How to Pick Your Perfect Grill

 

A004_C003_0101GMNothing beats a thick, juicy burger branded with grill lines, except maybe a steak with a perfect sear! The outdoor grill is the centerpiece of the backyard kitchen. BBQ grills offer even novice home cooks a simple way to prepare delicious meals with distinctive flavors while enjoying the outdoors. Eighty percent of all households own an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker, reports the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (H.P.B.A.).

But how do you pick the perfect grill? There are several things to consider, including the grill's size, features and fuel type. Choosing a new grill by fuel type is most common. Whether you’re a fan of gas grills or die-hard charcoal grillmaster, we've got the facts you need and the tips you want for picking the perfect grill.

Gas Grills

Most gas grills use propane as the fuel source. However, natural gas is an option as well. A grill fueled by natural gas uses a residential gas line, making this type of grill low-maintenance and easy to use. Grills fueled by propane tanks require changing out the tank or refilling the tank once it's been depleted.

Propane grills and natural gas grills burn cleaner than a charcoal grill, but won't provide that distinctive smoky or charcoal taste that charcoal grills provide. Gas grills have an electric starter and ignite quickly, which is a plus when you have a hungry group to feed. With a gas grill you'll experience more even cooking temperatures versus charcoal. There's also less mess — no charcoal or ashes to remove after grilling.

Charcoal Grills

If you dream of grilled meats and vegetables infused with an intense, open-flame flavor, then a charcoal grill is the best choice. A bit of patience is required with charcoal cooking, but the flavor rewards are immense. Once the charcoal has been lit, it can take about 15 to 20 minutes for the coals to get hot enough for cooking, so meal planning is key. Charcoal grills in general tend to cost less than gas grills and often are quite lightweight, making them ideal if they need to moved.

Electric Grills

Perfect for small patios and balconies, the electric grill does require an electrical outlet for use. These little gems don't take long to heat up and can reach the high temperatures desired for searing meat and other proteins.

Smokers

Choose a smoker for slow-cooking large quantities of meat at one time. Slow smoke racks of ribs, a whole turkey, roasts or several links of sausage. You can even smoke fish and vegetables like zucchini, eggplant and asparagus. For more versatility, look for one that can use both charcoal and aromatic wood for that deep, smoky flavor.

Portable Grills

Sometimes you just need to take that grilling goodness on the road. Portable grills are ideal for tailgating, camping, picnics and other outdoor events. Whether you choose a charcoal style or gas portable grill, look for models with strong, heavy grilling plates made from durable materials like stainless steel. It should be sturdy and yet easy to transport.

When choosing any type of backyard grill look for durability and stability, you don't want it to wiggle when you're trying to cook. Consider how much you're likely to grill at one time, which helps determine how much cooking surface is needed. Don't forget to consider side burners and food prep space.