When the weather gets hot, we are tempted to use our ovens less and our grills more. But, aside from thick-cut steaks, juicy burgers, charred hot dogs, and plump sausages, what else can you make on a gas grill?
You can think of your gas grill as an outdoor range. You can fire it up right away and turn the knobs to adjust the heat. And you can choose to grill with the lid open, like a stove, or with the lid closed, like an oven.
To stick with this analogy, cooking at high heat directly on the grates is equivalent to using the broiler. Just like you can use a baking sheet under the broiler, you can put one on the grill’s grates—if you follow a few ground rules.
Thick, warp-resistant aluminum or stainless steel baking sheets can safely be used on a gas grill. Non-stick sheets should be avoided, as they can outgas and be damaged at temperatures above 500°F.
If the trays have handles, make sure they’re uncoated metal. Baking trays with plastic and silicone parts aren’t suitable for the grill, because they can melt due to the high heat of the burners.
Note that these handles can get very hot, very quickly. To avoid burns to your hands, use a dish rag, kitchen towel, or—better yet—heat-resistant grill gloves.
They are also prone to warping. To prevent sheet pans from warping on the grill, spread the food evenly over the surface and heat them slowly. If you’ve set up your gas grill for indirect heat, always place the pans on the side with the unlit burners first, giving them 2-3 minutes to get up to heat.
Why Use Sheet Pans and Not Glass or Ceramicware
Glassware and ceramic casseroles can shatter into pieces when subjected to stark temperature changes, a.k.a. thermal shock. Don’t use them on your gas grill, especially if you’re a grilling novice and you haven’t mastered heat control yet.
To put it simply, a good, sturdy metal pan can be used for more than just carrying food around. Compared to other types of bakeware, it is also the most reliable and fool-proof option.
Uses for a Sheet Pan on the Grill
A true workhorse in the kitchen, the sheet pan can instantly convert your gas grill’s grate into a flat-top surface. When you’re not worried about liquids or fats pooling in it, use it as intended. When you are, invert it.
Sheet pans are less expensive and more versatile than cast iron griddles—and they don’t leach into acidic sauces the way cast iron griddles do. (That said, the experienced griller should have both in his or her arsenal.)
Not long ago, we wrote about the merits of a thick, heavy-bottomed skillet on a gas grill. Now, we want to look at those for a sturdy baking tray that heats evenly and withstands abuse.
Tender, boneless fish fillets are difficult to prepare on the grill. They become butter tender when grilled, which is good when eaten, but not so good when turned.
Putting a well-oiled tray on the grill grate and cooking the fish fillets on (skin-down) is a sure way to avoid mangling them and, consequently, leaving everyone at your cookout hungry.
Seasoned grillers should consider equipping themselves with a fish grate or a grill topper. With a perforated surface, it locks the fillets in place, preventing them from falling through the grates while promoting even cooking and development of flavor.
Roasted cherry or cocktail tomatoes:
Cherry tomatoes and cocktail tomatoes roast wonderfully in the oven.
Spread the cherry or cocktail tomatoes whole on a baking sheet, drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil, then salt and season with freshly ground black pepper.
They taste even better when cooked outside on a gas grill, where they take on a smoky flavor from the fumes rising from the meat (if you grill with the lid closed).
Set your gas grill for direct and indirect grilling by heating it for at least 30 minutes with half the burners set to medium and the other half turned off. Cook thin strips of meat over direct heat on the left side, thick-cut steaks and large slabs in the center, and the baking sheet of cherry or cocktail tomatoes on the right side.
Bacon-wrapped prunes—or devils on horseback—as some of us call them, are a guilty pleasure at any cookout.
Lay a strip of bacon on your cutting board, place a prune on the top edge, roll the smoked meat tightly around the dried fruit, and then secure it in place with a toothpick. Repeat this process as many times as your heart desires.
Line an aluminum or stainless steel baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with cooking oil, spread the bacon-wrapped prunes on it, and cook in the grill until the bacon is golden brown and crispy.
Got stale, leftover bread and some room left on your grill’s grates? Croutons are about the easiest thing to make, and they add a crunch to any summer salad or clam chowder.
Cut the bread into cubes or tear it apart into pieces. Toss it with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and a few fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary in a bowl. Then spread it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook till crispy and crunchy on the grill.
Keeping hot dogs warm:
Suppose you’re grilling a big batch of hot dogs for a crowd.
You have two reasons to keep the first hot dogs out of the batch warm. First, no one likes cold hot dogs. Second, grilled hot dogs shouldn’t be left to sit out for more than 1-2 hours. Instead, they should be kept at a temperature of at least 140°F.
So what can you, as the diligent dad or mom on grill duty that you are, do? Turn off half of the burners on your gas grill, place a baking sheet on the grates, and start stacking the dogs one on top of the other to keep them warm.
Yes, you could always do this on the grill’s grates. But then, you will have trouble carrying the cooked hot dogs to the table, and you may need that space on the grill once the entire batch is done.
- Roasting onions;
- Roasting wild leeks;
- Roasting asparagus;
- Roasting baby carrots;
- Roasting baby potatoes;
- Roasting Brussels sprouts;
- Baking Roman-style rectangular pizza;
- Baking focaccia bread.
If you need a long and flat surface, the simple baking sheet should be your first choice.
As you can see, any sheet-pan dish you can make in the oven, you can also make on the gas grill. The only two limiting factors are your imagination and how much space you have on the grate.