How to Pick the Right Grill

One of the most important ingredients for a great cookout is the right grill. There are many factors to consider like the type and size of the grill as well as special features you want. Before you shop for a grill, think about the available space and how many people you'll be cooking for. Then consider your lifestyle and what you want to cook as well as how much you want to spend. Evaluate all your grilling needs to pick the right grill for you.

Not sure where to start?

Take our GrillFinder Quiz. With so many types and styles of Grills on the market, it can be confusing to know which grill is right for you. To help you figure it out, we created our GrillFinder Quiz. It’s just 4 quick questions about you and your lifestyle to find the grill that meets your needs.  

How do you know what size grill to get?

Grills come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you have a huge backyard or an apartment patio, you can find something that suits your space. Your grill’s location will ultimately determine grill size based on what will fit in the designated space.

Where are you grilling?

Start by measuring the area where you plan to grill. If you have a small patio or balcony and don’t have much space to work with, you’ll probably need a small grill. Compact grills save space and all you need for small cookouts. Most small grills have shelves that fold down for compact storage.

If you like to take your grill on the road, you want a portable grill. Ideal for camping trips and tailgate parties, portable grills are also a great option for smaller decks and patios. Portable grills are available in gas, charcoal and electric powered models.

And if you have an expansive rooftop or a spacious backyard, you can go big. Larger grills have more generously sized cooking areas too.

How much food are you cooking? 

Get a larger grill if you frequently host parties or cater. A bigger grill will let you grill large cuts and quantities of food, allowing everyone to eat at the same time. If you plan to grill for lots of people, you’re probably going to need a 550 to 650 square inch cooking area.

If you lean more toward smaller cookouts with 2 or 3 close friends, you can go with a portable or compact grill. Smaller cuts of steak, chicken and vegetables can be easily grilled on a smaller grill with less cooking area.

What is your grill style? 

If you're new to grilling or only plan to bring out your grill out a couple times a year, you probably would rather keep it easy. If you plan to put your grill to work on a regular basis creating new flavors, trying different techniques and improving your skills, you like versatility. Give me some live fire means you love the flavor you can only get from grilling with charcoal.

How many types of grills are there?

There are 3 main types of grills - gas, charcoal and electric.

Charcoal grills are available in a wider variety of shapes than gas models. Go with a charcoal grill if you prefer the particularly smoky taste fueled by charcoal. They take longer to start up, require more cleanup after each use and pose some risks that other grills don’t because you build and control the fire.

Fueled by liquid propane or natural gas, gas grills give you better control of temperature. Control knobs, like a kitchen stove, allow you to control the heat at various settings.

What type of grill is easiest to clean?

Opt for an electric grill if you live in an apartment complex or don’t want to deal with the inconvenience of traditional grilling. With electric grills, you just plug it in and turn it on. They preheat quickly and are easy to clean.

What price range feels right? 

How much do you plan to spend? Just a ballpark estimate will get you closer to the grill that's right for you. You may find one that has all the features you really want and be willing to spend a couple more bucks for it. Then again, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that the grill you want actually cost less than you thought it would.

Grill Features and Accessories

Now that you have an idea of the type style and size grill you want, it’s time to think about the features.

What features are important to you?  Certain features will be more important to you, like drawers for storing utensils and condiments. Other features, like a pullout grease tray and removable ash pan, make grilling and cleanup easier. While extra features are a luxury on a gas grill, they can significantly improve cooking with charcoal. Because charcoal grills are all about controlling the coals, ease of use is one of the most important considerations.

BTUs: British Thermal Unit is a fuel efficiency rating that has no impact on how hot your grill will get. Think of BTUs like your car’s fuel efficiency or MPG (miles per gallon), BTUs measure your grill’s fuel efficiency or OPB (output per burner) and the number is usually listed with all the burners combined.

Shelves: Get a grill with sturdy shelves on the sides to hold your grilling utensils, marinades and seasonings. You need a place to set your food when loading and unloading food while you’re grilling.

Lid Thermometer: With a built-in thermometer, you always know the temperature of the inside of the grill. Knowing the temperature of the inside of the grill at all times helps you maintain consistent cooking temperatures for better food.

Burners: Get a gas grill with at least two burners to enable you to set up different heat zones when you want to grill different types of food at the same time or cook with indirect heat.

Basket or Topper: A grilling basket or topper keeps smaller foods like vegetables and shrimp from falling through the grates into the flames or onto the ashes.

Heavy-Duty Grates: Stainless steel and coated cast iron grates are both good for searing and retaining heat, but stainless is more durable.

Accessible Charcoal Bed: An easy-access door or hinged grate makes it infinitely more easy to add and rearrange coals while grilling.

Adjustable Charcoal or Cooking Grates: Look for a grill with charcoal or cooking grates that can be easily raised and lowered to get a steak close to the coals for searing or cook a chicken low and slow without charring the skin.

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