How to use a gas BBQ

How to use a gas BBQ

Summer is just around the corner and that means one thing- barbecues. There’s nothing quite like grilling up delicious burgers, steaks, and hot dogs right there in your back garden with the sun shining, and a cool box filled with cold beers by your side.
While most people love the smokey flavour that you get from a charcoal BBQ, there are many that don’t care for the mess that they can make, the fumes, and how difficult it can be to cook accurately on them.
This is one of the reasons why gas BBQs have become so popular in recent years; they are relatively cleaner and much easier to use for the average man on the street. However, if you are new to using a gas BBQ, whether it is a portable BBQ or a large stationary one, you might not be sure about how they operate.

This article is here to inform you about how to use a gas BBQ, but not only that. We will also give you some useful tips, so you can be sure you are getting the most out of your gas BBQ, and doing it as safely as possible.

Make sure you have the right fuel source

Obviously, gas BBQs are called that because they run on gas, but some models use propane while others run on butane or natural gas. If it is a BBQ that runs on propane or butane, you’ll need to buy a tank and also a regulator and pipe, but if the BBQ runs on natural gas, it will need connecting to the mains supply which is obviously trickier. Propane tanks can be quite heavy, but you can make it easier to move around with a good BBQ trolley. And if you would like to compare gas BBQs to charcoal BBQs you can read our article on the subject.

Propane BBQs are the most common type used in the UK, and setting them up is quite easy. All you need to do is to connect one end of your regulator pipe to the appropriate place on your BBQ, and then screw the other end into the gas tank. It’s important that you line up the regulator properly with the thread in the valve of the tank, and don’t over-tighten it.

Then all you need to do is twist the valve on the tank to open the flow of gas, but some regulators will have a small switch on them that you will have to press after opening the valve to allow the gas to flow down the pipe and into the BBQ. Finally, if you’re set up looks like this, you’re doing it very, very wrong 🤣

Check everything before igniting the BBQ

After you’ve attached the regulator to the fuel source and the BBQ itself and turned on the gas, do another check of all the connections and try to smell or listen for any leaks. It should go without saying that this should all be done outdoors, but I thought I’d mention it anyway as some people don’t have the best self-preservation instincts. If you’re more interested in cooking indoors you should check out our best indoor BBQs guide
With everything checked, you are now ready to light the grill, but first, you should prep it for the best cooking experience.

Prepare the grill properly

If you are using a brand-new gas BBQ then you shouldn’t need to clean it, but have a good check for any plastic or likewise from the packaging that might have stuck to components as they could melt or burn when the BBQ gets hot and then cause problems.
If the grill has been used before, give it a good scrubbing with a brillo pad or wire brush. and make sure you remove any old, stuck-on pieces of food and grease or they might cause flare-ups. here’s a video on how to avoid those-

Does your gas BBQ have an igniter?

Unlike charcoal BBQs that use fire lighters to get started, most modern gas BBQs have a built-in igniter, but if for some reason it doesn’t you should buy a long one from B&Q or online, or use extra-long matches.
If your gas BBQ does have an igniter, here’s the correct way to use it- turn on the igniter first, before turning the dials on the grill to let the gas flow to the burners. Don’t turn the gas on first and then use the igniter as this can cause an initial large flare-up and possibly have you saying goodbye to your eyebrows-

Preheat the grill

Follow the steps we outlined for lighting the grill until all burners are on the go and dialed up to the desired output. Next, close the lid of the BBQ and wait until the temperature reaches the desired level.
As the majority of modern gas BBQs have thermometers built into their lids this shouldn’t be hard to work out, although some very cheap models might have thermometers that aren’t the most accurate. If this is the case, you can also test the heat by placing your hand 6 inches or so above the grill and seeing how long you can hold it there before it becomes uncomfortable. If you can only manage a couple of seconds the heat is at what you would call a high level, 6-7 seconds would be medium heat, and around 8-10 seconds would be medium-low.
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to cook on your heated grill, just follow the link to an informative article on the subject.

In this video, the guy talks about preheating to medium heat, but it is completely up to you and will depend on what you want to cook, and how-

You can also buy digital hand thermometers to use if you don’t think the one on the BBQ is working properly, and a BBQ thermometer is a must if you want to get your meat as juicy and tender as possible while still being safely cooked.

Cooking tips for using a gas BBQ

After you have preheated the grill, you should turn down the heat on the burners to suit what you are going to cook. The heat you will need will depend on what you are cooking and the size and thickness of it. As a rule of thumb, large and thick pieces of meat should be cooked slowly on low heat, while smaller or thinner pieces such as kebabs on skewers will cook better quickly and on high heat.

You’re only as good as the tools you use, so get yourself a good set of BBQ cooking accessories. There are some excellent sets out there that include everything you need and you can see the best of them in our best BBQ tool set article. If you’re planning on cooking a lot of fish, I would definitely recommend using fish baskets.
If you really miss that delicious flavour that you get with a charcoal BBQ or smoker, don’t fret as there are things that you can buy to replicate it such as smoker boxes or foil pouches that are filled with wood chips and sit on the grates of your gas BBQ.

One mistake people make when using a gas BBQ for the first time is flipping the meat over too soon and too frequently, and what ends up happening is that the meat sticks to the grill and you end up with charred bits of meat everywhere.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry, leave the meat on the grill for a while, and then use your spatula to gently lift just the edge of your burger, steak, etc. to see if it looks like it has browned. If so, you should then try to lift it off the grill slowly, and if it comes up without any resistance or sticking, that side is done. Another option to avoid this annoying sticking is to invest in some BBQ mats.

Flare-ups happen from time to time when using a gas BBQ, but don’t panic. All you need to do is move the food away from the part of the grill that is flaring up and it should subside pretty quickly. However, if it doesn’t and starts to spread you should turn off all the burners until everything is back to normal. Having a fire extinguisher nearby is also a very good idea, just in case.

Always use a BBQ thermometer if you are cooking pork, chicken, or other foods that can cause illness if not cooked properly. Even if you are only cooking beef, a thermometer can let you know exactly how the meat is cooked without having to cut into it.

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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