Buying Guide

Whether you are cooking burgers or smoking a turkey, here is some information that will aid you in determining what type of grill is right for you.  Your options are not only charcoal and gas, but there are Electric Grills as well as Wood Pellet Grills.  Flame cooking is what makes grilling special, so you want to select the right type of fuel for the grilling you want to do. 

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are what initially come to mind for many people, easy to use and provide food that has a smoky flavor. Charcoal grills require charcoal or briquets and take up to 30 minutes for the flames to reduce and the briquets ready for grilling. The charcoal grill master has undoubtedly learned the coal arrangement to create the indirect and direct cooking zones. Charcoal is the fuel that rewards you for experience, knowledge, attention and patience. Charcoal is definitely the messiest of the grill types, the briquettes turn to ash and need to be cleaned out of the grill frequently.

PROS:

  • Charcoal grills reach a higher temperature than many gas grills
  • Great smoky flavor which is due to the higher heat; when the drippings from your chicken, steak, pork or veggies falls on the hot coals, the drippings turn into flavor packed smoke and steam that goes back into your grilled food.
  • Easy to use

 

  • Portable charcoal grills have many options which are portable allowing you to grill while camping or tail-gating.

CONS:

  • Extended time for coals to heat up
  • Fuel costs add up, 20-pound cylinder can provide 25 grilling sessions where a 20-pound bag of charcoal will last for 3-4 grilling sessions.
  • Less control over temperature
  • More cumbersome to clean
  • If you reside in an apartment or condo or similar dwelling that has guidelines for inhabitants, verify that charcoal grills are not banned.

 

Gas Grills

Gas grills not only heat up quickly, they are easy to operate and have more room space on the grill grates than charcoal grills.  Gas grills provide flexibility to grill meats, but also enable the creation of delicious sides, such as grilled potatoes, cabbage, zucchini and corn on-the-cob.

Rather inexpensive gas grills are available, or you can make an investment in a gas grill with options such as digital thermometers, side burners, warming racks that you may include in your outdoor kitchen.

Natural Gas and Propane are the two gas fuel options, propane requires you to refill and replace the tanks as needed.  A standard 20-lb tank will last approximately nine hours.  Natural gas grills have a direct line to the gas so never run out of fuel, they also are not mobile.

PROS:

  • Numerous size and price options
  • Heats quickly
  • Easy to Clean
  • Simple to Use

CONS:

  • Imparts less smoky flavor
  • Propane options require care, checking for leaks, proper attachment of tank and the grill should be ten feet from your home
  • Refill of propane tank
  • Full-size gas grills are not mobile

 

Electric Grills

As long as there is an outlet nearby, there are no worries about charcoal or lighter fluid on hand, or if the propane tank needs to be refilled.  These smaller grill options fit great on an apartment deck.  In fact, many apartment homes require that any grills be electric.

PROS:

  • Easy to use and clean
  • Safe for small places and wooden balconies
  • Compact
  • No monitoring of available fuel levels

CONS:

  • No smoky flavor
  • Small in size, offering more limited grill space

 

Wood Pellet Grills

Wood pellet grills not only offer grilling like other types of grills but allow you to smoke meat as well.  Wood Pellets are available at a home improvement store or online, in a variety of woods including hickory, apple, and mesquite.  (see Babe’s BBQ blog article “Know your Wood”) Wood Pellet grills allow you to cook hot-and-fast or low-and-slow, you set the temperature and the electric powered grill automatically adds wood pellets as needed to maintain the temperature.  Models with WiFi and Bluetooth allow you to monitor the temperature with your smart device.

PROS:

  • Great smoky flavor
  • Fast to heat
  • Allows low-and-slow or hot-and-fast cooking
  • Electrically powered, burn wood pellets for smoke and heat.
  • Convenient as Electric Smokers
  • Flavor of Charcoal/Hardwood Smoker

 

Cons:

  • Expensive grills and wood pellets
  • Electric outlet required.
  • Cook time for smoked meats can be 10+ hours