Choose the right grill that will suit your needs best by learning about the different types of barbecue grills as well as the distinctions and pros and cons of each.
Nothing beats the smell of chicken, veggies, and burgers tossing on metal tines. What makes it even more exciting is when you fire up a grill outdoors and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and warm air.
If you’re looking to do some grilling of your own, you may be wondering which grill is the right one for you is. With so many types out there, you may feel overwhelmed and find yourself confused when it comes to making that decision. To help you purchase the grill that best suits your needs, we’ve put together a list that highlights the pros and cons and the differences between each type of grill.
Table of Contents
- The Type of Food You like to Cook
- The Requirement of Two-Zone Cooking
- The Weather Conditions in Your Area
- The Size of Your Gatherings
- Height Requirement
- Types of Grills
- Dual Fuel/Hybrid Barbecue Grills
However, before we jump into the different choices available, you need to figure out some important factors that will influence your grill choice. These include:
The Type of Food You like to Cook
The type of grill you want depends on the amount of space you need. Do you prefer large cuts of meat like pulled pork, smoky ribs or brisket? If yes, you’re probably looking for a charcoal grill. Some prefer to smoke meats in the ‘low and slow’ style. A two-zone cooking feature is ideal for such people.
On the flip side, large propane grills have ample space but aren’t very proficient when it comes to smoking. Yet, such a grill would be a fine choice if you’re more into steaks, fish, burgers, and chicken cuts that require quick results. They demand less attention and start faster. Nonetheless, you’ll have to forgo that natural smoky flavor that charcoal offers for with all the benefits stated above.
The Requirement of Two-Zone Cooking
Two-zone cooking is an essential feature in the use of grills that’s independent of the fuel or grill type. As the name suggests, it entails the idea of having two separate cooking zones with different temperature treatments to better control grilling. This helps you prevent the meat from burning or drying out.
The Weather Conditions in Your Area
Weather isn’t a serious consideration if you reside somewhere with moderate temperatures and decent conditions. However, if your area is characterized by extremely low temperatures and snowy conditions, proper insulation must be a priority while making your purchase decision.
Selecting a grill that’s not up to the mark would not only cause insulation issues but also eat up a lot of fuel to compensate for this. Additionally, the overall body structure of the grill should be made using tough materials to cope up with extreme temperatures and avoid rusting.
The Size of Your Gatherings
Small grills are manageable if you’re cooking for you and your partner. However, if your grill can’t accommodate a bunch of friends or relatives who enjoy barbecuing, people might have to wait for a long time before they get to eat. If you like to engage in regular entertainment and hold a lot of functions and parties, you’ll need a grill big enough to serve that crowd of people.
As an added advantage, with bigger grills, you can save plenty of time when cooking large cuts of meat. Insufficient space in smaller grills can be pretty annoying and will require you to spend hours juggling the food when all you want to do is chow down on what you’ve cooked.
Besides the surface area, the height of the grill can also impact the convenience of use. Items like a whole turkey, beer can chicken, and other large cuts of meat need to be cooked underneath the grill on many occasions. To conveniently close the lid on these items, you should own a grill that suits your height requirements.
As a beginner, you should start off with the basics and give yourself more options as your grilling skills grow. Buying multiple grills over time to satisfy your gadgets obsession will not only be a waste of money but will also require additional space. Consider buying a high-quality multipurpose grill once with several in-built gadgets that can be accessed based on your skills and cooking requirements.
You’ll find many modern grills in the market that can be manipulated to accommodate different cooking options. For instance, Weber Kettles can not only double as smokers but can also transform into pizza ovens.
Source: Grill smoke BBQ
Here is a list of the different grill types used for barbecuing:
Types of Grills
A charcoal grill is the first thing that comes to mind when you consider barbecue grills. It’s the most traditional type that involves the use of charcoal briquettes and a starter such as lighter fluid. The main obsession with charcoal grills revolves around the traditional smoky flavor that takes the food aroma to the next level. They’re characterized by their high heat cooking style and can be turned into old school makeshift smokers.
What’s challenging about charcoal grills is its extensive fuel consumption. When engaged in long haul cookouts, you might get annoyed at how quickly you run out of charcoal. As a rule of thumb, you should always have extra charcoal kept in reserve. However, over time, you’ll figure out grilling techniques that will enable you to grill efficiently and cut down on fuel consumption.
Source: The spruce eats
Multiple variants have developed within the charcoal grill classification:
Standard Charcoal Grills
Standard charcoal grills are rectangular-shaped grills with multiple heat zones, allowing you to cook multiple food items simultaneously. This kind of grill comes in a box or barrel style, comprising of a heavier gauge metal to ensure a tight seal, as well as cast-iron grates that offer better searing and durability.
A standard charcoal grill may be considered too big for a few kebabs, steaks or burgers. However, when you need a larger cooking surface, they’re an ideal choice.
Kettle Style Grills
Kettle style grills are a simple-to-use and well-known type of charcoal grills. Their shape resembles that of a kettle, comprising of a rounded bottom, a stand, grill grates, and a tight, removable lid. Charcoal is stuffed into the bottom of the grill, below which lies a small grate that allows the ash and other cooking debris to leave the heating charcoal and fall away, leaving room for necessary airflow.
Moreover, kettle-style grills don’t take up too much space, and some brands can last you for years. They are versatile, offering you a two-zone system that allows you to set hot and fast or low and slow sessions and regulate temperatures. Also, they’re typically made of metal and relatively lightweight, making for a highly portable grill. They come in a variety of sizes and consume less charcoal than some other charcoal grills.
The type of grill that has significantly surged in popularity in the past 10 years is the kamado grill. Also known as an egg grill or ceramic smoker, a kamado grill is a more sophisticated version of a charcoal grill. While it functions along the same lines as a kettle grill, it comprises of a more elongated, egg-like shape.
Since kamado grills are typically made of a thicker ceramic material, they are much heavier than kettle grills. The ceramic material is capable of holding temperatures in harsh conditions, making it a perfect choice for those year-round BBQ primarys. These grills can weigh between 150-500 pounds based on their size. The airflow regulation and temperature controls function in much the same way as kettle grills except that little adjustments in a kamado grill can result in significant changes in temperatures. This is due to its engineered design and thermal mass.
Owing to the grill’s weight and thickness, its lid is attached to the base of the grill using heavy-duty, spring-loaded hinges, and thus, cannot be completely removed.
The kamado grill makes use of hardwood lump charcoal as a heat source that produces less ash than manufactured charcoal briquettes. For many, this hardwood lump charcoal is thought to offer the best flavor. Once the coal is in place and you’re ready, the kamado grill will pre-heat for around 45 minutes to heat up the walls to your desired temperature.
Apart from serving as an excellent heat source, the most appealing part is its versatility in functionality. For instance, a heat deflator, recognized as a tremendous accessory for kamado grills, is like a thick pizza stone that serves as a barrier between your food and the charcoal. The accessory enables your grill to function as an oven, allowing it to heat your food from all directions. The consistency of heat with fewer hot spots makes it an ideal grill for baking different items, including cheesecakes and pizzas.
Kamado grills vary in cost depending upon the quality, and the top brands can be pretty expensive.
Propane and Natural Gas Barbecue Grills
If you’re not a charcoal type of person and you don’t want to burn yourself while manipulating the temperature of a charcoal grill, then propane and natural gas grills are a great alternative. Even if you don’t mind handling charcoal, sometimes you might want to spend more time entertaining your guests than attending the grill. Also, it gets pretty annoying having to heat up the coal for more than half an hour for just a small steak. Situations like these call for propane and natural gas grills.
Propane grills utilize propane gas that contains more energy than its natural counterpart. They promise a much more efficient barbecue and grilling process by providing a serious amount of power and heating up quickly. Not only do they offer multiple cooking methods such as indirect heating and multi-zone cooking, but they are also are easy to use. All you need to do is turn the dial, and the grill will start heating up.
While it can be more expensive than natural gas, propane gas is available pretty much everywhere, so you don’t have to worry about any shortage. Propane grills are easier to clean than many other types, especially the charcoal ones.
Source: Taste of home
Natural Gas Grills
Except for a few trade-offs, natural gas grills are the same as propane grills. They obviously utilize natural gas and have several advantages over propane grills in terms of convenience and efficiency.
When tanks turn cold in winter, the BTUs can be wasted. A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the unit of measure that determines the amount of work required to heat 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The fall in BTUs converts the propane from liquid to gaseous state, which isn’t a problem with natural gas grills.
Moreover, Natural gas grills are extremely fuel-efficient. You can run a natural gas grill through extensive cookouts without the need for a refill. This is not the case with propane and charcoal grills as those grills need to be refilled when their fuels sources run out. However, the main problem of a natural gas grill is that once you get it installed to a place, it’ll stay on the spot. This is because it’ll be hardwired somewhere by a professional grill installer.
Natural gas grills might be easy to fire and fuel-efficient, but they lack the portability many of us tend to prioritize.
Despite sounding super futuristic, infrared grills make use of conventional grilling techniques and have been around since the 1980s. Instead of using hot rising air, it makes use of a radiant heat source to cook food. Preventing any flare-ups, infrared grills take less time to heat up and cook the food quickly, thoroughly, and evenly. While most come with electric burners, some infrared grills comprise of infrared burners.
The heat in infrared grills is too powerful for grilling vegetables or fish, but ideal for thick pieces of meat. For items that require short-timed, high-temperature grilling, infrared grills are a perfect solution. Also, with these grills, there’s no hassle of handling charcoal or wood chips, and cleaning this type of grill is super-easy.
Dual Fuel/Hybrid Barbecue Grills
Dual fuel or hybrid grills look like gas grills, but with the added benefit of the charcoal smokiness, you admire. These grills eliminate the many problems associated with charcoal-only grills. You no longer have to face the uncertainty of trying to light and maintain charcoal briquettes as the gas starter in these grills functions incredibly to heat up the charcoal as well as keep it burning. Thus, with these grills, there’s no need to sacrifice the smoky charcoal aroma for easy grilling.
It isn’t surprising that these grills are significantly more expensive than any other type of grill. Not to forget, with charcoal still lying down there, you can’t do away with the annoying clean-up as with charcoal-only grills. Also, you will have to keep track of both charcoal as well as gas.
A pellet grill is a hybrid of a smoker and a grill, offering two amazing cooking features. As a convenient and flavorful option, it has become a hot item for grilling in the past 5 years. It comprises of food-quality wooden-pellets that are loaded into a hopper and placed in a burn pot using an auger.
To keep the grill close to your set temperature, the burn pot and thermostat makes use of electric power. Since an electronic thermostat controls the temperature and keeps it within your specified range, you don’t need to bother much with the operations to get it running.
Hence, for items like ribs, large roasts, and briskets, which require longer cooks, pellet grills ensure convenience by eliminating the need for repeated monitoring. Since it operates on electricity, you’ll need to connect it to a power source throughout its use, making it a poor option for outdoor use.
It is often believed that pellet grills aren’t as effective as other grills in browning meat. However, some sellers have shaped the way they are perceived by introducing recipes with amazing char and grill marks.
Portable Barbecue Grills
Many of us don’t just care about the functioning of grills, but also consider the portability aspect. In fact, some dynamic enthusiasts make portability their highest priority when deciding to purchase a grill. While it’s difficult to carry most grills wherever you want, some great portable grill options exist in the market. You no longer have to leave behind grills when planning to go tailgating, camping, or to the beach.
These grills come with multiple heat sources like gas and charcoal. However, when it comes to cooking large cuts of meat or accommodating parties, their small structures make them incompatible.
Source: Smoke grill BBQ
Summing it up, there is no right or wrong answer to which is the best grill. It all depends on your needs and preferences. Before you select one, make sure you scrutinize the pros and cons of each option and how each available grill aligns with your lifestyle and environment.