When Should You Use the Lid on Your Grill?

When cooking on an outdoor grill, when should you leave the lid open, and when should you shut it? The answer depends on what you're grilling, how you're cooking it, and what kind of grill you use, Chowhounds say.

If you're grilling quick-cooking foods such as burgers, thin steaks or chops, shrimp, or sliced vegetables directly over the flames, you can leave the grill open, drongo says. But when you grill thicker steaks, bone-in chicken, or whole roasts you'll want the lid down, especially when you're cooking with indirect heat.

With the grill uncovered, you can get a crustier char on the exterior of meat without overcooking the center, whereas a closed grill will cook meat to a more uniform doneness, kengk says. MGZ uses a combination approach for a thick steak: He sears one side over a hot fire with the grill open, then flips the steak and moves it to the cool side of the grill and finishes it with the cover down. And if you're tossing in soaked wood chips for smoke flavor, you need the lid down to contain the smoke, GourmetWednesday notes.

Which fuel source you use also affects how the grill behaves with the lid open or closed, mike0989 says, so you may need to adjust your cooking accordingly. Closing the lid on his propane grill raises its heat, mike0989 says, but his charcoal grill burns hotter when it's open; putting the lid down helps lower the charcoal grill's temperature.

Discuss: GRILLING - CLOSED OR OPEN LID?

Photo by Flickr member combust under Creative Commons