Our Guide on How to Use a Gas Grill


Knowing how to use a gas grill involves a lot more than just turning a knob.

There are essential steps to follow—before and after grilling, precautionary measures to consider and things you won’t find on the user’s manual.

We’ll help you figure out everything so that you can get your cook on in the summer like a pro!

A lot of conveniences come with using gas grills: 

  • They’re easy to set up.
  • Preheat fast.
  • Easy to control the temperature.
  • Safe to use because they don’t emit carbon fumes.
  • Some gas grills use both gas and coal, so you can switch between the two.

Still, even with these advantages, there are things to consider to avoid safety risks and enjoy the best grilling experience.

Essential Tools for Grilling With Gas

You must get the right tools to start grilling with gas:

  • Thermometers: Allow you to measure the perfect temperature to cook food. Food-specific thermometers also ensure the meat cooks inside and out.
  • Skewers: Good wooden skewers can take the place of many grill tools, saving you from cluttering your work area.
  • Long tongs: Come in handy when flipping the food on the grill. They should be long enough so that your hand is far away from the heat.
  • Heat-resistant cooking glove: Protect your hands from getting burnt with a good pair of heat-resistant cooking gloves.
  • Fire extinguisher: In case of a fire breakout, you need an extinguisher to prevent the situation from getting out of control.
  • Basting brush: Use this to brush your food with marinade flavors as you cook.

How to Start a Gas Grill

infographic on How to Use a Gas Grill

Step 1: Check and Connect the Gas

  1. Determine if your grill uses propane or natural gas (most grills use propane).
  2. Check if the propane tank has enough fuel for grilling. The tanks are always kept under, behind or beside the grill.
  3. Connect the gas line from the grill to the propane tank.
  4. Make sure it’s firmly attached. This also applies if you’re connecting the grill to a natural gas source.

Step 2: Light the Grill

  1. First, open the grill’s lid and turn on the circular valve on the propane tank.
  2. There are grills with a secondary valve on the grill. Remember to open it too so that gas can pass.
  3. Next, turn on the regulator knob for one of the burners to its highest level. A burner close to the igniter will be ideal as it makes lighting the grill easier.
  4. You can then press the ignition button, creating a spark that lights the grill.
  5. To light the other burners, just turn their regulator knobs to “high” and close the lid so that the grill can preheat for 10–15 minutes.

In case the burner fails to light when you press the igniter, consider replacing batteries or lighting the gas grill manually. Fortunately, many modern gas grills come with manual lighting holes and match holders attached to the grill for this purpose.

Step 3: Preparing Your Gas Grill for Cooking

  1. Once the gas grill has preheated, get a long-handled wire brush and scrub the grill grates to remove any stuck-on food debris from the last grilling session. This is to prevent stale flavors from sticking to your food. Ideally, you should clean your grill after use each time.
  2. Season the grill grates to enhance their nonstick protection. Rub neutral cooking oil on it, such as canola oil. If it’s a new gas grill, consider spraying the oil on cold grates BEFORE switching the grill on and set it to medium heat for 10–15 minutes, or until the oil is burnt off.
A man flipping food on a grill

How to Use a Gas Grill to Cook

The grill is now preheated, cleaned and ready to start grilling some delicious food. Your only concern at this moment should be adjusting the heat accordingly so that the food cooks well. The last thing you need is undercooking or burning food.

You can do a quick hand test to determine the strength of the heat. Place your palm 5 inches from the grill grate and use these times and heats:

  • 8–10 seconds: Medium-low.
  • 5–7 seconds: Medium.
  • 2–4 seconds: High.

To help you get an idea of which food to cook under what temperature, here are a few examples:

  • Low heat (under 3000F): Tough meat, like ribs, pork shoulder and brisket.
  • Medium-low heat (3500F): Food that cooks gently, e.g., baked potatoes, sausages and pork tenderloin.
  • Medium heat (350 – 4350F): Vegetables, bone-in chicken and burgers.
  • High heat (over 4500F): Pork chops, steaks, shrimp, kebabs and any other food that cooks fast.

Direct and Indirect Heat Zone Cooking

Zone cooking is one of the most efficient methods to your gas grill’s temperature and cook your food to the perfect texture and taste.

Direct heat is best used for quick-cooking foods, while indirect heat is for any food that cooks for more than 20 minutes.

Direct Heat

You get direct heat by turning on one or two burners and setting them to high or medium-high.

Indirect Heat

Turn on one or two burners and leave the rest off, then place the food in the unlit region of the grill.

The food relies on convection to cook until it’s done. This is where you close the lid to contain heat, helping cook the food under indirect heat slowly. 

Preventing Flare-Ups

Control the burst flames caused by excess fat dripping into the fire to avoid a fire hazard or your food getting burnt.

Start by trimming excess fat from the meat before grilling. Some even consider boiling the meat first; however, be careful not to remove all the fat because it adds flavor to the food.

You can manage some flare-ups by simply moving the food from the direct heat side for a while. If the flame doesn’t subside after a minute, get the food off the grill and allow the excess grease to burn off. Make sure the lid is open when doing this.

You can also switch the grill off and clean the burners.

Warning: Don’t try to cool the flames by spraying or sprinkling water, as it will only make the situation worse. Since water and oil don’t mix, water may cause the grease to spread, thereby further fueling the flames.

Keep a fire extinguisher close by and any flammable objects as far away as possible. This will help curb the number of home cooking fires in the country.

How to Turn off a Gas Grill

At the end of your grilling session:

  1. Turn off the burners.
  2. Close the valve on top of the propane tank.
  3. Clean the food debris and any grease from the grill grates.
  4. Give the grill time to cool, then cover with a waterproof cover.

Gas Grill Maintenance and Troubleshooting 

Looking after your gas grill ensures it cooks efficiently, saving you from safety hazards and extending the grill’s lifespan.

Here are some important maintenance and troubleshooting measures to practice:

Cleaning

Apart from the grate cleaning before and after grilling, clean every part of the grill using warm, soapy water.

Remove the grill grate, disassemble the burners, disconnect any electrical components, and clean the interior thoroughly. Don’t forget to wash the exterior a few times a year.

Storage

Store the grill in a safe environment, away from harsh weather and outdoor elements. Invest in a good waterproof cover, and ensure you get a size that covers the entire grill.

Check the Gas Supply Lines

According to The National Fire Protection Association’s, five of every six grills involved in home fires between 2014–2018 were fueled by gas.

Therefore, to avoid being part of the statistics, inspect the gas supply and supply lines regularly.

Replace empty gas tanks and any loose, cracked or old supply lines. If you detect any gas leaks, disconnect and stop using the grill until you solve the issue.

Cold tanks need more time to supply gas to the grill. This is because cold temperatures lead to a decrease in gas tanks’ internal pressure, which then causes a slow gas flow.

Propane or Natural Gas?

Propane is the most-used gas with gas grills. Its 2,516 BTUs per 1 cubic foot makes it more powerful than natural gas’ 1,030 BTUs per 1 cubic foot.

Natural gas’ benefits are that it’s cleaner and less costly to use in the long run.

Light the Grill Manually if the Starter Is Faulty

Frequent starter use could lead to a malfunction or breakage.

You can tell if it isn’t working if all the other parts are functioning, but the grill doesn’t light when you press the igniter.

Plus, if the igniter produces a different sound than normal, the chances are that it’s faulty. In this case, light your grill manually and proceed to cook.

Get the Burners Replaced

If you’re sure the gas supply and the igniter are okay, then the next parts to troubleshoot are the burners.

Try and reset the burners’ regulators before you start shopping for new burners. In case it fails, go ahead and replace the burner(s).

Follow the instructions and procedures in your user manual to avoid making costly mistakes.

Check the Electrical Components

For grills with batteries and electrical lines, check for damaged and loose wiring and flat or expired batteries to ensure they aren’t the problem.

Replace the battery if it’s flat and re-fasten the loose cables. Be sure to consult with an electrician or gas engineer in case of any doubt.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Gas Grill

Failing to Preheat the Grill

The 10–15 minutes of preheating your grill are extremely important. It allows the heat to spread across the grill grates, cooking the food evenly and preventing the food from sticking on the grates. Not to mention, creating attractive grill marks on the food.

Not Cleaning the Grill

Stuck-on food isn’t only an eyesore but also messes up the food’s flavor when grilling on dirty grates.

You only need a few minutes to brush off food debris before or after grilling, avoiding last week’s blackened chicken pieces on today’s burger.

Consistently Opening the Grill While Cooking

As tempting as it might be to peak, avoid opening and closing the lid several times.

Keep the grill closed to contain the heat and create an oven-like environment. This helps cook the food properly and faster. 

Failing to Use Dials to Control Heat

The dials are your best bet to a perfectly grilled food—use them!

They allow you to create two temperature zones on the grill—high and low. You can then sear the food on the hot side and transfer it to the cool side for slow cooking. 

A Lack of Propane

Keep an extra full tank of propane to avoid inconveniences. 

Ensure there’s enough propane/natural gas before you start grilling. The last thing you want is to run out of propane and finish cooking on a stove.

Fire flames on a grill grate

Conclusion

Knowing how to use a gas grill doesn’t take much. It starts with safely connecting your grill to a tank full of propane gas or a natural gas line, followed by learning about the different knobs and controls on the gas grill.

You also need tools like tongs, skewers, thermometer, basting brush and fire extinguisher to help you out at different points in your cooking session.

In the end, remember to care for your gas grill so that it can serve you for many years. Simple things like scrubbing food debris from the grates, disconnecting the gas lines and covering the grill after cooking go a long way in preserving the grill.

In short, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat your family and friends to delicious grilled food. Invite them over for a barbeque and put your grill to the test!

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