- Written by Eric Hahn
Lazy Man’s Guide to Cleaning a Gas BBQ
Things NOT To Do
Don't Use Harsh Chemicals
While it is tempting to just empty an entire can of oven cleaner inside your BBQ, it can cause all sorts of problems.
Harsh chemicals leave a residue which can affect the taste and smell of the food for the next few barbecues.
The chemicals can also harm stainless steel and painted finishes, as well as other components.
Of course, there are also the noxious fumes and the need for rubber gloves on a hot summer day, both best avoided.
Don't Abuse Your Stainless Steel BBQ
A stainless steel finish on a BBQ is a premium finish but it requires special care.
Harsh chemicals can affect the finish. Mild soap and warm water is recommended. Rinse with clean water and dry the surfaces.
Use a stainless steel polish, after cleaning, to give it a nice shine.
The use of abrasive scrubbers, like steel wool or wire brushes are to be avoided completely with stainless steel surfaces.
If you have you have stubborn stains, try a non-scratch scrubber, similar to what you would use on non-stick finish cookware.
In addition, scrub only in the direction of the graining in the stainless steel. Do not scrub in a circular pattern or across the grain.
It is always best to test a scrubber in a discreet spot before using all over the stainless steel surface.
Never Use Aluminium Foil Incineration
Using aluminium foil to trap heat and incinerate food residue does work but it is a potentially dangerous practice.
The concept here is that you cover the grills with a solid layer of foil, turn the heat up to HIGH and let the heat build-up turn the dirt to ash.
This technique probably dates back to the old days when a gas BBQ was built like the proverbial brick outhouse.
However, with modern BBQ designs, this can result in component warping, melting, paint failure and even the risk of a gas fire.
Most manufacturers specifically recommend AGAINST this practice and it could void your warranty.
Please note, that for exactly the same reasons, you should never cook with the grills covered in foil.
Removing the Burners
Unless you are confident that you can re-assemble the gas conveying bits of the BBQ exactly as they were when you disassembled them, it is best to leave all of the gas components in place.
Failure to re-assemble them correctly can cause a safety hazard.
This is one time when you really need to read your owner’s manual.
High Pressure Cleaners
High pressure washers can cause more problems than they solve.
Aside from having grease flying everywhere in your backyard, and attracting ants, it can also drive grease into places, like inside the burners, where it can cause more problems.
This can affect the gas flow and the proper function of your BBQ.
Garden hoses fall into the same category.
You may wish to read the following special interest pages:
Things To Do
Clean Your BBQ Grill While Warm
Most have heard that it is best to clean your BBQ while it is still warm, before everything has a chance to go rock hard.
But this means that it is difficult to actually enjoy your BBQ with your family and friends.
However, there is a trick that lets you take your time and still have an easy time cleaning up later.
When you are done cooking, give the grill or hot plate a quick brush to remove the bigger pieces of food residue.
Then take an old pie tin or other metal baking tray, fill with water and place over one of the burners. Turn on just the one burner and only enough to make it slowly boil, and then close the lid.
Think steam cleaning here.
Don’t overdo it, as you want just enough steam to keep everything soft until you get a chance to clean it, which will be MUCH easier because the food residue has been loosened by the steam.
CAUTION! Live steam can cause scalding, so turn off the burner and wait a few minutes for the steam to dissipate before SLOWLY & CAREFULLY opening the lid.
Clean Your Grills Automatically
There is this thing in your kitchen called an automatic dishwasher. Use it!
Unless your grills or hot plates are huge, they should fit in your dishwasher.
Scrape or wire brush off all of the excess grease and dirt before putting them in the dishwasher, to prevent clogging of the drain. You may find this easier to do whilst they are still in the BBQ and warm.
Use regular automatic dishwasher detergent and set for the POT SCRUBBER cycle, if your washer has this feature.
Moisture and heat do all the work for you. It is OK if they are still black when done, as long as the food and grease residue is gone.
As with your regular dish loads, you are assured of no chemical residue.
Remember to spray with cooking oil and heat for about 15 minutes, after you re-install the parts, to re-season them.
Easy Cleaning Grease Drip Tray
There is a way to make cleaning your grease drip tray easy.
First, line it with aluminium foil. Then fill it with BBQ grease absorbent mix or kitty litter, which typically works just as well but usually costs less.
When the kitty litter gets saturated with grease, you just remove it by lifting it out with the foil. The result is an instantly clean grease drip tray.
Keeping your grease tray clean can also help prevent potential grease fires and can make food taste better, as heating up old rancid grease does nothing for the taste and smell of your food.
Teflon Grill Sheets
For under $20, you can purchase a 40x50cm non-stick grill sheet to put over your hotplate. They also come in larger sizes of at least 150x50cm and 100x100cm.
These sheets keeps all of the food off of the actual hotplate and makes cleaning up a breeze. You just wipe the reusable grill sheet clean when you are done.
They can be purchased from most BBQ stores.
Cleaning Lava Rocks
Lava rocks saturated with old grease can also emit a bad smell.
If your BBQ has lava rocks, and they become old and dirty, you could try to clean them in a bucket of hot water and dish detergent.
However, the easier solution is to just buy fresh lava rocks.
Replacing them once a year is probably about right.
Once-A-Year BBQ Makeover
Your BBQ should get a thorough cleaning at least once a year.
Always refer to the Care & Maintenance section of your owner’s manual for advice.
The bad news is there is no really easy way to clean the inside of a BBQ, aside from the tips already mentioned.
Make sure you disconnect the gas bottle before doing anything.
You should then disassemble the BBQ, except the gas conveying bits, and give everything a good clean.
Baked on dirt inside the BBQ is best attacked with a stiff BBQ brush or a stainless steel paint/putty scraper, along with mild soap and warm water. Use care on painted surfaces.
Use care with the burners and just wipe them clean, unless some of the small burner holes are clogged. If they are, carefully clean them out with a small metal point. Some people use bent paper clips while others use metal BBQ skewers. Try to clean the blockage out and not push it inside the burner.
Cleaning the outside of your BBQ should be a much easier task. Stainless steel and painted surfaces should be cleaned with mild soap and warm water.
Avoid all but non-scratch scrubbers and then only if you have stubborn stains.
Use stainless steel polish after cleaning.
Remember to Pre-Heat the BBQ at Next Use
The final step to the cleaning process and the first step to the cooking process is to pre-heat the BBQ for at least 15 minutes.
This will burn off any residual dirt and grease that may have been missed and kills germs on cooking surfaces.
It will also season the cooking surfaces if you spray them with cooking oil before heating.
Pre-heating is also a good cooking practice, as it sears the meat when it first goes on the grill, making the meat more tender and juicy.
16 BBQ Cooking Tips for Great Grilling
1. Ice it, Cook it or Eat it
Keep it clean and keep it cold until you cook it or eat it.
Practice good food safety and preparation.
2. Oil Me Up!
You should always season the grill.
Pre-heat the clean grill and coat with cooking oil, using a brush or spray.
Close the grill and allow it to sit for about 20 minutes then wipe the grill clean with a fresh damp cloth.
The concept is the same as the seasoning of a cast iron fry pan.
3. To Be or Not to Be Open... That is the Question
So, how do you position the BBQ lid?
Just as some things are cooked on the kitchen cooktop and some in the oven, the type of food you are cooking will determine if you leave the BBQ lid up or down.
Generally speaking, do what you would do if you were cooking indoors.
4. Now We're Cooking - Outside In
Steaks, burgers, and veggies, that need to be seared or cooked from the outside inward, should be placed directly over the burners.
A little olive oil brushed on the steak will prevent it from sticking.
Do NOT use salt on the meat before cooking, as it draws out the moisture and makes the meat dry.
If you do salt it as you start cooking, use coarse salt to get a nice salty crust.
A bit of coarse black pepper can be nice, too.
5. Stunning Striped Steaks
Always pre-heat the grill and take the meat out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before cooking.
Sear the meat for 90 seconds on high heat and then rotate it 1/8 of a turn (45 degrees) and sear again.
This will give it an attractive crosshatch pattern, assuming you are not cooking on a flat plate grill, and help seal in the natural juices.
Remember to reduce heat to normal cooking temperature after searing.
6. I Need My Space
You should only turn the meat once. Be patient!
The meat needs room, too. Don't overcrowd the grill or it can heat unevenly.
There should be at least 2cm between the pieces of meat.
Also, make sure you have enough gas so that the cooking session is uninterrupted.
7. No Poking, Prodding or Mashing
To retain the natural juices, don’t poke holes in the meat! This includes piercing the sausage skins.
Use long handled tongs or spatulas instead of BBQ forks.
Also, don't mash down on meat and burgers, as it forces out the natural juices and leaves you with dried out meat.
8. Leave Me Alone... I'm Resting
Let your grilled meat "rest" for five minutes after cooking, covered loosely with foil, to ensure more tender and juicy results.
Letting the meat rest also applies to roasts and other cooked meats, as well.
9. Slow Cooking - Inside Out
Whole chickens, roasts, and most fish fillets require indirect heat.
Try preheating the grill with all burners then, when the grill is hot, turn off one side of grill, put the slow cooking food over the unlit burners and close the lid.
In effect, it becomes an oven. This will help cook the meat evenly, browning it while keeping it juicy and tender.
Use a meat thermometer, where appropriate, to determine when it is done.
10. Pouch Protector Preparation
You can use aluminium foil to create little cooking pouches for delicate foods, like fish fillets.
Cook away from the lit burners or place the pouch on the warming rack, if you have one.
11. Warm & Wonderful
You can toast bread, cook delicate foods or just keep cooked food warm by using your warming rack.
12. I'm Smokin'!!!
Wood chip smoke can enhance the flavour of your food.
You put the wood chips in a steel smoker box or in a small aluminium foil tray within the BBQ.
Hickory is a good all-round choice, if you are just starting.
Smoker boxes and wood chips can be found at BBQ specialty stores. Follow the wood chip supplier’s instructions.
13. Leftover Pizza?
Did you know that a gas grill is the perfect way to reheat pizza?
Just set the BBQ on low, preheat, put the pizza directly on the grill and close the lid.
Heat until cheese starts to melt.
14. Flare Up? Lid Down!
Use lean cuts of meat and/or trim away the fat to reduce the chance of flare ups.
Make sure the grease tray is empty before you start, too. Very high temperatures should also be avoided.
However, if it does happen, flip down the grill lid and turn OFF all burners and the gas bottle, if safe to do so.
When the flare up is over, you can resume cooking.
NEVER spray water on BBQ flare ups or on any grease fire.
15. Marvelous Marinated Meat
For more intense or varied flavours, consider using meat marinades.
You marinate the meat before you BBQ, as instructed by the marinade maker or recipe.
You can use large freezer bags for marinating.
Just put in the meat and marinade, seal and shake. Refrigerate, shaking it occasionally, until you’re ready to BBQ.
Make sure you drain off any excess marinade before cooking and do NOT pour it over the meat while cooking.
16. A Little Something on the Side
If your BBQ is equipped with a side burner, you can use it just like a kitchen cooktop.
This adds to the selection of dishes you can choose to cook outdoors.
Comments, questions or feedback?
The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.