How to Avoid Burning Meat on the Barbecue

by Barabara on March 19, 2016

A backyard barbecue is commonly associated with summer, but if you have the right facilities, or weather conditions, you can barbecue to your heart’s content any time of the year.

The last thing you want is to burn your meat. Even if you don’€™t mind the taste, studies suggest that eating charred meat can increase the possibility of getting cancer. Fortunately, you can avoid burning barbecue meat by following these basic guidelines.

Avoid cooking directly over the flame

Don’t put your meat on the barbecue while the flames are still leaping sky-high. If flames engulf the meat, they will char the outside without cooking the inside. In addition, the fat from the meat is likely to feed the flames even more.

Instead, wait for the coals to glow red with a charcoal grey coating before you start cooking. This way, the heat should be enough to cook the meat evenly.

Be careful when clock-watching

Although it is usually advisable to time the cooking of food in a conventional oven, this becomes a lot more difficult on a grill. The heat may differ depending on the source of fuel, the weather and the stage at which the fuel is burning. As a result, clock-watching may not be reliable.

Rather than wait until your meat has burned on the outside, rely on other methods of telling if it has been cooked properly. For example, ensure there is no visible pink meat. Cut the meat at the thickest part to ensure that it has cooked through and that any juices run clear.

Use a thermometer

If you really want to ensure that your food is cooked properly in the middle before it goes black on the outside, using a meat thermometer to check the temperature inside the meat is the best way to go. This can put your mind at ease with regard to chicken in particular, which can result in serious food poisoning if not cooked adequately.

Most meats need to be cooked to a temperature of 60-65 C, but ensure that you read the instructions carefully on your thermometer for more information. Then, provided that the coals aren’t flaming, you should be able to offer well-cooked (but uncharred) meat to your guests.

Marinate meat beforehand

According to, marinating meat can reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that result from burning, which research has shown can cause cancer in laboratory animals. There are any number of marinade recipes for barbecue meats available online, which can add flavor and moisture, as well as preventing meat from burning.

However, the United States Department of Agriculture has some recommendations to ensure that the marinade you use is safe. That includes reserving a portion of the marinade before placing raw meat in it, or, if the marinade is to be used on another batch of meat, ensure that it has been boiled first to kill any remaining bacteria. 

By following the above tips, you will be able to enjoy well-cooked, moist barbecued meat without the worry of eating something potentially carcinogenic or that could give you food poisoning.

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