Nothing tastes quite like fresh food off the barbecue grill. Gas grills, charcoal grills and even an outdoor electric grill each give your food a distinct taste. Whether you’re planning on firing up a smoker or gas BBQ this season, you’ll need to consider size, grates and general construction to ensure you’re making the right purchase for your grilling needs.
Should I choose a charcoal grill or gas grill?
This depends on your cooking preference, what you feel comfortable with and ultimately how you’d like your food to taste. See below for the pros and cons of each option.
Charcoal: Using charcoal briquettes, wood or a combination of both, charcoal grills give food an unmistakable smoked BBQ flavor. While many pine after this distinct taste, cooking might take more time, and the grill itself requires more maintenance, since you will need to dispose of ashes regularly. Look for a charcoal barbecue with air vents to maintain control over the internal temperature.
Gas: Gas grills require less time for cooking and heat quickly with a push button, rotary or electronic lighter. They’re often more spacious and less expensive to use, since gas is cheaper than charcoal. However, gas tanks are heavy, and you need to pay attention to the gas level to avoid a run to the store in the middle of cooking.
Electric: Electric grills have improved greatly and cook much better than they did in the past. They’re great for spaces that won’t allow gas or charcoal grills, however, you’ll need to place it in proximity to an electrical outlet, which can be tricky to find outdoors.
Smokers: A smoker grill will allow you to cook or flavor food, typically meat and fish, by exposing it to heat and smoke in a controlled environment. The smoky flavor of the food will depend on the type of wood you choose to burn. Improved preservation is an added benefit of smoking your food.
What do I want to look for in outdoor grills?
There are several features you want to be sure your barbeque grill contains. Make sure yours is well-constructed and doesn't wiggle on solid ground. If there are wheels, they should roll easily. Keep an eye out for good fit between all the pieces and a smooth finish that will hold up to the elements. Take note of assembly requirements. Better brands tend to offer easier assembly; they will also offer adequate service and maintenance through assurance of replacement parts, easy-to-read instructions, a toll-free service line and a long warranty. Safety, of course, is key: Grills should control heat easily, stay cool to the touch and have appropriate safety features.
What size barbecue grill should I look for?
There are several questions to ask yourself when deciding what size barbeque is best for you and your grilling needs. To begin, think about what you will be cooking, as well as the quantity. For example, if you’ll be making small dinners of chicken breast and grilled vegetables for you and your family, you’ll need less room than if you’re planning on grilling briskets for large parties.
How often will you be using the grill? If it’s only for special occasions, waiting 20-25 minutes for a charcoal grill to warm up may not be a bother. If you’re using it daily, you may prefer the quicker prep time that gas grills afford. Also take into account the space you have for the barbecue — a small balcony off an apartment building will have considerably less room than a backyard patio. For smaller areas, consider a portable BBQ that you can move aside to regain precious space when not in use.
What types of grill grates are available?
Also called grids, grill grates differ in regard to durability, maintenance and heat retention. See below for four common options.
Cast iron: Cast iron grates cook food well by evenly distributing heat. However, they are heavy and require care to prevent rust.
Porcelain-coated: Food won’t stick to porcelain-coated grates, but the glaze can chip and rust if not maintained.
Porcelain-coated cast iron: Durable, long-lasting and easy to maintain, porcelain-coated cast iron grates retain heat well and are resistant to rust.
Stainless steel: These will resist rust, but you may have trouble with food sticking to stainless steel grates. Rubbing a halved onion on the grid before throwing your food on has been known to help prevent sticking (and add some extra flavor!).
Our selection of outdoor grills range from electric to charcoal to gas, which allows you find the one that will best fulfill your grilling appetite.
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