How to Start a Grill: Gas, Pellet, Electric, & More!

The waft of the biting, saliva inducing grilled meats wafts over the fence from your neighbor’s yard on a Sunday afternoon. Do you go and ask for a bite, or do you fight back with an even better cornucopia of grilled meats, vegetables, and sides? We say, fight back and grill your own delicious meal! Many men love the ritual aspect of grilling, it’s a sense of pride, but if you’re new to the grilling game, you may be wondering how to start a grill.

Starting a grill properly is essential for safely and tastefully getting your food grilled for yourself, your family, or your holiday weekend party. There are several different types of grills that all have different mechanisms to get them fired up. Some of the most common are:

  • Charcoal Grills
  • Gas Grills
  • Electric Grills
  • Pellet Grills

Today, we will teach you how to start a grill if you have any of the above we listed! Let’s get cookin’:

Starting a Charcoal Grill

One of the most commonly used (and smelled) grill type is a charcoal grill. You’ll find charcoal grills at places like public parks or campsites. They’re also highly affordable for those wanting to get started with grilling without breaking the bank.

Here’s how to start a grill when using charcoal:

  1. Build a pyramid of charcoals inside the grill
  2. Evenly pour lighter fluid over the pyramid and let sit for a few minutes so the lighter fluid can soak into the charcoals
  3. Light the charcoals near the bottom of the pyramid with a long match or a grill lighter

It’s really as simple as that! Charcoal grills are very accessible to those new to grilling and provide an enduring, even burn throughout the grilling process.

How to Start a Gas Grill

How to Start a Gas Grill

Taste the meat, not the heat!

Hank Hill, King of the Hill

Gas grills offer a convenient grilling experience – just turn a knob and you get steady flames that don’t burn out to embers. You can control the flame intensity level, as you would a gas stove top, in order to get the perfect temperature needed for your grilling needs.

To start a gas grill do the following:

  1. Open the grill lid: This prevents any gas buildup within the grill.
  2. Ensure all knobs are in the ‘off’ position: This is to prevent any gas leakage when the tank or gas line is opened.
  3. Test the ignitor: Press the ignitor button to ensure it sparks. Do this before turning on the gas to confirm it’s working properly.
  4. Identify the primary burner: Look for the knob that controls the burner which ignites the grill first. This is typically indicated by a symbol underneath the heat control knobs.
  5. Turn on the gas supply: Open the valve on your propane tank or gas line slowly to start the gas flow.
  6. Ignite the grill: Press and hold the ignition button before turning the grill burner on.
  7. Start the primary burner: While still holding down the ignition button, slowly turn the flame control knob of the primary burner.
  8. Monitor the flame: If a flame doesn’t appear within about 5 seconds, turn off the burner and try the ignition process again. If you still don’t see a flame or the ignitor doesn’t spark, it’s best to consult with a professional or someone with experience to help diagnose any grill malfunctions.

Always remember safety first when dealing with gas grills. Never leave a lit grill unattended, and always turn off the gas supply when you’re done grilling.

Starting an Electric Grill

Before you start, ensure you have an electric grill and a reliable power source nearby. The grill should be near an outlet, and you may need an outdoor-rated extension cord if your cord doesn’t reach. Ensure the outlet you’re using has the correct amperage to safely power your grill.

  1. Connect your grill: Plug the electric grill into the appropriate power outlet. Ensure the cord is not in a high-traffic area to prevent tripping hazards.
  2. Turn on the grill: Electric grills typically have a switch or dial that turns them on. Turn the dial to the ‘on’ position or flip the switch.
  3. Preheat the grill: After you’ve turned on the grill, let it preheat for about 10-15 minutes before you start cooking. Most electric grills have a light that indicates when the grill has reached the set temperature.

How to Start a Pellet Grill

Pellet grills provide incredible flavor and there are many different types of wood pellets you can use to achieve different smoky flavors in your grilled food. For now, let’s look at how to start a pellet grill:
Gather the Essentials:

  • Premium food-grade wood pellets (hickory, mesquite, etc.)
  • Reliable fire starters or starter cubes
  • Vacuum or ash tool for easy cleaning

Preparing the Pellet Grill:

  • Check and fill the hopper with wood pellets.
  • Clean the fire pot for even heat distribution.

Igniting the Pellet Grill:

  • Set the digital temperature control (180°F to 500°F).
  • Ignite the pellets using the grill’s built-in system.


  • Close the lid to retain heat and smoke.
  • Monitor the temperature gauge as it rises.

Enhancing Flavors:

  • Experiment with wood chips or chunks for more smokiness.
  • Choose different wood flavors for unique tastes.

Safety Tips:

  • Place the grill in a well-ventilated outdoor area.
  • Never leave the grill unattended during use.

Pellet grills sound a bit more complicated than charcoal or electric, but the reward from your labor when working with wood pellets is worth the outcome! You’ll enjoy a great variety of smoky flavors in your food, plus guests will absolutely fall in love with anything you pull off the grill!

Starting a Grill Like a Grillmaster!

Starting a Grill

Now you know how to start a grill! Not just one kind, but the four most common grill types you will run across: charcoal grills, gas grills, electric grills, and wood pellet grills.

Keep in-tune with The Gentleman’s Playbook, as we plan to put out some breakdowns of different types of charcoals, wood pellets, and grills you may want to give a try throughout the year!

Whether it’s summer or a sharp winter day, grilled meats and produce will keep bellies happy and full.