grill hand thermometer temperature | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Check the Temperature of Your Grill

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Hand Thermometer for Outdoor Cooking

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If you’re camping or simply do not have a thermometer on your grill, use the “hand test” to gauge the temperature of your grill. Here’s how.

​​First, if your grill has its own built-in thermometer, use it! 

If not, here’s how to check the temperature of your flame and estimate the temperature reading (°F) of your grill.

  1. Hold your palm about 3 inches above the grill where the food will be cooking: over the coals (or in front of a reflector oven).
  2. Count “one-and-one, two-and-two,” and so on (each pair is roughly equivalent to one second) for as many seconds as you can keep you hand still before pulling it away.
  3. Then check the chart below for the corresponding temperature.

“Hand Test” to Check Temperature of Grill

Hand Check 


Temperature Reading

7 to 9 seconds

Low (slow)

250° to 300°F

6 ot 7 seconds


300° to 350°F

4 to 5 seconds

Medium (moderate) 

350° to 400°F

2 to 3 seconds

Medium-high (hot) 

400° to 450°F

1.9 second or less 

High (very hot) 

450° to 500°F

Internal Temperature for Meat and Poultry

It’s important to have certain foods (especially meats) reach the right temperature for both safety and taste. For example:

  • Beef Burgers: 3 to 5 minutes per side on high heat until 160°F internal temperature for medium
  • Steaks (1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) such as flank and New York strip: 3 to 5 minutes per side on medium-high heat until 145°F internal temperature
  • Steaks (1 to 1-1/2 inches thick) such as rib-eye and porterhouse: 3 to 5 minutes per side on medium-high heat, then 4 to 6 minutes indirect heat (covered) until 145°F internal temperature
  • Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless): 5 to 6 minutes per side on medium heat until 165°F internal temperature
  • Chicken Cutlets: 2 to 3 minutes per side on medium heat until 165°F internal temperature
  • Chicken Thighs (boneless): 4 to 5 minutes on medium heat, turning once, until 165°F internal temperature
  • Turkey Burgers: 5 to 7 minutes per side on medium heat until 165°F internal temperature
  • Pork Chips (1/2 to 1 inch thick): 3 to 5 minutes per side for bone-in and 2 to 5 minutes per side boneless on medium-high heat until 145°F internal temperature
  • Sausage Links: 10 to 15 minutes turning occasionally at medium-high heat until 145°F internal temperature for pork and 165°F for chicken

See more meats with minimum internal temperatures for cooking.

Grilling Tips

Once meat and poultry are finished cooking on the grill, let them rest for 5 minutes for a more flavorful taste.

Here are 10 grilling tips from the pros to ensure the most mouthwatering taste—including delicious recipes for the grill!


About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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