The Ultimate Grill Guide

Here’s What To Consider When Buying A New Grill

By MARY BETH WALLACE

With so many outdoor grills on the market these days, selecting the best type for you and your family can seem like an impossible task. Before ever setting foot in a store, there are a number of factors to consider: How much space do you have? How many people are you planning to feed? Do you typically have 30 minutes or a few hours to spare? What is your budget? These questions can help narrow down your options.

Here, we get to the meat of the matter and compare four of the most common types of grills.

Charcoal

For the grilling purist, a charcoal grill is the only way to go. Its fuel source – charcoal – creates a distinctive flavor that’s hard to reproduce.

ADVANTAGES / The main benefit of a charcoal grill is that deep, smoky flavor. Charcoal grills can get hotter than your standard gas grill, making them ideal for searing. This means you can produce the perfect steak – featuring a dark, crispy exterior and a pink-red inside.

DRAWBACKS / Charcoal grills require a little more elbow grease. They take longer to heat, and it can be a challenge to set your temperature. You’ll also spend more time on cleanup compared to gas. While the grills themselves are generally inexpensive, purchasing charcoal can add up over time.



Gas

A gas grill is all about convenience – simply turn the knob, and you’re minutes away from a juicy burger! These grills are fueled by propane stored in refillable tanks.

ADVANTAGES / Gas grills are the champion of busy weeknights: They heat up quickly, and they don’t make a big mess. They’re also easy to operate and come in a variety of sizes. Another major plus is the temperature control, which you can adjust based on the thickness and cut of your meat.

DRAWBACKS / These grills are usually more expensive up-front, especially if you’re springing for all the bells and whistles. You’ll also miss out on a smoky flavor; some grilling enthusiasts insist that gas grills should only be used to cook thinner cuts of meat.



Pellet

Becoming more popular in recent years, pellet grills function as a grill or smoker. The grill burns compressed sawdust (pellets) to heat your food.

ADVANTAGES / Versatility is the defining characteristic of a pellet grill: It can smoke, roast, bake, or grill. It’s quick to heat, and it doesn’t involve much cleanup. By operating like a convection oven, pellet grills cook food evenly every time – no babysitting required.

DRAWBACKS / Pellet grills (and pellets) are not as readily available as their grilling counterparts, and they tend to be on the pricier side. These grills also require electricity to use. Finally, if you’re grilling on a pellet grill, it’s harder to get a really good sear.



Electric

For those with limited time and space, an electric grill may be your best bet. It runs on electricity, so there’s no smoke or open flame.

ADVANTAGES / Electric grills don’t take up much space, which make them great options for apartment and condo dwellers. All this grill requires is an electrical outlet! Electric grills also boast affordability, safety, and user-friendliness.

DRAWBACKS / You’ll be lacking in that authentic grill taste, although seasonings can be used to help with flavor. Additionally, most electric grills can’t generate the heat levels needed for searing foods. And if you don’t have access to an outlet, you’re out of luck. SG

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