Grills Buying Guide

Well done. You're buying a grill. You probably already know the outcome of this equation: you, some grub and a grill. Hello, pleasure. Before you buy, know what you want and what's out there. Don't forget your combination tools.

Factors to Consider

Charcoal vs. Natural Gas/Propane

* '''Charcoal''' ** Some people say that good charcoal imparts a delicious, smoky flavor. ** Charcoal grills require more time and effort and can be messy. ** They beat out gas grills price-wise. * '''Gas''' ** Gas grills inevitably impart some hints of propane or natural gas flavor to the food. ** Starting is as easy as flipping a switch and waiting a few minutes. ** Prices are dropping and features are improving. ** Whichever type of gas you choose (either propane or natural gas), once you pick, you can't easily switch to the other. It is easier to research which fuel will be most convenient and cost efficient. A lot of the convenience factor comes from your proximity to a propane refilling station and the cost of gas in the area where you live. ** Some built-in gas grills can be attached to your home natural gas line, so you never have to worry about changing the tank.

Location, Location, Location

* Where do you plan to put the grill? Make sure that you have room for the size grill you want to purchase and that the surrounding area has adequate space. * Wherever you put your grill, if it is freestanding, make sure the surface is level so it won't tip. * Do you want a pedestal, a cart with wheels or a grill that's built right into your deck? * If you live in a condo or an apartment with a balcony, be advised that it may violate local fire codes to use a grill there. Read your lease or covenants and call the fire department to check.


Size and Price

Dinner for two or pool party for twenty; how much grill do you need? (The price ranges here apply mainly to gas grills.)


* '''Great Grates''' ** Porcelainiron or thick stainless steel are the best. They are durable and excellent at heat conduction and retention. ** The heavier cast metal grates have a higher thermal mass and retain heat better when cold meat is applied. ** After several seasons of use, expect the porcelain-coating to flake off and a rust problem to develop unless you apply vegetable oil to the grates after each use. * '''Controls''' ** Controls should not be mounted on a horizontal surface. They are hard to get to with a foot of snow on them, and can freeze up. * '''Fabric covers''' ** Will keep your grill clean. ** Are useless in areas with lots of wind. You may have to tie them on with bungee cords. ** They require another trip outside to recover the grill after it cools. * '''Burners''' ** Add up the BTUs of just the burners under the grates. More is better. More than 50,000 BTUs is much better. Most manufacturers add in the side burner and the rotisserie (if any). This is misleading. ** Warranties are most important on the burners because that is what will keep your grill running. Three to five years is the minimum, but a premium warranty will last 10 years or more. * '''Grease Catcher ''' ** These make cleaning up a breeze and reduce the chance of flare-ups. ** Look for deep, easily accessible pans. Shallow, cookie sheet-like pans may overflow. * '''Stainless Steel ''' ** Everyone likes the look of stainless, but it's also durable and weather-resistant. ** Aluminum clamshells can lose their shape and sag under high heat, which reduces their ability to interlock when closed. ** Watch out for low-quality stainless, as it may rust. ** Watch out for non-stainless fittings and hinges on a stainless grill, they will rust. ** It adds cost, but is probably worth it in the long run. * '''Side Burners ''' ** These are an extra feature that some cooks enjoy having. ** Basic models don't usually feature them, but they have become more common in recent years. ** Let you prepare other foods on the burner while grilling. ** Save trips in and out of the house; allow you to keep an eye on everything you are cooking. * '''Smoke Box''' ** A smoke box allows you to use fragrant wood to flavor your food when cooking. ** If your dream grill doesn't have a smoke box, you might want to invest in a separate smoker. * '''Warming Rack''' ** Larger grills with hinged lids may have a warming rack some distance above the main part of the grill. Handy for reheating foods or keeping finished foods ready to eat. * '''Onboard Storage''' ** As with side burners, this is a nice feature that is found on many midlong staple, you may like the ability of keeping everything outside, but in colder climates it may be unnecessary. It depends on personal taste. * '''Igniter''' ** Piezoelectric sparker igniters take just a press of the button to ignite a gas burner. They will stop working after a couple of years because the spark gap will gradually open. Adjust them with a pair of pliers to narrow the gap, or switch to matches. ** Simple and foolfluid'>lighter fluid? * '''Rolling Cart ''' ** Four wheels instead of two are easier when you need to move the grill around. ** Look for something better than office furniture casters, especially if your deck or patio is rough surfaced. ** Make sure the wheels are easy to lock and unlock. * '''Removable Grill Tray ''' ** Makes cleanup that much easier. * '''Thermometer''' ** There is no doubt about whether or not the grill is ready when there is a thermometer on the exterior. Plus, it keeps you from wasting gas by letting the grill heat up for too long. If your grill doesn't come with one though, you can always purchase a magnetic one that will do the trick. ** Note however that the factory thermometers are notoriously inaccurate. Buy a separate digital oven thermometer with a remote if you are very particular about the temperature of the grill.

Five Grills for Five Styles

Not sure which type of grill will suit your needs or your personality? Well, check out the five options below, and you're sure to find the grill of your dreams.

Top Five Weber Grills

Weber is truly a front runner in grill manufacture, so took the liberty of rating their top 10 Weber grills. See a few picks that made the cut.

Outdoor Grill Dinner

Throwing an outdoor grill party? You are going to need more than your grill to keep the guests entertained, especially when the party goes into all hours of the night! Here are some essentials you will need for your next fiesta.

Grill Cleaning Tools

Be sure to scrub your grill to get in squeaky clean before you toss on the raw meat and vegetable of your next grill session. Learn Grill covers protect your grill from extreme weather and other damage that the elements can cause to your outdoor appliance. They are often made of vinyl and are designed to fit most of the grills named above in the Weber section.

Major Manufacturers

* Electric ** Gas ** Parts and Accessories * Coleman * Fuego * Weber

Related Guides

* Smokers * Indoor Grills * How to Clean a Grill * Outdoor and Gardens * Kitchen Utensils * Dinnerware * Portable Grills *Outdoor Grills