Grills aren't just about cooking – they're your ticket to outdoor culinary adventures. Whether you like the classic charcoal vibe or the modern ease of gas, our grills buying guide is here to help you find the right one for you. We'll break down each type, check out their features, and give you the scoop so you can pick the grill that fits your style. Let's jump into the sizzle and find your perfect grilling sidekick.
TL;DR FIND THE BEST GRILL FOR YOUR OUTDOOR GATHERING:
Having a grill is like having a flavor-packed passport to culinary adventure, right in your own backyard. There's something undeniably satisfying about firing up those coals or cranking up the gas, watching the flames dance, and transforming raw ingredients into a symphony of taste. The searing heat and that satisfying sizzle create a contrast between the crispy exterior and the juicy interior of your favorite cuts of meat, poultry, or even seafood.
Grills also help turn vegetables into charred wonders, infusing them with a smoky essence that adds a whole new dimension to your plate. Whether you're flipping burgers for a summer soirée or perfecting your grill marks like a pro, having a grill is like having a front-row seat to your own personal cooking show where you're the star.
But it's not just about the food; a grill is a gathering place, a social hub that brings friends and family together. Picture this: the sun's setting, drinks are in hand, and the grill's fired up. Laughter fills the air as you share stories and create memories, all while the aromas of your culinary creations surround you. Sounds heavenly, right? With the right grill, you can step up your outdoor gathering from good to great.
Choosing the right grill is like finding the perfect cooking partner. Imagine investing in a grill that doesn't match your needs or preferences – you could end up with overcooked steaks, underwhelming flavors, and a whole lot of frustration.
Needless to say, the importance of selecting the right grill goes beyond aesthetics. It's about ensuring that your cooking experience is smooth, enjoyable, and ultimately delicious.
Whether you're flipping burgers for a casual weekend BBQ, experimenting with gourmet recipes, or simply enjoying the relaxation of open-air cooking, the right grill sets the stage for culinary excellence and countless enjoyable experiences with friends and family.
So, take your time, do your research, and find the grill that perfectly aligns with your cooking style, preferences, and the memories you want to create.
Need help with finding and evaluating grills that matches what you’re looking for? Read on.
What to Look for in a Grill
Are you ready to find the perfect grill that can help you host excellent gatherings? Here are some things to consider when buying one.
1. Cooking Method and Fuel
Different grills offer distinct cooking methods – gas grills for quick and convenient heat, charcoal grills for that classic smoky flavor, and pellet grills for a blend of wood-fired taste and ease. Choose the method that resonates with your cooking style and desired flavors.
Take note of the requirement of each grill as well. For instance, gas grills require propane or natural gas, while charcoal grills need charcoal and lighter fluid. Ensure your chosen fuel is readily available in your area and fits your convenience.
Gauge the grill's cooking area against your needs. If you often entertain large groups, opt for a spacious grill to prevent overcrowding. Conversely, a compact grill suits cozy gatherings or limited spaces.
Seek grills built with sturdy materials like stainless steel or cast iron grates, as they stand up to the elements and the rigors of grilling. A well-constructed grill made from sturdy materials can withstand the elements and frequent use, ensuring that your investment stands the test of time.
4. Additional Features
Look for grills with adjustable burners, dampers, or temperature knobs to tailor your cooking temps according to various dishes. Think beyond the basics. Some grills boast side burners for sauces, rotisserie attachments for succulent roasts, or even built-in thermometers for accurate monitoring.
The process of setting up your grill and keeping it in tip-top shape is a crucial consideration. Some models might have intricate construction that requires time and tools. If DIY isn't your strong suit, look for grills that come partially assembled or with clear, user-friendly instructions.
On the maintenance front, think about the effort needed to clean and upkeep your grill. Removable drip trays, easy-to-wipe surfaces, and dishwasher-safe components can simplify the post-grilling cleanup process.
Grills span a wide price range. Set a budget that aligns with your needs and explore options within that range. Remember, a higher price tag often comes with better features and durability.
Whether you plan to use your grill in your backyard, on your balcony, or while exploring the great outdoor, a portable grill can be a perfect choice. Look for models with folding legs, compact designs, and lightweight materials that are easy to transport. Some portable grills even come with carrying handles or bags for added convenience.
One of the best ways to find the best grill for you is to read through reviews, look for recommendations, or gather insights from friends, family, or online communities.
Additionally, a warranty can give you a sense of assurance. Prioritize scrutinizing the extent of warranty coverage and delve into the manufacturer's track record for customer support, as these factors can significantly impact the overall quality and longevity of your grill.
Gas grills are a popular choice for their convenience and quick start-up. They are fueled by either natural gas or propane, offering an efficient way to cook outdoors without the need for charcoal or extensive preparation.
Typically, gas grills also feature multiple burners, allowing for versatile cooking temperatures and zones on the grill surface.
Natural gas grills are directly connected to your home's natural gas line, providing a continuous and cost-effective fuel source. This eliminates the need to refill propane tanks, making them a convenient option if you have a natural gas hookup readily available.
Propane grills, on the other hand, use portable propane tanks that can be easily replaced or refilled. This makes them more versatile for outdoor cooking in various locations and is an excellent choice if you don't have access to a natural gas line.
Grilling with a gas grill brings lots of benefits to the table. First off, getting things started is a breeze – quick and easy ignition means you're cooking in no time. Plus, those adjustable burners give you the power to dial in precise temperatures. And the best part? No more dealing with charcoal mess – the lack of charcoal makes cleanup a walk in the park. And ultimately,
gas grills are versatile; you can cook up different types of food all at once, like a true outdoor master chef.
On the flip side, gas grills might not give you that smoky punch you get from charcoal grills. So, if you're all about that distinct smokiness, you might miss out a bit.
Keep in mind, there are also ongoing costs involved – whether it's refilling your propane tanks or paying for natural gas.
And if you’re using natural gas, here's a heads-up: you're tied to locations with a natural gas hookup or places where you can easily find propane tanks. So, while gas grills bring a load of convenience, there are a few trade-offs to consider.
Charcoal grills bring that nostalgic outdoor cooking experience to life. Fueled by charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, these grills infuse your dishes with that signature smoky flavor that grill enthusiasts crave.
Charcoal grills often feature a lid and vents that allow you to control airflow, regulating the heat for a range of cooking styles, from searing to slow smoking.
The allure of charcoal grills lies in the depth of flavor they impart. That smoky taste and aroma that charcoal grills offer are simply tough to replicate. They are also a cost-effective choice, as charcoal is generally cheaper than propane.
They're excellent for achieving high temperatures, making them perfect for searing steaks or achieving that coveted crispy exterior on poultry. Additionally, the lack of a gas line or electricity requirement gives you the freedom to grill anywhere, whether it's in your backyard, at a park, or on a camping trip.
While the smoky flavor is a pro, it can also be a con if you're aiming for a milder taste. Charcoal grills take longer to heat up compared to gas grills, and temperature control can be trickier due to the nature of burning charcoal.
The cleanup process when using charcoal grills can also be more involved, as disposing of ash requires care, and the process can be messier than simply turning off a gas grill. Lastly, some charcoal grills may have a steeper learning curve, especially for beginners who are still getting the hang of managing charcoal and achieving consistent results.
Fire Pit Grill
A fire pit grill offers a unique blend of warmth and culinary charm, serving as both a cozy outdoor heating source and a cooking platform.
This versatile piece typically consists of a fire pit at its center and a surrounding grill grate. The fire pit can burn wood or charcoal, infusing your meals with a delightful smoky essence, while the grill grate provides a space for grilling meats, vegetables, and more over the open flames.
The dual functionality of a fire pit grill adds a layer of versatility to your outdoor setting. You can enjoy the comfort of a crackling fire while preparing delectable grilled dishes at the same time. The combination of wood or charcoal burning enhances the flavors of your food with that classic smokiness.
Fire pit grills also create a cozy atmosphere, making them a focal point for social gatherings and adding a rustic charm to your outdoor space. Additionally, they are relatively easy to use and require minimal setup.
Despite their charm, fire pit grills may have limitations when it comes to achieving precise temperature control compared to traditional grills. The open flame cooking style might take a bit of practice to master, especially for those accustomed to standard grills.
Additionally, the cooking area of a fire pit grill might be smaller than dedicated standalone grills, which could be a consideration for larger gatherings. There's also the need for proper maintenance, including cleaning ashes and maintaining the fire pit for safe and efficient operation.
An electric grill is a convenient and versatile outdoor cooking appliance that operates using electricity as its primary heat source. Unlike traditional grills that use charcoal, wood, or gas, electric grills rely on electric heating elements to generate the necessary heat for cooking.
They come in various sizes and styles, including tabletop and freestanding models, offering a smokeless and fuss-free grilling experience.
Electric grills boast several advantages that make them an appealing option for outdoor cooking. First, they are incredibly easy to use – simply plug them in, and you're good to go. They also heat up quickly and provide consistent temperatures, allowing for precise cooking control.
As they don't use charcoal or gas, electric grills produce minimal smoke, making them suitable for use in locations with stricter fire regulations or limited outdoor space. Additionally, their compact size and smokeless operation make them a great choice for apartment balconies or small patios. They are also relatively easy to clean, as there's no ash or charcoal residue to deal with.
While electric grills offer convenience, they come with some limitations. One notable drawback is that they might not deliver the same authentic smoky flavor as charcoal or wood-fired grills.
Plus, electric grills rely on a power source, so they may not be suitable for remote locations without access to electricity. While they're well-suited for certain cooking styles, they might not achieve the high temperatures needed for certain searing or char-grilling techniques.
Wood Pellet Grill
A wood pellet grill is a versatile outdoor cooking apparatus that utilizes wooden pellets as its primary fuel source, infusing a distinctive smoky flavor into your culinary creations.
Unlike conventional grills relying on charcoal or gas, wood pellet grills operate by burning wooden pellets through an electrically controlled auger system, ensuring consistent heat and flavor distribution.
These grills come in various sizes and configurations, catering to diverse cooking preferences and styles, delivering a unique grilling experience.
Tip: You can buy a wood pellet patio heater and accessories so you can have a patio heater and wood pellet grill in one!
Wood pellet grills offer a distinct smoky flavor akin to traditional wood-fired cooking and provide precise temperature control through digital thermostats.
Their versatility accommodates various cooking techniques, while automated pellet feeders enhance convenience.
Wood pellet grills, much like other grill types, have some downsides too. For instance, costs can impact expenses, electricity is essential for operation, and portability might be limited due to construction and electrical requirements.
From sturdy free-standing grills that anchor your outdoor space to portable companions that join you on your adventures, let's explore the different installation types that cater to your unique outdoor cooking aspirations.
A built-in grill is a permanent fixture designed to be stationed in a specific outdoor area. These grills often come with features like side shelves, storage cabinets, and sometimes even built-in sinks.
They are ideal for individuals with dedicated outdoor spaces and are looking to create a designated grilling station. Free-standing grills offer ample cooking space and often include additional accessories for a comprehensive outdoor cooking experience.
Portable grills are designed for flexibility and on-the-go cooking. They come in various sizes and shapes, with features like foldable legs, lightweight materials, and carrying handles, making them easy to transport to different locations.
Portable grills are perfect for picnics, camping trips, tailgating, and apartment balconies. While they might offer a more limited cooking area compared to their free-standing counterparts, their versatility and convenience make them a popular choice for those who love to grill wherever they roam.
Want to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor cooking with your grills? We’ve rundown some cleaning and maintenance recommendations.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Keeping your grill in top-notch condition ensures every cookout is a flavorful success. Regular cleaning not only prevents residue buildup but also preserves the longevity of your grill. After each use, give the grates a good scrub with a wire brush or grill brush to remove food particles. For gas grills, check and clean the burners for any clogs or blockages. Don't forget to empty the grease tray to prevent flare-ups and fires.
Tips for Preserving Grill Longevity
To extend the lifespan of your grill, a little care goes a long way.
Before cooking, lightly oil the grates to prevent sticking. This also helps in forming a natural non-stick layer over time. For cast iron grates, give them a good seasoning like you would with a cast iron skillet. This helps prevent rust and enhances the flavor of your food. For charcoal grills, let the coals burn off any residue before cooking. This also helps sterilize the grates.
When grilling, opt for utensils designed specifically for grilling to prevent damaging the grates or other components.
Regular inspections are also a great way to preserve you grill. Check for signs of wear and tear, like rust or chipping. Addressing issues early can prevent them from worsening.
If you're storing your grill during the off-season, clean it thoroughly, cover it, and find a dry place to keep it.
When it comes to outdoor grilling, safety should always take the front seat. Whether you're firing up a gas grill or embracing the charm of an open flame, following these safety measures ensures a worry-free and enjoyable grilling experience.
Safety Measures for Gas Grills
Set up your gas grill in an open and well-ventilated area, away from any structures, overhangs, or combustible materials.
Before igniting the grill, inspect the gas hose and connections for any leaks. You can use a solution of soapy water to detect leaks – if bubbles form, there's a leak that needs to be addressed.
When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid open. If the flame goes out, turn off the gas and wait a few minutes before relighting.
Never leave a gas grill unattended while it's on. Accidents can happen quickly, and it's essential to be present in case of any issues.
After grilling, turn off the gas supply and burners. Allow the grill to cool down before covering it.
Grills are available in a wide price range, catering to different budgets and preferences. The cost varies based on factors such as type, size, brand, and features.
Basic charcoal or smaller portable grills are budget-friendly options, perfect for beginners or those looking for an affordable choice. Quality charcoal grills typically cost around $2000 and up.
Mid-range grills offer a step up, providing better construction and additional features. For those seeking a premium experience, high-end grills offer advanced features and superior quality, often forming the centerpiece of elaborate outdoor setups.
Electric grills, meanwhile, come at a moderate cost at around $1500.
Remember, while cost is a factor, it's essential to consider the overall value and how the grill aligns with your cooking needs and expectations.
Best Grills to Buy
Best Value Find Grills
Are you looking for a budget-friendly grill that’s packed with amazing features? Take a look at our value find top picks.
Summerset Sizzler 32-Inch 4-Burner Built-In Gas Grill
Experience the art of grilling with the Summerset Sizzler, an expertly crafted grill proudly made in the USA.
Meticulously constructed from top-grade stainless steel, it's designed for precise airflow and even heating, ensuring a luxury grilling experience that won't strain your budget. Prepare to be amazed by its exceptional performance, rivaling even pricier competitors.
Designed to get the job done efficiently, this affordable grill heats up quickly, making outdoor cooking a breeze. It's versatile too – use it as a built-in addition to your outdoor kitchen, place it on your table as a tabletop grill, or mount it on an optional pedestal.
While it may not infuse as much flavor as gas grills, it makes up for it with hassle-free installation – just plug it into a properly grounded 20 Amp outlet and you’re good to go.
This grill has patented diamond searing grids that outshine other grills by ensuring faster and more efficient heat transfer. It also has a backburner and rotisserie kit, perfect for those who relish slow-roasted meats.
Adding to its standout qualities is the clever window feature, allowing you to keep an eye on your cooking without sacrificing precious heat.
American Outdoor Grill Gas Grill with Backburner and Rotisserie Kit
Picture yourself grilling with perfection – seared meat, succulent rotisserie chicken, and more, all on your gas grill. This American Outdoor T-Series Grill goes the extra mile.
With its backburner and rotisserie kit, roasting meat becomes a breeze. And that's not all – this Made in the USA Grill elevates your grilling experience with diamond sear stainless steel cooking grids, a warming rack, and a hood thermometer.
It even adds flavor with vaporizing panels that infuse your meat with smoky juices. With a spacious 432 sq in cooking surface, you can expect even heat distribution for consistently delicious results.
In the flavorful world of grilling, making the right choice is more than just selecting an appliance. From the sizzle of the first steak to the laughter shared around the fire, your chosen grill becomes the heart of your outdoor gatherings. So choose your grill wisely!