DIY Food

The Proper Way to Shut Down a Grill

July  3, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Shutting down a grill is just as important as starting it up.

Shop the Story

The lightly charred surface of summer squash, the blackened crispy corners of a good steak, the soft, smokey flesh of stone fruit -- they’re all achieved with grilling. 

Summer grilling season is a celebrated tradition for many home cooks. And like any good kitchen equipment, a grill needs to be properly cared for -- including letting it cool off.

Here are the proper ways shut down a grill, because cooling it off is just as important as firing it up.


Never dump hot coals into a garbage or trash can. Coals can stay hot for up to 24 hours -- even a little ember can cause a fire.

Many people remove the cooking grate when they are done cooking. It is not absolutely crucial. If you are going to remove it, make sure you clean it first with a long handled grill brush (or tongs). It is very important that you have a safe place to put it, as it is probably very hot. 

Find the vents on your grill -- there are vents on the bottom and lid of the grill.

Stir up the charcoal, spray it with water, and put the lid on the grill. Make sure your vents are closed on the top and bottom. Next time you grill, you can add your fresh charcoal to the old stuff -- stretching your charcoal and saving money.

Always keep a bucket full of water, or a fire extinguisher handy, just in case. You can always dump it on a friend when the grill is properly cooled.

More: Grilling tips from the Food52 team.


Gas Grills 

When you are done cooking your food, set a 5 minute timer. Keep the grill on, with the lid open. When the timer goes off, it’s time to clean your grill grate.

Now you can turn off your grill: turn all the knobs to the “off” position. You should hear an audible popping sound as the gas stops flowing into the grill grates. The flames should also disappear.

Now that your grill is off, you need to turn off the gas tank. On top of the tank, there is a small knob that generally has arrows pointing to the “open” and “close” positions. Turn towards the close position, which should be clockwise (righty tighty, lefty loosey!).

If you have a grill cover, wait until the grill is cool before covering. 

Now that you've properly shut down your grill and practiced fire safety, it's time to enjoy the season's most fun cooking technique! 

Order Now

Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

Order Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Chris
  • Smaug
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
  • smslaw
  • William Widmaier
    William Widmaier
You can find me delicately poaching eggs for cheddar grits, or elbow deep in a bag of Cheetos and Utz Crab Chips, but most of all, you can find me eating.


Chris June 25, 2018
i know i'm late to the party, but i have to take issue with the tips given for charcoal/wood grills.

1. do not wet your coals. sure, this will eventually put the fire out but you'll also wet up the ash in the bottom of the grill, which, when it dries, is akin to cement (also why you should cover or put your grill away).

2. again, no water for fire, use sand instead. if you have any grease built up in the bottom of your grill and it catches fire, water is the worst thing you could use. a bucket of sand will snuff the fire out pretty much instantly, without all the residue that extinguishers leave. extinguisher is the last resort.

3. i don't actively try to save coals because i don't want my cars and my garage to go boom. i put my grill away after use so i want to ensure that the fire is completely out beforehand. i take off the top and open the bottom vents to let the fire burn itself out, and guess what, i'm usually left with a few coals for next time.
Smaug July 23, 2015
If you have a charcoal grill with top and bottom vents, such as a Weber, closing the vents is all that is necessary. Spraying water on the coals will, if it does anything, leave you with wet leftover coals, a pain in the nerts.
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 3, 2013
I own a Weber gas grill and appreciate the information.
smslaw July 3, 2013
You need to turn off the gas tank before turning the knobs to off. Otherwise, a safety system ("bypass") will prevent the next attempt to light the grill or will prevent it from reaching a high temperature. Similarly, when lighting a gas grille, turn on the tank, wait a few seconds, then the knob and light.
Author Comment
William W. July 3, 2013
Thanks for the tip smslaw. During my research I found quite a bit of information about the bypass valve. It seems that the bypass valve only restricts the gas flow if it detects a leak. This would happen if you turned off the knobs on your grill, and waited some time before turning off the tank. If you turn your tank off right away after your knobs are in the off position, it should not have an impact on the bypass valve.
HalfPint July 3, 2013
Not so with my Weber. You have to turn the knobs to the off position first, then shut off the valve to the tank. We've learned, the hard way, that shutting off the tank first triggers some sort of shut-off valve on the grill. You might have a different design for your gas grill, but I know for sure with Weber, grill valves first then the tank.
smslaw July 3, 2013
I have a Weber as well. As I understand the issue, shutting off the knob allows a bit of gas to stay in the gas line. When you later go to light the grille, it may go in to bypass as it detects the bit of gas in the line and perceives a possible leak. The result is the grille doesn't heat fully.
HalfPint July 3, 2013
For our Genesis Silver B, if you shut the tank off first, you would not be able to light the grill afterward. It's an oldy-but-goody model and we've had it for over 10 years.
Dan S. July 5, 2013
SMSF July 22, 2015
Yes, I just checked my Weber user manual. Indeed, confirming that to turn off the grill, "push each burner control knob in and turn it clockwise to the off position. Turn gas supply off at the source." So...burners off, then close the tank valve.