Finding Your Perfect Outdoor Grill in 2022

Adding a grilling amenity to your outdoor living space can add oodles of zest and fun to your family weekends. And if you’re having guests over, there’s nothing like a backyard barbeque- think sizzling, just-off-the-grill steaks, hotdogs, and juicy burgers. If outdoor living is your thing, then having your own grill is definitely a good investment.

But before you purchase one, you need to know about the different ones available, features, pros and cons, and price ranges, to help you make the best choice. Read on!

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are best if you want the classic grilling experience- that characteristic smokey, char-broiled flavor of meat on the grate. This grill uses lump coals as its fuel source and the mechanism involves air intake at the bottom part, passing through the hot coals, and then going out through the vents. The more air movement, the hotter the grill.

Charcoal grills come in three basic types: Kettle, Barrel, and Kamado.

Kettle Charcoal Grills - A kettle grill is rounded and tapered at the top, with a roomy bottom space for holding charcoal briquettes. It’s best for long-cooking meats that you want cooked through without charring the skin.

Barrel Charcoal Grills - This grill is wider, but shallower than the kettle. It has a wider surface so it’s great for grilling big batches, but it also tends to burn faster. It warrants more attention when cooking but is versatile and good enough for basic grilling.

Kamado Charcoal Grills - Kamado originated from the classic Japanese way of grilling using ceramic. This is a thick, dome-shaped grill,  and more sophisticated than the kettle. It’s engineered to optimize heating using hardwood lump charcoal and a heat deflector that transfers heat more evenly to the food. It can also double as an outdoor oven or smoker.

What to Look For in Charcoal Grills

  • Material: Preferably thick metal and stainless steel to prevent rusting
  • Portability: Most come with wheels
  • Wide grill surface
  • Good fitting lid
  • Vents for greater airflow control
  • Ash catcher for easy cleaning
  • Easy access to putting in and arranging coals
  • Good warranty

Charcoal Grill Pros

  • Smoky, classic grilled flavor thanks to the drippings touching the coals and turning into flavorful steam
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Generally cheaper than gas grills
  • Heats up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Easy searing

Charcoal Grill Cons

  • Fussy cleaning because of the ashes
  • Takes a while to heat up
  • Fuel can be costly
  • Emits smoke than can release carcinogenic compounds to air and the food

Charcoal Grill Cost

The price can range from $25 to $200 except for the Kamado type which usually costs around $500 or more.

Gas Grills

Gas grill is a good choice if you prioritize ease over the experience of classic grilling. Many American households use a gas grill mainly because of convenience - easy to heat up with a turn of a knob and press of ignition. There is less chance for dark charring because gas grill heat is easier to control than charcoal grill heat. With regards to flavor, it provides some degree of smokiness but less intense compared to charcoal grills. 

Gas grills use either natural gas or propane gas. Natural gas grills are powered by the gas mains supply in your house, have a smaller carbon footprint and are generally cheaper.

Propane gas on the other hand requires a tank for the liquid gas that can be refilled. According to users, propane gas grills provide a more smokey flavor to the dish than natural gas grills, making it worth the extra weight.

What to Look for in a Gas Grill

  • Material: Stainless steel is ideal
  • Grill grates material: Cast iron and stainless steel are recommended
  • Grill size should be large enough to cook batches efficiently
  • Heating controls
  • Heating capacity: Should be above 100 BTU/sq. in.
  • Heat distribution and number of burners
  • Fat draining system
  • Good warranty
  • Added features like built-in food thermometers, searing surfaces, and side burners

Gas Grill Pros

  • Less carbon footprint
  • Fewer carcinogens because of less charred meat
  • Easy to start
  • Easy to clean
  • Can also be used to cook delicate vegetables without the smoky flavor

Gas Grill Cons

  • More complicated to set up and connect to the gas source
  • Requires extra care to ensure safety of use
  • Limited portability
  • More expensive than other grills
  • Bulky and heavy

Gas Grill Cost

Price range is usually $200 to $800, depending on the brand and features.

Electric Grills

An electric grill is the best option if you want a grill that you can use both indoors and outdoors, wherever there’s a power outlet. It’s practically just plug and play without the need for fuel source. The smoke is much less intense which means less smoky smell, fewer carcinogens, and no smoke alarms going off.

You can choose based on size- personalized or stand-alone, countertop, or full-size setup for outdoors. The trade off for the convenience is the lack of that classic smokey grill flavor.

What to Look For in an Electric Grill

  • Wattage: Choose at least 1,000 watts for a satisfying grill-level heating capacity
  • Safety features like auto-shutdown to avoid overheating and burning of food
  • Detachable grill plates for easy cleaning
  • Adjustable floating hinge

Electric Grill Pros

  • Convenient to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Low maintenance
  • No need for fuel
  • Quick heating
  • Precise heating temperature
  • Portability
  • Less smoke and carcinogenic compounds
  • Easy to fit in small spaces
  • Can be used for indoor grilling

Electric Grill Cons

  • Lack of the classic smoky flavor in the food
  • May cause surge in electricity bill if used often
  • Requires a power outlet
  • Won’t work during a power outage
  • Usually have limited grilling surface
  • May get damaged if left outdoors during rain

Electric Grill Cost

Electric grills can be bought for as low as $100 to $200.

Wood Pellet Grills

Pellet grills make use of hardwood pellets and a fanning system to generate heat. It’s like a hybrid of traditional smokers and a convection oven because it uses a firepot and electric ignition. Once the grill is turned on, the pellets are moved to the firepot where hot rods ignite them to create flames. The fanning system stokes the fire created, which leads to heat convection responsible for cooking the food.

Wood pellet grills are multifunctional - they can grill, bake, roast, and smoke food. Wood pellet grills can emit smoke and with a lid in place, it creates a chamber where all the smoky goodness happens. The results? The classic wood-fired flavor, tenderness, and locked-in juiciness.

What to Look For in Wood Pellet Grills

  • Ignitor rod material (ceramic is most ideal)
  • Temperature control features. Some can be adjusted based on the weather and the type of food to be grilled
  • Pellet consumption efficiency. A firepot positioned at the center is usually more efficient
  • Connectivity and control features like application and WiFi and Bluetooth capacities
  • Drip pan under the metal grates to avoid flare-ups
  • Warranties

Wood Pellet Grill Pros

  • Rich, smokey flavor
  • Temperature precision and control
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Environment-friendly
  • Even cooking
  • No burning or charring
  • More sustainable, environment-friendly fuel source
  • Wood pellets burn cleaner compared to charcoal

Wood Pellet Grill Cons

  • Requires use of dry pellets
  • Requires electricity source to run
  • High purchase price
  • Heavy and not portable
  • Limited use during rainy season
  • Heating level usually up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit only
  • Components can break and need to be replaced

Wood Pellet Grill Cost

Wood pellet grills come at a high initial cost that usually range from around $400 to over $1,000 depending on the brand and features.

Hot and Homey

With this guide, you can narrow down your choices and pick the grill that fits your budget, lifestyle, and taste. Relish the homey, savory flavor and experience of grilling right in your backyard any day with family and friends like it’s a summer weekend or the fourth of July.

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