Choosing the right grill for you is like finding the right house. It’s equal parts personal taste and product standards. Is propane better than natural gas? Built in or portable? What about accessories? Since narrowing the field makes any decision easier, here are five ways to help you get the right grill.
Who wouldn’t want a top-of-the-line grill with all the bells and whistles. But, how much grill can your budget cover? Variables like size, fuel, functionality impact the cost of a grill. Knowing how much you want to spend up front helps make those choices easier.
Are you looking for a grill you can wheel around? Or, a built-in outdoor kitchen? Cart or kitchen impacts which grills you should even consider. Size is an important factor. Look at the site of the cooking surface—that’s the measurement that counts. The last thing you want is a crowded grill when cooking. Ask yourself, how many people do you typically cook for and allow 100 square inches per person.
Grilling vs Smoking
Smoking isn’t technically grilling. Grilling runs in the 400-500 degree range. Smoking, meanwhile is probably in the 200-250 degree range. Grilling uses intense heat to achieve quicker cooking times. Smoking is low and slow and is best for larger cuts of meat that need more time to cook.
Propane, natural gas, charcoal, or wood pellet. Each fuel has an advantage, but only one is most long-term cost effective choice.
While wood pellet burners are the most sophisticated, this fuel gives everything a smoky flavor and can’t generate enough heat to get a great sear a steak.
Charcoal takes longer to get going and clean up, but generates the most heat. You’ll also get uniquely charcoal flavor in everything you make.
Electric grills don’t pass along any particular flavor to what’s cooked. However, they cannot get hot enough to give red meats a dark brown surface without overcooking the interior.
Unless you’re a purist who insists on that smoky smell, propane and natural gas provide the easiest operation and most cost-effective fuel. But, to get a proper sear on a steak, you’ll need a sear burner or infrared burner.
Burners and grates are the most important grill features. More burners means more control. While grates come in two varieties: stainless steel and enameled porcelain. Stainless resists rust, while porcelain allows you to work with higher temperatures.
Infrared burners uses heat channeled through a porcelain tile that converts it to infrared heat that helps you to sear food perfectly every time.
Electronic igniters are a must-have. Mechanical ones fail over time. Electronic ones either need to plug in or have a battery power source.
Other features are a matter of taste. Side burners allow you to heat sauces or boil water. Built-in thermometers on the hood or the grill’s body are handy tools; even more so if they can be removed and used to check interior temperatures of what you’re cooking. A slide out tray helps gunnel grease and cooking juices into a pan for easier cleanup. Many grill some with warming racks, often mounted in the hood; a handy resting place for grilled food.
Which grill is right for you?
No one but you knows for sure which grill is right for you. But, by setting a budget, determine size, fuel and features, the decision becomes easier.