If you’re cooking a large cut of meat—like a whole chicken, or a prime rib, maybe—you’re probably gonna head straight to the oven and start roasting.
Today, though, we’d like to inspire you to get a little adventurous and go outside and grill those bigger cuts.
Large cuts of meat are easy when grilled correctly. If you’ve got the time to grill a roast, it is time well-spent.
Learn the technique with your grill to avoid burning too hot and ruining your meal. Read on for a quick guide on how to start cooking large cuts on the grill.
Why Grill Large Cuts?
When it comes to grilling large cuts—like roasts, whole birds, brisket, and pork butt, you can think of your grill as an oven that won’t heat up the house, with the added benefit of being able to add some smoky or charred flavor.
You may have shied away from cooking large cuts on the grill for fear of burning them, but done properly, a whole chicken or pork butt will grill up beautifully. All you’ll need to do is create heat zones—hot for searing, and indirect, low heat for slow roasting. This works on both charcoal and gas grills.
Plus, grilling large cuts allows you to cook for a crowd, without steaming up a crowded kitchen. It’s ideal (and delicious!) for any type of gathering.
The Best Large Cuts for the Grill
If it’s a bird, roast, or another large cut, you can probably find a way to successfully grill it. There are some tried and true methods for specific cuts, though. You can find easy-to-follow recipes for any of the following. Keep reading for some of our favorite recipes, too.
- Whole chicken
- Pork Butt
- Rack of lamb
- Beef tenderloin
- Sirloin cap
How to Grill Large Cuts
There are a few universal rules for grilling large cuts of meat. Follow these, and you’ll be in for a perfectly charred, tender, and juicy meal.
1. Season your meat liberally (or marinate).
The first step to imparting bold flavor to your roast, whole chicken, or whatever it is you’re grilling up: Season liberally. A wet or dry rub works well on cuts like chicken or tri-tip. Marinades are also a great idea—you can even baste meat directly with saucy marinades.
For some cuts, you can build in even more flavor with a rich sauce. Think barbecue sauce-lacquered ribs, or pulled pork, made from grilled pork butt.
2. Get your grill ready.
The most important step of cooking large cuts is properly preparing your grill. As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to set up a high heat zone for searing, and an indirect heat area for slow-roasting your meat.
With a gas grill, you’ll want to turn all your burners to medium-low to first sear the meat and lock in flavor. Then, turn off a burner to lower the heat. With a charcoal grill, create a cooler zone by pushing the hot coals to the other side of the grill.
3. Sear the meat.
A sometimes overlooked step, searing your meat is a great opportunity to build a crust and lock in juices. It works the same for chicken as it does beef or pork— simply sear all sides of your large cut for a few minutes on high heat. Then, lower the heat and grill-roast.
4. Grill low and slow.
For most large cuts, the low and slow approach will yield the juiciest, most tender results. For a whole chicken, you might expect the cook time to hover around 45 minutes to an hour (even faster if you spatchcock it).
For something like a pork butt or brisket, it’s an all-day investment. Expect to spend four to six hours of low and slow grilling for these cuts.
5. Add wood chunks, if you’d like.
One of the great advantages of grilling outside—whether you’re using a gas grill or charcoal—is the opportunity to use wood chunks. While you’ll find wood chips more readily available, they might burn out too quickly before your large cut of meat is done cooking.
Wood chunks, on the other hand, will burn for hours.
Different types of wood chunks will impart different smoky flavor profiles. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Try fruity woods – like apple, peach, or cherry for lighter fare like poultry or fish.
- Stronger woods – like hickory, maple, or pecan deliver bold smoky flavor. They’re great for beef or pork.
- Mesquite wood is the most intense. Use it sparingly with red meat.
6. Don’t lift the lid!
You may be tempted to peek in on your large cut of meat and see how it’s doing. But just like an oven, you’re wasting precious heat each time you do. Keep your checks to a minimum, like when you need to temp the meat to check for doneness.
Our Favorite Large Cut Recipes for the Grill
Ready to get outside and grill some large cuts? Fire up the grill and get started!