How to Use a Propane Grill

Propane grill

More and more people are making the switch over to a propane grill—which will really pay dividends when you start cooking up a storm for your big backyard barbecue bash on the 4th of July. And if you’re planning to show off your cooking prowess during the holiday weekend by going beyond the standard fare of hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken, you’ll want to know about all of the ways you can use your propane grill.

First, today’s propane grills are renowned for providing precise temperature and heat control, which is a major reason so many Iowans love using them.

Simply by turning the dial, you can instantly adjust the grill to give off more or less heat. If you’re grilling a variety of dishes, whether it’s a quick weeknight supper of a back yard barbecue party, that control gives you the power to cook everything to perfection.

You have the choice of using different temperature modes or heat zones when you’re using a propane grill. Turn the dial to high heat on one side and low heat on the other, and that allows you to sear on the hot side and transfer it to the cooler side to finish cooking.

Direct heat and indirect heat with a propane grill

Being able to use direct heat or indirect heat, or both at the same time, is another reason why propane grills are so versatile and popular.

Direct heat cooks food hot and fast. It’s great for searing meats, or grilling thin cuts of meat and quick-cooking foods like vegetables or kebabs. Indirect heat is how you grill barbecued chicken and pork shoulder. You can even use indirect heat to bake bread. To grill with indirect heat, simply turn off the burners directly under where you want the food to cook, keep the other burners on, and close the grill lid.

But keep in mind that indirect heat takes longer, so be patient. But that patience will pay off when you hear the praise you get from family and friends for the food you have prepared for them.

Grill meat safely on a propane grill

Grilling with propane means your exposure to carcinogens that end up in your food when grilling is greatly reduced. Because charcoal grills burn hotter and create more smoke, they can form toxins that have been linked to some cancers.

So, besides choosing to cook with propane instead of charcoal, here are a few more tips to help you keep your grilled meat as safe as can be:

Searing on a propane grill

If you’ve ever marveled over the beautiful crust that steakhouses get on their meats, you can do it at home on your propane grill. It’s all about searing, whether it’s beef, lamb or pork. Here’s how to do it.

Propane grill maintenance and safety

Your propane grill will work better for a longer time if you take care of it with regular maintenance. If you use your grill often, you have to be diligent about keeping it as clean as possible and inspect it regularly for any potential problems that could put a damper on your next barbecue.

Safe propane grilling tips

Any time you cook, there is a chance of getting an accidental burn. July is the peak month for grill fires and about half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns that could be avoided if safety guidelines are followed. With that in mind, please review these propane grilling safety tips.

Dealing with flare-ups

Flare-ups on the grill are caused by fats and oils dripping down onto the propane burners. These flare-ups are usually temporary, but can cause burns on your food, and even worse, on you.

Prevent flare ups by trimming any excess fat off meats and blotting off excess marinade before grilling.

Keep part of the grill empty while grilling so, if there’s a flare-up, you can quickly move food to the empty spot. Once the food is moved, keep the grill lid up and let the flare-up burn off. If the flare-up spreads, take all the food off the grill and let the fire burn off. If the fire gets out of control, remove all the food and turn off the burners and gas, leaving the lid open so the fire can safely die down.

How to tell is your propane tank is about to go empty

An empty propane tank is a cookout-killer. But it’s not always easy to know when to exchange or refill your grill’s propane cylinder because most 20-pound tanks, which is the most common size for grills, don’t come with their own gauge. Here are three tips that will help you know how much propane is left in your cylinder.

  1. The easiest solution is to buy an external propane cylinder gauge. These are available at home improvement stores and online, and come in digital, inline pressure and analog options.
  2. Pour hot or warm water from a bucket down one side of the cylinder and immediately run your hand down that side, feeling for the cool spot. That cool spot is there the fill level is.
  3. Look at the propane cylinder handle. Usually, there are two numbers stamped there. One is “WC,” which stands for water capacity. The other is “TR,” meaning tare weight (the cylinder’s weight when empty). Weigh the tank, note the weight, subtract the TR number from the weight, and that sum is how many pounds of propane are still in the cylinder.

Propane cylinder safety tips

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

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

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

ALWAYS let a skilled propane professional do the maintenance and repairs of a propane cylinder. You should NEVER try to modify or repair valves or any other parts of the cylinder.

We’ve got more propane safety information here. Want to find out more about outdoor propane grills? Contact your local Iowa propane provider today!

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