How to Cook on a Propane Grill for the First Time

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Written By Aimee Nakazawa

Barbecuing with propane is more predictable than barbecuing with charcoal, and it’s easy to learn the process. However, to successfully use propane to grill food, you must follow a few safety precautions and get the right supplies.

Like most forms of cooking, gas grilling is an art with a few basic rules, and when combined with a few styles and skills, it makes your cooking or grilling session great. Below we have listed some steps to learn how to cook on a propane grill and easily become a grill master.

1. Attach the Propane Tank

a). Get a Propane Tank for your Gas Grill

Propane tanks are measured by weight and if you plan on doing a lot of grilling, get a heavy tank with a lot of gas inside. You will only be using the propane tanks a few times, opt for a small tank, and you can find propane tanks at your local hardware store or local supermarket.

Cooking on a gas grill is different from other types like the charcoal grill, but it’s important to know how to use the appliances to their full potential no matter your skill level. Gas grills need some time to preheat, and it’s not the same as charcoal grills which take less time. Natural gas is an alternative to propane, but natural gas is less expensive, and you never have to worry about filling up a tank, but it’s not the best for cooking hot.

b). Place your Propane Tank Next to the Grill

Set it as close to the gas grill as possible so that the grill hose can reach it.

c). Confirm if Propane Tank is Off

If the knob on your gas tank is turned on the on position, turn the knob to the off position, where for most propane tanks, you should turn the knob clockwise to turn your tank off.

d). Remove the Safety Cap from the Propane Tank

The safety cap covers the valve on top of your tank grabbing the safety cap and pulling it to remove it.

e). Attach the Grill Hose to Valve on the Propane Tank

The grill hose is a hose attached to the underside of the grill and turns the propane tank so that the valve when facing the grill and connects the end of the grill hose to the tank valve.

You should feel the end of your hose click into place and once the end of your grill hose is clockwise, tightens it to place. Continue turning your knob won’t turn anymore.

f). Set the Propane Tank on the Grill Rack

A grill rack is what holds the propane tank underneath a grill, where you check the manual for the grill for the specific instructions on attaching the tank to the rack. If your grill doesn’t have a grill rack, leave a propane tank on the ground next to the grill.

2. Lighting the Grill

a). Turn on your Propane Tank by Using the Knob on Top of the Tank

You need to turn your knob counterclockwise for most propane tanks until it doesn’t turn anymore to turn the tank on, and check the arrows on the knobs to make sure.

b). Open the Grill Lid Before Lighting It

Don’t ever light it with the grill’s lid closed, or gas buildup could cause an explosion.

c). Turn the Ignition Burner Knob from Off to High

You will need to press your knob in before turning it and locating your ignition burner knob on your grill. Look for a knob with a lightning-bolt symbol or the word “ignition” next to it. If the gas grill doesn’t ignite after turning the knob, it means the grill has an electric starter. You will need to press an electric ignition to ignite it.

Ensure you light the grill in a well-ventilated area and never use a gas grill indoors.

d). Press the Electric Ignition Button if the Grill has one

Look for an electric ignition button next to your ignition burner knob, press and hold a button until you see the flames that will ignite the grill. It’s normal for a button to make a clicking noise when you press it.

The only point that should be lit at this point is the part of the grill directly behind your ignition burner knob and electric ignition button. The rest of the grill knobs should stay turned off.

e). Turn the Other Grill Knobs to the Highest Setting to Preheat the Grill

Turning other grill knobs should cause the rest of the other grill to ignite.

f). Close the Grill Lid and let the Grill Preheat for 10-15 minutes

Always allow your gas grills to preheat before a gas grilling session to cook the food. Close the lid to allow the preheating to take place evenly.

3. Cooking with Propane

a). Use a Wire Brush to Clean the Grill Grates on the Grill

Brush each grate in a back and forth motion and get any dried food or grease off the grates. Ensure the grill is preheated before using a brush, as the heat makes it easier to clean.

b). Turn the Knobs to a Lower Setting Before You Place the Food

This helps to prevent the food from burning, and if you are cooking a small amount of food, you should turn off the grill knobs for grill sections you won’t be using. If using the whole grill, alternate your grill knobs between medium and low heat to get different temperatures to cook or grill properly.

c). Place the food you want Grill Directly on the Grill Gates

Place the food over flames and place foods that need less heat, such as vegetables, on the grill side with a lower setting. Cook foods that need higher heat, such as steaks and hamburgers, set to medium heat or high heat on the grill side.

Cooking food at the right temperature is the best way to ensure great flavor and food safety to get a reliable meat thermometer. If you realize that one part of the raw meat is cooking too quickly, move it to a cooler indirect heat zone.

d). Use a Spatula or Tongs to Flip your Food

Ensure each side of the food gets cooked evenly through and adjust the cooking temperature as you need using the grill knobs. Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the cooked meat to serve it right.

e). Remove the Food when cooked and Turn off the Grill

Remove the cooked meat when you have finished cooking. Leave the grill cover open while the propane tank is still on because the gas could build up if the lid is closed.

f). Turn Off the Propane Tank

To turn off most modern gas grills, you should turn the knob until it doesn’t turn anymore. Check the arrows on the knob to verify the direction you should be turning it. Ensure you leave your grill clean for your next cookout.

When Should you Choose Direct Vs. Indirect heat?

You can use a gas grill with either direct heat or indirect heat, where direct heat cooks the food by placing it over a flame. The food is placed over an unlit portion of the grill with indirect heat, which moves the flame to the sides.

Generally, it’s best to use indirect heat with any food that will take longer than 20 minutes to cook, such as large roasts, bone-in chicken, chicken breasts, pork shoulder, and ribs. On the other hand, direct heat is suitable for cooking quick items such as veggies, thin steaks, or shrimp.

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About the author

Aimee Nakazawa

Aimee Nakazawa is a writer, photographer, cookbook author, and most importantly, she is the cook that prepares all scrumptious recipes. She also wrote a lot of shopping guides for the website.

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