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Tips For Making The Perfect Grill Marks

Tips For Making The Perfect Grill Marks

Nearly everyone likes to see those picture-perfect grill marks covering their meal. It doesn’t matter if it’s meat or vegetables, the look is almost as important as the taste. For some of us, there’s the obligatory social-media picture that follows because we simply must show off our culinary prowess. For others, it’s been a life-long personal challenge to be relished in the moment.

Whatever your reason, the perfect grill marks are the visual compliment to the art of flavor. Whether you’re a restauranteur whose patrons deserve only the finest of presentations, or entertaining guests at home, here’s how to get your favorite grill marks, every time.

Tips For Making The Perfect Grill Marks

The Setup

Grill marks are produced by three main things:

  1. A preheated grill at the correct temperature
  2. A properly lubricated grill and/or food (to avoid sticking)
  3. Searing the food for a short time and baking it via oven or the no-heat side of your grill

If any of these considerations fail or are not accounted for, you can still end up with delicious, succulent and flavorful food, but you won’t get the perfect grill mark. So, allow me to delve into the details of grilling and give you some tricks to aid you on your quest.

Hot then Not

Your grill’s temperature will be the central theme in the process. Make sure you are planning ahead, as you want a two-temperature zone grill or an oven to get your meat to your preferred center (rare, medium, or well-done) and to fully cook your vegetables. This is of course, entirely preference and the amount of time you spend searing the grill marks into place will depend on the thickness of your meat/vegetables, the type of meat you’re grilling, and how hot your grill is.

As a quick guide, you’ll probably be searing the marks for anywhere between 2 and 6 minutes at 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit and above. Thick steaks will probably run more along the 3-6-minute mark and thin meats will run along the 2-4-minute mark. If at the same temperature, vegetables will likely be closer to the 2-4-minute mark.

Proper lubrication of your grill is also going to be important. Some Pitmaster’s will directly oil the grill grates while others will oil the meat itself. Either way is fine but oiling the grates either solely or additionally will give you a mulligan if you accidentally misplace your food. However, having to move the food at all will result in a compromised grill mark, so keep that in mind.

Be sure to Season your Food as you like before you place it on the Grill.

When it comes to the pattern of the marks, you can create what I have dubbed the “Hollywood Grill Marks”. These are the marks you see on TV and in movies. It seems like every commercial and movie restaurant has a chef who is skilled at making the Crosshatch or “weaved” grill marks. It’s quite simple, but we need some geometry. Keep in mind the method I outline here is best performed with straight grill grates.

Place the food pretty much any way you want on the grill, unless it is particularly long and thin (if this is the case, place it at a 45-degree angle against the grill grates for maximum exposure to the grates). Next, sear for the amount of time most appropriate for the thickness of the food and its composition (as outlined above). Then, rotate the selection 45 degrees counterclockwise and sear again for the same amount of time.

Next, we flip the food and sear again for the same length of time as our previous two sears. When you flip the food, again rotate it another 45 degrees counterclockwise. Finally, once again rotate the meat another 45 degrees counterclockwise and sear for, you guessed it, the same length of time.

An easy way to remember this, as with driving, is 10:00 and 2:00.

The last step is to bake the food to your desired internal temperature. If you’re cooking meat, finish it to your preferred inner temperature. If you’re grilling vegetables or fruit, the only consideration is whether you want it soft or al dente and bake longer or shorter to achieve the desired result (a longer bake will produce soft vegetables while a shorter one will produce more firm vegetables). The time, once again will depend on the thickness of the vegetables and the temperature of the bake.

Feel free to use an oven for the finishing process if your grill doesn’t offer enough space to facilitate at least a two-zone heating method.

Final thoughts

Plate the food when done, and that’s it! A final note is that meats often continue to cook once they’ve been removed from their heat source, so take that into consideration or your medium may end up well-done. I suggest removing it just a little early to keep this from happening.

As always, my goal is to inform, illuminate, and inspire. I hope this helped you and if you did find it useful, please feel free to share with your friends and on social media. Have a great day, and happy grilling!

By: Joshua Rooks



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