Tips for Cooking Low and Slow on Your Gas Grill

tips for cooking low and slow
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While some use the terms “barbecue” and “grilling” interchangeably, the two are actually very different cooking methods. Grilling is hot and fast over direct heat. Barbecuing uses indirect heat and low temperatures that take longer to cook your meats—usually hours. If you want to be the master of your gas grill, there are a few things to try.

Types of Foods to Barbecue Low and Slow
Larger fattier cuts of meat like beef briskets, pork shoulders or butts, and ribs are great for the low-and-slow method.

Don’t Crowd Your Food
Because barbecuing relies on indirect heat, you need to allow plenty of room for the smoke to penetrate the meat. So rather than pile on the ribs, keep it to just a few racks or whatever can reasonably fit on the indirect side of the grill.

Only Turn on Half the Burners
Use at least a three-burner grill. A four-burner grill is ideal. For three burners, light one burner and cook the food on the opposite cooler side. For four burners, light two adjacent burners and cook the food on the opposite cooler side.

Keep the Temperature Low
For the low and slow method, keep your grill between 200 and 250 degrees. Depending on weather conditions such as cold and wind, the burners lit will need to be set at low or medium.

Don’t Rush It
It really depends on the meat, the heat and the weather, but it will take a minimum of 3-4 hours for ribs and up to 12-14 hours for a pork shoulder or brisket when cooking at 225 degrees.

The Hybrid Approach

You can start your meat on the grill and let the smoke work its magic until the internal temperature of the meat is about 140 degrees and then finish it in a 225-degree oven.

Adding Flavor
Add a little deep flavor by smoking wood next to your meat in a smoker box. Char-Broil has three options: disposable pre-packed boxes of flavored wood, porcelain-coated smoke chambers and cast iron smoker boxes.


Tip: Foods like roasts that have a lot of juices need a drip pan to catch the drippings. You can use an aluminum foil pan over the unlit burners. Depending on the grill, the vaporizer bars might need to be removed to make room for the pan.

18 thoughts on “Tips for Cooking Low and Slow on Your Gas Grill

  1. On the tips for cooking low and slow it states “For the low and slow method, keep your grill between 200 and 250F. ” I can’t get my new grill to go much below 600 degrees. Even though I set it at about 50% of the flame, it barely cools either with the lid open or closed. Is there something I am doing wrong?

    1. Carol, what type of grill are you using? If you have an IR grill with grate-level temperature gauges, the grill won’t cool down with the lid open. Try turning the grill off and off-set the cool. You can also try setting the burners as low as they’ll go.
      Don’t turn on all the burners for a low and slow cook. You’ll want to have your food on one side of the grill with the hot burners on the other.

  2. Thank you, Whitney. I do have an IR grill with the grate level gauges. They continually measure high. So far the only way I have been able to get the temperature down is to open the lid. I have tried to turn the heat up the grill on medium rather than High, but the temperature still seems to jump to 600 degrees. It does seem like the only way to cook low and slow is to turn one side off and the other on. I tried it with chicken thighs and legs yesterday and had some burned skin before I got the temperature down to 500 leaving the lid open. I’m trying fish again tonight from the Surf and Turf cookbook.

    1. Leaving some off the burners off will probably be your best bet. It’s a good idea to turn them all on at first to get the grill adequately hot. Then turn off half when you’re ready to add your meat. Place the meat on the hot side to sear the outer layer, and then put the meat on the other side of the grill for the rest of the cook.

  3. This help me. I would do ribs and put them on heated grill and they would burn and not cook slow. Now I know to turn one burner on one off.\ while cooking them.

  4. I have a 4 burner IR grill and for cooking low & slow I turn on the 2 outside burners & put the meat in the middle.

  5. Carol
    Everyone has different approaches and ideas but I have been grilling for 40+ years on surfaces with as varied a flame as open-pit fire with a rough grate over the top – to charcoal grills like a Weber Kettle – to stainless steel multi-burner gas grills. One thing I have learned is that once the grilling surface gets overly hot it is very difficult to cool it down again, even with the lid open, the grill grate raised or other possible techniques.

    Something to consider that many people either do not know or possibly forget to take into consideration is the fuel source. Propane burns at almost twice the degrees as natural gas so, all else being equal, propane creates a hotter fire. Many BBQ manufacturers say they change the size of the orifices and burner holes to take that into account and maybe they do, but I have never found a natural gas grill to burn as hot as a propane grill. I have one of each gas type so I can pick which one I use as to whether I want a hotter or cooler cooking temperature. On the other hard wood fires, in my opinion, if using good woods, burns hotter than either natural gas or propane. If burning over wood and you want low and slow, you need a lot of different ways to moderate temperature (such as ability to significantly raise cooking grate, significantly speed up the meat rotation away from the heat or ability to exhaust excess heat (more than most back-yard BBQers want to deal with or have readily available). I get my smoke flavor from adding side-burned wood chips to the hot side of my chosen cooking unit..

    If you have a three burner gas grill and you want low and slow, do not turn on more than the one burner the furthest distance from where you will put your meat. If you have a 4 burner grill the answer is still to only turn on one burner (on a 5 burner grill you can start with two burners but will likely have to turn of the burner closer to the meat as the heat starts to radiate inside the grill). Turn the chosen burner on to the lowest temperature you can – do not race to heat the grill and then think you can get it to cool down. Add the meat before the grill gets to the temp you think you need as the coolness of the added meat will also hinder overheating. Even if smoking, only one burner is needed to activate the wood you choose to create smoke.
    I am sure I have forgot to explain one or more things in my approach to cooking low and slow and also sure there are many who would have different approaches and opinions but the aforementioned is what works for me and has for many, many years.

    Hopefully this has been helpful and I would be happy to respond to any questions.

    Respectfully, baldiwninbuddy

  6. I have a 4 burner, non IR gas Char-broil grill. I also have trouble getting it to go much below 550-600 degrees when the lid is shut, even with only a couple burners on. Any tips on how to get it lower? I want to cook a beer chicken but I’m afraid it will scorch. Thanks in advance.

    1. Have you tried using indirect heat? Turn on two of the burners on one side of the grill. Place the meat on the other side of the grill. Or turn on the two outer-most burners, leaving the two inner burns off.

  7. Any recommendations for “low and slow” or indirect using a 2 burner gas grill? I usually turn off one side and move the meat very near the “hot” side as necessary and keep turning. I have a small outside space so this is the best I can do.

  8. have 4 burner CharBroil have put 6 lb pork picnic on indirect heat at 225…how long should cook

  9. i have the Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker Roaster & Grill that works on gas. i have no way to do slow cooking at 225 with this as the minimum flame still produces close to 300F. is there anything i can do to help me maintain 225? should i switch to natural gas tank? should i not open the control to the full on the tank itself to reduce the gas flow even further?

    1. Hi John,

      The Smoker Roaster Grill is designed to cook quickly and maintain the juiciness of the food while infusing smoke flavor if desired. Unlike traditional smokers that are designed for slow cooking this unit cooks at a higher heat and will not go below 275 degrees. If you are looking for a slow and low smoker I would suggest our Digital Smokers. The SRG is not designed for natural gas and should not be modified for use with natural gas. While the thought of closing the value on the tank seems like a good idea the regulator on your SRG ensures a constant gas pressure and therefore does not affect the cooking performance or amount of fuel going to the unit.

    1. Hi Brenda, the valve on a propane tank only turns on or off the flow of gas, it does not regulate the flow of gas. The regulator is the only way to control the gas flow.

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