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How to Buy an Outdoor Grill

 9/7/2021 7:23:13 PM GMT
Choosing the right outdoor grill will ensure that your summer-long barbecues are easy and delicious, making for perfect gatherings with family and friends.

Our top grill types in considering how to buy an outdoor grill are gas, charcoal, and kamado style barbeque grills.  Gas, Charcoal, or Kamado - let's cook.

The backyard barbecue has long been the choice for informal gatherings, and that's never been more true than today. The grill is the central conduit through which everyone travels, whether to offer advice on how to fire your charcoal or on the best cooking techniques, or to answer the "come and get it" call.

In most cases, we think that when you go shopping for a new grill you'll ultimately choose between using gas or charcoal as your fuel of choice, so we've reviewed our top choices in these grill categories.

Gas is the most convenient, while charcoal, whether you're using a regular charcoal grill or the increasingly popular kamado grill, offers greater control over the amount of cooking heat you generate.

In many parts of the country grilling is a year round activity, and there is a nearly endless variety of grilling recipes to try out. And to make sure you can pursue all those different recipes, don't forget the barbeque tools.

What are the Best Types of Grills?

Gas grills

offer excellent control over your cooking temperature with adjustable burner knobs. You also get to your cooking faster because they ignite with the push of a button, and they are easier to clean. For grillers who barbecue frequently, they are the option with the least hassle. Fuel is easily accessible from a refillable propane tank or a natural gas line on your property.

Factors to Consider:

  • If you want to cook more than burgers and hot dogs make sure you get a grill with higher temperature-ranges. The higher the range, the better the grill is at cooking a variety of foods.
  • BTU/hr. (British thermal units per hour) tells you how much gas a grill uses and the heat it can create. You can all but ignore this measure in considering how well a particular model might perform. BTU measurements don't guarantee faster preheating or better cooking.
  • Burners on gas grills typically last two to ten years. Look for longer warranties to get burners that last longer. Fortunately, these burners are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive.
  • Many gas grills come with infrared burners, but we recommend you ignore them as part of your purchase decision. Little evidence exists that infrared burners sear better than normal gas burners.
  • Solid construction is a critical factor in deciding which grill to purchase. Stainless steel models with seamless construction will be more durable. Models with wheels on all four corners/legs will be more maneuverable.

Charcoal grills

use briquettes or lump charcoal for fuel and there are many strategies for getting the them started and ready to cook. Charcoal grilling is a more involved process and it takes more time to heat up and cool down. The trade-off is that it imparts a better barbecue flavor than gas. This is the choice of grilling purists willing to put in the effort.

Key Considerations:

  • Since charcoal grills rely on airflow to regulate heat, more air moving over the coals means higher temperatures, and less air moving over the coals means lower temperatures. This makes models with a tight-fitting lid and solid dampers or vents the best for controlling your cooking temperature.
  • When cooking for longer periods of time, you'll typically need to add more coal as you cook. The best models will have a dedicated door to add coals to your fire, or will have hinged grates so you can slip more coals in and rearrange them.
  • The size and shape of your grill impacts heat distribution. Wider models can cook more foods at once, but the coals are spread over a thinner bed, so they're better for hotdogs and burgers. Deeper and narrower models, like a kamado grill, concentrate heat better for searing foods like steaks, and has dampers you can close for long, slow cooking.
  • Grills with a coal bed or cooking grate that can be raised or lowered will give you more control over how far or how close your food is to the heat, so you can sear or slow-cook more efficiently.

Kamado grills

are specialty grills that use charcoal for fuel, but they have thicker walls than regular charcoal grills, and are often made of ceramic. They can reach very hot temperatures, and retain heat better for longer cooking processes like low and slow smokes.

Keep in Mind:

  • Kamado grills rely on airflow to regulate heat, just like regular charcoal grills, and like them, the best kamado grills have tight-fitting lids and solid dampers or vents. Premium models have a lid gasket and locking latches. Kamado grills with multiple dampers gives you precision control over your grilling temperature.
  • Kamado grills are made of one of two materials: ceramic or steel. Ceramic grills are generally heavier, with a consistent inch-thick wall all the way around. Steel models generally weigh less and are more maneuverable.
  • Ceramic models do an excellent job of retaining and controlling heat. They're heavier than metal models, so make sure you get one with a wheeled iron cart. Although kamado grills can cook longer with better precision, they also have smaller cooking areas.
  • Steel kamado grills don't have walls that are as thick as ceramic models, instead relying on multiple layers of metal to help them hold on to heat. Their starting price is lower than ceramic models, and they are lightweight, making them easier to move. They may not be as sturdy or as well-insulated as ceramic models, sometimes making it harder to control temperatures.

What are our favorite models?

We're glad you asked...our reviews of the best grills available will give you some food for thought, and a path to delicious barbeque.