Prepare a delicious, fresh-cooked meal on your patio with gas or charcoal grills
There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh-grilled meal, conveniently prepared on your own patio. Choose between charcoal grills, electric grills, gas grills, smokers and more. This guide will walk you through the different designs, fuel types and features of outdoor grills so you can find the best grill for you.
Whether you’re camping out under the stars, serving hotdogs while tailgating, or simply entertaining in your back yard, charcoal grills are an easy, ideal way to serve up chargrilled flavor. This guide will teach you how to fire up the barbecue grill and get cooking in no time. Learn more about charcoal grills in this guide.
- The most common outdoor grills, charcoal grills are simple, easy to use, and use charcoal briquettes as fuel.
- Charcoal grills are the most inexpensive grills, but they require fresh charcoal after each use.
- Charcoal enriches flavor of food with rich, barbecue taste.
- Don’t have temperature control knobs. A 2-zone setup creates a hot direct heat zone on the grill surface for browning and searing, and a cooler indirect heat zone where food can cook more slowly by convection airflow.
- Can get a lot hotter than gas grills – charcoal grills can cook at a temperature around 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slower to heat up than gas or electric grills.
- More clean-up required – charcoal ash must be cleaned out after each use.
Can be used with a charcoal chimney to light charcoal quicker.
Gas grills use either natural gas or propane as fuel and are the most popular type of backyard grills. They heat up quickly, can be operated easily, and require very little cleanup. Most gas grills are designed for propane use, but can be converted to use natural gas fairly easily. Learn all about gas grills in this guide.
- The typical gas grill will reach temperatures between 400 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Propane tanks are portable, widely available and can be easily stored or refilled. A 20-pound tank can last you about 25 hours of grilling time depending on your grill.
- Natural gas grills are less expensive than propane or charcoal, but they require the installation of natural gas line from the house to the grill, and and therefore cannot be moved.
- Dual fuel gas grills allow you to easily cook with either liquid propane or natural gas.
- Gas grills do not create the traditional smoky flavor associated with barbecues, as that flavor is usually produced using charcoal or wood pellets.
- Although some gas grills have small smoker boxes, you will only get a hint of smoke flavor compared to a genuine charcoal grill or smoker.
Temperature control knobs allow you to regulate heat more precisely. You can create different heat zones for searing, cooking or warming foods on the grill.
Standard gas or charcoal grills are great for fresh, flavorful home-cooked meals, but nothing brings out rich flavor quite like a smoker. Smokers slow-cook foods at lower temperatures over longer periods of time – think of them as the slow-cooker versions of grills. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about smokers.
- Smokers are available in charcoal, electric and propane varieties.
Charcoal and wood pellet varieties create the richest flavor.
If you live in an apartment or condo where gas or charcoal grilling is not allowed, consider an electric unit. These require little other than a nearby electrical outlet.
- No fuel is needed, but you must be around an electrical outlet.
- Heat up quickly, cook food evenly, and require little prep or clean up.
- No flavor added during cooking, like charcoal grills or smokers.
- Quick and easy and clean – relatively quick to warm up, no prep or clean up required.
Electric grills are typically offer the smallest grill sizes, including portable and tabletop models.
- Hybrid grills allow you to cook using either charcoal or gas.
- Pellet grills operate similarly to charcoal grill, but with hickory, mesquite, pecan and apple wood chips instead of charcoal. These wood chips add unique, rich flavor to the meat during the cooking process.
Portable grills are ideal for tailgating, camping and more and are available in charcoal, gas and electric models.
Size & features
Consider the number of people you ordinarily cook for and your available grilling space.
- 450 to 500 square inches is usually sufficient for an average size family.
- 550 to 650 square inches is large enough for larger families or frequent entertaining.
Most portable grills provide about 200 square inches of cooking area.
Choose grill covers, grilling tools, flavored wood chips and more to create the perfect outdoor grilling experience for you and your family.
- Grill covers not only protect your grill from the elements but keep it operating at peak performance for a longer period of time.
- Grill toppers and baskets allow you to cook veggies, meats and seafood with ease.
- Flavored wood chips can be used with any type of grill to add a rich, smoky taste and flavor to your meats and vegetables.
- Grill cleaning tools like brushes and cleaning blocks make cleanup much easier.
- Heavy-duty work gloves come in handy when you have to lift a hot grate or rearrange coals.
- Side shelves allow you to customize how you cook your meal and allow you to cook meat and vegetables at the same time but at different temperatures.
Built-in thermometers allow you to monitor the internal cooking temperature so you can ensure your meat is cooking at the correct temperature without having to open up the grill and losing heat while you manually check.