guide to grilling with gas

A beginner’s guide to grilling with gas

Grilling isn’t just a summer rite of passage. It’s for anyone who loves being outside and enjoys that smoky, crispy sear on their meats, vegetables and fruits. No one starts out as a BBQ master. And if you’re new to grilling, this beginner’s guide to grilling with gas will help you grill like a pro the first time you fire up your grill!

Like all cooking, grilling can be dangerous if you’re uncomfortable with it. When in doubt, consult your grill’s manual and always heed any safety warnings. Please be careful when using a grill. Having said this, grilling is easier than you think, and here’s how to start.

Start with a clean grill

It might seem common sense, but starting with a clean grill is essential for creating delicious food. If your grill grates are covered with charred food remnants, they’ll cause your fresh food to stick like glue. There are many ways to clean the grates (you can even use an onion!), but one of the most reliable methods is to preheat the grill with the lid closed, then give the grates a thorough scrub with a wire grill brush before you start cooking. Learn more on our guide on how to properly clean grill grates.

The first step to a fantastic grilling experience is ensuring your grill is spotless. For steel or cast iron (non-coated) grates, use a stiff-bristled steel brush to remove any buildup or rust. Use a nylon-bristled brush to avoid scratches for porcelain-coated (or other non-stick-coated) cast iron. Also, make sure the bottom of the grill is free of debris. Sometimes, remnants can get stuck and block the heat source.

It’s time to season your grill grates

This step helps create a non-stick cooking surface. Apply a thin, even layer of canola oil to the grates before turning on the heat. Remember: Too much oil will burn and create unwanted buildup! Therefore, aim for a thin, even layer.

Use tongs and a folded paper towel soaked in the oil to coat the grates lightly. This simple step will help ensure your food cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the grill.

Check the propane tank

Running out of gas mid-grill is no fun, so in this beginner’s guide to grilling with gas, we advise you to ensure your propane tank is full before you start cooking. A 20-pound tank typically lasts 18–20 hours on a mid-sized grill, but having a spare tank on hand is smart. This way, if your main tank runs out during your cookout, you can quickly swap it out and refill it later—saving you the hassle of feeding a crowd. (Remember: Always store propane tanks outside.)

Turn on the propane first

To light your grill, start by turning the propane tank’s valve counterclockwise until it’s fully open. Keep the grill lid open to avoid trapping fumes. Next, turn one of the burners to high. For newer grills, press the ignition button. If you have an older model, you might need to use a long lighter to light the burner through a side hole manually. Once the first burner is lit, turn on the remaining burners to preheat the grill.

Preheat the grill

Preheating your grill is essential, and neglecting this step is a common grilling mistake. Allowing your grill to preheat is how you get those perfect grill marks and prevent your meat from sticking to the grates. The recommended preheating time varies based on the size and type of your grill, but a good rule of thumb is to preheat for about 30 minutes.

Learn the difference between direct and indirect heat

Direct heat is directly over the fire, which is great for quick-cooking foods like burgers and vegetables. Indirect heat is to the side of the heat source, a great option for slower-cooking cuts like roasts. Knowing where to find specific heat on your grill is an important part of learning how to barbecue.

What should you cook on a gas grill?

There are no limits to what you can make once you’ve mastered your gas grill. Once you’ve done reading your guide to grilling with gas, learn the make the most delicious grilled recipes! Here are a few of our client’s favourites:

Portuguese grilled codfish recipe
Codfish is something you should definitely learn how to cook!

Cool down your grill and clean up

After you’ve enjoyed your meal, it’s important to return the grill to its original (or even better) condition. Start by burning off any food or sauce stuck on the grates. Turn the heat up, close the lid, and let it “cook” for about 15 minutes. After that, turn off the grill. and close the appropriate valves to stop the gas flow.

Next, let the grill cool down. Once it’s cool, repeat your cleaning and seasoning steps (note: seasoning isn’t necessary for porcelain/coated grates). This will help prevent rust and ensure the grill lasts longer. 

Always cover the grill

Here in the Algarve, you can grill year-round as long as the weather is decent—but that doesn’t mean you should leave your grill exposed to the elements. When you’re not using your grill, turn off both the grill and the propane tank, and cover it with a waterproof, weather-resistant grill cover. This will extend the life of your grill and protect it from rain, snow, pollen, and debris.

Your guide to grilling with gas

Now that you’re familiar with your grill, here’s a handy cheat sheet for barbecuing almost everything:

Steaks

For a perfect steak, use high, direct heat. Cook times for a medium steak range from 9 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Check out a guide to get really juicy steaks.

Burgers

For juicy burgers, use medium-to-high, direct heat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, for a medium burger. Add cheese at the last minute of cooking. Try these Tricks and tips to make a delicious burger.

Pork

Medium, direct heat works best for pork. A thick-cut pork chop will be done in about 12 minutes. Learn how to marinate grilled pork and discover more tips on grilling meat.

Chicken

Cook chicken using medium, indirect heat. This longer cooking time ensures the chicken is cooked through without drying out. Chicken breasts will be done in about 20-25 minutes, depending on size.

Sauces

When applying sauce, use medium heat and wait until the last 5 minutes of cooking. This prevents the sugar in the sauce from burning. Check out these 5 essential sauces for grilled meat.

Sausage

For sausage, use medium, indirect heat. This prevents burning while ensuring the sausage cooks completely. The sausage will be done in about 25 minutes. Check out this Bratwurst dinner inspired by Bangers and Mash British dish.

Fish

Use high, direct heat for fish. A salmon fillet will be done in about 10 minutes. Wrap the fish in foil to prevent it from falling apart. Try this indirect heat-grilled salmon recipe using the planking method on a gas grill.

Tools

Use a spatula for fish and burgers, and tongs for everything else. Check out more of the best BBQ and grilling tools.

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