How Long to Preheat Your Gas Grill and Other Grilling Preparations

Whenever you are going to use your outdoor grill, there’s no such thing as turning it on and starting to cook.  You really do need to preheat your gas grill or charcoal grill, in much the same way that you preheat your oven.  Preparing your smoker is a little bit different, so is charcoal, so we will focus on how to preheat your gas grill here.

There’s a couple of really good reasons why you want a very hot grill before you start cooking.  One is an esthetic reason and one is the real reason why you do this.  The first is that putting meat (or veggies) onto a really hot grill is similar to searing in that you can get some nice markings on what you are grilling.  Isn’t the visual test of seeing grill marks on your steak the first test of a great grill master?  The other reason that you want a hot grill is that you want to create these grill marks so that the meat does not stick to the grill grates.  If you move your meat around the grill too soon, the meat can stick to the grates and will tear the meat when you move it.  You can lose a lot of the juice this way.

Another key reason to preheat your grill is so that you minimize the overall cook time.  As soon as you light your grill, the temperature is going to be around the temperature of the air outside.  It could be a little warmer since your grill cover is likely closed, but not too much warmer.  Putting meat onto a surface that’s say 90 degrees, you’re not really cooking yet.  Also, a cold grill is likely to cause the beginning of your cook to be very uneven.  All grills have hot and cold spots.  Preheating the grill can help even this up.

There’s really not that much involved in preparing your gas grill for a cook, but there are definitely a few steps that you will need to take.  

Steps for Preheating Your Gas Grill

  1. Open the grill cover.  You should not start your gas grill with the cover closed as you can accumulate too much gas and have an explosion or cause a fire.
  2. Open up the valve on the gas tank.  I typically fully open the valve as I can control the gas flow with the dials on my grill.
  3. Turn on 1 of the burners to full.  Most grills have a little picture to illustrate which burner you should use first, but here’s the rule of thumb — you will use the burner that is closest to the lighting source.  If you are using a match or a lighter thru a hole in the side of the grill, that’s the burner you should use.  If you use an electronic igniter, the burner closest to the element is the one you should use.
  4. Light the burner.  If you are using a match or lighter, light it and stick the flame into the hole in the side of the grill.  If you are using an electronic igniter build into the grill, push the button.
  5. Once the first burner ignites, you can turn the other burners on.  In some grills, the other burners will just light from the existing burner or you may need to repeat a step (like pushing the electronic ignition.
  6. Close the grill cover, leaving all of the burner levels fully open.
  7. Keep the cover closed until the internal temperature of the grill comes up to 450-500 degrees F.  Every grill is different, so this can take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes.

How to Prepare To Use Your Gas Grill

Understanding how to light your gas grill is really important, but there’s a few other things to do in order to prepare your grill for cooking.

Cleaning your grill grates is actually something that we do on both a hot and a cold grill.  Here’s how to clean a gas barbecues grill grates.  Cleaning a hot grill can be a little different from cleaning a cold one, but both are equally important.  The first step that I use in cleaning my grill grates is to use a wire brush on the grill as soon as i finish my previous cook.  I like to scrape off all the stuff that’s stuck to the grill from the latest cook.  You never get it all off, but it’s a good practice to get into.

Right before you light your gas grill to preheat it, I always give it a scrape.  Some chunks from the last cook could linger on the grill, but might be much easier to remove from a cold grill.  If I use a wire brush for the cold clean, I always use a fibrous grill cleaning pad after the wire to make sure that I get any stray wires from the brush off of the grill so it doesn’t get in someones food.

The last quick clean that I do is right as the grill comes up to temperature.  I’ll always do a last minute scrape right before I put the food on the grill, just to make sure it’s clean.  If it takes more than a few seconds, you might want to shut the cover again and let the temperature get back to where it was.

You’re almost set to grill.

Last minute grilling check list

Once you’ve got a hot and clean grill, you’re just about ready to go:

  • Make sure you have whatever grilling tools that you’ll need.  Is your spatchula ready?  Do you have your tongs ready?
  • Do you have a clean plate or clean foil or paper for when you remove your food.  Never put grilled foods on the surface you used to bring the food outside on.
  • Do you have an instant-read thermometer or thermometer probes ready to go?
  • Do you have your beer or cocktail ready to go?  If you’re grilling or smoking, this is a requirement.

Just make sure that you spend an extra few minutes getting everything ready to go.  There’s nothing that I hate more than having to run back and forth into the house while I’m trying to prepare a meal and focus on what I’m doing.


You may want to read more: Best Electric Grills Reviews (Yearly Selections) – 5 Things To Take Before Buying Your Own Electric Grill.

Read now: Best Tabletop Gas Grill Reviews For This Year’s Selection.

The Summary

The process of preheating a gas grill is simple, to say the least. All you have to do is light your burners with the open grill lid. Turn your burner knobs to the medium setting and close the lid. Once the cooking chamber heats up and stops gaining temperature, it is time to cook. 

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