The warm weather is finally here and like us, you’re probably ready for some outdoor cooking! But it’s hard to know exactly how to choose a grill, because you’ve got way more options than charcoal and gas. Don’t worry—we did all the research so you don’t have to. Whether you’re cooking burgers for two, gearing up for a tailgate party (here’s what you should bring!) or preparing a feast for this year’s family reunion, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look at your top grill options:
Ideal For: People who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a grill, love the charcoal flavor and are cooking for small groups of people
A true classic! Charcoal grills are portable, easy to use and create a smoky flavor that’s hard to beat. They are slower to heat up than gas or electric grills, but can also get a lot hotter. With no temperature control knobs, grillers will need arrange the coals to create indirect and direct cooking zones. (Here’s a primer on cooking with charcoal.)
Using a charcoal grill is messier and more time-consuming than a gas grill (briquettes turns to ash, which needs to be cleaned out after each use), but we’d say the flavor is worth the extra effort!
Ideal For: People looking for more space on the grill grates, plus easy-to-use operation
These are your most common backyard grills. Gas grills start fast, heat up quickly, are easy to operate and require much less cleanup than other types of grills. You don’t get the exact same smoky flavor you get from cooking with charcoal, but you can still grill up all kinds of great tasting food, including these tasty BBQ side dishes.
Gas grills come in a wide variety of sizes. They tend to be the most expensive option, so be prepared to make a longer-term investment. (With regular maintenance and care, your gas grill will last for years to come.) Most gas grills are designed to run on propane, and you will have to refill and replace the tanks as needed.
Outdoor Electric Grills
Ideal For: Anyone who lives in a condo where gas or charcoal grilling is not allowed, or who doesn’t have a large outdoor space.
If you never want to worry about the hassle of running out of propane or cleaning up an ashy charcoal mess, try an outdoor electric grill. You simply need to plug it into an outlet and get cooking. On average, outdoor electric grills offer the smallest footprint. (They fit perfectly on a balcony!) Options like Char-Broil’s Patio Bistro Electric Grill are compact, but still deliver a great tasting meal.
Ideal For: Barbecue enthusiasts who crave flavor and don’t mind waiting a little longer to enjoy the final product.
Gas and charcoal grills are great for everyday grilling, but nothing delivers rich flavor quite like a smoker. The slow-cooker version of a grill, smokers cook foods at lower temperatures over longer periods of time. Used by some of the best barbecue pros across the county, smokers are now becoming more common for at-home enthusiasts. Because of their size, smokers are also good for grillers looking to cook larger cuts of meat at one time.
(Don’t want to splurge? Here’s how to turn your gas or charcoal grill into a smoker.)
Ideal For: People who do more grilling on the road than in the backyard.
For anyone who loves to camp or grill on-the-go, portable grills can make cooking easy. Grills like Char-Broil’s Grill2Go X200 are designed to be sturdy and convenient, so you can set up your grill with you when you’re tailgating, camping or on the beach. These easy-to-use grills run on small 16 oz propane tanks that can be stored under the grill lid when in transport.
Pick the right grill and you’ll be the hero at your next cookout. (It sure doesn’t hurt to have perfectly juicy burgers, too!)
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