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Grilling Thicker Cuts - Cooking Tips

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The Thicker Cut

Thicker cuts of meat can be a challenge to grill so that they have a nice flavorful, crisp outer surface with a juicy tender middle. They are cuts that are too thick to be grilled with just direct heat but are not as thick as a cut that requires a long period of indirect heat, such as a roast. Extra thick pork chop or steak, a bone-in chicken breast, a large bone-in chicken thigh, or a beef or pork tenderloin, can be grilled to produce a crisp surface with a juicy tender middle by using a mixture of grilling methods. The charcoal grilling and gas grilling instructions shown below provide you with methods of producing a finished thicker cut that will be done to your satisfaction.

Charcoal Grill

  1. Start charcoal, leaving bottom vents of the grill open.
  2. After coal are well lit, bank them so that about 1/4 of the bottom is free of charcoal and the rest is banked so that the opposite side is three times higher. This will provide an area of heat that starts out with little heat on one side and gradually increases as it moves toward the opposite side where the charcoals are stacked highest.
  3. Once the charcoals are coated with gray ash, indicating they are ready, check to see if the grill is at a medium-hot temperature. Hold your hand approximately 3 to 4 inches above the grate in the area with the highest pile of coals. If you can hold it there for only 3 or 4 seconds, it is at the proper temperature.
  4. Lightly oil the grates over the hottest area of the grill and start the grilling process by placing the thick cut over this area. Cook until both sides have a nice crisp surface. This generally takes 8 to 12 minutes and the meat should be turned once during this time. Be patient during this step to make sure both sides of the cut are well seared to a crispy brown, which will add much of the cuts flavor.
  5. Move the seared cut to the area where there are no coals. The inside edge of the cut should be just at the edge where the coals end.
  6. Cover the meat with an inverted disposable aluminum roasting pan that is large enough to cover the entire cut.
  7. Cook to desired doneness, turning once during this time. Remove the cut when it is approximately 5 degrees below the desired temperature, cover loosely with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The juices will be redistributed and the temperature will rise approximately 5 degrees during this resting period.

Gas Grill

  1. Preheat gas grill on high with the cover closed for 10 minutes.
  2. If the grill has three burners, turn two down to medium-low, and if it has two burners turn one down to medium-low.
  3. Lightly oil the grates over the burner that is on high and place the meat over the burner in this area. Cover the meat with the grill lid and sear for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once through searing time.
  4. Sear until both sides are nicely browned and crispy.
  5. Once the meat is well seared, turn the burner down to medium, cover meat with grill lid, and cook to desired doneness. For medium-rare the center should register about 120°F, which will require approximately 10 minutes of cooking time.
  6. Remove meat when its temperature is approximately 5 degrees below desired finish temperature. After meat is removed from the grill, cover lightly with foil and allow meat to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The temperature of the meat will rise approximately 5 degrees during this resting period.


The best way to determine doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat where it will not touch a bone. With some cuts, the temperature may need to to be checked by inserting the thermometer into the side of the cut of meat so it can be inserted far enough without touching a bone. The chart below shows the temperature of the meat when it reaches the different levels of doneness.

Doneness Guide - Internal Temperature
  Beef & Lamb Pork Chicken Turkey
Rare 125° - 130°F N/A N/A N/A
Medium-Rare 145° - 150°F N/A N/A N/A
Medium 150° - 165°F 160° - 165°F N/A N/A
Medium-well 165° - 170°F 170° - 175°F 170° - 175°F 170° - 175°F
Well 170°F & Up 180° - 195°F 180° - 195°F 180° - 195°F