Tips for How to Use a Propane Grill

Date: June 10, 2019

Propane grill barbeque

As the 4th of July approaches, we’re in peak grilling season in Tennessee. And propane plays a big part in that.

Propane grills can handle all of your burgers, hot dogs, and Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs with less work and more ease than a charcoal grill.

You get the precise control with propane that makes grilling easier, with better results. You can go from high heat for steaks to low and indirect heat for pulled pork with just the turn of a dial. Grilling with propane offers you the options and control that make cookouts a snap. Here’s a closer look at how to use a propane grill and become a renowned grill master.

How to use direct heat and indirect heat on a propane grill

The ease of direct and indirect grilling, and the ability to toggle between both, is a big advantage for using a propane grill. Let’s explain how best to use direct and indirect heat.

You can set up direct heat on one side of the grill to grill foods like veggie kebabs, thin cuts of meat, pizza and shrimp. You can also sear on the direct grilling side then move it over to the indirect side to finish cooking without any concerns about burning or overcooking. This is an ideal method for barbecued chicken, because you can get juicy, fully cooked chicken without the barbecue sauce turning black and bitter.

This is how to set up indirect heat on a propane grill: Turn on all the burners to pre-heat the grill, close the lid, wait 15 minutes, open the lid and turn off the burners directly below the side where you want to do indirect grilling. That’s it. Indirect grilling may take patience because it takes longer, but you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal that will earn raves from family and friends.

You know what else the indirect grilling method is good for? Baking bread! You can have a fresh loaf without having to heat up the kitchen on a hot summer day.

Grill meat safely on a propane grill

When you grill with propane, you greatly reduce your exposure to carcinogens that could end up in your food when you grill with charcoal. Cooking on a charcoal grill burns hotter and generates more smoke.

Here are some tips to make sure your grilled meat is as safe as it could be.

  • Trim excess fat and blot marinade off meats before grilling to prevent flare-ups
  • Use a marinade with rosemary, which has been shown to reduce toxin in some studies. Lemon juice, garlic and onion are other recommended marinade ingredients
  • Grill your meat to a safe temperature. Use an instant-read thermometer and you’ll hit the safe temperature without overcooking
  • When you’re done grilling, don’t put grilled meats on the same platter you brought out the raw meat on. A clean platter prevents the spread of bacteria that can live in meat juices and residue

Secrets to propane grill searing

Proper searing is the key to getting that delicious crust on grilled meats like steaks, pork and lamb. But you don’t need to have a restaurant-grade kitchen to get that. You can get beautiful searing right at home on your propane grill, thanks to its precise temperature control and direct heating! Here are the steps to searing done right.

  1. Blot your meat thoroughly dry with paper towels before seasoning. Wet meat steams instead of sears and dripping marinade can cause flare-ups
  2. Turn on your propane grill, setting the burners to high heat and closing the lid
  3. Be patient. Wait for the grill to get hot
  4. Open the lid, put the meat on the grill
  5. Do NOT touch the meat for at least one minute
  6. Flip the meat over and lower the heat
  7. Grill to your desired doneness

Searing on a propane grill like this will caramelize the meat surface, creating that yummy crust.

Maintaining a propane grill

Taking proper care of your propane grill will help it work better, last longer and operate safely.

Here’s how you do regular maintenance.

  • Thoroughly clean the grill and carefully inspect all of the internal parts
  • Check for clogs in the ports of the burners (the holes where the flames come out), as clogs can cause burner failure and uneven flames
  • If you find a clog or obstruction, use a thin wire or pipe cleaner to get rid of it
  • Make sure the igniters have a good spark and that the grill lights as it should

Grilling safety on a propane grill

Did you know that July is the month with the most grill fires? It makes sense because it’s peak grilling season. Half of the injuries from grilling are thermal burns. You can avoid those by knowing how to grill safely. We’ve got some guidelines and tips to help keep the fire department from crashing your cookout.

  • Leftover grease is the most common reason for grill fires. Clean your grill after each use to prevent flare-ups, and give it a quick cleaning after you’ve preheated it and before you put food on it
  • Propane grills and propane cylinders must be kept outside at all times
  • When using the grill, it needs to be at least five feet away from the house, on a level surface, and clear of any fire hazards like overhead trees or outdoor furniture
  • NEVER use a propane grill indoors, or in a garage, covered carport or shed. The grill isn’t just a fire hazard, but propane combustion creates carbon monoxide. That’s an odorless, potentially deadly gas.
  • Make sure to open your grill lid before you ignite the grill, and keep it open until you have confirmed that the grill is lit. A closed grill lid could cause propane gas to build up, which is an explosion risk
  • Once the grill is on, stay close and keep it in sight. The National Fire Prevention Association reports that almost half of cooking fire-related civilian injuries are caused by unattended grills.
  • Keep kids and pets at least three feet from the grill
  • Once you’re finished grilling, make sure to turn off all of the burners and close the cylinder valve before leaving the grill to eat

Safety tips for propane cylinders

ALWAYS store propane cylinders in an open area outdoors. NEVER store propane cylinders in a garage, shed, carport or tent.

ALWAYS keep propane cylinders away from heat sources like a stove or fireplace. NEVER store a spare cylinder under or close to the grill.

ALWAYS be alert and cautious when you’re handling a propane cylinder. NEVER let the cylinder come in contact with ignition sources like flames or spark-producing tools, or let anyone smoke near the cylinder.

ALWAYS let a skilled propane professional handle repairing and maintaining a propane cylinder. NEVER attempt to repair or modify valves or any other parts on the cylinder.

Manage flare-ups on a propane grill

Fats and oils dripping down from your food onto the burners of your propane grill cause flare-ups. They are usually temporary, but can still cause unappetizing burns on your food.

The best way to prevent flare-ups is by trimming excess fats off of meats and blotting off excess marinate before grilling.

When you’re grilling, keep one part of the grill surface empty. That gives you a spot to move the food quickly to if a flare-up happens. After the food is moved, keep the grill lid up so the flare-up can burn off quickly. If the flare-up spreads, take all of the food off of the grill then let the fire burn off. If the fire gets out of control, remove all the food then turn off the burners and gas. Leave the lid open to help the fire safely burn out.

How to tell if a propane tank is running low

Don’t let an empty propane tank ruin your cookout. Even though most 20-pound propane cylinders (the most common size for grills) don’t come with their own gauge, there are ways you can know when it’s time to refill or exchange a propane cylinder. Here are three ways to do it.

  1. Keeping your cylinder upright, pour warm to hot water down one side of the cylinder and immediately run your hand down that side. Feel for the cool spot. That’s where the cylinder’s fill level is.
  2. Buy an external propane cylinder gauge. You can find them at home improvement stores and online. They come in digital, analog and inline pressure options.
  3. Look at the propane cylinder handle. You should find two numbers stamped on it. One is “TR,” meaning tare weight (the weight of the cylinder when it is empty). The other is “WC” or water capacity. Weigh the tank, note the weight and then subtract the TR number from the weight. The sum is how many pounds of propane remain inside the cylinder.

Check out more propane safety tips. To find out more about all the advantages of grilling with propane, contact your local Tennessee propane provider today!