Outdoor Grill Buying Guide: Our Experts Weigh In
It happened again. You stepped outside and swooned at the mouth-watering aroma of your neighbor grilling juicy burgers. Well, it’s time my friend to take the leap and finally get your own grill.
We know buying the hottest appliance of the season takes a little research, so we decided to hit the high points for you with our outdoor grill buying guide.
It’s time to read, shop and cook! Here’s what to look for before buying an outdoor grill.
Gas Vs. Charcoal
One of the first decisions to make is if you want a charcoal or natural gas-powered grill.
Charcoal lovers swear by the classic BBQ flavor those little briquettes infuse into food. However, charcoal grills are more difficult to fire up to a specific, consistent temperature and the price of charcoal usually exceeds gas. But for some, nothing beats those little char spots on a grilled steak!
Natural gas grills come with heat dials, much like what you use on your oven, making cooking times and temperatures more precise and predictable for those who love to follow recipes with detailed cooking instructions. Set up and cleaning is also faster with a gas grill because there’s no adding charcoal or removing ashes. Instead, a gas tank rests under the grill. When the gauge indicates the gas is low, swap the tank for a full one and start cooking again!
Portable Vs. Standard Vs. Built-in
Next, decide how you want to use your grill.
Do you travel or take picnics to the park often? Do you live in an apartment and want to cook on the balcony? Do you only grill on camping trips? Then a portable, table-top option is the way to go. These compact grills disassemble, fold-up and some include cases to make them super simple to take on-the-go.
If you have a love of backyard meal prep, a standard grill on casters can be placed on a patio or deck, or stored in a garage and rolled out to the driveway when cooking food. These grills are also considered semi-portable since they can easily move about your property on flat, smooth surfaces.
Finally, if you live in a climate with favorable weather most of the year, and you have an outdoor kitchen space, a built-in grill is appealing. This appliance can seamlessly fit into a countertop or be built into a wall next to a pizza oven.
Outdoor Grill Features We Love
Like any cool appliance, there are oodles of features to explore on all types of outdoor grills. From extra cooking burners to custom temperature settings, decide which of these items are must-haves on your new purchase.
Gas burners: On a gas grill, you’ll notice a series of burners located under the cooking racks. The more burners there are, the easier you can control the direct and indirect heat flow to each area of the cooking surface. The power of the burners is rated in BTUs. The higher the number, the more heat created, and the more gas used. Gas burners are controlled with heat dial settings featuring high-medium-low options, or specific temperatures.
Infrared burners: This add-on option transfers gas heat to a ceramic tile that generates infrared energy. This feature allows grillmasters to sear meat quickly to lock in juices and cook at higher temperatures. Most grills have built-in thermometers on the grill hood. Check it carefully as you prepare your foods to avoid undercooking or burning.
Side burners: These gas powered burners are often attached to the ends of grills so you can prepare pots of baked beans or warm up gravy without the need to go inside and use the stove top. Side burners are convenient for preparing entire meals outdoors!
Cooking racks: These can be made of a variety of materials including enameled porcelain and rust-resistant stainless steel. Both wipe clean easily. Or consider ceramic, a trendy cooking surface that seals in juices so you don’t have to worry about dry meats. Some grills offer warming racks, just above the main cooking rack, for delicate grilled vegetables or to keep finished meat hot until it’s time to serve the meal.
Cooking methods: Did you know grills don’t just grill? They can also steam, roast, sear and warm foods to add variety to your cooking style. Make sure the grill you have your eye on can prepare foods the way you want.
Rotisseries: If you’re looking for a self-basting option for roasting game hens and turkeys, get a rotisserie. This slow rotating arm ensures your meats are juicy without using a lot of heat or a much fuss. It’s truly a set-it-and-forget-it cooking method.
Ignition: Firing up the grill can mean directly lighting charcoal bricks with the help of lighter fluid and a long-stem match, pushing an igniter button on a gas grill, or manually lighting a gas burner.
Storage space: Grills of all sizes come with drawers or shelves for tucking away manual thermometers, cleaning tools, spatulas, tongs, cutting boards, cooking pots, grill accessories, and potholders.
Cleaning features: After dinner, grills require minimal tidying. A pull-out grease tray, metal bristle scrub brush, and high-temperature cleaning setting make clean-up fast.
Ready to get cooking?
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- Lowe’s: Order online and get free local delivery and assembly of a new full-size gas grill. They will also haul away of your old grill when you spend $498+ on the new appliance.
- JCPenny – JCPenny has both gas and charcoal grills on sales throughout the summer. When you use the Shopathome.com link, you can get 6+% cash back, too.
- Sears: Get $35 off $300+ online purchases plus cash back when you purchase through ShopAtHome!
- Cuisinart: Shopping for a countertop grill or outdoor grilling items? Order one online with ShopAtHome and get cash back.
This wraps up our outdoor grill buying guide. Are you ready for grilling season? Browse ShopAtHome today for ideas to make your outdoor entertainment space complete!