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May 11, 2013 05:38 AM

Grilling - Closed Or Open Lid?

Silly question. When you grill do you keep the lid open or closed? I always keep it closed and no complaints about the results of my chicken, steaks or pork chops and tenderloins.

I ask because when I watch shows like Booby Flay's BBQ show, it's always an open lid. Maybe this just for TV so you can see what's cooking, but thought I would ask the thoughts of my expert fellow CH'ers

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  1. I'd say if you want to cook something quickly (e.g. steaks, hamburgers, chops, vegetables, shrimp) using radiant heat from coals or gas flame, without wanting to bake the food, then the cover is open. If you are cooking something that takes longer (e.g. whole chicken), especially if you are using indirect heat (food not directly over fire), then cover is closed -- some people call this "grill-roasting".

    1. "Lookin' ain't cookin'". Here's what the folks at Weber have to say about it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: grampart

        Ha. Glad to know I am not an amateur as that article puts it lol

      2. Depends, for steaks & chops open, chic closed, roasts closed, veggies open.

        8 Replies
          1. re: treb

            I agree. The only way I can get a burger exactly the rare that I like is to build an oak and hardwood charcoal fire, let it burn for a bit, and cook it with the lid open for three-four minutes a side. I might close the lid to finish meltin' the cheese, but otherwise, I'm just roasting the meat.

            Also, chicken satays, shrimp, scallops, swordfish, and lobster all cook better with the lid up and the right fuel.

            But, then again, I ain't cookin' on one-a them fancy Weber gas grills that the website's tryin' to sell.

            1. re: MGZ

              Then again, Weber has nothing to gain (sales-wise) from recommending a closed lid.

              1. re: grampart

                Maybe the don't want people buying a grill without a lid. Do they even make them like that? I know you see the grills without lids at parks and so on.

                1. re: grampart

                  You're right, my friend. I spose what I meant is they're tryin' to dictate how to use them spiffy things they sell best. It's just not for me.

                  I bet if I grilled that way, I'd listen to 'em.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Oh, I think there are a lot of folks that would be dismayed and pleasantly surprised if they would actually try something on their own instead of always doing what somebody tells them to do.

                    1. re: kengk

                      My life woulda been a hellofa lot easier if I could've ever figured outta a way to simply do what people told me to do. Way less fun, too . . . .

                  2. re: grampart

                    It's only because they need to avoid law suits from the obvious grease flare ups that can ensure with an open lid.

                    Treb nailed it on the head, open lid for steak and chops. Be a man, not a puppet.

              2. If you leave the grill uncovered you can get more crust on the outside without overcooking the middle. If you want the doneness to be more uniform, put the lid on.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kengk

                  Thanks, kengk, for those distinctions; I tend to do this, but hadn't really articulated the reasons before. I read a tip once that advised open if the item is thinner than your (I think they mean a guy's) straightened hand, and closed if it's thicker. When using my gas grill, this approximate rule of thumb (pun intended) has worked for me pretty well, with some item-specific adjustments. For example, obviously, if I'm using wood chips for smoke, gotta keep it shut. For meats that I'm afraid might burn up (marinades with honey or brown sugar, very juicy burgers or fatty sausages), I am more inclined to keep it open, or at least open it more often to keep a close eye on them.

                2. I recently viewed a discussion on this very subject by a group of chefs on TV...(can't remember who?)...... The consensus was anything over an inch, close the grill. Anything under an inch...keep it open. I have yet to test this out!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Phoebe

                    I guess that could be right, but since my steaks are always over an inch thick, I always do the lid down thing. Burgers are probably ok either way.

                    1. re: grampart

                      I think that the thickness of the steak is a huge factor. If I'm grilling supermarket slabs for a crowd, I might leave the grill open the whole time at home. If I'm "guest grillin'" somewhere and using a propane grill, I'll close the lid.

                      Now, if me and the Mrs. get ourselves a two to three inch ribeye, I actually sear one side with the lid up, then flip and move it off heat to finish "roasting". In a way, it's a lot more like the "cast iron pan" steak cooking tech that so many enjoy - only with wood smoke.

                      Truth is, though, that the fuel you're using makes a big difference. Wood and coals need air, gas doesn't. The latter are much more like an oven than a campfire. Weber doesn't make offsets. Even worse, they charge over fifty bucks for a bag of applewood chunks!

                      1. re: MGZ

                        That's what I do with steaks as well. Almost finish them with open lid and smoke them (with lid closed and the top air vent completely open) off the heat for ~10 minutes with hickory. But I have a barrel grill that really lends well for this.

                        I want applewood but can't find it yet. Mesquite is too ashy for me.

                        1. re: Crockett67

                          "But I have a barrel grill that really lends well for this."

                          Me too. That's really the point. Weber's sayin' "Use this outside oven with the lid down". I'm sayin' use the grill and fuel you prefer and master it. I'm just an "amateur", though.

                          Getting woods other than those commercially available - for an obscene premium - requires reachin' out and bein' willing to work. I have a local tree service guy who will give me big stumps of cherry, maple, and oak (even some walnut when I get lucky). Try seeing if there is any one around your area who does that. I'd bet they'll sell you wood cheap.

                          Truth is, after Sandy, I went to help neighbors with my chainsaw and collected A LOT of logs. I have to cut 'em down and split 'em, but they're free. At this point, I have about two years of wood in the yard now (as well as two weeks or so of work), as they say, "When life gives you lemons . . . ."

                          1. re: MGZ

                            Oh wow! Glad it worked out for you.

                            My little guys can't handle chunks of wood... just soaked chips tossed on the charcoal at the end.

                            Be sure to grill a steak for me on Memorial day. All wood cook is always the best. :D