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How to Get Perfect Grill Marks

If you’re reading this I’m gonna assume you enjoy grilling meat. If you don’t i'm sure you can google an article on grilled tofu that you will enjoy. Heck even if you are grilling tofu or veggies these same principles apply so keep reading.


Taste will always be first and foremost when it comes to food but we also know that our eyes give the first impression of the things we eat. When a steak has perfect diamond grill marks it’s a sign that the cook knows what they’re doing. It also means that some care went into preparing the meal and you’re gonna be eating something tasty. Use these helpful tips next time you're grilling and show your guests you know how to work a grill right.

Top 5 Tips for Perfect Grill Marks


  1. Clean your grill- This may seem obvious but starting off with clean grill grates is the first step to well defined diamond grill marks. You can light the grill and get the fire ripping hot and burn off a lot of the bits still stuck to the grill. After that use a brush to get anything still sticking to the grates. Lastly wipe down using a rag with some oil on it.

  1. Size Matters- When purchasing your steaks look for a cut that is 1 inch to 1.5 inches thick. If the steak is too thin you will have a hard time cooking it to your desired temperature without overshooting. If the steak is too thick you'll have to keep the steak on too long to cook the center properly without placing the steak in the oven to finish.

  1. Season with only salt- this will be controversial i'm sure but if you want to put a bunch of spices on your steak then I recommend pan searing instead of grilling. All those extra herbs and spices will burn before the meat cooks and will give the steak a bitter flavor. Instead lightly brush a tsp of oil on the steak and then season with a generous amount of high quality salt.

Use a compound butter or finishing salts after the steak is cooked to impart more complex flavors while the steak is resting. This will allow the steak to absorb the seasoning inside and out.


  1. Move the steak to a new location with each turn- To get perfect diamond grill marks on both sides you need to turn the steak 4 times (two per side). Each time you turn the steak, set it down on a fresh part of the grill. You can clean the previous spot and use it again when you make the next turn. This will make sure you have maximum surface contact with the grates.
  2. Even pressure- When you place the steak on the grill lightly press down on the steak so you have even contact with the grill grates. You don't need to press hard as you're not trying to press the juices out of the steak. Just gentle even pressure to make sure the whole steak is in contact with the grill.


Grill Placement for Perfect Grill Marks


Think about your grill like a clock and this will help you know where to place the steaks to get diamond grill marks. The grates should be at 12 and 6 (north and south). When placing the steak on the grill I always start at 11 and 5 then rotate the steak to 1 and 7 position. After I move the steak I brush the previous spot so it will be clean when I flip the steak to repeat the process. Once the steak hits the grill dont move it until it's time to turn. Depending on the grill temperature I flip the steak every 90 seconds to 2 minutes.


Bonus Tips for Great Grill Marks


If you go to any steak cook-off competition you will find that almost every competitor uses aluminum grill grates. These searing grates sit on top of your existing grill grates and can be ordered to fit just about any grill. The aluminum heats up 25-50 degrees hotter than the temperature of the grill and sears perfectly on contact. You don't have to use these grill grates to achieve perfect grill marks but it definitely helps. It's almost foolproof.


The ideal temperature for your grill should be in the 450-600 degrees F. Any lower and you won't get good grill marks,  too hot and you may have flare ups.



Best Salt for Seasoning Steak


Kosher salt is my go to for seasoning most meats. The size of the flakes are just right for even seasoning. I use a larger finishing salt like Malden Salt. The bigger crystals have a nice crunch and add texture. Avoid fine iodized table salts because it's easy to over season and hard to control the amount you use. Other salts like Sea salt or himalayan are good to use as well but make sure they are coarse ground.

Simple Compound Butter Recipe


1 lb softened butter

1 tbsp Wrchestersire

1 tbsp Garlic

1 tsp Granulated Onion

1 tsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh chives (or herbs of choice)


Whisk together and roll up into a tube using parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for up to 2 months or freeze for up to a year.

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