When you’re grilling a thick succulent steak over a hot grill, you’ve likely witnessed moments when bursts of fiery flames erupt from the burners beneath the cooking grids. This often happens when you place greasy food on the grill or when you flip it over.
While this may look cool (and certainly Instagram-worthy), flare-ups are not great for grilling, especially if they get large and out of control. They leave your food tasting noxious and burned.
Moreover, there’s a good chance that they’ll cause irreversible damage to your burners if it keeps happening. There are several ways to deal with flare-ups, but there’s only one sure way of preventing them altogether – by using a flame tamer.
But what is a flame tamer anyway, and do you need one? Here’s what you need to know about them.
Gas Grills 101: What Is a Flame Tamer
A flame tamer is simply a barrier between the burners and the cooking surface. It works to shield them from the fat, sauces, and marinades that drip from the food cooking on the grill to prevent flare-ups or at least keep them to a minimum.
The best thing about them is that they not only help to distribute the heat from the burners evenly across the cooking grid, but they also convert the drippings into smoke, which further enhances the food flavor. There are two main types of flame tamers you can use on your grills.
As the name implies, these are essentially small ceramic briquettes that come in different shapes and sizes. Simply arrange them at the bottom of the grill by placing them as close together as possible, preferably on a tray. They absorb grease and drippings to generate smoke and enhance the flavor of whatever’s cooking on the grill.
Metal Flame Tamers
These can either be porcelain-coated or stainless steel. They could also be burner-width, where an angled piece of metal is placed directly above each burner, or they can be the full-width where a perforated metal is placed across the entire grilling surface. The latter distributes heat more evenly than its burner-width counterpart.
Ceramic Briquettes vs. Metal Flame Tamers: The Verdict
Now that you have the answer to the question – what is a flame tamer – which one of the two should you pick? Both are highly effective in minimizing the potential for flare-ups.
Ceramic briquettes generate a more intense smoky flavor than the metal ones. The latter, however, is more durable and easier to clean. The choice of one over the other ultimately boils down to flavor and convenience.
Infrared grills are currently all the rage. Check out our blog to learn about all the benefits that infrared grills have to offer.