A gas grill will let you cook low and slow, just like you would on a charcoal smoker or a wood-fired grill. Normally, with a gas grill, many people cook hot and fast over direct heat. Slow cooking takes a different approach, using indirect heat and low temperatures over hours.
Cooking slowly is what many consider to be the best way to use a gas barbecue. When you’re working faster and hotter, that’s more in line with grilling. That’s the difference between barbecuing and grilling
Slow cooking done right will evenly cook the meat. The outside cooks too quickly at high temperatures while the inside remains pink and undercooked. At lower temperatures, you cook from edge to edge uniformly. Furthermore, slow cooking breaks down collagen in a way that high-temperature cooking does not. This means tender, juicy meat at the end of your cook.
Here are the ten best tips for slow cooking on a gas grill:
Tip #1: Choosing the right food
You can slow-cook pretty much anything, but some meats are tailor-made for slow cooking. Ideally, you’ll want to search out larger, fattier cuts of meat, like brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, or whole chickens. With these, you will get some delicious meat flavours, and they’ll be able to withstand being slowly cooked without drying out.
Tip #2: Heavily season your cut
At the low temperatures needed to slow-cook something, you’re not going to get a lot of the browning that takes effect at high temps. So the meat’s flavour is whatever the meat’s flavour is. For this reason, anything you slow-cook as a piece of meat will need to be heavily seasoned, which is also why some opt to braise in very flavorful liquids.
Tip #3: Don’t pile on too much food
When you slow-cook, you’re working with indirect heat. You want to give your meat plenty of room. Do not crowd it. If you do, the smoke and heat won’t be able to penetrate the meat properly, and you will end up with an uneven cook. Ensure everything fits reasonably spaced on your racks.
Tip #4: Don’t use all your burners
A gas grill gives you the ultimate control when it comes to slow cooking. Most BBQ experts will recommend using a three-burner or four-burner grill. If you’re on a three-burner, light one burner and cook on the opposite side. Suppose it’s a four-burner, light two adjacents and cook on the opposite side again. This is how you’re going to maximize what you can do with indirect heat.
Tip #5: Set your grilling temperature mildly
Slow cooking isn’t done at a high temperature. For low and slow BBQ cooking on a gas grill, maintain a temperature from 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. If the weather conditions are cold and windy, the lit burners should be set at low or medium. If you go any higher, you’ll dry out and overcook your meat.
Tip #6: Cover the gas grill cooker
To control your temperature, it’s all about not letting that heat escape and controlling airflow. Cover the gas grill and cover any areas where air might escape. You will want to monitor your grill, checking the temperature gauge frequently throughout a long cook to verify the temperature hasn’t risen or has fallen outside the recommended range.
Tip #7: Be patient with slow cooking
Slow cooking takes hours. It can test a person’s patience, but it’s often an all-afternoon job or even an all-day job. For BBQ ribs, expect a 3-4 hour cook at least. For a pork shoulder or something larger, it can take 12-14 hours at a temperature of 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip #8: Make slow cooking faster
You can’t make slow cooking happen any faster. To make slow cooking a little more convenient, some people start their meat on the grill and let it cook until an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, you can finish it in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This should do the trick.
Tip #9: Use a meat thermometer
You won’t be able to tell how tender your meat is by touch or sight. The only way is a meat thermometer that measures the internal temperature. A leave-in probe thermometer is best for these longer, slower cooks as you’ll be able to read the temperature without having to open the cover and probe the meat. This is worth looking into if you become a dedicated slow cook gas grill expert.
Tip #10: Add flavor with smoking wood
There are many ways to add unique flavours when slow cooking on a gas grill. An easy way to do this is by adding BBQ smoking wood adjacent to your meat inside a smoker box. Alternatively, you can also use your water pan to put in spices, beer, or wine, adding layers of flavour to your food.