The type of grill you choose can have a big impact on the grilling experience, from the flavor of the food to the prep time required to the ease of use. Here are some tips to help you decide what type of grill is best for you.
Charcoal or Gas
There are advantages and disadvantages to both gas and charcoal grills. The key is to decide which factors are most important to you.
Charcoal grills tend to give food more of that smoky flavor that people love from grilled food. They’re also considerably less expensive than gas grills, so if budget is a consideration, charcoal may be the way to go. On the downside, they take much longer to heat up before you can start grilling and to cool down for cleaning.
Gas grills offer the convenience of instant flame and temperature control knobs. You may find it easier to get the results you want with these added conveniences. They also tend to be much easier to clean because you don’t have charcoals to worry about. If convenience and the time investment required are important to you, spend the extra cash on a gas grill.
The kind of food you grill and the number of people you're cooking for are important factors in choosing the size of the grill. Figure out how much total cooking area you need. If you'll only be grilling hot dogs for three, you can get away with a 75-square-inch grill. If you plan on entertaining frequently or if you have a large family, you’ll want a larger grill. Remember that the total cooking area listed on the sticker includes the warming rack if there is one. That means your actual cooking surface is smaller.
When choosing a grill, look at the finish carefully. Painted grills aren't going to weather as well as stainless steel ones. Stainless cost more, though, so think about how much exterior maintenance you want to do. Make sure the grill you choose has easy access to the ash pan (charcoal grill) or drip tray (gas grill). These make cleaning up a lot less messy.
Look for shelves when purchasing grills, which can be incredibly handy for the backyard chef. Side burners on gas grills are great for sauces and side dishes. For added convenience, try to get wheeled barbecues of either variety. Wheels will make life much easier when it comes time to move the grill.
If you’re looking at charcoal grills, consider a grill with an igniter. Charcoal grills usually require lighter fluid, but with this option, you won't need it, and you won't miss fumbling with matches or lighters. Also make sure the grill comes with a lid, which keeps the smoke inside with the food to shorten the cooking time.
Finally, keep in mind that many city fire codes don't allow grills of any type within 15 feet of a building or on patios or decks. If you live in an apartment or condominium, make sure you can use and store your grill in the space you have.
Looking for delicious recipes for your new grill? Try these: