Americans love gas grills. Since their introduction in the 1960s, gas grills have become more and more popular. Today, 60 percent of grill owners in the United States have a gas grill. The gas grill offers several advantages: It’s clean, quick, and easy to use. It starts at the push of a button and maintains a consistent temperature for hours.
In the old days, there were several drawbacks to gas grills. They didn’t get as hot as charcoal grills and their heat was more humid (water vapors are released when propane is burned). Also, traditionally, it was difficult to smoke on a gas grill. Newer generations of grills burn hotter and have smoker boxes with dedicated burners. So the problems that plagued gas grills are fast disappearing.
Most gas grills work on a similar principle: The fire burns from one or more gas burner tubes, heating some sort of cooking element positioned between the grate and the burners. The burner tubes come in many configurations—straight, U-shaped—arranged side by side or from the front to the back of the grill. A grill with rows of burners running side to side is great for rotisserie grilling. A grill with three or four burners running front to back gives you more room for indirect grilling.
The burners heat cooking or heating elements that vary from grill to grill, ranging from lava stones (see page 480) to metal plaques to ceramic rods or Flavorizer bars. These elements spread the heat of the fire evenly and keep the fat from dripping directly on the burners.