8 Tips for Foolproof Roasting Meat on the Grill

By: Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough

Enjoy succulent beef tenderloin, roast chicken and more without ever turning on your oven.

Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Pictured Recipe: Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

No one wants to turn on the oven in the summer. But that’s no reason to stop roasting. With less trouble than you think, you can grill-roast perfectly caramelized chicken thighs, spice-rubbed pork loins and smoky turkey breasts in no time. Big cuts of meat happen to be incredibly easy to grill, once you know the secret of indirect heat. A grill’s ambient but intense heat roasts these larger cuts to perfection. What’s more, it produces an even better crust than an indoor oven affords. And that great, smoky flavor!

Here’s how it works: You set the cuts to the side of the heat, not directly over it. If you’ve got a gas grill like ours, you preheat it then turn off the left or right side, or just the back burners if you have a front-to-back system. If you’ve got a charcoal grill, you build a hot, well-ashed coal bed in the center of the grill, then rake the coals to the side, leaving one side without any direct heat. In either case, you set the meat on the portion of the grill grate without any direct heat under it. Cover the grill and away you go. 

Once you’ve got the technique down, you, too, can get the most out of your grill in the summer. And best of all, you’ll have used it well and truly by the time you have to lug it back down the stairs. Unless, of course, you live in a place where no lugging is necessary. But if that’s the case we don’t even want to hear about it. 

Use these techniques to grill-roast your favorite cuts of meat:

Fuel up

1. Fuel Up

Make sure you have plenty of gas or charcoal on hand before you get started.


Get it hot

2. Get It Hot

Preheat a gas grill (with all burners lit) or start your charcoal about 20 minutes before you put your meat on.


Check the heat

3. Check The Heat

If your grill doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, you’ll need to hang a metal thermometer (one that reads up to 550°F) through the vent. To gauge the temperature without a thermometer, hold your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack; the fire is high (450-500°F) if you have to move your hand in 2 seconds, medium (350-400°F) if you have to move your hand in 5 seconds and low (250-300°F) if you have to move your hand in 10 seconds.


4. Tame The Flames (Gas Grill)

4. Tame The Flames (Gas Grill)

To roast on the grill, meat needs to be placed over indirect heat or a “flame-free” area. To create an indirect-cooking area, turn off one burner on a gas grill.


Tip 5. Tame The Flames (Charcoal Grill)

5. Tame The Flames (Charcoal Grill)

On a charcoal grill, push coals to one side of the grill. Roast the meat on the flame-free section of the grill.


6. Keep a lid on it

6. Keep A Lid On It

Avoid opening the grill repeatedly. Every time you do, heat escapes, the temperature drops, and the grill can take up to 10 minutes to re-establish the proper temperature.


7. Spin It

When grill roasting, one side of the meat is closer to the heat. To cook meat evenly, rotate it once or twice as in this recipe, pictured left, for Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.


8. Smoke up

8. Smoke Up

To add smoky flavor, sprinkle wood chips directly on the heated coals of a charcoal grill. For gas grills place the chips in a foil “basket” made by crimping up the edges or in an inexpensive, stainless-steel pan. Place the pan or basket on the grate directly over the heat.