Outdoor Grills Buying Guide

Outdoor Grills
  • Getting Started

  • There’s not many things better than grilling out on a sunny day with friends and family. Shopping for a grill, however, can be a little confusing simply because many of them look so similar. Just shop carefully and learn the pros and cons of different options and various types of grills. Once you’re informed you will have everything needed to satisfy your hungry guests.

  • Additional Costs

  • Unlike some other appliance purchases you make, grills require some extras after the initial purchase. These may include natural gas, propane, or charcoal. Maybe even smoking chips. Keeping this in mind will help with deciding on the most cost-effective grill over the long haul.

  • Types

  • Gas grills are the most popular choice when it comes to outdoor grills. Most gas grills are fueled by a propane tank, but converting to natural gas can be a simple, more convenient and affordable option as well. These grills don’t require the cleanup or preparation that a charcoal grill does, so all you have to worry about is munching on those yummy burgers. Inexpensive gas grills are definitely out there, but the fact is that they’re more costly than a charcoal grill. Why? Mostly due to the convenience factor and some mechanical parts not needed on basic charcoal grills. Prices on these range anywhere from $100 to over $1,000.

    Charcoal grills are another popular option, however, they are way more time consuming and messy than a gas grill. The trade off for those inconveniences is the flavor that the charcoal grill offers. These grills cook at a higher temperature, searing your meat just perfectly. If you love the smoky taste of meat, then these grills are a great option for you because you can’t get that distinct flavor with a gas grill. Charcoal grills are usually in the modest range of about $80-$300, but can also go all the way up to and over $1,000.

    Electric grills are perfect if you’re looking to save space and avoid mess. All you need is an electric outlet and you’re good to go. However, when you get rid of the need for charcoal or propane, you also get rid of that smoky flavor that nearly everyone loves. Another downer is that these grills are generally smaller than other options. So unless you have more than one, these aren’t the best choice if you entertain frequently. The price on these are a positive though, ranging normally under $100, and maxing out at about $500.

    Portable grills are perfect for tailgating, beach trips, or any other outdoor festivity. They aren’t as big or nice as the one in your backyard, but they do the same job….namely cook those great burgers for which you are now semi-famous. When buying a portable grill, make sure they’re durable. You want them to last, but these are gonna be on the go and moved around a lot. So really push to buy a strong grill. These grills are small enough to fit either in your trunk or the bed of your truck, so they’re super convenient for everyone. There are different options for portable grills, such as gas, charcoal, ceramic and electric. So you can get exactly what you want, even if it isn’t for your home. In today’s mobile society, this type grill is almost a must as a backup. You can buy these pretty cheap, ranging from about $50-$200.

    Natural gas grills eliminate the cost of buying propane by plugging directly into your natural gas line. Not only is natural gas is a cheaper option, but it’s a cleaner burning fuel than propane. The environmental impact is always a priority with outdoor appliances. The initial cost of gas plumbing and installation can be expensive, but you do save money over time.

  • Size

  • Size is definitely something you need to consider when buying an outdoor grill. How big is your patio or deck where the grill will reside? Also, are you the average griller, cooking mostly small packs of chicken and steak? Or do you often stack the grill up with enough meat to feed an NFL team? A grill’s primary square inches refers to the size of the main cooking grate. The higher the number, the more space you have to cook all the mouth-watering hot dogs and skewers you want at one time. Secondary square inches is referring to the size of a warming rack and/or side burner.

  • Material

  • Stainless steel is a great option because it’s easy to clean and usually doesn’t rust. This material is very durable and will retain heat better than a cast iron grill. Plus, it has a clean and sleek appearance. It’s hard to find a better material for your grill for both looks and longevity.

    Ceramic is another option, although a typically more expensive one. These are pretty heavy models and have been known to crack over some time. A safety feature of this material is that they don’t get nearly as hot on the outside, so if a kid decides to be a grill master, they won't get burned. The biggest plus of this material is the temperature control. This is due to the fact that the ceramic material retains both moisture and heat very well. Inside these grills, the charcoal is used much more efficiently, because heat isn’t being lost. You don’t need as much, and it burns for longer periods of time.

    Cast iron is great for retaining large amounts of heat. Because pure cast iron is corrosive, the grates are usually coated with porcelain or enamel to prevent rusting. However, these coats can be prone to cracking and/or chipping, especially if they aren’t handled and maintained properly. These will last you for a while, but not as long as stainless steel. Also, they require more maintenance and can eventually rust over time.

  • Features

  • Rotisseries extend across the surface of a grill, and most kits come with a counterweight to provide consistent and even turning.

    Searing zones provide that attractive sizzled crust by using a powerful burner to reach high temperatures very quickly. And we know how some amautuer chefs like to show off a bit for the family.

    A smoker box gives food that undeniable smoky flavor that can turn ordinary meals into a meaty masterpiece.

    Side burners are there for convenience and preparation. They can maintain low heat so those tasty hot dogs you just made don’t get cold. Or you can heat up a pot of baked beans in order to avoid using the inside stove at all for some meals.

    Storage is usually kept to a minimum, saving room to hold the propane tank and drip tray. However, pull out drawers and condiment trays are available if you are willing to pay for these little extras. Insert photo here

    External thermostats tell you the exact internal temperature so you always know the heat level inside the grill.

    Built in lighting comes in handy for night-time grillings and the options range from a small retractable LED light, to bright halogen floodlights.

  • Accessories

  • Grill covers are really a necessity if you want to make your grill last. Most exterior finishes on grills are tough and durable, but corrosion and breakdown is inevitable when left to the elements.

    V-racks are for grilling multiple racks of your favorite meats so you can serve all those hungry fans at the tailgate. Insert photo here

    Brass brushes are a wise investment, used for cleaning food residue off the grill to keep it looking pristine.