It’s a fact of life that good grilling cannot be rushed. The meat will be done when it’s done, and there aren’t many things you can do to speed it up. But what happens when you have company over and the meat is stalled or is taking too long? Fans of barbecue will be patient because they understand, but some friends and family members may not. For this reason, many cooks attempt to time their meat closely to have it ready by the time company comes. Unfortunately, there are multiple factors that go into figuring out cook time. It’s almost more of an art than a science.
So, here are some things to consider when you’re looking at a recipe and trying to figure out how early you need to start that mouthwatering meal for your barbecue:
As you’re probably aware, every kind of meat (beef, chicken, seafood) has different temperature requirements to be safe to eat. However, even within those, the individual cut of meat may have a slightly different cook time based on a handful of factors including:
- Type of meat. Obviously a hamburger is going to cook differently than a steak.
- Thickness of the meat. The thicker the meat is, the longer it is going to take to cook. Be careful that your meat is close to uniform thickness, though, or else you’ll end up charring the thin bits by the time the larger portion is fully cooked.
- Fat content (sometimes). Depending on what you’re cooking, the amount and location of the fat may lower the internal temperature of the grill, resulting in a stall, which can drastically increase cook time. This isn’t necessarily a factor with all cuts of meat, though.
- Meat prep. If you constantly spritz your meat with juice, for example, it will lower the internal temperature and you’ll have to cook it longer. If you utilize the Texas Crutch, it will cook faster.
If you’re looking for a base to start, check out our Ultimate Grilling Temperature Guide and then go from there.
The kind of grill and the way that you use it can definitely make a difference in how long you must cook your food. There are multiple different ways to set up a Kamado, and each of them can alter your time formula.
- Cooking method. If you cook over flames and direct heat, then the meat is going to cook faster than if you’re doing indirect cooking. Different grates can also sometimes change the cooking time, and using something like The Texas Crutch can drastically alter cook times as well.
- Cooking temperature. Obviously things will cook faster at higher heats, but things can sometimes be sped up with a combination of the two by searing your food.
It’s also important to make sure you’ve got the grill set up properly for whatever it is that you’re cooking. Direct vs Indirect Heat can be a huge factor in how your food cooks, as can the internal temperature (obviously).
Because your grill is probably outside, mother nature can sometimes make the temperature of your grill harder to keep steady, which will in turn increase cook time.
- Weather/outdoor temperature. Generally speaking, if its cold or rainy, you’ll have a harder time getting the grill to heat up and stay at the right temperature. The same goes with snow. Hotter temperature can also play havoc and you’ll have to take that into account and monitor the temperatures appropriately.
- Humidity. The humidity of the air outside can also affect your grilling if you’re doing low and slow cooks. If it’s dry out, then you may need to boost the humidity inside the grill to avoid having gross, dry meat.
- Altitude. If you’re at higher altitudes, then you have to lower the cooking temperature slightly in order to preserve the moisture in the meat. This can, obviously, increase the cooking times for some meats.
Although you really can grill in literally any weather, make sure you’re taking the outside weather into consideration and properly preparing not only your grill and meat, but yourself. Check out our tips for grilling in winter for some more ideas.
But, when it’s all said and done, the most important thing is that the meat reaches the right temperature. All of the above things can affect how long that takes, but at the end of the day, as long as it’s cooked properly, your guests will be thrilled with the result.