I really like buying new appliances but I was also wondering what to look for when buying a bbq grill.
I actually enjoy the comparisons and all the new things I find out as I search for the best device, as there are new developments every day, and some of them are quite good especially the new technology that becomes available.
This time it’s a new grill, and here’s a roundup of what to look for when buying a BBQ grill – complete guide.
So, if you’re upgrading your BBQ set up, read on to see which one works best for your situation and circumstances.
Things to Consider Before Buying a BBQ Grill
First of all, let’s narrow down your requirements to find your ideal BBQ. The best grill is basically the one that fits your lifestyle, space and pocket.
What’s the Budget?
Charcoal grills are less expensive than the gas or electric varieties, so if you’re going for an economical alternative, that could be the way to go.
On the other hand, if your budget is towards the higher end, a top of the line gas grill could be the answer.
Prices for the cheaper grills start from around $50 – $100, mid-range grills will set you back at least $149 – $350 while higher end rigs start at around $400 – 6 or $700.
If you want the Taj Mahal of BBQ grills, an outdoor kitchen BBQ setup may be what you’re after, but you will have to expect to pay $1500 and up.
Yep, grills can be expensive so sorting out your exact requirements could save you a ton of money and stop you from purchasing too much grill for your situation.
So, let’s get down to business.
How Many People?
The first steps to working out which grill you need is knowing how many people you will regularly be cooking for. The size of your group will directly affect the size of the grill.
A larger crowd would be happier if they all have their food at the same time, and this needs a grill with a large cooking surface. Ideally 5 or 6 burner gas grills are suited well for catering to large family groups.
Large grills are also available in charcoal varieties, and if time and space allow it, you might also consider the models that have a charcoal grill/smoker combo. Having the smokie flavour through your food just adds another taste dimension.
If you only need to cook for 1 or 2 people, then obviously the smaller grills are ideal. These could be a 2 – burner gas grill or one of the smaller weber charcoal kettle barbecues.
So, What’s the Occasion?
Some people prefer weekend gatherings where they have all day to enjoy an outdoor meal. If that’s the case, then the time needed to get a charcoal grill going and ready would hardly be noticed, and maybe it would be part of the fun.
The resulting slightly smokie flavor in the food is certainly worth the wait, on the other hand, if your usual BBQ is a spontaneous brunch with only a couple of hours to pull off the whole event, then an electric or gas grill could be the best solution.
The easy setup will leave plenty of time for socializing and sharing a proper meal together with your friends and family.
Where Would It Be Used?
The main question is outdoors or indoors but there’s more to consider.
A picnic, a beach party, or tailgating would be best with a medium-sized charcoal grill. The electric grill is clearly not an option here.
A backyard patio or roof garden, grill choice is open to all the options. It would be easy to have an elaborate setup in such open spaces, and maybe an extra compact grill for the quick bites.
Some apartment buildings have regulations that prohibit the use of gas or charcoal grills. Here, the electric grills could be the best or maybe the only choice.
What’s on the Menu?
The type of food you intend to cook is also a deciding factor in picking the right grill.
Burgers and hotdogs are easy-going foods, while seafood, lobsters and salmon are a bit more demanding. Racks of ribs and roasts need some good gear!
Some grills have two compartments one gas and the other charcoal, with extra burners to prepare other side dishes, so you can imagine the possibilities!
Do you want to cook vegetables like potatoes, corn, pumpkin, capsicum or peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions, the list goes on?
All these foods will help to determine the best grill for your needs, some of these foods would require the BBQ to have a hood for roasting while others may need a flat plate or plate / grate combinations.
Then there is the type of grill, gas, electric, charcoal, infrared or smoker.
Different Types of BBQ Grills
This is a closer look at the different types of grills, with suggestions on where they could be used, in addition to pointing out their downsides and also their best traits.
These are very popular backyard grills, Gas Grills run on bottled propane or use natural gas from the utility line. They can be installed indoors or outdoors, as long as they can be connected to a gas supply.
NB: If using indoors you would need to double check that the grill is able to be used for that purpose. You would need excellent ventilation, maybe the addition of an exhaust fan.
There’s an inherent risk in using gas-operated stoves or grills, so make sure you’re well-acquainted with the safe and proper procedure for its operation.
Best Suited For
These are great for chefs who appreciate the quick set up and quicker clean up time. It’s also good for foods requiring consistent strong heat.
Gas grills offer a very large cooking surface, and optional burners to cook an assortment of side dishes, so they’re well-suited for a big gathering.
A lot of gas grills on the market today have hoods attached which makes them more than a grill turning them into to outdoor ovens.
The addition of a hood opens up a whole stack of cooking options other than just the basic BBQ.
Most of these models usually have a temperature control system and monitoring gauge. Some models have small smoke boxes for additional flavoring.
Once you set the temperature to the desired temp it allows you to spend more time socializing and enjoying your company.
- Gas grills are super easy to start up and use.
- They heat up in a matter of minutes ready for grilling.
- There’s no start up time like charcoal.
- There’s no ash clean up at the end of day.
- They also have very intense heat, so you can cook food varieties like ribs or whole chicken.
- Their cooking surface is usually quite large, ideal for families.
- They do lack the smokey flavor even when a small smoker is built in the grill.
- They’re also a bit more costly than charcoal grills or smokers.
- Some models are hard to clean the grease up.
- Can be a bit messy to the surrounding walls, deck and controls.
- Strong winds can be an issue.
- Running out of gas.
Features to Look For
It’s important to have a good frame for these large grills. Iron grates covered with porcelain are nice to have as it helps with the cleaning. Both things add years to the life of your grill.
Make sure the frame is sturdy and doesn’t wobble too much otherwise it could all end up on the ground one day.
Also, most of the frames come with side benches which are really handy for additional storage space while prepping and cooking your food.
A large cooking surface and additional heating rack give it its signature backyard grandeur and is helpful when cooking for larger groups of people.
Side burners for using with fry pans or a Wok come in very handy too. There are the usual hooks for cooking tools, temperature control and monitoring systems, roomy storage space under the grill with solid doors are also essentials that you should have, especially for the higher priced grills.
Infrared burners are all the rage these days and offer a more controlled heat with additional flavour too.
A good solid hood will help to turn your grill into an outdoor oven where you can cook not only steaks and burgers but also roast meats, pizzas, bread, even cakes – go figure.
If you like to cook a roast beef, lamb, pork or chicken then a spit rotisserie is an awesome addition to your hooded BBQ grill. It makes entertaining so much easy and is a good conversation piece for your guests too.
This is the original form of the BBQ grill and the most exciting type.
There is something pretty special about arranging the charcoal, lighting it up, adjusting the position of the heat, and all the other details that go with barbequing on a charcoal grill.
The sense of anticipation and the smokie aroma also adds up to the festive ambiance of charcoal grills.
Charcoal grills are usually budget-friendly while offering large cooking areas and good quality, sturdy frames.
They have a large variety of sizes and capabilities. The newer models have temperature control and self-ignition, which is a huge plus in favor of charcoal grills, while some have the addition of smoker boxes for adding your favourite wood smoking chips.
Best Suited For
Traditional BBQ purists naturally choose this type, but it’s also well-suited for picnics, beach parties, tailgating, and similar occasions where mobility and space is a factor.
- Charcoal grills have a lovely smokey flavor.
- Real flavoured grilled food.
- Searing over the intense heat of the charcoal is a strong attraction.
- Ability to control the heat by placing the charcoal in different location.
- Large cooking surfaces for the size of the BBQ.
- Portability with smaller size and weight to larger grills.
- Budget-friendly price is a nice plus.
- Preparation time to get coal up to cooking temperature.
- Having to replenish coal frequently.
- Ash disposal.
- Wind can affect where you place your grill.
- Clean up can take a bit longer due to the fats splattering inside from the meat.
- These are the worst things, but die-hard BBQ fans don’t really mind, it’s all part of the fun.
Features to Look For
A good quality stainless steel frame is paramount if the grill won’t be moved around too much, also look for good quality grates with a rack that has an adjustable height.
This is convenient for adjust to cooking temperature rather than having to add or remove charcoal.
A high capacity hopper comes in handy for heating up enough charcoal to get the BBQ cranking, hooks to hang the grilling tools and storage room for coal and other requirements are also good to have.
Overall, Charcoal Grills are for the barbecue enthusiast that enjoys having those sear marks in their meat with the added smokie flavour from the juices that hit the coal and turn into smoke.
The added preparation and clean up time is not a huge issue for increased flavours that you will experience. You really should give it a go.
The simple fact is that there are people that are not allowed to use a gas or charcoal grill where they live so the alternative is an electric grill.
Electric grills are seriously user-friendly. You just need a power source to heat them up and with indoor and outdoor varieties in many sizes to suit choose from, you’ll be grilling in no time.
Their portability and ease of use make them the perfect companion while traveling and a great option for a spontaneous grilled dinner on the balcony, or inside for that matter.
Safety is a big plus for these electric BBQ grills as there are no naked flames that can spark and cause a fire, although you still need to take care.
The fact that you are not burning any kind of charcoal or wood is also plus as there are no hazardous fumes emitted during cooking.
Heat up time is fairly quick, but it won’t get as hot as gas or charcoal grills so therefore getting those nice grill sear marks is almost impossible.
Being an electrical appliance, you will need to make sure certain components don’t get wet otherwise, well you know what might happen.
The temperature control makes for steady heat so once it’s set you don’t need to manually keep adjusting the dial.
Electric grills are a bit easier to clean as well. Generally just a soft cloth and some soapy water will get you out of trouble.
Best Suited For
These electric barbeques are ideal for a quick spontaneous brunch or dinner party in smaller spaces or balconies where grilling on charcoal is prohibited by local fire regulations.
The ease of use and temperature control are perfect for your next small get together.
- Easy to setup.
- Consistent adjustable temperature.
- Ideal for impromptu gatherings.
- Smaller and lighter offers good portability.
- Perfect for smaller families.
- Less mess to clean up when you are finished.
- Much safer than gas or charcoal grills.
- Generally cheaper to run.
- Use it inside or outside.
- They don’t render the original smoky flavors of charcoal grilling.
- There is no fanfare attached to electric grills.
- You need a power outlet so therefore no good for camping or picnics.
- Don’t get as hot as gas BBQ’s.
- Can’t get electrical components wet.
Features to Look For
Safety and good electrical connections are primary concerns, then there’s the sturdy frame although a lot of these grills can sit straight onto a bench or tabletop.
Make sure that it is large enough for the amount of people you would normally cook for.
Check out how many nooks and crannies there are that need cleaning, naturally the easy cleaning of grill components is high on the list and also fat and oil storage.
Smokers are another variety of traditional BBQs, they have their own culture of best slow cooking recipes and preferred wood chip types.
Their extra slow cooking/smoking times add a distinct succulent, juicy, tender and smokie flavour to all kinds of meats.
Ideally used for sides of beef, pork shoulders, pork ribs, bacon and just about anything else your creative juices can come up with.
The quality of smoked food is highly dependent on the configuration of the smoker and the type of wood chips you use and takes some time to get the combination right.
There are many models of smokers with some even being made as a DIY project. It’s all good as long as it gives the right amount of heat and smoke.
Smokers do come in many different forms with available fuel types of wood, charcoal, gas and even electricity.
There are many different shapes and sizes which cater for situations depend on the number of people you are cooking for.
They come in the form of Drum Smokers, Box Smokers, Vertical and Horizontal Smokers. There prices do vary quite a bit though.
Horizontal Smokers have a barrel shape which is the cooking oven with the smoke chamber off to the side:
Much like this one,
Drum Smokers have the heat source near the bottom with the smoking rack centrally located towards the top, with a lift off of fold back lid, a bit like this one:
Box Smokers are large cabinet smokers with front opening doors, generally having good, tight seals and made from heavy duty steel. They can be more expensive smokers than the other kinds, but you get what you pay for.
Here is a popular model here, the Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36″ Vertical LP Gas Smoker: Check it out below on Amazon.
Best Suited For
This is ultimately a backyard grill. There are some compact and portable models, but the whole point of smoking is cooking plenty of food over a long time and relaxing while it’s done.
If you enjoy the flavour of smoked meat and you entertain a lot, a smoker is definitely worth considering, or you could look at some of the combination smoker / grills available.
- The unique smoked food flavor.
- The smoked meat is juicy and tender.
- Less work keeping the temperature constant.
- Don’t have to keep moving the meat about.
- Less fiddling around, a true set and forget cooking experience.
- They are a strong talking point.
- It takes a long time for preparation and cooking.
- Not suitable for all kinds of grilling.
- Requires cleaning after each use.
- You will use a lot more fuel and smoking wood.
- Need plenty of ventilation when cooking.
- Charcoal may need replenishing at some time during the cooking phase.
Features to Look For
A Heavy lid is one of the most important features of a smoker. A large smoking compartment with wide racks is essential. Easy replenishing and cleaning of wood chips make your life easy, too.
Easy access to the food can often be overlooked and this is where the drum or box smokers excel themselves.
A Sturdy frame and cabinet are ideal, so is storage space for extra wood chips.
Another practical feature is having hooks on the sides to support your grilling tools, helps to keep things handy.
A good tight seal on the lid is a must as leaking heat and smoke will result in extended cooking times and make it hard to keep the temperature consistent.
Make sure the smoker you are looking to buy has adjustable vents and a thermostat, they help to keep temperature consistent.
Bear in mind that you get what you pay for so before buying the biggest kid on the block, think hard about how much use you will get out of your new smoker.
To Sum Up
So, we all know that having a BBQ with friends or family is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable social occasions we can do.
It’s not surprising that buying the right grill is now as essential as acquiring any other home appliance.
Choosing the correct grill for your situation will go a long way to making it even more relaxing and enjoyable.
Charcoal grills and smokers are the more traditional options, but they need a little bit of preparation before you start cooking and require more effort when cleaning up afterward.
This is far outweighed by the resulting flavours you will experience in your food.
Gas grills are a lot like regular stoves but offering an open flame for direct grilling. They usually have extra burners where you can cook other food to go with the BBQ.
They all come in varying entry price points including budget, medium and expensive. Just think how much you will use it before you pull the trigger.
Electric grills are very versatile and easy to use, they are perfect for impromptu occasions, and outings where there are electric outlets available.
Suited to small apartments and patios they offer great results for their size and price.
I hope that by now you know precisely what to look for when purchasing your next BBQ grill, the remaining part is picking it up, inviting friends, and sharing a good meal and good memories.
Oh, don’t forget to read the instructions before you cook your first BBQ.
Ciou for now!