We purchased a gas grill years ago. We have caste iron grates and high to low flames adjustment. It has this metal plate that covers the flames. I guess it's there to prevent grease from hitting the flames.

Whenever we grill burgers, chicken or steak, they don't have that characteristic grilled taste you get from a restaurant. The grilled taste I am looking for is that charred taste, which is the same taste you get from a good steakhouse or shish kabob. It's the same charred taste you get from the Whopper or a really good burger cooked over open flames. It's not smokey as in BBQ using wood chips.

I'm not using lava rocks, could that be an explanation?

  • 1
    You need to describe how you are grilling things, and what kind of outcome you were hoping for in more detail, in order to get a good answer. I suggest picking just one item and using it as an example. Tell us exactly how you prepare and grill it, and where the gap between your outcome and your expectation is. This might get you a better answer.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Mar 29, 2013 at 17:08
  • Is your grill a gas grill? Please describe your setup and describe what you're looking for. Is it a "smoky" flavor you're looking for? Additional info will help. Mar 29, 2013 at 18:01
  • It's likely a gas grill, as user17571 suggests -- the clue is 'lava rocks', which they used to place in the bottom of grills decades ago. Most of today's manufacturers have gotten cheaper, and just use a metal plate to prevent drippings hitting the flame, but the result is that the heat radiates much differently. It's more responsive now, but we have to resort to things like the high priced 'infrared' grills to get similar effects from gas grills.
    – Joe
    Mar 30, 2013 at 12:10

4 Answers 4


Based on your updated question, the major factor is that your fire simply is not hot enough to produce the charring and browning reactions you desire.

A steakhouse salamander (think of a broiler—grill in British parlance—which has flames on both the top and the bottom, to cook both sides at once) can be up to to 1000°F and the elements are mere inches from the steak on both sides.

Gas grills have a maximum amount of heat they can produce. The only thing you (may) be able to adjust is the distance to the flame. The major cooking modality in a grill is infrared thermal radiation. This decreases per the square of the distance, so the closer your food is to the burner, the faster it will cook (within reasonable limits).

Other than that, you may need new equipment if this is in fact the root cause of your issue.


The key to getting good flavor out of a gas grill is very thorough preheating. You want your grill to reach temperatures upwards of 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit, at least. Your grates don't need to be glowing, per se, but they should be very, very hot.

If you're cooking burgers or steak, you shouldn't need to turn the heat down below medium. In fact, if you cook your burgers uncovered, then you can leave the temperature at the highest it'll go the whole time. This does use more gas, though, which is why most people put the meat on the very hot grate, then turn down the heat and close the cover.

Chicken, especially bone-in chicken1, is a different matter; you will have to turn down the heat, and/or use indirect heat (turn on a heating element on the opposite side from where your meat is), otherwise you'll end up with raw chicken coated in cinders.

1 Personally I don't cook bone-in chicken on the grill, because it's just so hard to get it cooked through properly, and there are so many better ways to cook it. (It's like, yeah, you can use your grill to cook pasta, but why would you? Unless of course there's a power outage or something...)

If you have a very low-end grill, it may not be capable of putting out enough heat to achieve the preheating temperature you want. Check out some grilling cookbooks, they will usually have guidelines on BTU's and such.

  • Wait, how would one go about cooking pasta on the grill?
    – Jay
    Mar 31, 2013 at 7:20
  • @Jay: in a pot of water, of course. Just be prepared to sacrifice the pot, because you'll never get the soot off.
    – Marti
    Mar 31, 2013 at 19:14
  • Hmm. I purchased a $300 Kenmore Grill. I guess it's not hot enough even with cast iron grates.
    – user148298
    Apr 1, 2013 at 22:17
  • @user148298 Strange, because I have a cheaper Kenmore gas grill (4 burner) that I can get plenty hot enough. If your grill only has 2 burners though, for example, you may only be hitting the 400-500 degree mark.
    – Mike
    Apr 2, 2013 at 16:53

Well if its a gas grill it won't get that same taste. Charcoal grills are really good for achieving that smokey taste. But if you already have a gas grill this may help. http://bbq.about.com/od/grillingfaq/f/f070104d.htm

  • I clarified my question. I am not looking for smokey, but charbroiled.
    – user148298
    Mar 30, 2013 at 23:34

In case the food requires more energy to burn, you may need to worry about the quantity of food to cook at any particular moment in gas grill. In infrared grill it has the capability of cooking anything. It also sees that food can be cooked at different temperatures without adding more fuel in case the food requires more energy to burn. This also makes it the best in searing meat. But they are quiet expensive and helps in cutting down the cost of energy being consumed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.