But, there's more to them than just convenience. Gas grills give you control over the cooking temperature since you can adjust the burners. And, unlike charcoal grills, you don't have to worry about the fire dying down before you're done grilling.
Gas grills rely on either propane or natural gas for fuel. We'll address some of the differences and how to choose the best fuel for your situation. No matter what fuel you select, there are lots of similarities in how the grills function.
Keep reading for an overview of gas grills including tips for choosing the right grill, how to use and clean your grill, and our top brand recommendations.
What is a Gas Grill?
As mentioned above, gas grills use either liquid propane or natural gas as fuel. They come in a wide range of styles, depending on the size you need and the type of grilling you want to do. There are even some options of hybrid grills that allow you to cook with gas and use charcoal for added flavor.
Fire Magic built-in gas grill
The basic components include the burners, grill racks, ignition, grill body, and cover. The burners often have covers or vaporizer panels to help distribute the heat and prevent flare ups. In addition to the main racks, some grills are equipped with side burners so that you can prep sauces or vegetable dishes alongside the grill.
One of the most common ignition systems for gas grills is something called Piezoelectric ignition. It uses a small spark to ignite the gas for the burners when you push a button or turn a knob to light the grill.
Another option is something called a flash tube. The flash tube is just a metal tube that helps direct the flame from a match or lighter down near the burner. Not only does it help direct the flame, it keeps you from sticking your fingers near the burner while trying to light the grill. A match holder on a chain also serves the purpose of giving extra distance between your fingers and the gas you are trying to ignite.
Flash tube igniter
Your gas grill might come with both a Piezoelectric push button ignition as well as a match holder and/or flash tube as a backup ignition option, in case the push button spark malfunctions or fails to light the grill.
Which is Better: Propane or Natural Gas?
Well folks, it depends. Propane is great for portable grills or for people who don't have access to natural gas lines. Natural gas requires a gas hookup, so it's not a portable option. It's also more expensive initially if you have to pay to run a separate gas line or install a new hookup.
Natural gas and propane gas grills
In the long run, many claim that natural gas is cheaper, but it is somewhat dependent on where you live and the cost of gas in your area. One clear advantage for natural gas is that you never have to worry about storing or refilling a propane tank. The natural gas is always available and you only pay for what you use.
When used properly, both natural gas and propane are safe grilling options. One difference is that propane is heavier than air, so it doesn't dissipate as quickly and is more likely to form dangerous pockets of gas if there is a gas leak.
There isn't really a right or wrong answer to this, but here are some things to consider as you look for your ideal grill. In addition to obvious things like your budget and fuel choice, you'll also want to consider what size and BTU rating you'll need.
When you're coming up with a budget, make sure you include any additional costs like installing a gas line or purchasing a propane tank cover.
Aerial view of diverse friends grilling on the barbecue grill outdoors
The size is mostly determined by how many people you plan to grill for at one time. Overcrowding your meat can result in food poisoning since the raw juices contaminate the nearby cooked meat. When you're considering grill sizes, go ahead and get out the tape measure so you can envision just how big the grilling surface is, or go check out models in person.
Another factor for the size of your grill is the installation location. You can also consider any future plans if you intend to add on to your outdoor kitchen with other features like a fireplace.
A quality grill will come with the BTU rating it needs in order to achieve good grill temperatures. More BTU is not always better, so as long as you select a well-made grill with around 80 to 100 BTU per square inch of grilling surface, you should be fine. (The side burners and warming racks don't count when adding up the area of the grilling surface.)
Fire Magic gas grill in outdoor kitchen
Finally, if you're having a hard time choosing between charcoal and gas, you might consider something called a hybrid grill. These grills are fueled with gas, but you have the option of adding charcoal for that smoky charcoal aroma.
How to Grill on a Gas Grill?
Whether you're a total novice or a gas grill pro, you should always take the time to read the manual before firing up your grill. That way, you're up to speed on all the specifics and safety precautions for your model. In addition, here are some tips that will help you get in the grill groove.
Before we get into tips on grilling food, here's a reminder to never ever light your grill with the lid closed. Just, don't. The gas can build up inside and cause an explosion when you turn the knob or push the button to ignite it. Lid up equals good to go.
Food on gas barbecue grill
Pay attention to the different ways you can manipulate the heat. Placing food on the grate directly above a lit burner is known as direct heat, while placing food a few spaces over from a lit burner is called indirect heat. You can also adjust the temperature by opening and closing the lid, since closing the lid will trap heat and raise the overall temp.
Like everything else, grilling takes practice, but being conscious of the type of heat you need and how to get it will go a long way. For example, direct heat is great for a hot sear, but you may need indirect heat for a thick piece of meat to cook all the way through.
The final piece of advice is to find great recipes. Not just recipes that list good ingredients, but ones that walk you through what to do with your grill and the different techniques to achieve the right temperature and sear.
Our Top Recommended Brands
Looking for a gas grill with a nice long lifespan? Here is a list of brand recommendations that we trust to produce quality grills. You'll find a range of designs and price points, but they all have value and durability in common.
Blaze Grills - Blaze aims to make quality outdoor kitchens an affordable option. They have a nice selection of gas grills, but they're also a great option if you're planning an outdoor kitchen.
Broilmaster - Broilmaster has been in business since 1966. Their latest line up has a sleek, modern aesthetic and is available in both propane and natural gas.
Summerset - Summerset offers luxury gas grills packed with thoughtful features and design elements. They are a more expensive option and a great choice if you're looking to invest in a higher end grill.
American Outdoor Grills - AOG grills are built with the highest quality commercial stainless steel and a contemporary aesthetic. They carry several gas grills including portable and built-in configurations.
Everdure - Everdure makes quality grills with a definite sense of style. Their gas grills are built to last and also come in a unique selection of color finishes.
PGS Grills - PGS grills are built to withstand the wear and tear of commercial grilling, but are simple enough to make good beginner grills as well. The focus is on sturdy materials and simple, reliable operation.
How to Clean Your Gas Grill
You don't need any special equipment to clean your grill, just use soapy water, a grill brush, and paper towels. The grates are removable and can be soaked in a bucket of water with soap. The same goes for the drip pan.
A man holding cleaning supplies
Use the grill brush to gently loosen soot or stuck-on food on the inside of the grill. Wipe it down afterwards with a damp paper towel.
After you let the grates and drip pan soak awhile, you can use the grill brush to scrub them and then rinse clean. Once all the components are dry, return them to the grill and it's ready for more rounds of seared deliciousness!
Smaller gas grills may ship via normal parcel post, but that's not common. Usually, even if the grill is technically light enough to ship via normal post, it goes on a pallet for extra protection. With pallet shipment (LTL freight), you can expect the shipping company to contact you to arrange a delivery date.
When the grill arrives, inspect it for any damaged or missing parts. Don't sign off on the delivery unless you are satisfied with the condition of the grill. If you do notice anything amiss, contact the manufacturer and they can help make things right.
Three types of gas grills
There are a lot of reasons you could love a gas grill: the convenience, extra control over heat settings, easy flame extinguishing - not to mention gas grills offer a very clean burn and are environmentally friendly. Another bonus is the wide array of different configurations and designs to choose from.
Do you have any other questions about natural gas or propane grills? We'd love to hear from you! Contact us and one of our NFI Certified Technicians will be happy to answer your questions!