In the world of outdoor grilling, there are countless different cooking methods, traditions, special ingredients, and secrets to fill a dozen cookbooks. But one of the most consistent points of contention is the simplest: Should the grill lid be open or closed?
Seriously, when gathered around any grill, how many times have you heard someone loudly suggest opening the lid, only to have another party loudly insist the grill lid stay closed, after which a lively verbal melee breaks out amongst the crowd? Everyone, of course, has their own opinion on the matter—and they’re more than happy to let you and everyone else know it. But when you’re the cook, the final arbiter on whether a grill lid should be open or closed is you. And before you decide which lid position is superior, you should know what each position means for grilling.
So, to help you know for sure which position to keep the lid in (and to fend off those pesky know-it-alls) Appliances Connection has developed a simple guide as when to close it up, when to lock it down, and when to mix it up…
Grilling with the Lid OPEN
An open lid lends itself to foods that require a high temperature for fast cooking and quick searing with the constant flow of oxygen acting as a constant fuel to any combustion. These foods include such standard fare as hot dogs, burgers, and steaks, as well as chicken, fish, or vegetables—all of which need a chef’s attention.
And that’s the one of the biggest advantages of open lid cooking: having a constant view of the cooking surface and the ability to turn over, move around, and manipulate foodstuffs depending on the fluid flame situation. And with an open lid you can react instantly to flare-ups which, if unattended to, can put the kibosh on a cookout in a flash (so to speak). With the lid open, you’re more in control of the entire operation.
Grilling with the Lid CLOSED
Unlike an open grill, cooking with the lid closed is far more suitable to long-haul cooking at more gentle temperatures, which is optimal for larger foods that require low-and-slow grilling such as brisket. This is especially appropriate if you’re using a rotisserie for cooking whole beef tenderloin, chicken, turkey, or even suckling pig.
With the lid down you also foster a convection action within the grill, with heated air circulating throughout without drying or over-charring the surface of the meat—also a good choice when indirect cooking more delicate dishes. It’s useful if you have a smoker box or similar option to add wood chips for that delightfully aromatic smoky flavor. Of course, when cooking with the lid down, you’ll want to check on the progress intermittently (who can resist?)
Grilling OPEN AND CLOSED
As you can see, cooking with the lid open or closed depends greatly on what you’re preparing. But that doesn’t mean the two cannot be used in tandem if you want. You can start by searing a piece of meat to get those lovely, charred lines, then close the lid to slowly cook the interior to the desired wellness. Get the interior nice and juicy and then sear the exterior to a crisp. It all depends on you, your grill, and what you want to attempt with your culinary ambitions.
Whether you’re cooking with the lid open or closed. Just remember one thing: if you can’t feel free to cook the way you want, why bother? Cooking—especially outdoor grilling—is supposed to be fun! So, feel free to experiment if you think your food needs a little more searing heat or a bit more time wirh low temp cooking. Either way, you’ll learn from the experience.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
If you want to know more about purchasing a grill, explore our buyer’s guide here:
Are gas grills illegal in NYC?
Gas grills are not illegal in NYC, but there are several rules and regulations that must be followed which can be found here.
Are cheap grills worth it?
Cheap grills are worth it if you’re not looking for a cooker that will enhance your outdoor experience on a steady basis. Pricier grills are pricier for a reason—they deliver more quality and consistency over a longer period of time. If you’re only going to grill a few times a year, then a cheap grill will work—just not very well.
How long do gas grills last?
On average, gas grills last anywhere from five to 15 years. This of course depends on the initial quality and manufacture of the unit as well as how well the owner takes care of it.