tips for how to use a gas grill

How to Use Your Gas Grill Like a Pro

It’s true, gas barbecues are the quickest and easiest to use. You don’t have to wrestle with coals and lighter fluid or wait an eternity for the grill to heat up. It’s certainly an attractive choice if you value speed and ease, but don’t take that to mean that you can’t get fancy on a gas grill, too!

Here are some tips and techniques to help you get the most out of your gas barbecue, whether you’re flipping burgers or finessing a rack of ribs.

Tips for Gas Grilling Like a Pro

Napoleon gas grill

Make sure you have enough fuel

A single propane tank can last for between 10 and 20 hours of cooking, depending on the size of your grill. Before starting, make sure that you have enough! It’s a good habit to always have a full backup tank nearby.

 If you barbecue often and your home is connected to a gas line, it may be worth getting your outdoor grill connected as well. This looks cleaner, and you won’t need to worry about running out of propane. 

To turn on the grill:

  • Open the lid
  • Turn the knob on the propane tank to the left (counter-clockwise)
  • Turn one of the burners on high 
  • Press the ignition button, or light the burner manually with a lighter wand
  • Turn on the other burners and close the lid

Preheat the gas grill 

You wouldn’t put a pie or a cake into a cold oven, would you? Likewise, you shouldn’t put food on the barbecue until it is thoroughly heated. Give the grill ten to fifteen minutes to heat up, with the lid closed.

 In the meantime, you can prepare your food.

Just as you don’t want to put food on a cold grill, it’s best not to work with very cold food, either. While the grill is heating up, take the meat out of the fridge and let it get closer to room temperature. If you need to season your protein (whether it be a dry rub, a fast-marinade or a salt brine), this is a great time to do it.

Clean & season your gas grill

A brush cleaning a gas grill.

Starting with a clean grill goes a long way! Old gunk stuck to the grill from the last time you used it will taint the flavour of today’s meal and cause your food to stick more.

Now that your grill is piping hot, give it a good cleaning. 

 Use a wire brush or a wooden scraper to get all the charred residue off of the grill grates. In a pinch, you can use an onion instead!

Once the grill is nice and clean, season it with canola or vegetable oil.

  • Dip a dishcloth or a piece of resilient paper towel into a neutral oil
  • Use a pair of tongs to rub down the grill with the oil (start at the back of the grill and work you way forward to keep your arm away from any minor flare-ups that might occur).

Regular oil treatments will reduce sticking and protect the grill grates from rusting.

Get cooking

cooking meat on a gas grill

Now that your grill is hot, clean and seasoned, you’re ready to start cooking!

Cooking temperature

The ideal cooking temperature will vary depending on what you’re making.

  • For quick stuff like shrimp, shellfish and steaks/chops that you want to sear, direct high heat (450°-650°) is best.
  • For veggies, chicken and burgers, medium heat (350°-425°) is better. It lets the inside cook fully before the outside gets overdone.
  • Sausages, baked potatoes, and slow-cooked pork tenderloin cook best at medium-low (325°). They will cook more gently but for longer than steaks or burgers.
  • With low heat (300° and under), you’re usually looking at ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, etc.… the kind of stuff you’ll want to barbecue low and slow.

Indirect vs. direct heating on a gas grill

You don’t have to cook with all of the burners at the same temperature. Depending on what you’re making, you might want to create different ‘zones’ on your grill: some for high-heat fare and others for slower, lower-heat items.

As a rule of thumb, anything that takes more than 20 minutes on the grill should be placed beside the heat source rather than directly above it. This will allow the inside to cook without compromising the exterior.

When to use the lid

This question fits hand-in-hand with the last one. When the lid is down, the barbecue acts as an oven, keeping the heat trapped inside. You’ll want to do this whenever you’re opting for indirect cooking. If you’re making fast-cooking things like thin steaks, pork chops, or burgers over a direct flame, you should keep the lid open (so that the meat doesn’t overcook). 

When is it ready?

Checking temperature doneness when using a gas grill.

While there are many tricks for gauging whether your meat is done cooking, we still believe that the easiest, safest, more sure-fire way to know is by using a reliable meat thermometer. Stick the probe into the thickest part of the meat, as close to the centre as possible. If you’re not confident in the placement of the probe, take another stab someplace else—the probes are so thin that you won’t ruin the presentation or risk overcooking the centre.

Whatever you do, don’t cut the meat open while it’s still on the grill! Once you’ve sliced into it, it becomes pretty easy to overcook the inside.

Wrapping up

Once you’ve finished with the grill, turn off all burners, and turn the knob on the propane tank all the way to the right (clockwise). Give the grill grates a quick brushing, and wait for the whole thing to cool down. Once the barbecue is cooled, put the waterproof cover on. 

Some of our favourite recipes to cook on your gas grill: 

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