Buying Guide

How To Use a Gas Grill

Prepare to Grill
A person adjusting the valve on a propane tank.

Gas grills are fueled by either propane or natural gas. Natural gas grills are connected to the home’s gas line. More common are propane grills, which use tanks of liquid propane to fuel the burners.

Before making any other preparations, check the level of your fuel supply to avoid running out of propane before dinner is cooked. A standard 20-pound propane tank will typically provide about 25-hours of grilling time. Inspect the tank for damage and make sure the supply line and regulator are in good condition and connected properly. 

Tip: Always have a full spare tank of propane on hand. Running out of fuel mid-cookout is a mistake that beginners and experienced grillers can easily prevent.

Gather the grill accessories and tools that are needed for your cookout, which might include metal tongs, a spatula, instant-read thermometer, grill brush and barbecue mitts. If you plan to use wood chips to add smoky flavor to food, start soaking a handful or two in water now.

How To Start a Gas Grill

Many people prefer cooking on a gas grill because it’s easier to start than a charcoal grill. However, there are steps to follow.

Here's how to start a gas grill:

  • Always begin by opening the lid to prevent gas from building up in the cooking chamber.
  • If using a grill fueled by liquid propane, completely open the valve on the top of the propane tank by turning the knob counter-clockwise until it stops.
  • If your grill has an igniter button, simply turn the first burner knob all the way up and push the button. 
  • For grills that don’t have an ignition button, use a long fireplace match or a lighter wand to light the initial burner after turning it on.
  • Once the first burner is lit, turn the other burners on high.
  • Close the lid and allow the temperature to heat up for 10- to 15-minutes.
Cooking on a Gas Grill
A person tending to a variety of food cooking on a gas grill.

After preheating the grill, you’re almost ready to start cooking.

Clean the hot cooking surface with a grill brush, a wooden grill scraper or a wad of aluminum foil to remove any debris that remains from the previous cookout. To help reduce sticking, dampen a paper towel with vegetable oil and use tongs to glide it along the hot grilling grate before placing food on it. 

Arrange your food on the grill evenly. Allow room for turning and flipping your food by not crowding the cooking surface. Having some extra space will also give you room for rearranging pieces when necessary for even cooking.

You can cook on a gas grill using direct heat or indirect heat. With direct heat, the fire is directly beneath the food. It sears the surface of the food, developing flavors and textures while cooking the food to its center. Use the direct heat method for small, tender pieces that take less than 20-minutes to cook, such as:

  • Hamburgers
  • Steaks
  • Chops
  • Boneless chicken pieces
  • Fish fillets
  • Sliced vegetables

An indirect heat setup has heat on both sides of the grill or off to one side of the grill. The food sits over the unlit part of the cooking grates. Use the indirect method for large cuts of meat that require 20-minutes or more of grilling time, or for foods so delicate that direct heat would dry out or scorch them, such as:

  • Roasts
  • Bone-in poultry pieces
  • Whole fish and delicate fish fillets
  • Whole chickens
  • Ribs

Indirect heat can also be used to finish thicker foods or bone-in cuts that have been seared or browned over direct heat.

No matter what temperature you’re using, resist the temptation to open the lid frequently when cooking on a gas grill. Each time you peek inside, hot air and smoke escapes and increases the cooking time.

Do not disturb the food until it’s ready to turn. Give it a nudge with a spatula or tongs. If the food releases from the grill easily, you can flip it. If you encounter resistance, wait a couple minutes for the exterior to cook a little longer.

How To Turn Off a Gas Grill
A person using a wire grill brush to clean a cooking grate.

Remove your food from the grill once it has reached the desired doneness. Place it on a platter and cover loosely with an aluminum foil tent. While the food is resting:

  • Turn all of the burner knobs to the off position.
  • Close the valve on the propane tank by turning its knob clockwise until it stops.
  • Use the grill brush, scraper or aluminum foil to remove residue from the grilling grate.
  • After the grill has completely cooled, close the lid and use a grill cover to protect it until the next cookout.

See our How to Clean a Grill guide for information about thoroughly cleaning grills.

Gas Grilling Tips and Techniques
A person tending to food cooking on a gas grill.

Your skills will develop as you practice how to use a gas grill. Here are some grilling tips to get you started:

  • Keep a spare propane tank available to make you don’t run out of gas before the food is cooked.
  • Soak wood chips in water for a half hour before placing them in a foil pouch or smoker box for additional smoky flavor.
  • Use a grilling pan for food that is too small or too delicate for the cooking grate.
  • In nearly all cases, you should turn the food only once.
  • Season your food with dry rubs and marinades well in advance of grilling.
  • Check your food for doneness with an instant-read thermometer to determine that it has reached a safe internal temperature.

Perfecting how to use a gas grill comes with practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Enjoy the experience and grill delicious food by having everything in place so you won’t be running back and forth to the kitchen. Always cook on clean grates, always preheat on the highest setting and always have enough gas for your cookout. For safety, make sure you know how to turn off a gas grill. When you need a gas grill and grill accessories, we deliver. Just say when, where and how.