medium Heat Cooking?

While I often cook hot dogs and sausages over medium heat, there are also more fun and easy recipes that you can cook over medium heat.

Fried rice, scrambled eggs, quesadillas, and sandwiches are only a few of the many recipes that you can cook over medium heat on your grill.

You can use a pan over the grill grates to cook such recipes. If you just want to grill directly on the grates, finishing a seared steak over medium heat will also cook it all through.

The same goes for burgers as they will cook perfectly over medium heat. Vegetables like asparagus and eggplants also grill perfectly when you place them over medium heat.

Best Way To Control Grill Temperature

The main thing is to cook food you want to cook all the way through but not char the outer parts too much. Those are the perfect foods to cook on the grill at medium heat.

Best Way To Control Grill Temperature

Gas grills are really easy to control, especially nowadays where modern grills include built-in thermometers, readers, and displays that tell you the exact temperature of the grill.

But what about charcoal grills? You can control gas grills with knobs but you cannot do that with charcoal grills as you have to manually adjust the vents, dampers, or the charcoal itself.

Here are some ways to control the temperature of your grill:

1. Adjust The Vents And Dampers

The most important thing about controlling the temperature of your grill is airflow. By limiting the airflow, you also limit the amount of heat that comes out of your grill and vice versa.

Most grills have lower vents and upper dampers on their lid. You can use the bottom vent to control how much air gets in the grill, this is used mostly for adjusting the temperature at high increments.

How do you use the vents on Big Green Egg

If you want to adjust the heat in lower increments, you can use the damper or vents on the lid. This controls how much air escapes the grill and will adjust the heat for you.

More air means higher heat so adjusting the dampers and vents of your grill should do the trick.

2. Distance Of The Grill Grate

Adjusting the temperature of your grill through the vents and dampers has a learning curve and if you are a beginner, you might have a hard time adjusting the grill’s temperature at first.

Your alternative for that is to adjust the height of your grill grate. Place it farther away from the heat and ensure that flare-ups do not get to the food.

You also lessen the risk of burning the food by adjusting the height of the grill grate since the food will not come into direct contact with the flames.

If you need more heat, place the grill grate near the fire. Some grills have adjustable grill grates so it is a plus if you have one of those grills.

3. Heat shield

Aside from adjusting the vents and moving the grill grates, you can also adjust the heat that gets to your food by using a heat shield.

Heat shields are usually made from stainless steel and are flat. The flat surface absorbs flame heat and transfers the heat to the food through radiation.

This effectively blocks off flames, flare-ups, and direct heat from the food to prevent it from burning.

More About Adjusting Grill Temperature: You can check out this post from Weber about adjusting dampers and vents and this post from barbecuebible.com for the other alternatives.

Final Thoughts: What Is Medium Heat On A Grill?

Medium heat on a grill means that you have just enough heat to cook your food through but not put char or burns on the surface.

You have many recipes you can cook over medium heat on your grill. Vegetables, pork chops, chicken breasts, hot dogs, burgers, and finishing your steaks can be done over medium heat.

There are a lot of grills that can give you accurate temperatures because of easy-control knobs and displays on modern grills. Still, nothing can beat the experience of manually adjusting the temperature.

I love grills controlled through vents and dampers, but I cannot ignore the convenience of grills with knobs for temperature control.

Either way, you can cook almost anything on your grill as long as you know the temperature and control it for cooking any recipe you want!

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