What Is Medium Heat on a Grill?

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The right recipe makes a good barbecue or steak, but the right temperature ensures it’s perfect.

Speaking of temperatures, most gas and pellet grills will have three options: low, medium, and high.

Heat Temperature Ranges for Different Types of Grilling

Among these three, medium heat is what most recipes call for. That said, what is medium heat on a grill?

This is what we’ll talk about today. We’ve also included some tips to keep the temperature consistent while grilling.

What Is Medium Heat on a Grill?

Medium heat is meant to grill most foods, like chickens, turkeys, burgers, steaks, and roasts.

That said, you should know that there are three separate settings for medium heat. Let’s discuss them one by one.


Medium-low ranges from 250 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Within this range, you are dealing with a fire that isn’t going to brown anything, so it works great for keeping your food warm or reviving a cold dish back to life.

Also, you can cook food that tends to burst with high heat, such as hotdogs and sausages.

Though it takes some time to cook the food, you end up with a juicy, savory dish that has a rich smokey flavor.

Medium-low heat is also great for smoking certain meats.


This heat setting is mainly used for thick cuts of meats, like whole chickens, steaks, and tough fish.

It is the perfect temperature for bone-in chicken. It is hot enough to cook the outside of the bird and make it crispy while keeping the insides juicy and flavorful.


This is the highest setting within the medium range, typically from 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is the perfect temperature for foods that need to be cooked medium-rare.

Tuning in to the medium-high setting is also great when cooking for a large crowd, as it allows you to cook food faster.

Medium-high heat is also used for grilling high-moisture ingredients, like pineapple and tofu, as it prevents the food from drying out.

You can even grill tougher vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, within this range.

In medium-high heat, the food is seared quickly, browning the outer surface. However, the heat is still low enough to cook the food completely.

Usually, the food is cooked within 10 to 15 minutes on an open grill on medium-high heat.

What Foods to Cook in Medium Heat?

There are certain foods best cooked in medium heat. They include:


Steak is one of the best meats to cook at a medium heat level. It leads to savory and juicy meat with crisp surfaces.

If you prefer medium-rare steak, medium heat is the setting you need.

Burgers and Hotdogs

Grilling burgers on medium heat brings out the flavor of the meat.

For hotdogs, use low-medium. As mentioned, they tend to crack or burst if the heat is too high.

Kebobs and Skewers

You can grill veggie skewers and meat kebobs on medium heat. That said, it is important to slice them up into similar sizes so that they cook evenly.

learn what is medium heat on a grill

How To Test the Temperature of Your Grill

How do you know if you have achieved the medium heat level on a grill?

To become a pro griller, you need a way to gauge the temperature of your grill, and there are two ways to do it.

The Hand Test

The most commonly used method involves holding your hand over at about three inches above the grate for a few seconds.

Follow this guide when hand-testing the temp:

  • 7 to 9 seconds – Low
  • 6 to 7 seconds – Medium-low
  • 4 to 5 seconds – Medium
  • 2 to 3 seconds – Medium-high
  • 1.9 seconds or less – High

Use a Thermometer

As you can imagine, the hand-testing technique isn’t always accurate and safe.

If your grill has a built-in thermometer, use it. Alternatively, you can always buy a thermometer.

It’s a handy, inexpensive tool that will help you make perfectly grilled meat and veggies.

A thermometer is also necessary if you want to be more accurate.

Tips for Adjusting the Grill Heat

Keeping the heat at your desired temperature can be a challenge.

Many factors, such as the weather and the type of fuel, can affect grill temperatures.

Here are our tried-and-tested tips for adjusting the heat in a grill, depending on the type you’re currently using.

Gas Grill

Adjusting the heat in gas grills is quite easy because they come with knobs that aid heat control.

Still, take note that some grills have hot spots. This means that there are areas that could be hotter than the rest.

In that case, your best bet is to use a thermometer for accuracy.

Charcoal Grill

Setting the temperature in a charcoal grill requires some effort. Follow these tips to match your desired grill temperature:

1. Adjust the rack.

Some grills have adjustable racks. You can raise it to lower the heat or put it down to fire it up.

2. Open or close the vents to adjust the temp.

Grills often come with vents on the top and bottom. Opening them increases the heat while closing them cools it down.

3. Reposition the coal.

You can spread the coal to cool down the heat or place them together to increase the temperature.

More Tips When Grilling on Medium Heat

Now that you know the answer to “What is medium heat on a grill?”, you are ready to host a barbecue party at home.

Yet, before you start grilling, here are some more tips for delicious, juicy grilled food all the time:

  • Preheat your grill for at least 15 to 25 minutes before cooking.
  • Aside from consistent heat throughout the cooking surface, a properly heated grill sears food well, locks in the moisture, and prevents them from sticking to the grates.
  • Use the right fuel. If using charcoal, use additive-free charcoal, as it fires up nicely and doesn’t leave an unpleasant smell and residue on the food.
  • If you’re grilling different cuts of meat, create cooking zones by layering charcoal on areas that need to be very hot and spreading them on areas that need low heat.
  • You can even create a completely heat-free zone, which you’ll mainly use for resting meat.

Grilling At Medium Heat

There is no single temperature reading that indicates medium heat.

Medium heat on a grill ranges from 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to brown meat and vegetables but just right to cook the insides evenly.

This is important to achieve your desired juiciness and softness.

It is perfect for a wide range of recipes and works well for direct and indirect grilling. Moreover, it is ideal for smoke-roasting meats.

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