The technology of barbecue grills has evolved to an extent where it becomes very difficult to decide on a grill that is right for you.
The challenge of finding the right outdoor grill entails an endless search through infrared burners, rotisseries, BTUs, and various other features that you may have never heard about.
But no need to fret. After hours of extensive research, we have compiled an in-depth outdoor grill buying guide that will make you an expert on outdoor grills.
So sit back and read on to find out how you can buy the perfect outdoor grill.
Types Of Grills
Different types of Grills
One of the factors that decide the type of grill you want to purchase is the type of fuel you are going to use.
If you want to enjoy the authentic flavor of barbeque, then the charcoal grill is the right choice for you. The charcoal is a versatile product that is easy to use.
These classic grills are basically very simple with just a giant steel bowl that holds smoldering charcoal. Moreover, they are very dependable. And the best part – they are very affordable.
Charcoal grills are easy to move and can vary in features and aesthetics. They are available in various shapes and have different leg supports and lids.
These grills can achieve high cooking temperatures ranging from 500-700 degrees which is perfect for juicy steaks and mouth-watering burgers.
However, it might take up to 20 minutes to reach such high temperatures. Also, no control feature results in uneven heat for grilling.
Moreover, the ash build-up can make the cleaning of this grill very difficult. Another disadvantage of the charcoal grill is that they are not recommended for use in apartment balconies.
Charcoal Grill Buying Guide
Learn about the different features for charcoal grills with CookingDetective’s Charcoal Grill Buying Guide.
Gas grills use natural gas or liquid propane (LP) as fuel and make outdoor cooking very simple. They take very little time to heat up-just pre-heat for a few minutes are you are ready to grill. These grills have a precise temperature control that helps in cooking the meat evenly.
Gas Grill Buying Guide
Learn about the features of gas grills to find the best gas grills for your outdoor cooking using our gas grill buying guide.
Natural Gas Grills
Natural gas grills require permanent installation of a natural gas line. They produce a clean-burning heat, but their greatest advantage is that the fuel does not need to be replaced or replenished.
Although the initial installation is a bit more expensive than other grills over the long run, these grills prove to be more cost-effective. They are also very easy to clean.
However natural gas grills are not portable and do not usually give an authentic smoky flavor to the meat.
Liquid propane grills are another popular choice among barbeque lovers. Propane comes in portable metal tanks which are easy to hook up, recyclable, refillable, and affordable.
Similar to the natural gas grills, propane grills produce a clean-burning flame but do not create the distinctive smoky taste that is produced in charcoal grills.
They are typically designed with a grill cart with wheels which makes these grills highly portable while simultaneously housing both the grill unit and propane tank. Their quick and easy set up make them ideal for impatient grillers who love to barbeque but are not so particular about the authentic flavor.
However, the grease build-ups in these grills can sometimes cause flare-ups. Moreover, fuel tanks need to be regularly replaced when the fuel runs out. This could be a major hassle if you run out of gas while grilling but you can keep an extra tank handy to avoid this problem.
Electric Indoor Grills
Electric grills are ideal for people living in apartments or condos who cannot use gas or charcoal grills due to safety regulations. These grills are plugged into a standard wall unit and use electricity to heat and cook food effectively.
Although heat can be controlled and distributed evenly, these grills do not get as hot as gas or charcoal grills.
In short, these grills are the only type of grill that can be safely used indoors; however, they are unable to produce the authentic BBQ flavor.
A smoker is a great product that can help grillers achieve the authentic and rich barbeque flavor by cooking the food on slow and indirect heat using smoke.
These are vertical standing units that have multiple grates or hooks inside where you can hang or store the food while it is being cooked slowly inside the unit. The smoke inside these smokers adds a succulent, intense, and smoky flavor to the meat thus providing it with an amazingly authentic barbeque taste.
These units typically operate between 225 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit working on the motto of ‘low and slow.’ You can easily cook ribs, fish, poultry, brisket, and pork on smokers. Moreover, the removable shelves, drip pans, and racks make cleaning this unit very easy.
However, these units are not for impatient grillers as they require long periods of time to cook the food neither are they as versatile as the other grills available in the market.
Wood Pellet Grills
Pallet grills combine the characteristics of both a smoker and a grill. They use wood pellets as fuel. As these wood pellets are made of compressed hardwood sawdust, these grills burn hot quickly and provide clean smoke. In addition, these grills need electricity to regulate the auger that transfers the pellets to the fire pot.
These grills allow you to roast, smoke, grill, or barbeque and offer a subtle smoky flavor to your meat. However, these grills do not offer grill marks on your meat as is possible with a gas or charcoal grill.
This type of grill cooks food with the help of radiant heat instead of using the conventional method of grilling. Infrared cooking cooks the food quickly and keeps it from drying out. These grills convert natural gas or propane into infrared radiation to cook the meat directly. Their innovative design prevents flare-ups, and their closed grates act as emitters for the heat.
Designed with porcelain glazed ceramic these grills are highly effective in retaining both heat and moisture. These grills use charcoal as a fuel thus providing an authentic flavor to your grilling.
The cooking temperature in these grills ranges from 150 degrees to 700 degrees Fahrenheit. This unique feature makes these grills perfect for 2-zone grilling system.
However, these grills can be a bit more expensive than other grills. Also, they are heavy which greatly hinders their portability.
How to make a smart grill choice
It is vital to take the following considerations into account before deciding on an outdoor grill:
How much grill power do you need?
The heat output of a grill is calculated in British thermal units (BTU). Larger grilling units require more BTUs to power up than smaller units. Higher BTUs is preferable if you entertain large groups of people or cook large quantities of meat. Therefore it is important to decide how much fuel power will be able to meet your needs before selecting a product.
Moreover, the ability of a grill to maintain cooking temperature is more crucial than how hot it can get. Infrared burners have better heat dissipation, and they help to seal the juices inside the meat thus preventing it from drying out.
Size of the cooking area
Another essential factor that determines the size of the grill is the size of the cooking area. Typically a family requires 400 square inches of a cooking area while people who use five or six burner grills need 500-600 square inches of cooking area.
Also, keep in mind the number of people for whom you will be cooking before deciding on a grill. If you live in an apartment a smaller, portable grill would be more suitable while on the other hand if you have a patio you can buy a bigger grill and cook larger amounts of meat at the same time.
Grill size is usually determined by the cooking surface area and the area the grill unit occupies. Primary square inches of a grill refers to the size of the main cooking grate while the term secondary square inches is the measurement of the grill’s warming rack. The warming rack on some grills helps to keep the food such as potatoes or other vegetables warm.
Number of burners
Another important consideration is the number of burners present on the grill. Two burners can only cook food for four people while three burners can easily satisfy eight to twelve people. It is also hard to achieve even heat distribution with less than three burners; however, a new trend of two burners compact grills is becoming increasingly popular as they can fit in smaller spaces such as balconies.
It is also vital that the burners are far away from the grates and not close to the meat as it could burn the meat instead of cooking it. Make sure that the grill that you choose has the burners situated at a distance of 3-5 inches from the grate.
Many grill bodies are constructed from cast aluminum which has been in use for a long time because it is rust resistant and contributes in distributing heat evenly. Cast aluminum grills are very durable and typically come with ten years to lifetime guarantees.
However, stainless steel is the best material for a grill body as it is easy to clean and does not rust easily. Their excellent performance and durability make them a favorite among grillers. Ceramic grills are also becoming increasingly popular as they keep the food juicy and tender.
Take a closer look at the materials when you are choosing a grill to make sure that you buy one that suits your requirements perfectly.
Another important factor that could sway your decision is the cost of an outdoor grill. A charcoal grill is the preferred choice of die-hard grillers and is not very expensive. However, ceramic grills also keep the meat juicy but can be a bit more expensive than other grills available. Look around, visit your local hardware store, or search the internet to find the best deal on your chosen grill.
Effective Fat Drainage System
Flare-ups are a safety hazard that is caused by the fat that drops onto the burners. An efficient fat drainage system is essential for cleaning the grill and preventing flare-ups. Make sure that the grill that you choose is easy to clean or has the option of emptying the fats with the help of replacing disposable bowls. A quality grill will have efficient drainage to make routine maintenance simple and easy.
Cast iron grates are the best as they maximize heat transfer. However stainless steel grates are easier to clean. Diagonal grates protect the burners by draining the fat away from the burners while infrared burners cause fewer flare-ups and are less sensitive to fat. Find out the type of grates that are best suited to your requirements before buying a grill.
Brand and Warranty
Lastly, while choosing a grill, it is important to take into account the company producing the grill and years of warranty provided by the manufacturer. The greater the manufacturer’s warranty, the higher the confidence in the efficiency and quality of the product.
There are manufacturers who do not last for a long time in the market. This can create a problem for the customers because searching for the spare parts could become quite a headache.
Barbeque grills have to endure very harsh weather conditions; therefore, it is important that their spare parts are readily available. If you buy your grill from an anonymous manufacturer or importer, it may save you a few dollars initially but may result in expensive repair service in the long run.
An outdoor grill is an amazing product which if you buy right will not only allow you to have steak for dinner whenever you desire but will also be a reason to have fabulous parties and cozy family dinners.