apartment grill etiquette tips to follow

10 Etiquette Tips for Using Your Communal Apartment Grill

However, for apartment dwellers, it’s not as simple as setting up an electric grill in the backyard. Not all of us have a porch, deck or patio on which to set up a communal apartment grill, and many states and municipalities have laws prohibiting grilling, open flames or propane use on porches next to multifamily dwellings.

Enter the underrated, undervalued, underutilized community grill. Whether grilling for yourself, your family or the entire complex, the apartment grill is a great way to cook up apartment burgers, dogs, brats and veggies, provided you follow a few courteous rules so everyone can enjoy the fun.

apartment charcoal grills and cooking grates, perfect square inches of cooking for renters.

Know the top 10 unwritten grill rules

If you’re lucky enough to live in a complex or development that provides a community grill, whether that be an electric grill, gas grill or charcoal grill, you can enjoy holidays and weekends broiling, searing and roasting to your heart’s content as long as you heed the following rules of sharing and caring.

1. Schedule your grilling time

If your complex requires you to reserve apartment grill time, do it. Be there ready to grill at your assigned time, and be done when scheduled as others may be waiting. And just because you don’t see someone using the grill or prepping something on the cooking surface doesn’t mean you can slide in without reserve.

If you don’t have to schedule ahead of time, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. Gather everything you need and be ready to go before you start at the grill to maximize your time.


2. Don’t hog the apartment grill

If your community grill doesn’t have a signup schedule or stated rule on time, be considerate and don’t monopolize the apartment grill. Even if there’s no one visibly waiting on you, finish as quickly as is required for your food to be done and don’t dawdle. You never know who’s watching from a window for you to wrap up.

Don’t grill a week’s worth of food. Grill what you need and move on. If people are waiting, offer to share the grill and cooking space if you can. And if there are multiple grills, don’t dominate the counter space.

gas grill on an apartment balcony with an ample cast iron cooking space

3. Don’t set the place on fire

Remember, you’re literally playing with fire. No horseplay around the grill. No showing off flipping burgers into the air like you’re Bobby Flay. Don’t let kids play around the grill and keep them at a distance. Pay attention and avoid distractions. Never leave the grill unattended as a small flare-up can become an out-of-control fire before you return.

DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID UNLESS EXPLICITLY ALLOWED AND NEEDED. Lighter fluid is for charcoal grills. A regular gas grill with a propane tank most likely won’t need it. And never add lighter fluid to a fire that is already burning.

Watch your drinking. We know grilling and beer go together, but the more you drink, the more you will limit your capacity to concentrate on what you’re doing or be more likely to knock something over.

Bring a spray bottle filled with water if a fire extinguisher isn’t provided. Nothing will inconvenience your neighbors more than setting the yard on fire.

classic charcoal grill with grilling surface good for even heat distribution in a small space

4. Bring your own tools

Feel free to bring your own grill equipment. Items like grill brushes, built-in thermometers, skewers, grill gloves, spatula and tongs are sure to enhance the communal grilling experience. While a brush and tongs may be provided, it helps to share the grilling space if you have your own tools to bring.

5. Don’t move the grill

The grill and adjacent cooking space are where they are for a reason. Most likely, the community manager or other apartment staff has placed it in a position specifically for the safety of the complex and other residents, Because of this, it’s important to not move this unless you’ve received permission from apartment staff.

charcoal grill giving a smoky flavor with enough grill space for residents in an outdoor space

6. Be aware of smoke

If your grill is smoking particularly badly, or the wind is wafting back towards your neighbors’ open windows, close the lid, turn down the heat or scrape off the grate. Don’t burn your food.

Avoid grilling smelly food like seafood and fish on a community grill. Not only will it stink up the area, but the smell can also get trapped in the grill and on the cooking space area and affect the taste of the next person’s food. For foods that fall apart, use foil instead of placing them right on the cooking plates.

residents gathering around an outdoor grill and cooking space, maybe sharing grilling tools

7. The apartment grill is not the place for a party

The grill is not the party area. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s also inconsiderate.

If you have a lot of people over for food, revel and eat in your apartment or designated area, not around the grill and cooking space. It’s important to also keep noise around the grill to a low roar, especially if it’s later into the night. While the communal grill is a great place to meet fellow residents, it’s important to remember the rules and regulations in the space and let others use the area as well.

cooking area and prep space: the definition of apartment living

8. Clean up after yourself and your cooking surface

As soon as you’re done cooking, start to clean whatever you used whether that be the grill, cooking space and stainless steel burner so you can be finished quickly for the next person (and your food won’t get cold).

Use a barbecue brush or tin foil ball to scrape the cooking grates. Use paper towels and an approved spray cleaner on the entire cooking space, including the counter, the grill knobs and the outside of the grill, especially where raw meat may have touched. And don’t forget to put everything back where it belongs.

Before you leave, double and triple-check that the grill is turned off or the gas is off (depending on the community grill) and shut tightly. Lastly, report any issues with the grill or gas to management immediately.

charcoal grill with grill cover making healthier meals on enough cooking space to share

9. Understanding the difference between charcoal grill, electric grill and gas grill

Understanding what type of grill your apartment community has is crucial for safe use. Aside from doing your own research and utilizing rule signage specific to your communal grill, there are a few basic notes regarding main grill types.

Charcoal grills are known for their smoky flavor, but they require time to heat up and can be messy to clean. Electric grills are the easiest to use and clean, but they may not provide the same level of flavor as charcoal or gas grills.

Gas grills are a popular choice for renters because they are easy to use, heat up quickly and can be used in smaller spaces. However, they may require a propane tank or natural gas line, which could be an added expense. It is important to consider your comfort level with grills and safety guidelines according to what type of grill the communal grill is. By understanding the differences between these types of grills, you and your fellow residents are informed to ensure a safe and enjoyable grilling experience.

apartment grills are great for getting grill marks on your favorite foods. Utilize the warming rack if some things are cooked before others

10. Follow the posted rules

Finally, your community grill should have a posted set of rules for use. Follow the rules as stated on the sign. Don’t be the guy that thinks he knows better.

Examples of grill rules may include cleaning the grill after use, making sure the grill is off after use, specific rules based on the type of grill (i.e. charcoal is prohibited for use with a gas grill) and contacts of who to call in case of questions or an emergency.

food cooked on outdoor grills and turned into delicious meals being shared

Grill and chill with fellow residents

Proper etiquette is crucial for a pleasant and harmonious experience when using the communal apartment grill. Being considerate of your neighbors, cleaning up after yourself and following safety guidelines are essential aspects of good grill etiquette.

By practicing these guidelines, you can help ensure that everyone in your building can enjoy the grill without any inconvenience or safety hazards. Remember, good manners go a long way in fostering a friendly and positive living environment. So, the next time you fire up the grill in your communal apartment, keep in mind these etiquette tips and enjoy your delicious meal!

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