Times may change, but there are some things that stay the same. Chief among them: Americans love their grills. If anything our for grills seems to be growing, with a peak in demand last year sending manufacturers scrambling to keep up.
But if you’re looking to purchase a grill, you could find yourself overwhelmed with the options available to you. So to find the best fit for your space and grill style, we’ve compiled this handy grill buying guide.
A Grill Buying Guide in Three Parts
We mentioned that manufacturers have been working overtime to meet the national demand for grills. And in doing so, they’ve produced not only sheer quantity but a wide variety to choose from.
While it’s good to be spoiled for choice, the myriad options can be overwhelming. So to simplify the process, we’ve divided our guide up into three key criteria to look for: fuel type, size, and features.
If we’re to narrow down the hundreds of grills on the market, fuel type is the best place to start. Which fuel type is the best? Well, that really depends on your personal cooking style and the level of convenience you expect from your grill.
Here are the most common fuel types and grill styles.
Gas grills have been the standard now for many years, and you’ll find that they’re the most common type on the market. They usually come in a mobile cart configuration and use either liquid propane tanks or natural gas via a conversion kit that connects your grill directly to your home’s gas line.
Which of those two options is preferable is a hot topic. Natural gas burns cleaner in terms of greenhouse emissions. It’s also cheaper to use, and you never have to worry about running out of fuel in the middle of cooking.
Propane tanks are the more popular choice, however. Not everyone has a gas line for one thing, and since the fuel travels with the grill it also makes them portable.
In either case, the benefit of gas grills is ease-of-use and precise temperature control. You could go between a high-heat sear and low, indirect heat with the turn of a dial, something other grills often can’t manage.
Charcoal is the more traditional fuel choice. They use burning briquettes or lumps of charcoal and are the most direct way to get that classic smokiness we often associate with barbecuing.
The tradeoff is time and convenience. It takes a good 20 minutes to light charcoal and then let it simmer down to cooking temperature. They also take more work to clean, and you lack the precise temperature control of a gas range.
But then again, they also tend to be the cheapest of all grills. You could pick up a portable charcoal grill from most grocery stores for about $30.
Pellet grills are a relatively recent innovation. Instead of gas or charcoal, they burn pellets of hardwood and use an onboard computer to precisely control the flame and internal temperature.
In a lot of ways, they’re the perfect middle ground between gas and charcoal. You get the convenience and precision of the former, but the delicious flavor of the latter.
The main downside is the expense.
The cheapest pellet grills you can expect to find run around $350, and prices can easily get up into the thousands. The pellets are likewise more expensive and harder to find than charcoal or gas. Expect to order them online more often than not, which can make throwing an impromptu cookout unfeasible.
When you go to buy a grill, practicality needs to be a primary concern. Your outdoor living space will ultimately set the upper threshold on what kind of grill you can manage. Beyond that, it depends on what you need your grill for.
Think about the number of people that you usually entertain. If it’s four people or fewer, a small-to-medium charcoal grill or two-burner gas range will serve you just fine.
If you have a large household or like to entertain large groups often, though, you’ll need a more expansive range. Four, five, or even more burners might be needed depending on how far you want to go.
What you intend to use your grill for also plays a role. While a two-burner grill might be enough for your household size, you’ll need at least three burners for something like cooking ribs or whole chickens with indirect heat.
The most important feature of any grill is that it cooks effectively. But all else being equal, some models come with added features or little quality-of-life improvements that can sway your buying decision.
A side burner is a common one, for example. They’re great for heating up sauces without having to run back-and-forth between your grill and indoor kitchen. Locking wheels are another quality-of-life feature if plan on moving your grill around at all.
At higher levels, extra features can include entirely additional cooking methods like side smokers or rotisserie functions. And the most cutting-edge grills have digital accessories that let you monitor and adjust the internal temperature down to the individual degree.
Finding a grill with the exact features that you want is a lot easier with the right vendor. The best ones will also have a wide slate of grilling tools for you to pick from as well. For an expansive selection of grills, accessories, and outdoor living amenities, check out elitepatiodirect.com
Finding the Best Grill for Your Outdoor Space
This grill buying guide is your handbook to the options out there for you. However, finding the right grill for you depends on both your space and your cooking style.
A six-burner grill is nice, but there’s nothing wrong with a two-burner model if that’s a better fit. Likewise, you may prefer the smoky flavor of charcoal or the ease of use of gas. There’s no right answer.
Of course, a grill is one part of planning an outdoor get-together. To make your next gathering a day to remember, remember to keep up with our latest home and garden tips.