Grilling Burgers On Gas -What and What Not To Do


Grilling burgers on a gas grill is almost fool proof. Almost, but there are some mistakes you can make. Along with techniques to use which help make the burgers turn out even better.

It is interesting to me to read the different ways people prefer to cook their burgers. That is what makes cooking and grilling in general fun. There is not one way to do it.

Since the general consensus among grilling enthusiast. Is that burgers should be cooked quickly and with the lid up or open. That is probably the best way to do them. But the thing is with gas grills it is best to use the lid down to retain heat better.

This creates a bit of a question “gas grill open or closed for burgers?”

Gas grills work best with the lid closed. Bring temperature up to 300 – 450 degrees. Put on Burgers and cook on each side for 3 – 5 minutes, depending on the thickness. The lid being closed will allow heat to circulate and cook the burger without having to flip it often.

There is many different ways to go about grilling a burger but, there are some rules that should be followed. These are general rules that do make the food cook better, taste better and the effort much easier.

You can make even better burgers with some awesome tools! Check out my post on the top tools for making burgers...https://cookingchops.com/8-top-tools-for-making-burgers-on-the-grill/

When To Keep Grill Lid Open or Closed

There is a common question that is asked. Should I grill with the lid open or closed? Well it depends on a couple factors.

  • Grill Type (Gas or Charcoal)
  • Food Type (Thick or Thin)

The type of grill depends on either gas or charcoal. Gas grills lose heat when the lid is opened. Gas grills require the lid to build up heat. The burners stay a consistent temperature.

Charcoal Grills get hotter with the lid being off. This is because the coals are exposed to more oxygen. For example, when you are camping and you blow into the camp fire. It usually turns more red and gets hotter.

Food type is the other variable. Does the food require indirect or direct cooking?

  • Direct cooking: Hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, chicken.
    • Generally smaller easier to cook foods.
  • Indirect cooking: Roast, pork shoulders, whole chicken, ribs, brisket.
    • Larger and tougher meats that take longer.

Direct grilling for both types of grills would be with the lids off or open. Because direct cooking uses heat directly underneath the food to cook. This is good for quickly heating hot dogs or cooking burgers.

Foods that are thicker and larger work best with indirect cooking. This allows it to be cooked evenly.

An easy way to know when to use the lid open or closed. Foods that can be flipped easily use open lid. Foods that you can’t flip with a spatula use closed lid.

Another way of saying it is to use direct cooking for easy to flip foods. Indirect cooking for heavy foods you couldn’t flip with a small spatula.

Another general rule of “thumb” is if the meat is thicker than your hand, close the lid and cook. You could call this a rule of “hand”.

If you are having trouble keeping your hamburger patties together. I wrote a post about binding burger patties. https://cookingchops.com/bind-burger-patties-without-egg/

Open LidClosed Lid
Hamburgers, Hot Dogs,
Steak, Chicken
Roast, Ribs, Brisket,
Whole Chicken

Foods you like to eat more rare will be easier with the lid open. That way they do not get overcooked.

When cooking in colder temperatures, keep the lid on the retain heat better. Also on windy days using the lid will help maintain temperatures.

Rookie Burger Grilling Mistakes: Top Five plus more.

It doesn’t matter if you are using gas or charcoal grills. The mistakes can be made with both. Here are some of the most common ones.

1. Not Cleaning Grill Grate

You should always clean the grates before cooking. The best way is to start the heat. You can do this while preheating. After the grate is hot use a brush to scrap off any leftover residue.

A combination of burning and brushing off the grate works well. You could also soak the grate with dish soap. This is only really needed maybe after the season or once a year.

2. Not Preheating

With both gas and charcoal, you should always let the grill get up to temperature first. Charcoal grills can take longer than gas. Before putting meat onto grill preheat them.

3. Opening Lid Too Often

It is tempting to want to peek at the food cooking. When you open the lid to look at your food. The heat will escape and the temperature will drop. This will change the cooking momentum.

There is the saying “If you’re looking, it ain’t cooking”. This is especially true for larger meats. Also if you are smoking meats you should not open the lid too often. Keep it closed and know how long to cook for.

With burgers you do wan’t to keep an eye on them. But do not over do it, especially at first.

4. Flipping Too Often

Burgers can be cooked with only a couple flips. Maybe three tops, but more than that is too much. Grill burgers for 3 – 5 minutes per side.

5. Pressing Down On Patties

A common mistake is while grilling, pressing down on each burger. This does not speed up cooking, create grill marks or anything else. Doing this only lets out the juices. You want them to remain in the meat and cook with it.

This is a common mistake, because it feels natural to press down on the burgers. This mistake goes in with flipping them too much. Touching, poking or pressing food too often while its cooking is a rookie mistake.

More Burger Mistakes

  • Buying Lean beef: You want more fatty beef to make your burgers. Lean beef will dry out quickly.
  • Making the patties too dense: You want to gently press the patties together.
  • Flipping the patty too early: When doing this the uncooked burger will stick to the grill. It will tear apart the patty.
  • Using too much lighter fluid: With a charcoal grill, you want the lighter fluid to burn off before starting to cook. You also don’t want any extra fluid to start burning in the middle of grilling.
  • Not melting the cheese: Put on the cheese slices and keep the burger on the grill for 2 – 3 minutes. You want it to start to melt.
  • Not using Enough Cheese: Depending on the size of the burger. For a burger that is more than 1 inch thick, use two slices of cheese.
  • Too Much Bread or Not Enough: A big bun on a thin burger will make it hard to taste the meat. Also too small of a bun will not last through to the end. To avoid this just make 1 inch thick patties. Most hamburger buns will work best with this size.
  • Too Much Mustard: (Okay this might be a personal preference) Mustard has a strong flavor. Too much of the condiment and it will overpower the other toppings. This is my personal preference but someone might like a lot of mustard. Some not at all, I say if you do. Use it sparingly.

The great thing about burgers is you can add almost any topping. Use different sauces, include some things or skip on others. Even a burger with nothing on it isn’t bad. Boring but doesn’t taste bad.

Not only is it fun to experiment with toppings, but also the order of toppings. Try putting mayonnaise on the bottom and ketchup on the top. Mix and match them however you want.

Gas Grill Tips:

  • Have Extra Propane: Always have a extra full tank on hand. You don’t want to be half way through cooking and run out of gas.
  • Turn Off The Propane Tank: After you are done grilling. Close the valve on the top of the propane. Do this by turning it clockwise, or following the marking arrows on the valve. It should say open and close.
  • Store Propane Outside: Propane gas had a additive that gives off a bad smell. Otherwise it is odorless. To be safe storing your propane covered outside to prevent any leaks inside.
  • Lighting A Gas Grill: If a flame does not start the first time. Turn off the burners to stop the gas flow. Avoid having a large build up of gas and then igniting. Start the gas and then either light or press the igniter as soon as possible.

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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