the modern gal’s guide to mastering how to light your grill (gas & charcoal!)

the modern gal’s guide to mastering how to light your grill this summer. overcoming the fear & uncertainty of how to light a grill is absolutely one of the most intimidating parts of grilling for new grillers. this post will walk you through mastering how to light a gas grill & how to light a charcoal grill. it’s easier than it seems – promise! the modern gal’s guide to mastering how to light your grill this summer. overcoming the fear & uncertainty of how to light a grill is absolutely one of the most intimidating parts of grilling for new grillers. this post will walk you through mastering how to light a gas grill & how to light a charcoal grill. it’s easier than it seems - promise! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY #howtogrill #grillingforbeginners

plays well with butter is all about helping you find the confidence to really own your spot behind the grill this summer. {learn more about the pwwb let’s grill, girls! series here.}

when i asked you guys over on instagram what you needed help with most when it comes to grilling, by far the most popular answer was…

“i don’t even know how to light a grill!”

& seriously…i’ve SO been there.

if i can be real with you for a second…the main reason it took me so long to get behind the grill is that i was afraid of lighting it. the thoughts that would run through my head literally went something like this:

  • am i going to burn my face off?!
  • what if i break it?!
  • what if it blows up?!
  • omg will our insurance cover a grill fire?!
  • etc., etc., etc…
  • ????

all the fear & overwhelm totally got the best of me. i legit used to wait to make dinner until chris got home, just so he could light the grill. (& i will say, relying on your partner/husband/spouse/whoever to grill for you may seem like a great idea…until it’s 8:30 pm & they’re just leaving the golf course to come home – #HANGRY!)

once i learned how easy it is to light the grill – gas AND charcoal – i couldn’t believe i was ever so nervous about it. i’m super excited to help you overcome the fear too!

step #1: what kind of grill do you have?

how you light your grill will depend on what type of grill you have: gas or charcoal. (not sure what type of grill to get? be sure to check back to this must-have grilling equipment guide – i walk you through some of my favorite gas & charcoal grills!)

once you get the hang of it, both types are pretty straightforward to light, but the processes are very different. read on to learn how to light a gas grill & how to light a charcoal grill (click to jump to a specific section!).

step #2: how to light a gas grill

first thing’s first: be sure to reference your grill’s user manual when you go to light it for the first time. the below steps serve as a great general guide, though your grill model & manufacturer may have other steps or precautions to keep in mind as you start your gas grill.

i LOVE grilling on a gas grills. they heat up quickly (great for weeknight grilling) & they are really easy to light – you simply have to allow propane (gas) to flow to the burners, light it up (through an electric starter), & you’re ready to grill.

first, a couple things to double check…

  1. make sure the propane tank is securely hooked up to your grill’s gas line. the hose is usually a simple screw on valve.
  2. locate the electric starter, usually found on the front of the grill. open the lid of the grill. if you push the electric starter, it should make a hollow “pung” noise or sound like the gas burners on your range clicking on. (note: if your starter button is broken, it’s no problem at all. simply use a long-handled lighter to start your grill instead – easy!)

how to light a gas grill (+ video step-by-step):

 

  1. open the propane tank: making sure all the burner knobs of the front of the grill are closed (or turned “off”), open the valve on the propane tank by turning it all the way counter-clockwise (reminder: lefty loosey!).
  2. open a burner valve: turn either the leftmost or rightmost burner knob on the front of the grill to high (your grill may have a “light” or “ignite” setting – that works too!). you may hear gas begin to flow out of the burner – that’s totally fine! (note – if you are using a long-handled lighter instead of the grill’s electric start, you will want to turn on the burner nearest to the side of the grill with a small hole in the side of the bucket.)
  3. press the electric start: a few seconds after you open up a burner, press the igniter/electric start button. the burner should flare on with a “whoosh” sound. if it doesn’t let the gas run for a few more seconds & try again. you just lit your grill, gf, congrats!!!
  4. if you are using a lighter instead of your electric start: insert the flame end through the hole in the side of the grill, placing it next to the burner you turned on.
  5. if you continue to have trouble starting your grill, DO NOT let the gas continue to run if you continue to have trouble lighting – simply turn the burner off & close the propane tank.
  6. light the remaining burners: with one burner successfully lit, light the remaining burners, repeating steps 2-3 on the remaining burners – you can do them all at once.
  7. let the grill run on high for 10-15 minutes, charring up any residual food from the grates for easy removal. (learn how to clean your grill in this post.) once your grill is cleaned off, dial back to your desired cooking temperature & grill your heart out!
  8. how to shut off a gas grill: shutting down a gas grill is as easy as turning the burner knobs off, then closing the valve on the propane tank by turning it clockwise until it is tight (reminder: righty-tighty!).

step #2: how to light a charcoal grill

there are a couple of different methods for lighting a charcoal grill. my preferred method is using a charcoal chimney – which i highly recommend because it makes lighting the charcoal much easier. (find other must-have grilling equipment in this post!) read on to learn how to light charcoal with & without the chimney.

charcoal grilling method #1: how to light a charcoal grill with a charcoal chimney (+ video step-by-step) 

 

  1. set up your grill: remove the top grate of your grill. open the bottom air vent on the grill all the way – this will help generate airflow to the charcoal briquettes.
  2. fill charcoal chimney: place the charcoal chimney on top of the charcoal grate (the second grate, still in the grill). add your charcoal briquettes of choice to the charcoal chimney, filling the chimney just below the top. when it comes to charcoal briquettes, i’m partial to kingsford matchlight since it catches quickly without using any lighter fluid.
  3. light the charcoal: place crumpled up paper or lighter cubes under the charcoal chimney. using a long-handled lighter, light the paper or lighter cubes – they’ll become the heat source that lights the charcoal briquettes. let the charcoal burn in the chimney until it is gray & ashy, about 10-20 minutes depending on your charcoal. you just lit your grill, gf, congrats!!!
  4. arrange the charcoal: once the charcoal is hot (it will look gray & ashy), carefully pour the charcoal out of the chimney onto the grate. use grill tongs to arrange the charcoal on the grate as desired. (note: depending on your chimney, the handles can get very hot. be sure to use heat-resistant gloves if you need to!)
  5. heat the grill grate: place the top grill grate back on the grill, & put the lid of your grill on to heat. once hot, grill as desired, carefully using the bottom damper on the grill to adjust the airflow as needed. 
  6. how to shut a charcoal grill: when you’re done with your charcoal grill simply close the top and bottom dampers (they may be hot!!) & let the charcoal burn itself out.

charcoal grilling method #2: how to light a charcoal grill without a charcoal chimney:

  1. set up your grill: remove the top grate of your grill. open the bottom air vent on the grill all the way – this will help generate airflow to the charcoal briquettes.
  2. add the charcoal: pour the charcoal briquettes into a pyramid on the charcoal grate using enough briquettes so that when spread out they make a consistent even layer (if the weather is cold or damp, you’ll want to use more charcoal than if it’s dry & warm.)
  3. prepare the charcoal: nestle lighter cubes into the bottom of the charcoal pyramid. if you do not have lighter cubes, soak the charcoal with lighter fluid for 3-5 minutes. (note: lighter fluid is highly flammable. if you get any on yourself or your clothing, be sure to was it off or change clothing before lighting the grill – we don’t want to bbq you too!)
  4. light the charcoal: if you’re using lighter fluid, add a little more fluid to moisten the outside of the charcoal briquettes just before lighting. use a long-handled lighter to carefully light a few sides at the base of the pyramid, or ignite the lighter cubes. allow charcoal to burn until it is gray and ashy (10-20 minutes). let the charcoal burn until it is gray & ashy, about 10-20 minutes depending on your charcoal. you just lit your grill, gf, congrats!!!
  5. arrange the charcoal: once the charcoal is hot (it will look gray & ashy), carefully use a pair of grill tongs to arrange the charcoal on the grate as desired.
  6. heat the grill grate: place the top grill grate back on the grill, & put the lid of your grill on to heat. once hot, grill as desired, carefully using the bottom damper on the grill to adjust the airflow as needed. 
  7. how to shut a charcoal grill: when you’re done with your charcoal grill simply close the top and bottom dampers (they may be hot!!) & let the charcoal burn itself out.

wrapping up!

once you know how to light your grill, you’ll be ready to grill all summer long!

if this all still feels new to you, i encourage you to head over to this grilling 101 post, where i dive into more details about must-have grilling equipment & how to clean your grill (videos included!).

ready to hit the grill? me too! be sure to check out this post for the 7 marinades you need this grilling season. at our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season, & i’m positive these 7 marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on instagram – i’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long & i can’t wait for you to join me!

your turn!: do you grill on charcoal or gas? what other tips & tricks do you have when it comes to lighting your grill? do you have any other questions about grilling equipment that i can help answer? drop a comment below – i’d love to chat!!!

don’t forget to pin for later!the modern gal’s guide to mastering how to light your grill this summer. overcoming the fear & uncertainty of how to light a grill is absolutely one of the most intimidating parts of grilling for new grillers. this post will walk you through mastering how to light a gas grill & how to light a charcoal grill. it’s easier than it seems - promise! #playswellwithbutter #grilling #grillingtips #grillingstation #outdoorgrilling #grillingDIY #howtogrill #grillingforbeginners

thank you so much for reading & supporting plays well with butter. this post includes affiliate links for products i truly love & use on the reg in my own home. all opinions are always my own! should you make a purchase using one of these links, pwwb with earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original content.  ???

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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