What Kind of Grill Should You Buy?
Spring is right around the corner, and summer’s just a few months away. You know what that means, right? It’s time to bust out the grill, throw some steaks on it and watch them sizzle away as you take in their delicious mouth-watering aroma.
But, let’s face it. No true barbecue lover has the patience to wait for summertime to enjoy flame-grilled meat. Thanks to modern technology, you can have it all year round! All you need is the right grill for the job. Besides, it’s never too early to start shopping for a new one.
With so many different types of grills to choose from, it can get pretty overwhelming when you have no idea what to get. This guide explores the different types of grills you’ll come across to help make the decision-making process a little easier. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Types of Grills
It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny appeal of new appliances. While most of them may appear similar, they vary dramatically in their quality, prices, and function. To find the best grill for your budget, you need to better understand the different types that exist, how they work, and their respective pros and cons.
These are no doubt the most popular type of backyard grills you’ll find. As you can tell from the name, their primary heat source is natural gas or bottled propane. Most gas grills are typically designed to be propane-powered, although most can be converted into natural gas grills quite easily.
While the choice of one over the other is a matter of personal preference, some people swear by propane, while others argue that natural gas grills are better. The truth is, however, there isn’t much difference between the two. It’s all about convenience.
If you’re hankering for a delicious flame-grilled steak in the middle of a work-week after, you don’t need to think twice about it. Simply turn the knob to fire up the grill, and you’re ready to roll. If convenience is important to you, a gas grill is exactly what you need. You can fire it up quickly and have your meat cooking in a matter of minutes. You don’t have to worry about any messy cleanup process after. They’re pretty low maintenance, not to mention durable.
On the flip side, they are typically pricier than other types of grills. It’s also hard to achieve the same smoky flavor you would get with lump charcoal unless, of course, you get one that has a smoker. But even then, it's not the same.
If you live in the city, then you’re probably already aware of the fire regulations that prohibit residents from using gas and charcoal grills. When buying a grill, it’s important to first familiarize yourself with your local laws and building regulations to make sure that it doesn’t violate any of them.
If you happen to fall in the category of people who aren’t allowed to use charcoal or gas burners, then the solution lies in getting an electric grill. These use electric plates with a heating element embedded in them to cook the meat. They don’t need fire. They come in indoor and outdoor varieties.
Electric grills are perfect for people who have limited outdoor space. They’re easy-to-use with no messy cleanup after. Plus, you don’t have to worry about running out of propane in the middle of cooking, which can be a real buzz-kill. While the cooking results from electric grills may look the same as their fire-powered cousins (grill marks and everything…), the taste is dramatically different. They are delicious in their own right, but if an authentic smoky flavor is what you’re after, an electric grill won’t do that for you. But if it’s the only way to have barbecued meat at home, then it’ll do!
Good old-fashioned charcoal grills – a timeless classic that never goes out of style. These types of grills typically use charcoal briquettes for firepower. The smoky flavor they give the meat is second to none, which is probably why they are so popular.
While they certainly require a lot of effort to get the fire going, not to mention the cleanup process that awaits you thereafter, the result is certainly worth the extra effort. It’s difficult to replicate the same smoky flavor you get from charcoal grills using any other grilling method.
So, if getting that authentic barbecue flavor is important to you, this is the grill you should buy. They generally cost less than other types of grills, and they give you more control over the direct/indirect cooking zones on the grills since it’s easy to arrange the charcoal briquettes. They get a lot hotter than gas or electric grills, so once you get the fire going, your food will get cooked a lot quicker.
On the flip side, the preheating process is slower than other grilling options. So, you can’t just fire it up and throw something on it and go. You’ll need at least 45 minutes beforehand to get it to the desired temperature.
There’s also the not-so-small issue of cleanup. They are messier and have to be cleaned out after each use. This involves emptying the ash receptacle, scraping off debris, cleaning the charcoal grate, and so on. There’s no escaping it. Here are some cleaning supplies you might need.
Charcoal also costs considerably more than gas, so that’s something you need to factor in when deciding on what kind of grill you should buy.
If you’re new to the grilling world, you’re probably wondering, “What is a hibachi grill?” These are small portable grills made from cast iron, although there are others that are made from cast aluminum.
The word “hibachi” is a Heian-era Japanese term for “fire bowl.” If you love the great outdoors and barbecued meat, but don’t have a lot of space in the trunk of your car to take a full-sized grill on the open road with you, then a hibachi grill would come in handy for just this purpose.
Due to their portable nature, most hibachis are generally charcoal fired. They give food an authentic smoky flavor that you only get using charcoal grills. However, as is the case with these types of grills, they are not only messy to use, but also take a while to get the fire going.
These types of grills combine elements of gas grills, charcoal smokers, and kitchen ovens. They burn hardwood pellets made from compressed hardwood sawdust. But, unlike conventional smokers that require you to babysit your grill while the food cooks, they have a digital controller that monitors the temperature inside and automatically feeds more pellets into a burn-cup to keep the heat at the desired level.
If you are looking for convenience and flavor, then this grill should be at the top of your list. You get to enjoy the rich smoky flavor that comes from the wood chunks or wood chips without the hassle of having to constantly hover over it. They have an excellent temperature control system, which, unlike other grills, makes them versatile. You can grill, bake, roast, and even smoke meat using a pellet grill.
On the flip side, wooden pellets are relatively expensive, and they burn out quite fast. This is bound to drive up the cost of the fuel you use to fire up your grill. Pellet grills also require a great deal of maintenance. They have electronic components that have to remain dry at all times. You, therefore, need to be careful when cleaning inside the grill.
Getting these components wet could end up damaging them and replacing those parts can rack up quite a bill. You have no choice but to find creative ways around this to ensure that your pellet grill remains clean and in tip-top shape.
Let Your Grill Be a Reflection of Who You Are
If you don’t have a grill or are looking to upgrade the one you currently have, there’s no time like the present. With so many different types of grills to choose from, the decision on which one to get ultimately rests on the importance you place on flavor vs. convenience. Choose a grill that not only reflects your personality but also matches your budget and lifestyle.
Are you looking to buy a charcoal grill? Before you do, check out our blog for the ultimate charcoal buying guide.