A man grills a variety of meats on a grill.

Tips for Choosing a Grill

Ready to start grilling? There are many considerations to remember when looking at the different types of grills available. Consider why you want a grill, which types best suit your cooking style, and whether you want a freestanding or built-in grill. Grill size, cooking capacity, and accessories offered are essential.

Cooking on a grill is a nice change from kitchen duty, requires less cleanup, and allows you to spend time with family and friends. Whether you’re cooking in the backyard, tailgating, heading to the beach, or grilling at a cabin up in the mountains, a grill is a welcome companion. Knowing how to buy a grill and grilling accessories to make it everything you want allows you to find just what you need.

Grill Type

Different grill types include electric, gas, charcoal, and smoker. The kind of grill you choose will depend on where you want to use it, how you want your food flavored, convenience, size, and cooking capacity you need.

Electric Grills

Napoleon TravelQ PRO285E Portable Electric Grill

Electric grills come in multiple sizes. They range from small tabletop models to larger ones that can make enough food to feed a group. This type of grill comes in both indoor and outdoor models. However, electric grills don’t add that classic wood or charcoal flavor to your food, so some electric grills come with an attached smoker box.

It’s easy to control the heat levels on an electric grill. You use the temperature knobs to maintain, raise and lower the temperature to suit your needs with precision.

Gas Grills

Weber Genesis II E-310 3 Burner Propane Gas Grill

Gas grills make cooking easy without the fuss of cleaning up ash after each use. These grills rely on a portable propane gas tank, but many may be retrofitted as natural gas grills that directly connect to a gas line. One of the best features of gas grills is that they heat quickly.

Gas grills require close attention while you’re cooking because temperature control is less precise than an electric grill, and it can take a few extra minutes to find the perfect flame height for the food you’re cooking. These grills come in all sizes, so knowing how many people you’ll usually serve is essential.

Charcoal Grills

Weber Original Kettle Premium 22 Inch Charcoal Grill

Most charcoal grills are portable, and since these grills come in various sizes, you can choose a smaller one to take to the beach, park, or tailgate party. Charcoal can take a while to get the grill hot enough; pre-heating is a slower process than it is with other types of grills. Starter fluid or easy-start charcoal can help.

Charcoal adds a smoky taste to your food, and sprinkling wood chips over the charcoal beef adds flavor. One downside is cleaning a charcoal grill. You can only wash it once it has cooled down; sometimes, this may take hours. Charcoal grills don’t provide even heat, so you must be vigilant while cooking.

However, you can use the uneven heating to your advantage by using the different cooking surface areas to cook steaks, burgers, and grilled vegetables at appropriate temperatures. You can also move the coals around to create hot and cool spots.


Traeger PRO 22 Bronze Wood Pellet Grill with Digital Controller

Smokers are valuable grills for making bacon, ribs, smoked turkey, and other popular dishes. Among the different kinds of smokers are electric, gas, and charcoal smokers. Styles include free-standing, cabinet, barrel, and bullet. They are also available as attachments for an existing grill.

An electric smoker offers convenience and ease of use. You can set the temperature and do something else while your food cooks. It produces moist meat because the moisture does not escape during cooking. However, the smoky flavor from cooking in an electric is typically milder than other smokers.

Most gas smokers use propane as a fuel source, but there are gas smokers that you can attach to a gas line at your home for convenience. These smokers produce a considerable amount of heat and smoke and are common in restaurants where barbecue is on the menu.

Charcoal grills only require a lid to use them as a smoker. However, smoking meat over charcoal takes time, so you may prefer to add a smoker box or use a freestanding smoker. Charcoal smokers also come in bullet and barrel shapes or as cabinets. Charcoal smokers produce the most intense smoke flavor of these types mentioned.

Freestanding vs. Built-In Grills

If you like to take your grill along to the beach or on picnics, a freestanding grill is what you need. A freestanding grill is also helpful for the backyard or patio because you can move these grills from home to home or across the yard. Built-in grills work well when you want to build an outdoor kitchen.

Grill Size and Configuration

Grill sizes range from small enough for two hamburgers to one that can fix enough food for a party. Knowing how many people you want to feed is essential when choosing a grill size. The space a grill can take up should also factor into your decision.

Many top-rated grills, including multiple levels of grates, increase cooking space. This lets you cook some foods such as baked potatoes on one level and steaks or fish on another. Optional burners and side burners can increase the cooking capacity. Some grills also come with side counters, so you have space to place your basting sauces and tools.

Types of Grill Surfaces

Different grills have different types of cooking surfaces. Each surface has its pros and cons.

Grate Material

How a grill grate transmits heat is essential; some metals are more efficient than others. Stainless steel grates are easy to clean, conduct heat well, and are rugged. Cast iron grates are good at holding heat but must be cleaned and oiled to prevent rusting. Cast aluminum increases the heat, makes it easier to flip food on the grill, and is lightweight. Tempered steel is also lightweight and transmits heat well. But like cast iron, steel will rust if the grates are not kept clean and oiled.


Some top-rated grills feature coated grates that keep food from sticking. A Teflon coating makes it easier to clean the grill, but Teflon can be easily damaged by using metal utensils. Porcelain enamel is similarly easy to clean. Chrome and nickel plating makes grill surfaces easy to clean but are shorter-wearing than Stainless Steel or other surface coatings.

Regardless of whether you choose a coated or uncoated surface, you’ll need to replace the grates at some point, so choose a more universal grill size so that you have many options for when it’s time to return.

Accessory Features

Weber Grill Cover with Storage Bag Fits Summit 400 Series Gas Grills

Storage covers are available for all types of grills. A grill cover is a good investment since it protects your grill from the elements, cutting down on cleaning and maintenance and extending the life of your grill. Some grills come with a grease drip pan or bucket, making internal cleanup easier.

Smoker boxes are available for many grills. These enhance the smoky flavor of everything cooked on the grill. Rotisseries are handy accessories for evenly cooking and browning a roast, turkey, chicken, or other meat. As the spit turns, grease drips off, which helps the food to brown on all sides and reduces the amount of calories and fat. For those who need additional grilling space, multi-level racks are available to fit almost any grill. These racks also provide warming space to warm food, grill buns, or other foods.

Basic Grill Safety

Please don’t leave a grill with an open fire unattended, and be sure to keep your grill safe from flammable material and structures in case of flare-ups. Never use charcoal or propane grills indoors. Also, keep grease buildup, which can start a fire, to a minimum by allowing it to burn off for several minutes before and after cooking and occasionally scraping off the buildup.

Grills are an excellent way to prepare a meal outdoors and enjoy the unique taste of grilling while spending time with family and friends. There are many different grills, so learning what to look for when shopping for a grill is essential.

One Comment

  • Autumn Swan

    July 22, 2022 at 10:49 am

    I liked that you mentioned how a grill grate transfers heat is essential, and some metals are more efficient than others.
    Stainless steel grates are easy to wash, conduct heat well, and are tough.

    We want to buy bbq equipment we can use for our escape this weekend and ensure we find the best one to help us.

    I will show this to my partner to see how this can help us decide what to consider when looking for bbq equipment to buy.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.