Grill Buying Guide

Fire it up!

Blue skies, white clouds, and a whiff of smoky goodness wafting from the backyard! Nothing shouts ‘summer fun’ like a backyard barbecue.

The quality of your grill deeply impacts how amazing your barbecue food ends up. A grill is a major buying decision. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the seemingly limitless choices. So, we’ve created this guide to help you find the best grill for your barbecue parties.

Let's Get Cooking

Choose your Fuel

Your first decision is to choose between gas, charcoal, and pellet grills. Each type of grill comes with its own advantages.

  • Gas is convenient as you can just turn on the burners and fire up the grill.
  • Charcoal grills give you that perfect smoky grilled taste.
  • Pellet grills give you the taste of cooking with wood and have digital thermostats that give you a precise cooking temperature. A digital thermostat is also available with gas grills.

Do you want an easy-to-use, no-mess grill? Do you want to just turn on your grill and start cooking? Then, gas grills are for you. A gas grill ignites with built-in lighters. This means you can simply turn it on, preheat for a short time, and begin grilling!

Gas grills heat up fast, so the time to preheat is significantly less than a pellet grill. Another advantage to gas grills is the easy-to-use knob controls that help maintain an even temperature across the grill surface.

There are two types of gas grills – propane and natural gas grills.

Propane grills, liquid propane, propane gas, or LP gas grills mean the same. Propane gas is subjected to pressure in a tank and turned to liquid. You need to buy a tank, usually 20 lb., which can be easily refilled at your local gas station. A full tank gives you approximately 9 hours of cooking time.

Natural gas grills hook up to your home's existing natural gas pipeline. If you do not have easy outdoor access to your gas line, contact a professional plumber to install one. There's no risk of running out of fuel with this option.

Choose a natural gas grill for the lowest-maintenance gas grilling experience.

Do you love that rich, smoky flavor on your barbecued food? Charcoal grills use either wood, charcoal briquettes, or a combination of the two and give that intense, smoked flavor. When heated, the coals generally don’t flare up like open flame grills. However, charcoal grills burn hotter than gas grills. So, you can cook everything from steak to veggies on it.

When shopping for charcoal grills, you need to focus more on features that enhance cooking convenience. Does the grill have adjustable coal beds? Are side tables thrown in? Does it have extra burners or perhaps locking wheels? Higher-end models have air vents or dampers. This is an important feature as it controls the cooking temperature and has igniters which eliminates the need for lighter fluid.

The pellet grill perfectly combines the functions of a grill and a smoker! Pellet grills are growing in popularity. They need an electrical outlet and hardwood pellets, which become the fuel and you can even select different ones based on the flavor preference of the smokiness in the meat. You can choose from a variety of flavored pellets: pecan, cherry, apple, hickory, mesquite, maple etc.

All you need to do is load the hardwood pellets, set the temperature using the precision digital thermostats, and close the lid. These energy-efficient grills feed the pellets to the fire and regulate the grill’s airflow to maintain consistent cooking temperatures. Because they have a convection fan, which ensures even heat and flavor distribution, you will spend less on pellets than you would on charcoal.

Also, these grills are not messy. You will still have to clean the cooking surface, of course! But other than cleaning out the fire pot occasionally, it doesn’t require much maintenance. You can just add the pellets and be ready to cook in 15 minutes. The cooking time varies greatly between a pellet grill and a charcoal grill. Make sure to use a meat thermometer for proper doneness.


Choose your Features

Do you like camping? Maybe you have limited space, but you love to barbeque? Then, portable grills are the best option for you. Whether at a campsite, state or national park, on the beach, or a simple get together, portable grills bring joy of a cookout to all these occasions.

A portable grill is also the best choice for you if you don’t barbeque very regularly. Lightweight and easy to move around, a portable grill is a great investment if you are only going to use it once in a while.

Heat output from grills are measured as BTUs, British Thermal Units. Instead of buying a grill with a higher BTU number, focus on better heat control in burners. Check the size of the burners. Are they large enough to provide even heating and cover the entire cooking surface?

Do you frequently throw barbecue parties? Do you have a large backyard? Have you decided where to place your grill? As with most appliances, measure your grill location before you go shopping. Also, be clear how frequently you will use the grill and for how many people.

Most grills are available with two individually controlled burners. Higher-end grills have at least four burners and may have up to six for even more cooking volume. Look for stainless-steel or porcelain-coated burners for rust resistance.

Will a side burner be a great addition? Do you want multiple level cooking surfaces? Will you use a smoker box? There are some smart and useful features out there in the market. Invest well in features you know you'll use.

Most traditional models are powder-coated black or flat-painted. The more modern/high-end grills are built completely from stainless steel. However, if you want the best grill in the market, then the commercial-grade 304 stainless steel is for you. Check the sturdiness of the grills. Grill stability is important to prevent tipping.

An outdoor appliance is at the mercy of nature’s elements. Also, barbecuing brings out the grease and salt, and the heat makes the grease build up and eventually harden. So, to make sure you clean your grill regularly, you need to ask yourself these questions before buying the grill: Can you remove the grates? Can you easily reach all the burners? How easy is the cooking surface to clean?


Accessories

Whichever grill you choose, you'll enjoy it more with accessories designed to make the most of it. Here are few accessories you may want to consider as add ons to purchase with your new grill.

  • Grill covers are essential to keep your outdoor grill clean and free of debris between use.
  • A grill mat can reduce your cleaning time, save oil and provide an easy non-stick surface to cook your food, regardless of what type of grill you are using. Just set the mat on top of the grates and enjoy grill lines and grill taste without sticky grill clean up.
  • Digital thermometers give you an easy way to check meat temperature and ensure proper cooking. Even if you already own one, you may want to check out the new wireless options such as the Weber iGrill 3 Bluetooth Thermometer that will allow you to insert probes into your meat, then remotely monitor the temperature via an app on your phone.
  • Specially designed racks and trays for cooking foods like Ribs, Chicken Legs or Jalapeno Poppers are great for expanding your grilling repertoire beyond basic steaks, burgers or boneless chicken breasts.

Smokers

A charcoal grill can serve as a smoker. However, if you are a barbecue lover wanting to create the smokiest and tastiest meats, you know you need a dedicated smoker.

The heat and smoke go into the smoking chamber (where you put the slabs of meat on the grates), heat up the small water tray just below the grates, and the steam cooks the meat. An air vent is provided for this type of grill, which allows you to control the temperature inside the smoker.

You can even smoke side dishes, such as cheeses and of course vegetables, in the smoker.

As with grills, smokers too have fuel types, such as wood, charcoal, propane or electric.

A Last Note: Cook Safely!

Follow the grill manufacturer's instructions manual and be very cautious around the grill. Place the grill away from walls to avoid damage to the exteriors of your house. Since grills can get hotter than 900 degrees Fahrenheit, be sure to keep the children away from the grill-area.