Whether you’re new to cooking on a gas grill or you’re a seasoned veteran, you can always benefit from learning a few new cooking tips for gas grills. The more practice and experience you get, the better you will become at grilling and the more you will enjoy it as well. Using your outdoor kitchen won’t be just for special occasions, but you’ll find that many foods you prefer when grilled instead of cooked inside.
For starters, the most important thing is some basic safety tips. You don’t want to risk anything happening when you are making your steaks or ribs or vegetables – and while it is no more dangerous than preparing food indoors, many people neglect some basic safety guidelines that can prevent injury, fire, or other disaster.
1. Grill Away From Everything Else: Many people make the mistake of grilling under a covered porch or too close to trees, shrubs, buildings, cars, or other objects. The ideal distance should be about 10 feet – at the minimum 5 feet.
2. Check Your Grill Regularly: Regular maintenance and inspection will help ensure that your equipment is functioning properly. Always check for leaks, loose valves, loose fittings, rust, and other mechanical properties. If in doubt, refer to your users manual which should give you the basics of what to expect and check periodically.
3. Supervise Children and Animals: You will want to make sure that young people and pets stay away from your cooking area, since they may not understand that the grill is hot. Burns can require emergency room treatment, and you do not want to risk injury to them.
4. Use Propane Responsibly: Always follow the guidelines for propane use, do not store in high heat areas including the grilling area, and always check canisters for rust, dents, or other flaws.
5. Read Your Owners Manual: Your owners manual will have any additional tips and safety guidelines to follow. Make sure when lighting the grill you always follow the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure your own personal and property safety.
6. Most Important: Never Leave a Grill Unattended! It only takes a minute for something to go wrong.
Okay, now that the basics of safety tips are taken care of, on to the cooking tips!
1. Always Use Tongs: Tongs are wonderful for flipping and turning everything on the grill. If you use a grilling fork and pierce the meat precious juices will drip down, not only compromising flavor but also causing unnecessary flames to shoot up out of the grill.
2. Only Add Sauces/Bastes in the last 10-15 minutes: If you baste anything too soon, it will likely only burn since the sugar/fat in them causes them to burn quickly. Wait until the food is almost done before adding these.
3. Use a Meat Thermometer: A digital meat thermometer is the only way to be 100% certain that food is cooked properly. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees, steaks can be cooked between 140 (medium rare) to 160 (well done) and hamburgers should also be cooked to 160 degrees. Doing this will greatly reduce your risks of food borne illnesses. You will also not need to worry about how long to cook something when you have one! They are wonderful! Get one!
4. Lightly coating the grate of grill with oil before starting it will help prevent food from sticking to it. Dip a paper towel in vegetable or canola oil and just lightly brush the paper towel over the grates. Be sure to wipe any excess completely off before starting the grill.
5. Use Wood Chips for Added Flavor: There are many hardwood chips that can be added to the grill for increased flavor. Apple wood, hickory, or mesquite woods are common. Be sure to soak each for at least 1 hour in water before adding to your grill.
6. Cook at the Appropriate Heat: Most gas grills include built in thermostats, but you can also always get a separate one if yours does not. Different foods need different heats to cook at the best. For example, a steak does best when cooked at VERY high heat. Other foods such as ribs on the other hand should be done at a low heat around 225 degrees or so. Our article on grilling baby back ribs has information on cooking with indirect vs. direct heat as well.
7. Choose Tools Wisely: There are a million different accessories for grilling on a gas grill. Whether it’s a grill fish basket or a pizza cooker, you don’t need them all and not every single one of them will actually make it any easier to cook on or off the grill. (Though actually a fish basket will help prevent it from falling apart – and pizza on the grill is delicious!)
Do you have any additional cooking tips for gas grills? Share them in the comments below!