Safe Grilling – How Do You Know?


Grilled Salmon with Citrus Tomato Salsa

When someone says “safe grilling” most people think of keeping the kids away when the match is lit or keeping a safe distance as you hear the “clicker” over and over again on the old gas grill until the “whoomp” of the flame lights up and the grill is safely heating with little damage to arm and facial hair.

In my household, safe grilling means being armed with the most essential grilling tool: the instant read thermometer. An instant read thermometer is different from a meat thermometer or a candy thermometer in that is reads the temperature of a food instantly (hence the name “instant read”). I have several of these for when I am cooking more than one food that needs checking and even keep one in our camper.

Do not put this thermometer in the oven or grill during cooking, but use it to test or check food intermittently when you think it might be ready. Trust me, you will destroy your thermometer if you put it in your meat and close the lid of your grill.

This tool helps you prevent over cooked fish and under cooked burgers. You can have perfectly cooked chicken breasts (not dried out) and just right steaks. Now you need to know what temperature “perfectly” cooked means.

  • All ground meat (such as burgers) = 160 degrees
  • All red meat (this includes pork) = 145 degrees (higher if you want “well-done”)
  • All poultry = 165 degrees
  • All fish = 145 degrees

An instant read thermometer costs around $10 and is found in the kitchen section of most big box stores. You don’t need to get fancy – you just need to use it.

When most people say they are grilling, they pull out the hot dogs, burgers or steaks. In our household burgers and hot dog rarely or never touch the grill (or even pass through the door) – it is steaks, chops, chicken or fish. Just a bit of oil or cooking spray and things are good. I love it because I don’t have the oven or broiled heating up the kitchen in the summer.

Below is a recipe for Grilled Salmon with Citrus-Tomato Salsa for your grill (or your broiler) – courtesy of the Unilever Kitchens. In exchange for me publishing this recipe, the folks at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® are sending me two Bamboo BBQ Roll-Up Sets. I’m going to keep one (since I already told my husband about it – sorry), but the second one I’m giving away to one of my readers.

To qualify you need to comment answering all three of the following questions:

  1. What do you grill?
  2. When was the last time you grilled?
  3. How do you know you are cooking it safely?

Submit your comment by August 22 – I will choose one person at random and I will announce the winner on August 23. Hopefully, I will get your grill set to you in time for grilling on Labor Day Weekend.


Serves: 4, Preparation Time: 15 Minutes, Cook Time: 15 Minutes


2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 large navel orange, peeled, sectioned and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sliced green onions
6 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp. finely chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper (optional)
4 Tbsp. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® All Purpose Sticks
4 salmon fillets (about 1 lb.)


  1. Combine tomatoes, oranges, green onions, 4 tablespoons cilantro and jalapeno pepper in large bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and ground black pepper; set aside.
  2. Blend I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Spread, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and, if desired, salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Grill or broil salmon, brushing with cilantro spread, until salmon is opaque, turning once. Serve salsa with salmon.

NOTE: Recipe can be halved.

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories 320, Calories From Fat 170, Saturated Fat 4.5 g, Trans Fat 0 g, Total Fat 18 g, Cholesterol 60 mg, Sodium 160 mg, Total Carbohydrates 13 g, Sugars 8 g, Dietary Fiber 3 g, Protein 24 g, Vitamin A 30%, Vitamin C 100%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%.



2 thoughts on “Safe Grilling – How Do You Know?

  1. Christina V. says:

    Hi Shelley! Love the blog. The salmon recipe looks great, I’ll have to try it. Here are my responses:

    What do you grill?
    Mostly everything. Chicken, fish, vegetables, occasionally steak or burgers, even the Thanksgiving turkey! (I grew up with my dad obsessing over his webber- my husband is the same way! Lucky me!)

    When was the last time you grilled?
    Last month- we just recently moved across the country and couldn’t make room to bring the grill.

    How do you know you are cooking it safely?
    Making sure it’s evenly cooked by turning it, avoiding cross-contamination, checking the color, meat thermometers sometimes- I will have to purchase an instant thermometer!

    • Shelley Rael, MS RD LD says:

      Christina – Thanks for your comments! The instant read is a great tool. Like I said I love it and we use it all the time. Good luck in winning the bamboo grill set. Shelley

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