Controlling Cooking Temperatures Using Your Gas Grill

Gas Grill

Controlling and maintaining the cook temperatures with your gas grill is an acquired skill.  It can be compared to a Thanksgiving Dinner that one, single person in one’s family has prepared in the kitchen with impressive synchronization and precision—the turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green-bean casserole, rolls and gravy are all hot, cooked to perfection AND on the table at the same time!  Whew—how does any one person accomplish such an amazing feat?  The answer lies in two simple words:  temperature control!

Controlling cooking temperatures of your gas grill is paramount to ensure your foods turn out perfectly.  It does take some practice that involves knowing what tried-and-true methods work so you can utilize various temperatures, simultaneously.

Set Up Your Zones:

The multiple burners on gas grills make it easier for you to establish varying temperature zones to achieve perfectly-cooked foods.  But in addition to those burners, comes some strategizing on HOW the burners should be used.  We’ll briefly discuss Direct Heat, which is directly below the foods, as well as Indirect Heat, which is a reflected heat.

A 2-zone arrangement that utilizes Direct Heat and Indirect Heat will cater to various types of foods on the grill–take, for instance, steaks that will accompany skewered green peppers, onions and chunks of potatoes.  Your meat will, initially, require ‘Direct Heat’, which means it will rest directly above your grill’s heat source and become seared.   After searing, those steaks will finish grilling in a zone reserved for Indirect Heat, in order to retain juices and flavor.   Your vegetables would never survive Direct Heat without charring and would, instead, require only Indirect Heat which radiates from the Direct Heat zone.

You can create Direct Heat and Indirect Heat zones through utilization of your  gas grill’s burners:

** 2-Burner Grills~ Left grill: HIGH (Intense Direct Heat) àRight grill: OFF (Indirect Heat)

** 3-Burner Grills~ Left grill: HIGH (Intense Direct Heat) à Center grill: MEDIUM (Less Intense Direct Heat) & Right grill: OFF (Indirect Heat) OR both end burners can be on high or medium-high with the center burner remaining unlit.

** 4-Burner Grills~ Left grill: HIGH (Intense Direct Heat)  à MEDIUM, OFF, OFF.  A variation would be to set the two outside burners at medium/high and leave the two center burners in ‘off’ position.

** 5-Burner Grills~ Left grill: HIGH (Intense Direct Heat)  à MEDIUM, LOW, OFF, OFF.  An alternative would be: 2 outside burners set at medium or medium/high-heat with center burner in off position.

It becomes obvious that any griller would need to experiment with his or her grill when creating Direct and Indirect Heat zones.  You’ll get the hang of your grill’s ‘temperament’ the more you use it—figuring out the hotter spots and cooler spots will become evident.  And there’s no getting around it—it does take a bit of practice.  Many grillers would argue that a common mistake when cooking with Indirect Heat is to turn off one side of the grill and just set food there.   You’ll end up using the arrangement that works the best for you.

Cooking Examples:

Here are a few every-day scenarios of utilizing Direct and Indirect Heat:

*** Sear steaks and pork chops with Direct Heat then move to Indirect (convection-type) Heat to finish cooking and retain juices.  This is how many seasoned chefs cook much of their food:  they sear (on the stovetop) and finish (in the oven).

*** Cook chicken with Indirect Heat until slightly pink and then transfer to Direct Heat to crisp the skin and finish cooking the inside

*** Larger hunks of meat, such as roasts and brisket, should be cooked with Indirect Heat to lock in juices and flavor and use the last 10 minutes of grill-time with Direct-Heat to add a bit of crispness

*** Fruits and veggies should always cook with Indirect Heat which will keep them juicy and perfectly flavorful

Unlike charcoal grills where temperature adjustment isn’t as precise, your gas grill will provide easy temperature control simply by regulating the knobs; but the real knack lies with knowing how direct and indirect heat work in tandem with one another.  Before you know it; you’ll surprise yourself and knock out complete meals with ease, while friends and family look-on with envy and amazement!