Beginner’s Guide to Grilling with Gas
If you’ve got a brand-new (or a new-to-you) gas grill in your life and you’re ready to heat things up this summer, we’re here to help. While this guide is designed for novice grillers, there’s plenty of information for the seasoned grill master. We’ve included everything from turning your new grill on — yeah, it’s a little obvious, but we’ve got some stuff to say! — to zone cooking. And then there’s our list of the essential recipes that every grill cook should know.
Let’s get grilling!
A Quick-Start Guide to Grilling with Gas
One of the primary reasons home cooks choose a gas grill over a charcoal grill is its ease. A click of a button, the turn of a knob, and suddenly you’re flipping burgers with a beer in hand — no charcoal chimney to sort, no “building” of zones to worry about. Gas grilling has the distinct luxury of lighting and preheating effortlessly. Still, there are a few things you’ll want to take care of before meat meets grill.
A Clean Grill Is an Easy Grill
Whether your grill is a hand-me-down or fresh out of the box, you’ll want to make sure that it’s clean and ready to rock before lighting it up. Grill manufacturers recommend cleaning your grill at least once a year — and twice is nice — for best performance.
Make sure the fuel source is off and start with removing and scrubbing the grates. From there, clean the grill components under the grates, paying special attention to burner tubes, and wipe out the interior of the lid before wiping down the exterior. Check your owner’s manual for specific cleaning know-how whenever possible.
Pro tip: Clean grates will create better grill marks and prevent the primary cause of sticking — dirty grates.
Check Your Tank
Once your grill is clean, you’ll need to attach a fuel tank. Propane is the most common fuel type for gas grills, and most hardware and grocery stores have a tank station outside. The first time you buy a tank will be the most expensive, as you’re paying for the tank itself in addition to the propane, but the next time you refuel, return the first tank you bought and exchange it for another at a lower cost.
Play it safe: Propane tanks should always be stored outside. It’s OK to leave the tank under the grill as long as it’s disconnected and covered with a grill cover, but if you move the grill into a garage or shed, the tank needs to stay outside.
What’s up with natural gas for grilling?
Natural gas as an alternative fuel to propane for gas grills has grown in popularity over the last 10 years. While the cost to run a line for natural gas is prohibitive, the fuel does cost less in the long-run. Natural gas tastes “cleaner,” but it’s less powerful than propane. Consider natural gas for an outdoor kitchen of your dreams or a built-in grill, but stick with propane if you’re a new or occasional griller.
Once the propane is connected and the tank valve is open, it’s time to light the grill.
- Make sure that the grill lid is open.
- Turn one burner to high or “light” and then press the ignite or auto-light button on the grill. Once the first burner is lit you can easily light the other two or three burners and adjust their heat.
What if my gas grill doesn’t light?
Most modern gas grills have a “manual lighting hole” for this reason, and some even include a match holder attached to the grill (it looks like a long wand with a curlicue on the end). Find the hole — it may be on the side of the grill. Light the burner closest to the hole and carefully insert a lit match, preferably a long match or attached to the grill’s match holder. The burner should light right away.