More than ever before, people are getting outside to enjoy outdoor grilling. It is becoming an increasingly popular method of cooking. There is just something refreshing about being outdoors, feeling the breeze, smelling the fresh air mixing with grilled food and a blue sky overhead.
With that being said, built-in outdoor grills, grilling islands, and outdoor living spaces are on the rise and increasing in popularity. This is also the case with folks choosing open air “outdoor rooms” for family time and entertainment.
Propane gas grills are definitely one of the more popular outdoor appliances used today and the numbers just keep increasing.
It is estimated that 75 percent of U.S. households have a grill, with gas grills outselling charcoal grills, 57.7% to 40.1%.
Many modern propane gas grills come with features that allow you to cook your food in several different ways, have features you can find in most kitchens and even allow you to cook your entire meal in the backyard.
Moreover, with the advances in techniques and equipment, it’s never been easier. Capable of so much more than just dogs and burgers, propane gas grills can bring kitchen type performance and versatility to your backyard cookout.
This means, if you haven’t considered propane gas grills in a while, it may time to take another look. Propane gas grills have come a long way since my dad started cooking burgers for the family on them in the early 80’s. Today, they come with a ton of new features and upgrades making outdoor cooking much easier and more manageable than ever.
What Is A Propane Gas Grill?
There are two types of gas grills: liquid propane(or LP) being one, with natural gas being the other. A liquid propane gas grill uses metal tanks full of liquid propane gas. Liquid propane is an odorless and colorless, highly flammable liquid that is safe to cook with.
Liquid propane has the advantage of being stored in a portable tank which is available almost everywhere. Portable being the keyword when compared to natural gas which is usually connected to an unmovable source.
LP gas tanks commonly sit beside or under the grill and can be refilled or replaced at most hardware stores that sell grills and at many gas stations.
The propane tank is connected by the main hose to valve regulators that are controlled by knobs or dials. By turning the knob to different settings, you can determine how much gas is allowed to be released to the burner for different temperatures.
Even the simplest and most affordable propane grill is more complex than a standard charcoal grill, though. It’s like going from a low-tech gadget to high-tech equipment made to enhance and simplify the cooking process. This makes them highly suitable for beginners and casual users alike.
But they’re not just for beginners as many propane grills have advanced options and techniques that even the experts can enjoy. There are virtually no rules when it comes to using a propane grill and their accessories for cooking. In fact, the more daring you are the better.
But Why A Propane Gas Grill Instead Of Charcoal Grill?
This is a tough decision for a lot of folks. The choice between the convenience and speed of a propane gas grill versus the natural flavor of charcoal can be difficult. The bottom line here is the big advantage of a propane gas grill over a charcoal grill being convenience.
This starts with not having to deal with charcoal or the cleanup of dirty sooty coal ash. A little-known fact is that gas burns cleaner and costs less per use than charcoal. So you can grill a little greener and save some money too. Propane gas grills heat up to the ideal cooking temperatures much faster than charcoal. With the simple push of a button and twist of a knob, you are practically ready to cook.
It’s easier to regulate heat more precisely by using temperature control dials. Creating heat zones for keeping food warm with multiple gas burners, searing meat, and direct cooking are all easily done with gas grills.
Another advantage of propane gas grills is that they distribute heat more evenly. Most grillers will agree that a grill with overly hot spots or cooler areas can be the worst. Not to mention making cooking more difficult. Even heat distribution lets the food cook at the same rate with the added benefit of allowing you to use your grill like an oven for roasting and baking.
You can read more about the Pros and Cons of Gas Vs. Charcoal Grills here.
What Are Some Of The Modern Options Available With Propane Grills Today?
Today, propane grills come with many useful features like prep shelves, warming shelves, built-in thermostats, tool hooks and fuel tank gauges. Built-in cutting boards for food prepping and an ice bucket for storing drinks is not an uncommon feature either. They are also being made tougher and more durable than ever before.
That is just the beginning. Here is where the real fun begins.
To further add to their versatility, many come with features like:
Double-Wall Fireboxes and Lids
Providing superior heat control and retention. Better temp control ultimately means quicker and more evenly cooked foods.
Smaller grills usually have up to two access doors covering a storage area with space for the LP tank and a shelf. Larger grills usually have pull-out drawers, trays and tool hooks for extra convenience. Although this will vary from grill to grill, it is nice to have the extra storage so close to hand for various equipment and supplies.
Built in Wireless Temperature Monitoring
Temperature monitoring for both the internal grill and food temperature, many LP gas grills have options for built-in wireless temperature probes. I’m just amazed someone hasn’t thought of this convenient feature a lot sooner. It would have saved many of us from having to buy separate temperature reading equipment.
Built-in side burners for the preparation of side dishes and sauces are another feature that has come a long way over the years. It’s never been easier to whip up your whole meal with built in and more traditional stove style burners right next to your grill.
What a time saver from having to run back and forth from the grill and kitchen, cooking sides separately.
Rotating BBQ Rotisseries give you another great option for cooking that can produce awesome results. Removable motorized spits that extend across the surface of the grill are perfect for whole chickens or turkeys. The motorized spit slowly rotates the food near the fire until the food is cooked to perfection.
The advantages of cooking rotisserie style are that the food bastes itself and cooks more evenly internally while turning.
Infrared Rear Rotisserie Burners
Infrared rotisserie burners are burners placed on the back walls of some grills that work great with Rotisserie grilling to enhance the process.
While almost all propane gas grills come with this option, some lower end grills do not. This is the safest way to light up a grill and is virtually hands-free. No lighting of a match or the need for a lighter. No more singed arm hair or burned out eyebrows. Just twist a knob or push a button and your grill is lit. How convenient is that?
A Searing Area
Most gas grill burners cannot get as hot as a charcoal grill to create that flavorful seared in crust we all desire. That’s why many are coming with a built-in searing area that quickly reaches extremely high heats for that perfect caramelized sear.
Heat Diffusers and Ceramic or Lava Briquettes
Gas grills need some kind of barrier between the flames and the food or there would be constant flair ups. The two types of barriers listed above are becoming more and more high tech by the year. Many are now designed to catch and instantly vaporize the drippings of your food. The smoke and sizzle are then infused right back into the food for intense grilled flavor.
Charcoal trays are meant to enhance a gas grill or even convert a gas grill to charcoal cooker. Fill the trays with lump charcoal or natural wood, then remove the cooking grates and heat diffuser plates. Place the charcoal tray directly on the burners, and reinstall the cooking grates.
Turn the burners under that tray on high heat and wait for the charcoal to ignite evenly. Turn the burner off and close the lid until the grill gets up to the desired cooking temperature. Now you are cooking with charcoal.
Smoker tubes are built in accessories that you fill with wood chips for adding more layers of flavor to your BBQ.
Full-Width Built-In Drip Trays
A built-in drip tray is a convenient option for catching and disposing of the leftover food grease.
Built In Halogen Grilling Lights
Lights are a grilling must have if you plan to cook in the evenings or during low light situations. For years I would use a mini headlamp for extra light. Grills are now coming with built-in lights inside the lid, on the lid handle, or in both places in some cases.
Some grills even have LED backlit control knobs to help you entertain and cook at night. Boy am I happy I don’t need those headlamps anymore.
I want to point out that some of these accessories only come with the higher end propane grills, but many listed above can be had on lower and mid-range options.
So if you’re looking to shake up your same old daily cooking routine, want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and learn a new skill, then a propane gas grill may be just what you are looking for.
But just remember, while you may take extra special care in choosing and preparing the foods you serve, the success of your outdoor meal often times comes down to the quality of your propane gas grill.
Choosing the best propane gas grill for your needs is as simple as knowing what to look for and which options matter most to you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on What Is A Propane Gas Grill? – An Introduction To Outdoor Propane Gas Grills And Their Many Options and it proves helpful to you. I also hope that you are one step closer to joining me in “The Grilling Life”!