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Get practical tips on how to address the issue of your gas grill is smoking too much for a better grilling experience with our guide.

You’ve just fired up your grill for an afternoon of grilling, only to be met with a billowing cloud of black smoke.

Of course, some smoke is expected and even appreciated when grilling, but you notice this is way more smoke than usual. So what does it mean?

Excessive smoke coming from your gas grill could be a sign that something is wrong with your grill or that it just needs a little bit more TLC than you’ve been giving it.

In this article, we’re diving into the reasons why your gas grill could be smoking too much, along with some troubleshooting tips that should help you remedy your smoky situation.

From greasy grates to propane issues, we’ll tackle it all and have you back to grilling perfection in no time!

Key Takeaways

  • Regular Cleaning is Important: Keep your grill grates and interior clean to prevent grease and food residue from causing excessive smoke.

  • Use High-Quality Fuel and Oils: Choosing the right fuel and using oils with high smoke points can greatly reduce the amount of smoke produced during grilling.

  • Monitor and Manage Fat Drippings: Be proactive in managing flare-ups from high-fat foods by trimming excess fat, using drip pans, minimizing smoke, and improving cooking quality.

How Much Smoke Is Too Much Smoke on a Gas Grill?

Ideal Smoke | Too Much Smoke

Smoke plays a big role in grilling, lending that beloved smoky, BBQ taste. So determining the right amount of smoke on a gas grill is crucial for achieving that perfect balance in flavor without compromising the quality of your food or the safety of your grilling experience.

White smoke rising from the grill is a good sign, indicating that your food is grilling perfectly. It’s best to step back and let the grill work its magic in this case.

However, if you see black smoke, it’s an alert that your grill requires some attention. This could be a hint of flare-ups happening within the grill, and you need to make some adjustments.

So what should an ideal amount of smoke look like?

Ideal Smoke

  • Color: Look for thin, white smoke. It’s a good sign that your food is cooking correctly while being infused with a subtle, smoky flavor characteristic of your favorite BBQ restaurant.
  • Quantity: Moderate smoke is normal, especially when fats and juices drip onto the heat source and vaporize, contributing to the flavor.

Too Much Smoke

  • Color: Thick, black smoke is a red flag. Unlike white smoke, black smoke suggests the presence of a problem, such as grease fires, food remnants burning, or too much fat dripping onto the flames.
  • Smell: Pay attention to the odor. If the smoke smells acrid or like burning plastic, it’s a sign that something other than food might be burning, such as accumulated grease or a component of the grill itself.
  • Visibility: If the smoke is so dense that it’s hard to see the grill, it’s definitely time to intervene. This could indicate a significant flare-up or a grease fire.

Why Does My Gas Grill Smoke So Much?

Excess Grease | Not Enough Airflow | Wrong Cleaning Supplies | Dirty Drip Pan | Leftover Food Residue | Fatty or Overly-Marinated Foods | Too Much Food on the Grill | Burner Issues | Not Enough Propane | Low-Quality Fuel | Bad Mix of Gas and Oxygen | Moisture | Grilling at Too High of a Temperature | New Grill Coating

There are a few possible culprits behind your grill smoking too much, including a buildup of grease and food residues, incorrect fuel and air mixture, faulty burner tube issues, use of wet wood chips for smoking, and high-fat foods, just to name a few.

In the sections to follow, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons your grill might be producing more smoke than necessary. These include:

Excess Grease

It’s a given that grilling will involve some level of grease, but when it starts to exceed the usual amount, it can lead to an unwanted surge of black smoke.

This excess smoke often stems from the grease on any part of the grill getting heated and burning. Essentially, the excessive smoke you’re noticing could largely be due to the combustion of accumulated grease.

One of the primary sources of this grease is fatty foods. As they cook, they drip grease onto the grates, heat shields, burners, and grease traps, which can lead to flare-ups and generate more smoke than you’d typically expect or want.

The solution is to clean your grill regularly and keep it well-maintained between use so you don’t have to worry about grease and grime building up. This helps in removing any potential grease buildup before it becomes a problem.

Pro Tip: After removing your food from the grill, leaving it on and open for a while can assist in burning off some of the leftover grease, reducing the likelihood of flare-ups the next time you use it.

For more info on how to clean and maintain grill grates, check out this guide: The Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Grill Grates

For more info on how to clean and maintain your gas grill, check out this guide: How to Clean a Gas Grill – Tips to Revitalize Your BBQ

Not Enough Airflow

Gas grills are designed with several pathways built in for airflow, typically through a top or side vent equipped with either a sliding cover or a series of holes to create proper air circulation.

A lack of proper airflow can cause your gas grill to produce excessive smoke and heat up more than necessary. When the mix of fuel and oxygen is imbalanced, it affects the grill’s ability to draw in enough oxygen, affecting the combustion process. This can lead to a smoky, inefficient flame.

Similar to the issues caused by grease accumulation, inadequate ventilation can often be traced back to poor cleaning practices. Regularly scrubbing the grill, especially around the vents, is crucial for maintaining optimal airflow.

Overloading the grill with food can also contribute to restricted airflow. Too much food on the grill impedes the vents and hinders the overall circulation of air.

Using the Wrong Cleaning Supplies

If you clean your grill with harsh chemicals, they can stick around and cause problems that lead to excessive smoke.

First, the residue could be burning off of your grill grates or within your burners as you cook your food which, aside from the health and food safety issues, can also burn at a similar rate as grease and cause smoke.

Those heavy-duty cleaning chemicals can also corrode the metal of your grill, which damages it and can cause rust and corrosion to burn and create smoke when in use.

Finally, the wrong cleaning supplies can even have negative interactions with your gas grill’s flames, which can produce toxic smoke.

Long story short? Do your research and only clean your grill with the recommended products.

Dirty Drip Pan

If you don’t clean your drip pan regularly enough, grease can build up there too and — you guessed it — start to burn and cause smoke.

Check your grill pan every time you use your grill to make sure it is sufficiently cleaned. If too much grime and grease has accumulated, you might even opt to replace it with a new, gunk-free drip pan.

Pro Tip: Line your drip pan with tin foil for easy removal and replacement. This will save you a lot of clean-up time.

Leftover Food Residue

You should get into the habit of cleaning your grill grates after every use, but just in case you need another reason, here’s a great one.

If you don’t clean your grill thoroughly, food residue could hang out on your grates and burn off the next time you grill, causing some gnarly, unappetizing smoke.

Don’t forget about the drip trays either. They are there to catch grease and food bits after all. This will not only help to prevent unwanted smoke but it will also help to keep them from corroding prematurely.

Fatty or Overly-Marinated Foods

Marinades are delicious and fat equals flavor, so what’s the problem?

If you have too much of either of these tasty components, they can drip through the grates and hit the heat shields or burners, causing them to ignite and cause smoke.

Now some of that smoke is useful — it’s why flavorizer bars exist and what helps give grilled food its signature taste — but too much can cause excessive smoke that isn’t a fun time for anyone.

You can avoid this by staying alert while cooking and monitoring for flare-ups. Another solution is to cut off overly fatty parts of your meat, not using too much marinade or oil on your food, and using a (clean!) drip pan to catch any drippings.

Too Much Food on the Grill

We mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating: having too much food on your grill grates can impede airflow, leading to excessive smoke.

If you regularly run into this issue, it might be time to upgrade your grill to one with a larger surface area to handle those big family barbecues.

You can see our new grill picks here: The 10 Best Built-in Gas Grills – Buyers Guide

Or here: The 10 Best Small Gas Grills for Patios, Decks, and Balconies

Burner Issues

Even if your grill comes with heat shields, your grill’s burners can still accumulate leftover food and grease too. If your grill’s burners are damaged or dirty, they can run inefficiently, which in turn causes smoke.

Make sure you’re regularly cleaning and inspecting your burners for damage to help keep them in tip-top shape.

For more info on how to clean gas grill burners, check out our guide: The Complete Guide on How to Clean Gas Grill Burners

Not Enough Propane

If your propane tank is running low, it may result in your grill producing more smoke than you usually see.

Thankfully, this is an incredibly easy fix — just check your fuel gauge and replace or refill your tank if needed.

Need to know how to easily check how much fuel you have remaining in the tank? Check out this guide: How to Check Propane Tank Levels on Gas Grills: Expert Tips & Tricks

Low-Quality Fuel

You might have enough fuel in the tank, but low-quality propane can also be the culprit behind a grill creating more smoke than usual.

Low-quality fuel can cause an inadequate mix of oxygen and fuel, resulting in a weak, smoky flame.

When the fuel, such as propane or natural gas, contains impurities or is not formulated to the correct specifications, it can burn incompletely. This incomplete combustion process could result in a weak, sooty, and smoky flame.

Make sure you’re purchasing premium propane, and keep it outdoors out of direct sunlight to help keep it from degrading.

A Bad Mix of Gas and Oxygen

If the mixture of gas and oxygen supplied to your grill isn’t dialed in correctly, your grill can produce weak flames that cause more smoke than heat.

This bad mix can be caused by a few different issues, but typically it boils down to either issues with your gas regulator or problems with the burner’s air shutters.

Checking Your Regulator

To check your regulator, you’ll first want to confirm that the Overfill Prevention Device hasn’t been tripped. The OPD can be triggered by opening the tank valve too quickly, turning on your burners before opening the propane tank, closing the propane tank before turning off the burners, or leaving your control knobs on after you’re done grilling.

To reset the OPD, open up your grill’s lid, turn off the propane tank, and disconnect the gas line from the tank. Turn all of your grill’s burner knobs up to high and wait one minute to allow any remaining gas to flush out. Then turn the knobs off, reconnect the gas line to the propane tank, and slowly open the tank back up. Light your grill, and if it ignites successfully, the issue should be fixed.

If your grill doesn’t light after resetting the OPD, you may need to replace it. Take a look for any damage or cracks — if you see any visible issues with the regulator, you’ll need to replace it with one that fits your grill. 

Thankfully, replacing the regulator is pretty easy. Once you’ve purchased the correct regulator for your grill, you’ll turn the gas off, remove the existing regulator, install the new one, turn the gas back on, and check for leaks by spraying on a 50/50 mix of dish soap and water and looking for bubbles.

If everything is working correctly with your OPD and regulator, it’s time to move on to the burner shutters. Too little or too much air may be flowing into the burners, causing them to smoke.

For more regulator troubleshooting tips, check out our guide: What Is a Gas Grill Regulator: Troubleshooting Gas Grill Regulator Problems

Adjusting Your Burner’s Air Shutters

To adjust your burners, check your owner’s manual and find where the venturi tube adjustment screw is. Light your grill, and set it on low. Next, loosen the screw and open the shutters until the flames are mostly blue.

Repeat this process for the other burners as needed, then turn off the gas and tighten the adjustment screw to set the shutters in place. Let your grill cool down, and you should be good to go.

Moisture Inside the Grill

If your grill has been under its cover for a while or was recently exposed to rain, moisture may be trapped inside, creating smoke as it heats up.

To avoid this, dry your grill off after it rains by opening the lid and giving it some time to air out after removing the cover.

Grilling at Too High of a Temperature

Another reason your grill is smoking too much is that you’re grilling your food at too high of a temperature.

Oils and fats all have a smoke point, where they start to smoke and become bitter and unpleasant tasting. If you’re cooking your food on a grill that is too hot for the food’s unique smoke point, it will produce excessive smoke.

Instead, cook the food at its correct temperature (this might mean a bit of research on your end) to ensure delicious results and a reduction in smoke.

Some examples of higher smoke point oils you should use when grilling are vegetable oil, canola oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil.

For more tips on controlling the temperature on a gas grill, read our guide: How to Control the Temperature on a Gas Grill: Tips for Perfect Grilling

The New Grill Coating

If your grill is new, that excessive smoke is likely caused by the grill’s coating burning away during the first few uses.

Before your first use, heat your empty grill on high for 30 minutes to allow this coating and any residue or particles left over from the manufacturing process to burn off without the smoke coming in contact with food.

Tips to Cut Down on Excessive Smoke on a Gas Grill

Keep a Clean Grill | Only Use Recommended High-Quality Fuel | Call a Professional

Want to prevent your grill from producing too much smoke going forward?

Let’s look at several key tips that will help minimize smoke production, including cleaning and maintenance, using proper fuel, and knowing when to call in a professional when all else fails.

Keep a Clean Grill

Built-up grease and grime create smoke, so regularly cleaning your grill will help prevent your grilling session from turning into a smoky, dirty mess.

Make it a habit to wipe down your grill grates while the grill is still warm after every cooking session to make future in-depth cleanings a little easier.

To thoroughly clean your grill between heavy cooking sessions, remove the grates, drip tray, and heat baffle or heat shields, and wipe the inside of the grill down with a damp cloth or sponge.

If there’s stubborn food stuck on the parts you removed, let them soak in warm, soapy water for a bit, then scrape the gunk off with a wire-free grill brush. Rinse and dry off the grates, drip tray, and baffle, then reassemble your grill and light it to allow any remaining residue to burn off.

Call a Professional

When in doubt, or if none of the troubleshooting steps above worked for you, it’s time to call in the pros.

A professional grill repair person should be able to tell what the issue causing the excessive smoke is and whether it will require a repair or replacement to fix it.

Gas Grill Is Smoking Too Much – FAQs

Still have some burning questions about excessive smoke coming from your gas grill? Check out these FAQs!

Why Is My Gas Grill Producing So Much Smoke?

Your gas grill may be producing so much smoke for several reasons, including the buildup of grease and food residues, use of low-quality fuel, improper air-to-gas ratio, or even too much high-fat food or marinades causing flare-ups.

How Can I Reduce the Amount of Smoke My Gas Grill Produces?

Reducing the amount of smoke your grill produces involves cleaning your grill regularly, using high-quality fuel, adjusting the air to gas mixture properly, and using cooking oils with high smoke points to prevent unnecessary flare-ups.

Is It Normal for My Gas Grill to Smoke a Lot When I First Light It?

It is normal for some initial smoke as the grill burns off residue and heats up. However, continuous heavy smoke throughout the cooking process is not typical and indicates an issue that needs addressing.

Can the Type of Food I'm Grilling Contribute to Excess Smoke?

Yes, the type of food you’re grilling can contribute to excess smoke. Fatty foods can drip grease onto the heat source, causing flare-ups and increased smoke. Trimming excess fat and managing the cooking temperature can help minimize this issue.

What Should I Do if Cleaning and Maintenance Don't Reduce the Smoke From My Gas Grill?

If routine cleaning and basic maintenance don’t reduce the smoke from your gas grill, it may be necessary to check for more complex issues like gas leaks or malfunctioning components. Consulting the manufacturer’s guidelines or seeking professional help may be advisable.

Gas Grill Is Smoking Too Much Troubleshooting Guide: Final Thoughts

While some smoke is a natural and expected part of the grilling, excessive smoke can be a sign that your gas grill needs a bit of extra care and attention.

And while a bit of smoke can add a delicious flavor to your food, too much is a recipe for an unpleasant grilling and eating experience.

By understanding the common causes of too much smoke—such as grease buildup, the use of low-quality fuel, or improper airflow, you can safely keep the smoke output to manageable levels.

Regular maintenance, choosing the right fuels and oils, and managing fat drippings effectively are key steps in ensuring your gas grill operates efficiently and safely.

With the troubleshooting tips in this guide, you should be well on your way to taming the smoke and getting back to a great day of grilling!

Cheers,

Emily

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DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Emily Lord

I’m a Wisconsin-based freelance writer and home cook who loves hosting parties and expressing my love for my family and friends through homemade meals and baked goods.

I blame Iron Chef and Chopped for my competitiveness in the kitchen.

In my free time, I occasionally run marathons as an excuse to eat more good food.