The gas grill, despite being among the most convenient and simplest to use grills, can be complicated to those who are just starting on their journey with this great type of grill. New things always leave us shocked, excited and at the same time provide us with plenty of worries and questions like „how does it work?” or „how to use it properly”. Today we’d like to present you with several basic rules one has to remember when cooking on a gas grill as well as explain the basics that will show you how to use a gas grill (propane or natural gas grill).
Of course, after that long introduction we’d like to reassure you and point out that there’s no need to worry. A gas grill is very easy to use, manufacturers add a manual to every grill that makes everything clear. If you don’t have a manual, however, or haven’t found the answer to a mind-boggling question in it, I invite you to read our article.
Below are the key activities everyone who cooks on a gas grill comes across. Attention – If you haven’t found an answer to your question here either, please ask it in the comments below, we’ll help you to the best of our abilities.
How to Start a Gas Grill
First the most popular question, how to light a gas grill. There are two options, if your grill has an electric ignition then you simply turn the knob to start a burner. If for any reason you don’t have an electric ignition or it broke down, all that is left to do is start the gas grill manually.
But no need to rush, let’s start from the beginning – what to do in order to light a propane or natural gas grill ?
- That’s easy, open the grill’s lid ( always start the gas grill with the lid open ). It prevents gas from accumulating under the lid in the event any of the burners doesn’t work properly.
- Open the propane tank valve or the natural gas line valve and wait for a moment. ( Always close the valve after you’re done cooking ).
- Turn the burner knob to the right position and click the ignition button. Plenty of grills have a „light” position under the knob which is there to start the grill, but if your grill doesn’t have it then simply turn the knob however you wish.
Useful info – if your grill has plenty of burners close together, you can start each subsequent one by simply turning the knob accordingly without having to click the ignition button. If there’s a running burner nearby, it will light a new burner automatically.
Of course we suggest reading the instructions before using the grill for the first time. Each manufacturer has their own patents, features and different solutions which is why we can’t give a clear answer that will perfectly fit every grill. Manufacturers install plenty of features in different ways which is why it’s a good idea to read the instructions to make sure how all the elements of a grill work.
How to Start a Gas Grill Manually?
In the event that the electric ignition breaks down, it is always possible to start a gas grill manually without ignitor. It doesn’t matter if it involves a propane grill or a natural gas grill, the principle is the same and you may know it from starting old models of gas stoves.
Manufacturers have prepared something in case of the ignition breaking down that can help start the grill using an emergency method. For the convenience and safety of using that method, a handle has been installed on the side of a grill that has a place on the very end to put a match.
If you don’t know where the handle is located, read the grill’s instruction, but most of the time it can be found somewhere on the side of the grill.
So in order to manually start a gas grill without ignitor, you need to open the grill’s lid. Then put a match in the special handle and light it. At the same time turn the knob of a selected burner and put the handle with a burning match right to the selected burner. That way the gas will get ignited upon contact with a burning match.
Done ! You can start cooking now.
When a burning match touches a burner with gas coming out of it, ignition occurs, which can often be a little more intense during the first second due to the accumulated gas after turning the knob. That’s why a special handle should be used that protects your hands from potential burns.
How to Cook on a Gas Grill ?
It is ultra simple, once you start the burners on the grill and set the knobs accordingly, it’s time to close the grill’s lid and wait for the grill to reach the desired temperature. It is best achieved by setting the burners to full power, closing the lid and waiting for the grill to reach your desired temperature which usually takes 10-15 minutes ( watch the temperature using the built-in thermometer on the grill’s lid, if your grill doesn’t have a built-in thermometer you can buy a remote thermometer separately ).
Once the temperature is right, you can lower the burners’ power by turning the knob accordingly. Then comes the time for cooking, simply place the food on the grates and cook.
Other than that, there is nothing much complicated when it comes to cooking, now it all depends on what you want to cook and how.
You have to remember that before you place the food on the grates, you have to preheat the grill to the right temperature. If the grates are dirty then it’s better to clean them, in such case you should also wait for the grill to reach the right temperature that will burn away most of the grease and food remains, then you can clean the grates more thoroughly using the right brush. What kind? That depends on the type of grill grates you have, I recommend reading more on that in the instructions or on the manufacturer’s website.
That’s it when it comes to the basics of lighting a gas grill and preparing it for cooking. There are plenty of other, less important activities to pay attention to when cooking, but more on that below.
Tips & Things to Remember
Below we present a list of things to remember when cooking on a gas grill as well as give you few valuable tips that can expand your cooking experience. There’s plenty of things to do before and after cooking that it’s a good idea to remember.
- The lid during cooking – Only leave the lid open when starting the grill, it is crucial when it comes to the safety of starting a gas grill. Outside of starting it, however, which means during cooking and warming the grill up, always keep the lid closed. Try to open it as little as possible, opening the lid too often causes the heat to escape the inside of the grill and it takes longer for the food to cook.
- Preheat the grill – Before cooking, always preheat the grill first, by the time you put food on the grill’s grates, it has to be properly warmed up. If you clean the grill’s grates, you should also remember to preheat the grill because it makes it significantly easier to remove food remains.
- Flare-ups when cooking – how to deal with them? The best solution is to move the food to a different place and wait for things to get normal again. When cooking, always leave some free space, like on the side of the grates, in order to always be able to move the food there if necessary.
- Split the cooking zones – You want your grill to be more versatile? You cook large chunks of meat? Use the possibility of not only cooking with the direct method, but also the indirect method which is great for cooking bigger pieces of food such as a whole turkey or chicken. When cooking steaks or hamburgers, on the other hand, the method is obviously direct cooking over the source of heat. That way you can cook delicious food very fast. Direct cooking is only good for thin pieces of food because you can make sure that the inside won’t be raw.
- Cleaning – The most important thing is for the grill grates to be clean before each cooking. You wouldn’t want to eat food that was cooked on dirty grates, it is easy to feel the taste of burned grease and food remains from the previous cooking. Luckily it is not difficult to clean a gas grill, especially when it comes to the grill grates. All you have to do is warm up the grill before each cooking in order to burn away grease and food remains, and then use the right brush to clean the whole grates ( check out what type of grill grates you have and pick a brush made of the right material so that you don’t damage the surface of the grill grates ). Besides cleaning the grates, you obviously have to clean the whole grill, but it is something that is enough to do once or twice a season depending on how much you have cooked on the grill ( thorough cleaning is usually performed after the season ends so that a clean grill can be put under cover and stored away in a place like the garage ).
- Buy a Smoker Box – You used to cook on a charcoal grill and you miss the smoke flavor of the food? This problem can be solved to a substantial degree with a smoker box, of course the food won’t taste 100% like from a charcoal grill, but it’s still a good idea to try this method. Smoker Box is a special metal container where you put wood chips, then you put the container directly over a burner. A hot enough smoker box will cause the wood chips to start making smoke, which gets through a tiny hole on the top of the box and fills the entire grill chamber. That way you can give your food a smoke flavor fast and easily, which is pretty much non-existent in a regular gas grill. Smoker Box is made for multiple uses, and its price is not high which is why we believe that it is worth your time and money. See how to smoke meat on a gas grill with smoker box.
- Buy a meat thermometer – You want to have a better control over cooking the food? All you have to do is buy a thermometer that comes with several probes to measure the temperature inside the grill and inside the meat. That way you can be sure that the meat won’t be raw on the inside. A very useful thing, especially when cooking things like steaks, which are prepared in several degrees of being done. By using a meat thermometer you can be sure that the meat isn’t raw on the inside, especially when you cook bigger chunks of food.
- Warming rack – It is a good idea to use one when the temperature inside the grill is high, it is the furthest from the burners so it offers the lowest temperature. A great way to warm up the temperature or slowly cook delicate food like vegetables for example, which can burn up in few seconds when cooked on the main grates if you forget about them for a moment.
- Buy a cover – You wish for your grill to be in great condition even after many years? Weather conditions have a very huge impact on a grill’s condition. Rain, snow, freezing rain, sun, high humidity all have a negative impact on the materials grills are made of. If you want to extend your grill’s durability to the max, buy a cover and always keep it on your grill when not cooking on it. A cover costs few dozen dollars, a decent grill costs more than 10x that much which is why it’s a good idea.
- Fuel level – If you have a natural gas grill then the problem doesn’t exist for you and you don’t have to worry about whether you have enough gas. For propane grill owners it is a must to check the fuel level, it is better to make sure before each cooking whether you have enough fuel to cook all the food without a problem. We advise those with short memory to always keep a spare tank around the backyard. That way even when the tank gets empty during cooking, you can easily plug in a new one and save the hassle and nerves of driving to the store for a new one.
- Close the gas valve – When you’re done cooking for safety reasons you should always remember to close the propane tank or natural gas line valve.
- Assign one experienced person in charge of cooking – When cooking for a bigger number of people, you can very often observe chaos, the host has to keep in touch with the guests all the time which is difficult if they have to cook food at the same time. Losing attention for a moment may cause the food to burn down which is why it’s better to pick one person to watch things around the grill for some time and monitor how much the food is done. If there’s plenty of food, we suggest taking turns with someone equally responsible so that you don’t spend the whole party stuck alone by the grill.
- Heat control – Use high temperature for searing, we suggest cooking relatively shortly in such temperatures if you don’t want to burn your food. For normal cooking, it is the best to use medium temperatures that make it possible to cook most foods fast and reliably. The lowest temperatures, on the other hand, should be used for slow meat cooking, in such case it’s a good idea to use a special smoker box that gives the food a new flavor by generating smoke.
- Food safety – it’s a very important issue, most raw meat isn’t good for human consumption. Such food may contain bacteria that should never get in our stomach as it may result in poisoning and other unpleasant symptoms. That’s why it’s very important to use separate kitchen tools for raw and for cooked meat. That way you can prevent the food from getting mixed and unwanted bacteria from finding a way. Remember to always store raw meat in a fridge and only take it out a moment before cooking. Never leave raw meat out for a longer time, especially when it’s hot. By leaving meat out on a hot day, you make the chances of food poisoning significantly higher if the bacteria from the meat get into the salad you eat, for example.