5 Things that Affect Cooking Times

You just cut into a super thick Prime rib-eye steak, and you can’t wait for that first perfect bite… noooo, it’s overdone! How? Why? You cooked it like you always do, and you timed it perfectly. The worse part is, you have guests at your dinner table. What the heck happened?

Posted On:


Many grilling recipes call for specific cooking times, but there are many things that can make these times inaccurate. It’s important to understand these variables so you can make necessary adjustments and ensure success at the grill or smoker.

Thickness of the Meat

Recipes often use weight to determine cook times, but it’s actually the meat’s thickness that is important. The heat has to reach the middle, and the middle has to reach a specific temperature. For example, you buy two ribeye steaks that are the same weight. One is longer and wider, and one is shorter and thicker. Even though they weigh the same, the thicker one will take longer to cook.

Cooking Temperature

Everyone knows that meat cooks quicker at higher temperatures, but sometimes temperature is hard to regulate. It’s important to have a good grill thermometer. Don’t count on the built in thermometer. Manufacturers often use inexpensive, inaccurate thermometers because they are cheaper. In addition, built in thermometers are located away from the food, so they don’t give an accurate cook temperature. It’s well worth it to purchase a quality grill thermometer you can trust. Another key element in controlling heat is to master the vent system on your grill or smoker. The slightest change in the vents can make a big difference in the cooking temperature.


This is a big one! Humidity control is important when you’re cooking low and slow. Basically, lower humidity in the smoker/grill will cause a higher rate of evaporation from the meat. Just like when a person sweats, this will cool the exterior of the meat and increase cooking time. The reverse is also true. Higher humidity in the grill/smoker will lower evaporation from the meat’s surface, so it will cook faster. If you add marinades, sprays, or mops during cooking, this moisture will evaporate from the meat’s surface and cool it, which will also increase cooking time. Wrapping meat tightly in foil or butcher paper, known as the Texas Crutch, will stop evaporation, thus decreasing the cooking time, but this can alter the texture of the meat. The best way to control humidity is to use a water pan. For more information, see our blog The Hows and Whys of Water Pans

Method of Cooking

Cooking over direct heat is the fastest way to cook meat, because you’re using radiant heat, which cooks the fastest. This method is great for tender cuts of meat that are no more than one inch thick. For meat that’s thicker than one inch, two zone cooking is required to get the best results. Two zone cooking takes longer because in the indirect heat zone, the meat is being cooked by convection heat. When cooking meat that’s tough and has lots of connective tissue, like briskets or pork butts, low and slow cooking is required. As the name states, this method of cooking takes the longest, because again, it’s cooking with convection heat at a low temperature. Consistent temperature control is vital when you’re cooking low and slow. See #2 above.

Internal Temperature

Regardless of the estimated cook time, meat is done when it’s done. That can only be determined by checking the internal temperature. A top quality instant read thermometer is the only way to get an accurate internal temperature. Buy a good one, because this is one of your most important tools for a successful outcome at the grill.

All of these variables work together in determining cook times. It takes some experience to learn how to make the necessary adjustments, but experimenting is half the fun when it comes to mastering the inexact science called grilling and smoking.


Grilled Pork Loin with Apple Brandy

Fall Favorite Grilled Pork Loin with Apple Brandy

This pork loin is perfect for a chilly fall evening. It melds the flavors of apple, brandy, and spices, making the pork succulent and delicious. Serve it with sauteed apples and mashed potatoes for a fabulous fall dinner.

What You’ll Need
Pork tenderloin roast, trimmed with silver skin removed
Apple and brandy marinade (recipe follows)
Spicy pork rub (recipe follows)
Apple brandy glaze for serving (recipe follows)

Let’s Do It!
Place the tenderloin in a large resealable plastic bag and cover it with marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for at least 4 to 8 hours. Remove the tenderloin and discard the marinade. Generously cover the tenderloin with Spicy Pork Rub and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your grill for two zone cooking and preheat it to 350℉. Place the tenderloin over indirect heat and cook for approximately 45 minutes. Keep the lid closed and make sure the vent is over the meat. When the internal temperature of the pork reach 140℉, brush it with the pork glaze and move it over direct heat. Continue to brush with glaze and turn the meat often until it is nicely browned all over, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the grill, brush with more glaze, and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Apple Brandy Marinade and Glaze

What You’ll Need

1 ½ cups apple juice
¾ cup apple brandy -- look for American made varieties… they’re great!
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup grainy mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


Let’s Do It!
Mix all ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. For the glaze, pour one cup of the marinade into a small sauce pan. Heat it over medium heat, until it is reduced by about one third. This will temper the raw alcohol taste and thicken the marinade. Keep the glaze at room temperature until ready to use.

Spicy Pork Rub


What You’ll Need
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
1½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1½ teaspoons allspice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1½ teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.

Happy Halloween from the Grill Beast

Hellacious Halloween

The Grill Beast loves Halloween, and we hope you and your family have a spooky one! Don’t miss our Hellacious Halloween our promotion -- we’re giving away our wickedly sharp Beast Imaplerz, because it just seem fitting!