While we love cooking with a charcoal grill, there's nothing quite like the convenience of a gas grill. It makes grilling super simple and weeknight-friendly. But even if you consider yourself a master griller, there are mistakes that just about everyone makes. Here are five common ones to know and learn from.
1. Not preheating the grill.
Just because it's a gas grill doesn't mean you can skip the preheating step. It's tempting to get cooking right away, but even though you just turned on some serious heat with a flick of a switch, you really need to wait a bit to let that heat transfer to the grates before throwing things down on them. Not only does this result in food with attractive grill marks, but it also helps prevent the food from sticking to the grates.
Follow this tip: Once you've turned on your grill, let it preheat with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes before starting to cook.
2. Starting with a dirty grill.
The last thing you probably want to do after a successful night of grilling, on top of the dishes you need to wash, is to clean the grill — but it's important. Not only does it prevent last night's blackened chicken bits from adhering to tonight's hamburgers, but it also prevents your food from sticking to the grates.
Follow this tip: Ideally, try to clean the grill once it's off and has cooled down a bit but is still warm enough that the leftover food bits haven't hardened onto the grates. Otherwise, if you grill frequently, the next time you light the grill, clean it once it's preheated (before you start cooking). Either way, simply uses a grill brush to scrape off and remove any stuck-on food.
More: How to Clean a Gas Grill
3. Not using those dials to control the heat.
Stop cranking up those dials — hotter isn't always better. If you place your meat or vegetables over the hottest, most direct flames the entire time, they're going to burn on the outside before fully cooking on the inside. Instead of turning on all the burners to high, create "zones" on your grill by turning the dial on one side to high heat and other to low heat, so you can sear your food on the hottest side before transferring it to the cooler side to slowly finish cooking.
Follow this tip: Only turn the dial on one burner to high and leave the other either completely off or on very low heat to create two temperature zones for cooking.
4. Continually lifting the lid while your food cooks.
I know it's hard not to peek, but if you keep that lid closed, your food will cook faster. Opening and closing the lid multiple times causes the grill to lose its heat, so your food will take longer to cook.
Follow this tip: Of course you need to check to see how your food is cooking, but try to limit the amount of times you open the grill's lid to check.
5. Not having enough propane.
The worst thing that can happen when using a gas grill is having the propane run out halfway through cooking the meal. No one really wants to finish cooking those burgers inside on the stove, do they? Keep a watchful eye on your propane gas tank's gauge throughout grilling season to see when it's getting low, and always make sure the valve is tightly closed after you're finished using the grill for the night to prevent leakage. It's also not a bad idea to keep an additional full tank on hand as a backup just in case.
Follow this tip: Keep an eye on your propane tank's gauge so you're aware when it's low, always be sure to tightly close the tank's valve when you're done grilling, and keep a full tank on hand as backup.