How to Get the Perfect Grill Marks

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How to Get the Perfect Grill Marks
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How to Get the Perfect Grill Marks

Score perfect marks with these helpful tips to get the perfect crosshatch. Plus, find out one secret on how to fake it until you make it, and why grill marks may not be all that.

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Grill at the right temperature.

If your grill isn’t hot enough, you won’t get the proper sear marks on your steak; for other foods like burgers and chicken, too much heat can burn them. Use your grill’s built-in thermometer or try this simple hand test: hold your hand three to five inches above the grate and count how many seconds you can keep it there. If you can’t last more than two seconds, you’ve got the perfect temperature for steaks, pork chops and other thick-cut meats. Two to four seconds means medium-high heat, perfect for burgers, veggies and fish.

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Use a heavy-duty grill grate.

Replace steel grates with cast iron for better heat conduction. The pros invest in an aluminum GrillGate with a raised rail design, a cool grilling accessory that amplifies the grill’s heat while blocking flare-ups from burning and charring exposed meat surfaces.

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Prevent sticking.

The three key factors to prevent sticking are a clean grill, oil and high heat. Scrub off crusted-on food and other debris by preheating your grill and scrubbing with a grill brush. Wipe cooking oil on the grates using an oil-soaked paper or cloth kitchen towel and tongs. Finally, blast up the heat to avoid sticking and losing your hard-earned marks.

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To avoid sticking, you can also coat your meat in oil or try a Kosher salt rub. The oil and/or salt will create an effective barrier between the meat and grill. Just remember to sprinkle the meat with salt right before grilling, or the salt will draw out the juices over an extended period of time.

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Do not disturb.

Resist the urge to poke, prod or turn your meat too early to ensure maximum grill contact for bold marks.

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Practice your technique.

Set your food on the grate at a 45-degree angle to get a single strip of angled marks, and repeat on the other side. Graduate to grill champion status with perfect crosshatch marks: sear at a 45-degree angle and then rotate about 60 degrees for a diamond-grid pattern. Repeat on the other side.

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Missing the mark?

Fake it. Add a little honey to your marinade or sauce, and the sugars will caramelize while cooking to create that golden-brown color.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Do grill marks add flavor?

Browning creates that beautiful caramelized crust adding taste and texture. By only searing a strip of marks or a crosshatch pattern, we aren’t maximizing the flavor potential of the meat in the space between the marks. Grill marks may be pretty to look at, but you’ll get more flavors from searing the entire surface of the meat.

Image Credit: jupiterimages/Ben Fink & Brian Hagiwara


Grilling champions pull them off effortlessly, but getting those perfect crosshatch marks on your steak takes a lot of work!

With these seven tips and a bit of practice, you, too, can achieve perfect marks like the pros. Plus, we've snuck in a tip on how to fake it until you make it, and why grilling marks may not be all that.

Check out the slideshow above to learn how to get perfect grill marks.

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