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Should you keep the grill open or close it when grilling?


It is a simple question, but the answer is tricky.


Yet, knowing when to keep the lid open or closed when grilling can make things easier.


After all, you want your food to be well-cooked.


Grill lid open vs. closed / Flickr / Jonathan Pincas

Grill lid open vs. closed / Flickr / Jonathan Pincas


When cooking outdoors on a grill, the decision to cook with an open or closed lid depends on a few factors:


What do you want to grill?


How do you want to grill your food?


And, of course, the type of grill you are using!


Read on to learn when to BBQ with open and closed grill lid.

When grilling, we want our food to be delicious. We want it to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It doesn’t matter if we cook meat or quick in steaks. Besides, we also want this outcome for skinny asparagus and hearty potatoes.


However, even though we want the same yummy result, how we grill thin and thick foods is different.


Closed Lid Cooking


You create convection when you grill with the cover closed, whether charcoal or gas. It lets the hot air make its way from the heat source. Since the cover is off, the air gets trapped inside the grill. It then starts moving inside, allowing for even cooked food.


Grill lid open vs. closed / Flickr / 46137

Grill lid open vs. closed / Flickr / 46137


A closed-lid grill works in a similar way as your oven. Besides, a closed grill also helps the inside of the meat cook. That way, you let your food cook evenly and thoroughly.


Cooking with closed is perfect for thicker foods like hot dogs, steaks, and potatoes. That way, you get yummy and evenly cooked food every time you grill!


Grilling with Lid Open


A grill with the lid open means searing. The open lid is ideal for cooking thin foods like delicate asparagus and thin steaks. If you grill with the cover closed, it will produce heat from all sides. While this makes your food cook quickly from the inside, the outside may not get enough time to get that crispy brown texture. It also means you will get unevenly cooked food. In addition, it might also overcook and burn thin foods as they cannot handle that much heat.


Grilled Vegetables with Open Grill Lid / Flickr / Alan Sheffield

Grilled Vegetables / Flickr / Alan Sheffield


So, keep the lid open whenever you plan to grill thin foods. Your food will have a crispy exterior with a dreamy brown texture.


When to Leave the Grill Lid Open?


As mentioned above, the lid open on a gas or charcoal grill is perfect for cooking thin foods. Quick-cooking foods need less heat, so you want to leave the cover on. It allows for even cooking and avoids the risk of burned food. Foods you can cook when the lid is open include thin steaks, burgers, sliced veggies, fish, and chops.


When to Close the Grill Lid?


Many grill masters use soaked wood chips to get that pretty smoke flavor for their food. If you want to infuse a smoky flavor into your food, you will want to keep the cove off.


Also, please don’t open the lid if you cook with a closed lid. It is even more essential if you have a gas grill. Remember that opening the grill for thick foods decreases heat, affecting how your food cooks.


Grilled Zucchini / Flickr / Sarah Braun

Grilled Zucchini / Flickr / Sarah Braun


In addition, opening a charcoal grill lets the oxygen in, which creates more heat inside the grill. It increases the risk of overcooking and can burn your food.


It is best to grill with the lid closed for foods like bone-in chicken, thick steaks, and ribs. Please don’t open it until it’s time to flip or take your food off the grill.

The Best of Lid Off and Lid On

Grill lid on and closed have their advantages. However, sometimes, we want to experience a combination of approaches. It helps make our food right – not too tough inside and crispy outside.


Imagine your food is about 2 cm thick. First, you cook it directly over the flames to get a nice crispy and browned outside. Then, move the food away from the fire. This grill part has indirect heat, like cooking in an oven. You close the lid to let the inside cook just perfectly.


Grilling Salmon for Dinner / Flickr / Didriks

Grilling Salmon for Dinner / Flickr / Didriks


But hold on a second! There is another way you can do it. It’s called a “reverse sear.” That way, you cook meat with the lid down until the inside is cooked. Then, open the cover and move your food back over the flames. This gives the outside a nice sear and a yummy caramelized crust.


So, whether you try the first way or the reverse sear, experimenting with the lid on and off can help you make a delicious grilled recipe.

Recommended Strategies for the Grill with the Lid

Preheat your Grill with the Lid Closed


  • Keep the lid on your grill closed so you can preheat it. This step is crucial for ensuring even heat. A pre-hot grill allows for even temperature distribution. , it provides a smooth cooking process. This allows your grill grates to get the ideal heat level. Besides, it reduces temperature fluctuations so that you can enjoy a smooth cooking experience.


  • Whether charcoal or gas grills, avoid opening the lid during the preheating process. It helps your grill to achieve high heat faster. Not only does it save you time, but it also reduces fuel costs.


  • Foods with shorter cooking times need searing. It is ideal for grilling quick-cooking foods with the lid open. Yet, preheating your grill with the lid closed is a more effective way. You will have a hot and even cooking surface.

Using the Lid for Initial Searing and Then Opening for Finishing


  • This method is ideal for cooking thick New York strip steak or pork chops. You can sear the meat with the lid closed initially to get that juicy center for your food.


  •  After the initial searing, open the lid to create a controlled environment. Let your food cook on a medium heat. It will prevent the risk of burning or overcooking.


  • This strategy is also helpful for delicate foods like fish fillets or tender sliced vegetables. The direct heat from initial searing is enough to achieve the desired texture and flavor. You can further cook your food with the lid open.

Modifying Grilling Methods to Suit the Lid Position


  • Try to adopt a cooking technique that suits your lid position. It helps you achieve the best possible results.


  • If cooking with a covered grill, use indirect heat or set up a two-zone grill to prevent flare-ups. It creates a safe cooking environment.


  • If the cover is off, ensure regular flipping and adjusting your food position. It allows for even cooking on all sides.

Covered and Uncovered Grill Recipes

Easy Grilled Steak (Closed Lid)


Grilled Steak / Flickr / Liz Lawley

Grilled Steak / Flickr / Liz Lawley




You will want to keep your grill lid closed for a flavorful and juicy grill steak. Getting a restaurant-quality steak right in your backyard is easy. You only need to perform a few easy steps and some attention to detail.


Choose the Right Steak


You can start by picking an excellent cut of steak. You can opt for a rib eye, New York strip, or sirloin. When choosing a steak, buy one with marbling for tenderness and flavor.

Prepare Your Grill


Preheat your grill to high heat. For a gas grill, keep all the burners on high. If you have a charcoal grill, make an even arrangement of the hot coals for direct grilling. Also, clean the grill grates to ensure no residue from your previous grill sessions.


Preparing the Steak


Take the steak from the refrigerator for at least an hour before grilling. This ensures more even cooking throughout the steak. Season your steak with salt and pepper. You can also use your favorite steak-seasoning blend for added flavor.

Grilling the Steak


Place the seasoned steak on your hot grill grates. You should hear a sizzling sound for a beautiful sear when the steak touches the grates.


Avoid overcrowding the grill; leave enough space between steaks for proper heat circulation.


For a medium-rare steak, grill each side for 4-5 minutes, depending on its thickness. You can also use a meat thermometer to find the internal temperature. It should read around 130-135°F (54-57°C) for medium-rare.


You can adjust the cooking time if you like your steak cooked to a different level of doneness.


Medium: 140-145°F (60-63°C).


Medium-Well: 150-155°F (66-68°C).


Well done: 160°F (71°C) and above.


Rest the Steak


Once the steak gets your desired doneness, take it off the grill and leave it for about 5 minutes. It allows the juices to reach throughout the meat, producing a juicier and tenderer steak.

Pineapple-Glazed Shrimp Skewers (Open Lid)


Grilling pineapple glazed shrimp skewers is delightful. The process is simple and offers a delectable combo of sweet and savory flavors. You will want to keep the grill lid open for a tropical twist. Here is the full recipe.

Grilled Fish Tacos (Lid Open)


Enjoy grilled fish tacos with the goodness of flavor and grill smokiness. The recipe is easy and cooks in no time. Thus, you will need to keep the grill lid open, too. Here is the recipe to try.

Wrapping Up

Some grill masters keep the lid open, while others keep it closed. Both ways have their benefits depending on what you cook and how you want it to be cooked. By understanding these differences, you can decide which works best for you. Whether you enjoy the sizzling direct heat or indirect cooking with the lid closed, go with what you like.


What does a lid on a grill do?

The purpose of a lid on your grill is to rotate heat. A cover helps with rotating hot air around your food. It allows for even cooking, especially when you are grilling thicker foods.

Can I grill with the door closed?

Yes! Cooking with the door closed offers a safe environment and reduces energy waste. Besides, it is also an ideal way to cook fast-cooking foods.

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