Let's talk grills and grilling


So…we have ignition!

And the side burner works too!

You guys…I’m so excited! After following your advice and cleaning everything out carefully and going back to the hardware store and asking more pertinent questions, and watching a couple of videos online, I’ve lit my first gas grill successfully. I’m just a bit closer to successfully manning a grill at my girlfriend’s bbq thing this weekend.

Now I need to manage the shopping list. For this I will cross-post on the cooking thread, because @ArmandoPenblade has more experience, and may be more likely to grab it there.

The numbers are…about 30 adults and kids. The invite asks folks to bring stuff they might like to grill–excepting pork–but we cannot rely upon that. We have from 5 to 10 people to provide proteins for as well, from meat to veg.

So I need help on figuring the amount of meat I might need to buy to make burgers for, say, 10 people. And also help figuring on extras. I’m building a list, but I’d love input from you all how have done grills and grilling more than I have in the last few years.

Thanks again, folks!



Looks great! Put the hood down, let it heat up, turn it all off, then give the grates a nice go-over with a scraper.


So I did a dry run tonight, making dinner for what can be a tough crowd (girlfriend, her kid, her mom), and it went really well.

I’ve been a charcoal snob for so long, I didn’t realize how much easier it would be to use a gas grill. It’s just easier to control the heat and not have to level out coals to make zones. I still love the action of making the charcoal fire, and love cooking with it, but this worked really well.

For the first time out I just made three simple things. Salmon fillets with skin. Some big chunky mushrooms. And a couple of corns on the cob. I was just trying to get a sense for timing and whatnot for all three things.

Everything came out really tasty. I had some sticking issues with the salmon, because I think I didn’t let the grates get hot enough. The grill lines weren’t dark enough either. But the salmon tasted great and the skin crisped up so nicely without burning. I love salmon skin, and now my girlfriend’s son does too! That was a nice surprise.

Corn is much easier to cook on a gas grill than on a charcoal grill, especially since I could move it to the higher level area to let it stay warm and steam in its husk once I got the salmon going.

All in all, it was a nice meal. A little unnerving to do a dry run when you’re responsible for dinner for your girlfriend’s mom who has driven all day to get down to Los Angeles, but it worked out. I’m so glad I did it, because I maintain that timing is the difficult part for a large meal. That issue won’t be so big for the party, since we’ll be rolling things through for all four hours, not putting a meal on the table all at once. More to the point was me realizing how much actual real estate is on the grill, and figuring out how I’m going to deal with that.

Again, many many thanks to all of you. I’m especially happy with @ArmandoPenblade for bringing up the issue of properly labeling the tools, because that’s going to be important to me.

I did not take pictures this night, but I will endeavor to during the party.



Oh. Quick question.

I have no idea how long I can expect a 15lb propane tank to last. I’ve used it for testing. And then used it for cooking about an hour tonight. Can anyone give me a sense for this? I don’t want to run out during the party. But I also don’t want to buy another $50 tank as a backup.

Any advice in this regard would be greatly appreciated.



Personally, I’d buy a backup. That said, a typical tank goes for a while. You’re probably looking at 10-20 hours for most grills, depending on the number of burners and whether you’re running max the whole time. You’ll be fine for your party. But man, it’s annoying to run out of gas in the middle of a cook.

Also, there’s some things that you can buy (e.g., gauges that mount on the valve or temperature based gauges that you stick on the side of the tank) to try and measure the propane level. You can also give the tank a good shake to try to tell how much liquid is left. I just find it easier to have a backup there and refilling the empty at my leisure.


Consider using woodchips. You get back some of the smokiness of a charcoal grill. I tried it twice now and it does add a very nice flavour IMO.
There’re all sort of them. I got this:

You’ll also need something like this:


Unless you’re grilling a heck of a lot, about 1 season of grilling. So a healthy summer of grilling = tank change afterward. Once you’ve done the initial outlay for a tank, you can either do tank exchanges or tank refills. I find the latter ends up being cheaper, but you have to track down somewhere that actually does tank fills. Most places don’t want to train people for that, so they just have tank refill cages, you bring yours in and get one of theirs + fee for the exchange.

In warmer weather, tanks sweat condensation during use on the outside while you’re grilling. It makes things pretty easy to see where the condensation line is on the tank as a rough gauge of how much you have left. If you can’t see the line, you can run a finger down the side of your tank and usually feel the temperature gradient change, or the condensation itself.



I certainly go through more than one tank in a season. No more than 3, probably. But I don’t think of myself as grilling ‘a heck of a lot’.

And when I run out, I walk over to the spare tank. And curse my laziness, because it is likely still the other empty one…

Refilling is not only cheaper per pound, but they will fill the tank with more gas than you get at the standard blue rhino exchange. It’s a classic cost vs convenience equation.


I go through more than one tank a year, but not per season, usually anyway. I grill year round but certainly not every day nor really even every week. But like you, I have two spares and they always seem to be empty. :(

Homebrewing with propane makes this 10 times worse, as I will usually forget which tank I used for it, and that leads to even more probability of an empty tank. But even in the worst case where I have to exchange, it’s just down the street 1/4 of a mile. Still easy.


Guess I thought we were talking ‘grilling season’ - but that’s just crappy-climate-bias. For Christien I assume grilling is a year-round possibility.


My bad. I’m in the south so grilling is also year round here. I mean, I guess it could be anywhere, but I consider the summer the highlight of when I grill the most.


When I was using a grill with propane tanks, I had 2 20lb tanks that would last me for about a year here in Southern California. We have a direct gas line to a built-in now, and it is awesome to not deal with tanks anymore.


Rule of thumb: you always run out of gas when you have company over.


This is accurate information


I really have trouble with gas grills. I settled on a Weber charcoal grill a couple years ago and never looked back. The chimney for starting it up is essential of course.


You guys are cute. Gas or charcoal. Let me show you how I roll.

Gas and charcoal. In one unit.


Should I be alarmed that my backup tank of propane has a valve stem that I can unscrew all the way? It’s like the stop wore away. Maybe rust from being outside?


Humanity has just taken a phenomenal leap forward. This is what I must have.


My wife surprised me with a Big Green Egg for Christmas this year.

I’ve got a pretty great wife.

The egg is as awesome as people say it is. I’ve found it very versatile and I enjoy cooking more than ever.


How do you know when you are, indeed, in heaven? When you can grill hot on one side and smoke on the other. This is the true test of your reality. Depend upon it.