The Importance of Preheating

The Importance of Preheating

Ahhh, summertime. The sun is up. The weather’s warm. There truly is nothing quite like a great summer barbecue, and as the season heats up, so do my Weber grilling classes. Throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on the road teaching grilling technique classes at some very exciting events, one in Chicago and another in San Francisco. Both festivals were fantastic and I can’t even tell you how much I enjoy sharing my secrets with Weber fans from all over the country. I really feed off of my students’ passion to become better grillers. 

It’s funny actually, in every grilling class there is one technique that I am amazed still remains a “secret.” Class after class, barbecue fans tell me that it’s the one tip they constantly fail to remember. So, in the interest of helping every griller become a great one, I’m going to expose the mystery right here and now: preheat your grill.

Okay, okay, I know you were probably expecting something a little more exciting, but it really is that simple. Many times I see people light their charcoal, electric or gas grills and then immediately throw food on the grates. I cringe every time I see it.

Pre-heating your grill is critical for having success. Without this key step, you are quite literally putting all of your food in jeopardy. This is true for two reasons. First, since your grill will not reach the optimal cooking temperature, your food will end up staying on the grill too long. This can easily lead to overcooked and dried out results. Yuck. And second, if you put your food on a cool or lukewarm surface, you can kiss your tasty, crosshatched steak goodbye. Placing uncooked food on cool grates will essentially eliminate your chance at creating flavorful sear marks. These marks are where the sugars in your food get caramelized for that delicious smoky grilled flavor we all love. Not to mention failing to preheat your grill may lead to problems with your food sticking to the grate. When food can sear and caramelize on a nice hot grate, it will release itself easily and make flipping a breeze.

So don’t forget to preheat your grill for at least 10–15 minutes the next time you fire things up. You’ve been warned, and if I happen to catch you skipping this all-important step at one of my classes, you can bet your apron you’ll lose your grilling privileges. Don’t test me, folks. When it comes to grilling, I mean business.

Until next time, happy summer and happy grilling to all!

What are your thoughts? (20)

07.25.13

George K

Hi Kevin...I just got my first Weber (Genesis 310 with porcelain grates) and I am a total newbie. Here is my question, I understand your preheating instructions completely. My goal is to cook steaks that are cooked differently for different people, meaning my wife wants it well done, and I like it medium. After preheating my grill, would I still turn it down to medium (350F) and just cook all the steaks at the same temperature? Thank you for any tips.

04.26.13

Michael M

Hi Kevin!


I do have another question, sorry. I have a new Genesis E-330. Last night I tried steaks with the sear station for the first time. The results were good, but I have a problem that I do not encounter with my charcoal grill. I pre-heated for the required amount of time, 10-15 minutes, and the grill was  at about 800 degrees. I turned off the far left burner since all three on low were at 550 degrees. Is this a good temperature or should I have left all three on low since when you place food on the grill the temperature goes down? Also, when is the time to start the sear burner on the grill?  At the time you preheat? Sorry so many questions  but my other two grills were not well made and were not Webers. Thanks!

04.26.13

Kevin Kolman

Hi MtMurph01,

It's not a problem, so keep the questions coming. Yes, preheat the grill like normal. Then, either turn down the far right burner to low or off and turn on the sear station. 800 degrees Fahrenheit would be good for a large roast to sear, but a little too much for steaks. Keep in mind you should not be using the sear station the entire time you grill. This should only be used for the searing portion. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

06.29.12

Ronald L

Yep, preheating is important when cooking in cast iron as well. Keeps food from sticking, and it's the only way to get those nice grill marks. I like to place hot dogs at an angle and slowly roll them with the tongs to get a great slanted grill mark on them.

04.11.12

Damjan C

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvZERhmtzi4
:)

02.23.12

John R

Just bought my first gas grill-a Spirit 310. Coming to the dark side after years of charcoal only I have a concern. After preheating the grill for 10 mins I still have an issue with food sticking! My chicken breasts and venison rib loins marinated in an olive oil based concoction stick terribly, even the flip side after basting. Like I said I preheat and keep the grates clean. What am I doing wrong?!

02.23.12

Kevin Kolman

Hi Steve Knapp:
I have a couple ideas to help get you back on the right track.

First, since 1995 all regulators (the part that attaches to the gas tank to regulate the flow of gas) have included a safety device that restricts the flow of gas in the event of a gas leak. This safety device can be inadvertently activated in two ways, putting the grill into what is commonly called “bypass”. The first way for the device to be activated is to leave one or more burner control knobs in the “ON” position when the LP cylinder valve is opened. The second is not to wait long enough to “start” the grill after opening the LP cylinder valve. The safety device in the regulator is activated each time that the LP cylinder valve is opened. The device resets itself when the gas pressure equalizes between the closed burner control valve and the regulator, through the hose. If a burner control knob is turned on before the gas pressure can equalize, the device will remain in “bypass”. The length of time necessary to wait to “start” the grill after turning on the LP cylinder valve is dependent on the length of the hose and outside air temperature. It is always good practice to wait a few seconds after opening the LP cylinder valve before turning on the burner control knob to start the grill.

Keep in mind that the safety device reacts to a gas leak. If a grill is in bypass, the gas connections and hose should be tested for leaks with a soap and water solution.

If the grill is in bypass, after checking for gas leaks, do the following to get the grill out of bypass:

-Close the LP tank valve
-Turn all burner control knobs to the OFF position

Now, start the grill by doing the following:
-Open the grill lid
-Turn the LP tank valve until it is completely open
-Wait several seconds
-Turn the front burner to the HI/Start position
-Press the igniter until the burner is lit.
-Turn remaining burners to High
-Close the lid.

The grill should preheat to 500-550 degrees in 10-15 minutes

Trying the above and see what results you get. Unless it is bitter cold like -30-40 degrees your grill should have no problem performing.

Second, try this:Use a clean grill brush and go over the ports in an up and down motion. This will help remove build up and debris. Second, light the grill and let it burn for 10-15 minutes. This will help burn off some of the residue that has been left on the tubes. I have found that both of these steps have helped get the burner ports clean and back to an even flame. If the problem continues you can always call our customer service group at 1-800-446-1071 for addition assistance.To prevent your burner tubes from getting clogged in the future I would suggest keeping the grill on for an extra couple of minutes after you get done grilling and then brushing the grate clean. This will help remove any grease and debris from previous cooking’s and prevent it from dripping down onto the burner tube surface. Hope this helps and Happy Grilling! -Kevin

02.03.12

Martha B

Kevin
I have a question for you regarding heating up the grill. I previously called customer service but the man I spoke with had never heard of the problem. When I am heating up the grill (and even when I had the grill open flipping my chicken) I hear a loud bang coming from the lid and or the black metal inside casing of the barbecue. It can make you take a jump when you hear it. I would like to know if this is a normal occurence or could I have a malfunction within the barbecue. I previously had an old Char Broil and this never happenend. Thank you.

02.03.12

Kevin Kolman

Hi Cookieb:
Most likely the issue has to do with the weather conditions and the expanding and contracting of the metal. Please contact knorman@weberstephen.com if you have any further questions.-Kevin

12.22.11

JC O

Hi Kevin,
I am a big fan of all Weber Gas Grills. Your sugestion to preheat the grill is good and I follow it as much as possible. If have a problem, however, when grilling different batches: Let´s say for instance: I got the grill to the preheat station and grill then some chicken, when the chicken is done and it gets removed out of the grill I put then beef steaks or whatever different sort of meat. During that changing process the grill temperature sinks dramatically because of the time spent doing that, therefore the steaks will not get cooked very well as per your sugestion. Should I rather wait for the second batch until the grill gets preheated again or should I put the meat inmediately after? please advise.

12.22.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi Zitromar:
Great question!! I recommend first removing the chicken off the grill and then bringing the grill back up to temperature to about 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit. I recommend doing this for a couple of reasons. One, in order to sear the steaks, (or any food), you need your grill at or above 500-550 degrees. Second, by bringing the grill back up to temperature you will then help to burn off any of the chicken or food particles left on the grate from prior cookings. Clean grates are critical for great searing and from helping food from sticking to your grates. Third, the steaks don't get cooked very well like you mentioned. By bringing the grill back up to temperature the food will take less time to cook giving you better flavor and a better overall experience. So take it from me, take the extra 5-10 minutes to bring the grill to temp and you, your family, your friends and of course your Weber grill will appreciate it!! Have a great holiday season and always Happy Grilling!!- Kevin

08.10.11

Allen J

Hello Kevin,
What a simple concept and often a step that I have missed. I just got my new S-670 Weber on Monday. When you say preheat, what temp should I go for? Should I leave it on high for 10-15 and then turn it down to the appropriate temp for what I am cooking?
Thanks
BBQSMOKER (Allen)

08.10.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi BBQSMOKER:
Congratulations on getting a new Weber Summit S-670. Talk about an awesome grill!! You are correct. You should preheat your grill for 10-15 minutes with all the main burners on high. You will be looking for a preheat temperature range of 500-600 degrees. Once you have reached this ideal preheat temperature, you can then adjust your control knobs to the appropriate temperature level for your meal. I might also suggest giving your stainless steel grates a quick brushing after preheating your grill. This will help keep them clean and also help from food sticking to them during the grilling process. Hope this helps, congrats again on your new Summit and happy grilling!! -Kevin

08.05.11

Chris L

Hi Kevin,

A quick question about indirect heat: When you're setting up a new 2011 style Genesis with burners running front to back and you need to prepare the grill for indirect cooking (for BBQ chicken, say), what's the recommended burner configuration? Left on medium w/ center

08.05.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi StoopidMonkey81:
This is a great question. When you are setting up a new Genesis 2011 (with burners running front to back) for indirect heat you should have the far left burner on medium, the middle burner on off and the far right burner on medium. Remember your Genesis has infinite control knobs that will allow you to have complete heat control over the unit. When grilling a whole chicken you should try to keep the temperatures at a medium heat in the range of 350-425 degrees Fahrenheit. One tip I can give you for grilling a whole chicken is to place a large aluminum drip pan directly under the chicken on the flavorizer bars with some liquid in it to collect the drippings. This will help keep your grill cleaner and help make it easier to maintain. Hope this helps. Happy Grilling!! -Kevin

08.05.11

Pirate C

Hello Kevin:

In this post you emphasize pre-heating, and in others you emphasize keeping the lid closed - OK, get it hot and keep the heat. However, I bought my EP-330 just for the sear station; in this case, you want only the food surface near the burners hot; should you still preheat? Also, you have to monitor things pretty carefully I would think, so keeping the lid closed...maybe not?

Looking at your posts here, and even more generally, there is little info on using the sear station. I think it would be very popular and much appreciated if you would do a blog column just on searing burner cooking, and preferably on tuna. -There is plenty out there on searing steaks; we sear station owners want to know about NEW and more unusual stuff you can do with them!

Thanks,

-Pirate

08.04.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi ThePirateCaptain,
First, congrats on the purchase of your new 2011 Genesis EP-330 grill. You are correct we all must understand the importance of pre-heating our grills. This is a critical step that if overlook could lead to sub-par BBQ. You are correct you want to keep the heat in but you also want the grill to come up to temperature. You should always pre-heat the grill regardless of where you are going to put your food. During the searing process you can always adjust one of your control knobs to lessen the amount of heat in a specific area but the whole grill should be pre-heated each and every time.

Monitoring your grill is part of the grilling process but stalking your food is not. Searing usually takes 2-3 minutes per side depending on the size of your food. Using a timer will take away some of your apprehensions and help to control the monitoring process for you. Just remember that every time we open the lid we add more cooking time to the meal.

Also thanks for your comment about the sear station. I will look into posting more information on the sear station on this blog soon. For the record, tuna is one of my favorites also!! Hope this helps. Happy Grilling!!-Kevin