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When should you use the lid on your grill?

There are ideal times to leave it open and to keep it closed.

- 02:59
10,000 Hours/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Grill lid on or grill lid off? You want a simple answer to the question, when should you use the lid on your grill? But it's not an open-and-shut case (sorry, I had to). When cooking on an outdoor grill, the decision to keep the lid open or to close it depends on what you're grillinghow you're cooking it and even what type of grill you use.

Lid off vs. lid on

Whether you've got a gas or charcoal grill, with the grill uncovered you can get a crustier char on the exterior of meat without overcooking the center. A closed grill will cook meat all the way through to the center for a more uniform doneness. "Cooking with the lid down captures the heat and lets it do its magic on the food," says Elizabeth Karmel of, and author of Steak and Cake. "The food will benefit from the rotating hot air (convection) and it won't take as long to cook."

Read more: The best grills for 2020

Lid off, then on (the best of both worlds)

But sometimes you want a combination approach: You sear the outside of the meat directly over the flame or heat source with the lid open, and then you move the meat away from the flames (and high heat) and close the lid to cook the inside of the meat without burning the outside too much. It's similar to searing your meat in a sauté pan on the stovetop (like keeping an open lid on the grill) and then roasting it in the oven (like cooking with a closed lid on the grill).


Chowhound's Argentine grilled chicken recipe is cooked undercover (but we took a peek).


When to leave the grill open

If you're grilling quick-cooking foods such as burgers, thin steaks, chops, shrimp or sliced vegetables directly over the flames, you can leave the grill open. That way, you won't lose that pink, juicy center so many of us love. When you grill thicker steaks, bone-in chicken or whole roasts, however, you'll want the lid down, especially when you're cooking with indirect heat. Try Chowhound's archive of grilling recipes for a variety of techniques and the food to use for them.

Learn more about creating zones for direct versus indirect grilling in this video:

When to close the grill

If you're tossing in soaked wood chips for smoke flavor, you need the lid down to contain the smoke. Peeking on your food while cooking with a closed grill can affect the food in opposite ways, depending on whether you're using gas or charcoal as a fuel source. With gas grills, opening the lid can lower the heat. With charcoal, the rush of oxygen can burn the food.

To get started, experiment with these three easy grilled goods:

1. Basic grilled steak


With a thick New York strip or beefy rib-eye steak, you'll want to close the grill to ensure it cooks all the way through, or at least as thoroughly as you want it, depending on your preference for rare, medium rare or medium meat. This recipe includes some basic tips on making the most of your grilled meat experience. Get Chowhound's basic grilled steak recipe.

2. Pineapple glazed shrimp skewers


Leave the grill lid open for these sweet and savory shrimp kebabs with a tropical twist. They'll cook quickly and get a nice char while the pineapple caramelizes. Get our pineapple glazed shrimp skewers recipe.

3. Grilled corn with cayenne, lime and cotija


Unlike some vegetables, you'll cover the grill when you cook this corn. Wrapped in husks, they're essentially being steamed and somewhat smoked while they cook for about 35 minutes -- a relatively long time in the grilled vegetable world. Get Chowhound's grilled corn with cayenne, lime and cotija recipe.

Read more: 10 BBQ tools & accessories under $25

This story originally appeared on Chowhound.

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