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What Is Carryover Cooking?

national grilling month

You pulled your pork shoulder out of the oven as soon as it hit your desired temperature. However, only 15 minutes later, you tried to serve it and discovered the inside was as dry as the Sahara. That is most likely a result of carryover cooking.

The Definition of Carryover Cooking

Carryover cooking occurs when you remove ingredients from a heat source, but the cooking doesn’t stop. Instead, the exterior temperature of the item releases its heat in two directions. One of those directions is internal, so the meat’s interior gets warmer even as the outside grows cooler.

Maybe this sounds like a pain to you, but it’s useful in certain situations. Once you adjust your grilling and smoking technique to account for carryover cooking, you can better predict the outcome of just about any recipe. Additionally, you’ll become a wizard at making sure all your dishes are done at about the same time.

How Many Carryovers Can You Expect?

The tricky part of incorporating carryover cooking into your mealtime calculations is that it’s not an exact science. Unlike baking, which is a bit more precise, carryover cooking on the grill gives you far more wiggle room.

However, you can count on a few consistencies when it comes to planning for carryover cooking:

  • Thin meats will have far less carryover cooking than thicker cuts of steak. A thin chop’s internal temperature may only slide up one or two degrees Fahrenheit after you take it off the grill. On the other hand, a large chunk of protein’s carryover could exceed 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Carryovers tend to be more pronounced when you’re cooking hot and fast. If you’re babysitting a brisket low and slow for hours, you’re probably not going to see much of a carryover.
  • The carryover cooking period is finished after about 15-20 minutes. Therefore, you can expect the internal temperature of the meat to begin declining after resting for 15 minutes. 
  • You’ll want to remove the meat from your smoker or grill when the meat is about five degrees Fahrenheit less than desired. For instance, if you want your T-bone to be medium rare and 130 degrees Fahrenheit at plate-time, cook it until it registers 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you’re going to maximize on carryover cooking, remove the meats even earlier and tent them with foil. The foil tent helps the carryover last longer and can add several degrees to the meat’s internal temperature.
  • Don’t expect much carryover if you slap a grilled steak onto a cold platter. Thanks to science and the laws of thermodynamics, the platter will steal away a lot of heat, and you won’t get as much carryover magic.

Try Carryover Cooking Today 

Is carryover cooking a problem? Not really. You just have to keep the right techniques in the back of your mind. That way, your meats and other ingredients will always cook to perfection and not dry out before they reach everyone’s watering mouths.

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