A good grill is much more than a backyard diversion for the modern cook. It can act as a second oven and allow you to cook meat, vegetables and seafood with a unique flavour. Plus, due to the fact that it cooks the food on extremely high heat, you’ll get to enjoy meat that’s closer in taste and quality like that of a steakhouse rather than the meat you get from cooking in an indoor oven. Further, if configured properly, you can even smoke roast slow and low, just like a dedicated smoker.
When shopping for grills, you’ll need to consider the fuel that powers the grill. You can pick between electric, gas, charcoal and wood pellet grills. Let’s discuss each of these in detail.
- Electric grills don’t impart the same flavour as other grills that have combustion going on, such as pellet, charcoal and gas grills. Combustion gases help create flavour, and they don’t get hot enough to get the red meats to a dark brown surface without overcooking their inside. These are ideal for people who live in apartment buildings where charcoal and gas aren’t allowed.
- Being extremely easy to set up, gas grills require very little cleanup. When shopping for gas bbq grills, you should know that only those with infrared and sear burners can get hot enough to cook steaks properly. However, for fish, chicken and veggies, all gas outdoor grills are as good as charcoal grills, if not better.
- Wood pellet grills are considered the most sophisticated as they feature digital thermostat controls. These grills are great for smoking, although their smoke flavour is delicate and not as powerful as the smoke provided by charcoal grills and smokers. However, wood pellet grills will provide everything you cook with a smoke flavour, even if you don’t want it.
- And lastly, charcoal grills provide an authentic smokey flavour, but they take longer to set up and clean up. However, once you get a charcoal grill going, it can generate the most heat out of all grills.
The main ingredient to successfully cooking food on a grill is temperature control. A good grill, no matter whether charcoal, gas, pellet or electric, should allow you to setup multizone, roasting and lid down with at least two zones. One for high heat cooking, and the other for lower, slower heat cooking.
- Charcoal grills accomplish this easily by allowing you to push all of the coals to one side and leave one side without coals. These grills require tight lids and campers which can be opened and closed in order to control the oxygen to the fire and thus, the heat.
- Gas grill models, on the other hand, can feature multiple burners so you can have low, medium and hot zones. Again, you’ll need a lid that closes tightly if you want to smoke food, which very few gas grill models have.
- Pellet grills, as briefly aforementioned, are the most advanced types of grills and they feature a digital thermostat control. All you have to do is set it and forget it. Some models even have ports for plugging in meat thermometers.
Another important factor to consider when shopping for a grill is size, which impacts price as well. Take a look at the cooking surface the grill provides, which is the main cooking grate. Some grill manufacturers alist the total cooking area, which includes the warming rack that’s suspended above the main cooking area. And while yes, you can cook on it, the food won’t cook quickly on the upper rack. While this can be good, and a removable rack is a nice feature to have, it might misguide you about the grill’s true cooking surface.
And of course, the price of the grill will have a major impact on your decision. Some grills can be as pricey as $5000, but there are also some more affordable models as well. Some charcoal grills cost about $300, and they’re still reliable, versatile and capable. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so a more expensive grill will probably be made of better quality materials and have more features. But that’s not saying that the more affordable models won’t perform well either. I’ve seen $300 grills outlast and outperform $1000 models, so you don’t want to buy the most expensive one either. Instead, carefully consider all the factors before buying, and make sure the grill you buy comes with a warranty.