What Grill Should I Buy? Plan Your Summer Barbeques

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy grilling with friends and family! If you’ve been looking to buy a new grill, you may have noticed that the market has a seemingly endless range of options to choose from. Outdoor cookers differ in the type of fuel they require, features and capabilities they support, size, and price. We’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of the top grills to help you decide which brand and model best suits you. A good grill means you can enjoy quality grilling all season long.

Grill Fuel Type

One key factor to consider when shopping for a new grill is the type of fuel it uses to cook. You may have heard the classic debate before: are charcoal or gas grills better for barbeque? Charcoal grills burn lumps of coal, which envelop meats with a distinct, smokey flavor. Gas grills make use of liquid propane or natural gas for a highly adjustable flame and cook temperature. But today, the quintessential question of which grill fuel type is best includes a third option: pellet grills.

Pellet grills are sometimes viewed as the hybrid compromise between charcoal and gas grills because they burn wood pellets that infuse meat with a recognizable smoked flavor, much like a charcoal grill, but can be manipulated using an internal computer to allow for careful customization to temperature and flame settings, similar to a gas grill.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills, such as the iconic Weber kettle grill, are praised for their unmistakable flavoring and often viewed as a more natural alternative to gas grills. In a charcoal grill, meat on the cooking surface is gradually heated as air flows through a chamber of hot charcoal and enters the grill body through vents. For this reason, charcoal grills require good ventilation and are the ideal choice for slow-cooked recipes. Since it takes about 20 minutes for charcoal to reach its maximum temperature, slow-cooked recipes often require the addition of charcoal to keep meat cooking evenly. A good charcoal grill will have a door allowing the cook to add more charcoal to the fire during cooking without much difficulty.

Charcoal grills come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, and tend to cost less than either gas or pellet grills do. However, these cookers do not allow for precise control over temperature or flame size. In fact, cooking with a charcoal grill calls for long-handled cooking utensils and specialized spatulas to ensure safety while cooking.

Gas Fuel Grills

Gas grills have long been a popular choice for barbeque enthusiasts due to their ability to reach a range of temperatures suitable to different dishes and general durability. Having meticulous control over temperature settings in a gas grill means it is possible to prepare a variety of recipes, including ribs, roasts, fish, and more. More than that, these cookers are generally stable enough to survive multiple summers, so you can enjoy grilling on a gas grill season after season.

There are two main types of gas grills to choose from: those that run on liquid propane and those that cook with natural gas. While liquid propane fueled grills are more portable, they rely on extra containers of liquid propane that must be refilled every so often. The main advantage of natural gas grills is that they can be connected to your home’s gas line directly. This requires very little, if any, additional maintenance to ensure enough fuel is available. While this limits the portability of a natural gas grill, this type of fuel also burns cleaner than propane for a more eco-friendly barbeque. Most grills, such as the gas fueled Weber kettle grills, have the flexibility to work with either liquid propane or natural gas, so it is not necessary to choose between the two set ups.

Pellet Grills

Enjoy the best of both worlds with a pellet grill. These cookers give the cook precise control over temperature and flame settings with the use of a computer but burn wood pellets for a more natural and smokey flavor. Pellet grills, such as those available from Traeger grills, cook food by burning food-grade wood in a hopper, which eventually moves ignited pieces to a separate burn pot where the temperature is controlled by a computer. With a pellet grill, it is possible to infuse meats with different smoky flavors by opting for particular species of wood pellets, such as mesquite or hickory, often available at home centers.

Pellet grills offer the flavoring benefits of charcoal grills with the controllability of a gas grill, but these cookers tend to come in bulkier cart or barrel styles and often cost more than charcoal and gas alternatives. Another disadvantage to cooking with a pellet grill is that the wood pellets required to heat food can be more difficult to find than traditional charcoal or liquid propane. Still, these high-tech grills are ideal for cooking a broad range of recipes and easier to control and customize during a barbeque.

What Grill Should I Buy?

All three types of grills–charcoal, gas, and pellet–present unique combinations of benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right grill for your barbecuing needs depends largely on personal preference. For an affordable option that injects a distinct smokey flavor in every meal, you may want to consider a charcoal grill. If versatility with the menu is important to you, you may be better off with a gas grill that allows you greater control over temperature settings. And for a compromise that allows you to amp up the flavor while still offering precise temperature settings, consider cooking with a pellet grill. No matter what option you choose, you’re sure to enjoy barbecuing all season long with a new grill!

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