Barbecue season is upon us (or if you’re in Texas or the South it’s year-round) and you’re probably looking forward to weekends spent outdoors cooking delicious food on the grill. Although hot dogs and hamburgers are classic foods that any barbecue should feature, you may be wondering about cooking some other cuts of meat. But what are the best meats to grill? Keep reading for ideas to make your summer menu a success.
Best Steaks for Grilling
The ribeye is often considered one of the finest cuts of steak. It is tender, juicy, and full of flavor, usually with a lot of marbling. Cook it either with the bone in or select a boneless version. Leaving the bone in will add more flavor though. Selecting a thicker steak means you can get a nice sear on the outside while leaving the inside a perfect medium-rare. After browning the outside, grill for 4-6 minutes per side and allow the steak to rest for a few minutes.
This cut comes from the beef plate and often has a thicker grain. However, it is full of flavor and should be cooked quickly on a hot grill. As one of the cheaper cuts, it is very affordable and can be quite tender. Marinate it for about 3 hours or use a dry rub. (check out this article on delicious rubs and seasonings) Then get your grill very hot, to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and cook for 4 minutes per side to achieve a medium rare. If you’re slicing it, make sure to go against the grain.
Sometimes called a New York strip or Kansas City strip, this cut of steak has an intense beef flavor but isn’t as tender as some other cuts. If you have a thinner cut, make sure the grill is hotter so the inside doesn’t get completely cooked before the exterior is seared and caramelized. This steak needs little more than salt and pepper as seasoning but you can add any flavoring of your choice. For a medium rare steak, grill for 7 minutes per side and, for medium, cook 10 minutes per side and then let it continue cooking an extra 1-2 minutes away from the heat.
This flavorful cut should be grilled on high heat and cooked quickly. Then slice it up going against the grain of the muscle fibers. This cut is lean and has a strong beef flavor making it perfect when marinated and sliced thin or stir-fried. Flank is an affordable cut and is perfect for those watching their weight because it has fewer calories and significantly less fat than strip steak. Grill on high heat for the first few minutes and then let it cook over a lower heat for the remainder. Check the internal temperature to determine how well done it is. A medium rare should be 130 degrees Fahrenheit inside.
As the most tender cut of beef, this cut from the short loin which is the same part that filet mignon comes from. Because of its tender and delicious flavor, it is one of the most expensive steaks. It is easy to grill and cooks quite quickly, just make sure to sear it for a few minutes on each side and then let it cook on the cooler part of the grill until it is done. For a medium, the temperature should be 145 degrees and it should not be cooked past this or it will become dry.
Tips for Perfect Grilled Chicken
The ever-popular breasts are delicious and versatile, making them a great choice for grilling. Choose the boneless pieces so they cook more evenly and pound them so they are an even height all around. The breast is very low in fat, making it perfect for health-conscious individuals, but can get a little dry.
How to Grill Chicken Breasts
- Marinate the chicken or brush it with some olive oil
- Always use a clean and oiled grate so it doesn’t stick
- Grill on medium-high heat and use the hot side of the grate
- Sear for 3-4 minutes and then turn until they become golden brown
- Move to the cooler side of the grill and finish cooking
- Check the interior with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s done
- The internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit
- Visually, the meat inside should be white
- Add a glaze, BBQ sauce, or another seasoning as desired
- Allow the breasts to rest for about five minutes before serving
Check out these article for a deep dive into some of our grillmaster’s tips on how to grill delicious chicken.
Thighs can be purchased with the bone-in or boneless with the boneless version being a little more expensive. If you opt for the bone-in cut, it will be more flavorful but will take longer to cook. The thigh has more fat than the breast making it naturally juicy and it doesn’t dry out as quickly. Because breasts are the most popular, thighs are an affordable alternative. Trim any excess fat off, season, and place them on the grill with the skin side up, then flip and alternate sides until they reach an internal temperature of 180-185 degrees.
The drumsticks aren’t as popular which makes them a cheaper option. They can be grilled and glazed with delicious sauces and easily eaten with your fingers. Drumsticks are fattier and tougher than the lean breast but have a lot of flavor. They take a bit more patience to cook them thoroughly and the skin should be left on to retain moisture. Cook them over high heat and turn them frequently before moving to a cooler side of the grill where they need to cook 20 to 30 minutes.
Although wings are usually fried, they can also be grilled and coated in a delicious glaze for a unique barbecue protein option. This cut is the boniest part of the chicken but the meat is quite tender and juicy. Place the wings on the grill over medium heat for 20-25 minutes. If they start to char, flip them and keep an eye on things or reduce the heat if they start to burn. Use a thermometer in the center to make sure they’ve achieved a temperature of 165 degrees. After they’re cooked, add your favorite sauce by tossing them in a bowl and mixing to evenly coat all the wings.
Perfect Pork Cuts for Grilling
This cut comes from the loin and is a great choice for grilling. Make sure to look for chops that have a thin ring of fat on the edge which should be left on for more flavor but can be cut off after cooking. Keeping the bone in will also make the chop much more flavorful. Not all cuts are created equal though so there are a few things to consider.
Don’t forget to check out this article on how long it takes to cook pork on the grill once you’ve selected your cut!
What pork chops are the most tender?
- Blade chops – the front-most cut has a lot of intramuscular fat which does not render well when grilled and ends up chewy and tough
- Rib chops – these are made up primarily of pork loin and do have enough fat to stand up to the high heat of a grill
- Center-cut – within the rib chop, the best cut is the center-cut which will have the biggest piece of the loin
- Loin chops – the tenderloin tends to cook faster which results in dry meat so it’s not the best option for grilling
How to select and prepare pork chops?
Choose a pork chop that is one and a half inches thick because thin-cut chops will cook quickly and become overdone
Use a dry brine by sprinkling salt on the chop and letting it rest on a wire rack for anywhere from an hour up to an entire day
Dry brining will help the chop retain moisture inside and get a nice brown exterior when grilled
Sear the chops on the hot side of the grill and then finish up on the cooler side with the bone towards the flame
Use a thermometer to check the thickest part and look for a temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit
Although ribs are traditionally smoked for hours on end, they can also be grilled if you have a big enough grill and should not be placed on direct heat. Trim the ribs and remove excess fat before rinsing and applying your favorite rub for added flavor. For smokiness, add some damp wood chips on top of the coals or make a smoke bomb with damp chips wrapped in foil and poke holes to let the smoke out. Then put it under your grate, get the grill going, and, once it starts to smoke, add your ribs. To prevent them from drying out or overcooking, place the ribs over indirect heat with the bone-side down. Cook at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes without opening the lid so smoke can’t escape. Alternately, smoke them for several hours at a lower heat. Once cooked, you can wrap them in foil to steam before adding your favorite sauce and finishing them off on the grill.
This thin strip of meat is not to be confused with pork loin which is wide and comes from a completely different part of the animal. Tenderloin is best when cooked over high heat and is lean compared to pork chops with a delicate flavor. Begin by trimming the silver skin and then apply a dry rub before cooking to an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat inside should be a light pink color and it usually takes 15 to 20 minutes depending on how thick the cut is.