Outdoor Cooking Tip Sheet


Whether you’ve started outdoor cooking for the summer season or not, be sure to check this Health Power Tip Sheet out – for the cooking, and for the eating.

It can be great fun when one adds everything that goes into: 

  • The Cooking, especially different styles of grilling, barbecuing, and adding other seasonings, and
  • The Eating, including adding the sides, dressings, trimmings, and social activity.

These tips will help you in Cooking Good and Eating Healthy!

Physical Safety First:

  • When carrying food to another location use cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40oF or below
  • Be sure the grill is in a well-lit area.
  • Be sure the ventilation is good, and the grill is not near trees, shrubs, or buildings.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fire.
  • Have water nearby in a squirt bottle in case the fire flares up

Food Safety Next:

  • Keep all perishable foods, like foods with dairy products, meat and poultry cold to limit bacterial growth
  • If the outdoor temperature is less than 90oF, they should not sit out more than two (2) hours.
  • If the outdoor temperature is higher than that, perishable foods should not sit out for more than one hour.

Preparing the Food:

  • Wash hands before and after preparing foods.
  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly
  • Thaw food in a refrigerator or microwave, but if a microwave is used; cook as soon as thawing is done.
  • Marinate (soak in a savory sauce to enrich the flavor or tenderize) meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature
  • Don’t use the same plate or utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.  The juices from raw meat can contaminate the cooked food

About the Cooking:

  • Use a thermometer to be sure the food has been cooked to a safe temperature inside (You can’t tell from the outside).
  • Desirable Internal Temperatures (in Degrees Fahrenheit)
Food Item Required Internal Temperature
Whole Poultry 180 Degrees
Breast 170 Degrees
Beef, veal & lamb steaks 160 Degrees
Roast and chops 160 Degrees
Hamburgers 160 Degrees
Ground poultry 165 Degrees
Fully coked hotdogs 165 Degrees
  • Never partially cook food outside planning to finish later, because there may still be harmful bacteria in partially cooked foods.
  • Always marinate food in a refrigerator
  • Don’t ever reuse marinade from raw meat or poultry on cooked food unless it’s boiled first.
  • If you want some of the marinade for sauce, save some for that purpose before you begin cooking.
  • Marinate food in a plastic bag, a glass, or ceramic or stainless steel bowl.
  • How long one marinates varies depending on the ingredients. However, most meat and poultry should be marinated or soaked for one (1) to three (3) hours, whereas for most seafood, 15 to 30 minutes is adequate.

Grilling Hamburgers

  • Don’t keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator in the supermarket wrapping for more than two (2) days. Otherwise, re-wrap the meat in freezer bags or wrap.
  • Be sure the grill is hot before cooking burgers, to avoid their sticking to the grill.
  • Don’t salt burgers before they’re cooked, because it draws the juices out.
  • Don’t press on the hamburgers while they’re cooking because that pushes the juices out.
  • Use a meat thermometer to be sure the hamburgers are cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Enjoy, and be safe!

Principal Sources: Family Nutrition Program, University of Illinois Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture

 Remember our motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®

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