The Prep Tip To Ensure Constant Heat For Big-Batch Grilling

There is really only one way to ensure that you have constant heat when grilling for a crowd, and it has nothing to do with the temperature. Even if you're grilling with something as temperamental as dry wood, you can moderate the heat into hot and cool zones in order to make sure that everything cooks on time and doesn't burn. So, if it's not temperature, what is the solution to maintaining constant heat while grilling? Answer: not running out of fuel.

Using up your fuel is the all-time nightmare for anyone who loves to barbecue for friends and family. There is nothing worse than your grill dying halfway through the first batch of burgers. The embarrassment comes less from the actual running out of fuel than from you not taking the time to check your supply beforehand. And if you don't have a spare tank or some charcoal available to throw in the ol' Webber, that means just salad and appetizers for your guests. 

This type of situation is easily avoidable, however. Whether you're using charcoal, propane, or wood, it pays to make sure you've done the prep work and have enough fuel on hand. It's the key to a great afternoon's grilling.

How to not run out of fuel

The day before your cookout, check the fuel level of your propane tank. You can do this by locating the weight gauge the tank hangs on when it's hooked up to the grill. This gauge will give you a good, but not entirely accurate, idea of the amount of gas you have left. If your tank is reading below half, get it filled. A standard 20-pound propane tank will run for at least 14 hours. This will more than suffice for an afternoon's worth of grilling. Remember though, it pays to have another full tank as backup, just in case. 

Things are a little different when it comes to charcoal. Whereas propane is a gas that flows continuously to keep the flame lit, you'll need to keep more physical fuel on hand when grilling with charcoal. This means having one or two extra bags of briquettes and plenty of old newspapers or other fire starters that will keep the thing lit. A full charcoal grill can last for up to five hours. So, unless you're grilling a suckling pig, you probably won't need more than a bag's worth. Still, it never hurts to keep extras on hand.

You can prepare as much food in advance of the big day as you'd like. But if you haven't done your due diligence to make sure you have enough fuel to cook that food, all will be for naught. Be sure to check your fuel and plan accordingly.