One of our favorite outdoor activities is grilling out, and for good reason. Grilling is a great way to eat healthily; one can grill veggies, low fat (not to mention great tasting) meat, and innovative grill masters can even grill some tasty fruit recipes too! Grilling requires less clean-up than preparing food in the kitchen; it's a great way to prepare a lot of food at once too. At the very least, having a grill means having the ability to invite the neighbors over for a tasty meal that is easily prepared. In addition, there are tons of grilling recipes on the web so one can prepare a wide variety of foods in a quick and healthy way.
However, choosing a grill can often be stressful. Why? Well, a grill is not just a grill! There are a plethora of grills available on the market - gas vs. charcoal, electric indoor grills, natural gas vs propane grills, wood pellet grills, ceramic grills, smokers - the list of possibilities seems endless!
First, let's list the different types of grills and determine the differences between them:
Think about how much space you have to devote to the cooker, and think about how you want to power the grill. Many grill masters love the convenience of a gas grill (natural gas or propane) but they want a more authentic BBQ taste. The ceramic grill also uses charcoal, and it is big enough to be able to cook many food items at once. Charcoal grills are of varying sizes, and most of the time, they are portable. Wood pellet grills and ceramic grills are typically heavy and not as portable as other types of grills. Of course, if you live in an apartment or a condo with little or no backyard, you may consider the electric indoor grill.
The best way to gauge the size of a grill is to look at the grill's primary square inches. This is the size of the cooking grates; the higher the number, the more burgers, ribs, and chicken you can pile on at one time. The grill may also have a warming rack, and this is measured in secondary square inches. When considering gas grills, don't always buy the grill with the highest BTU; instead, look at the size and shape of the grill. A small grill with a high BTU number can cook food more quickly.
What is the grill made of?
Where will you be storing the grill? If you'll be leaving it outdoors - covered or uncovered - then you'll want to consider a stainless steel grill that is more rust-resistant. Ceramic and cast iron grills are virtually indestructible, and a cast aluminum grill will need to be covered and stay in a dry place as much as possible.
How much does it cost?
Unfortunately, the cost is a factor. Some gas grills and most charcoal grills are fairly cheap, but, they may not last very long. The ceramic grill and wood pellet grills are more costly as an up-front investment, but they last a long time, and they cook food well. Natural gas grills tend to be more costly, but charcoal cost over time is also a consideration.
What will it take to maintain the grill of my choice?
Do a little research regarding the cleaning and maintenance of each type of grill. Some grills are fairly easy to clean, especially if you do so when the grill is still warm. Other grills may require a great deal more maintenance than other types of grills. Finally, find out what the warranty is on the grill of your choice, and if the company from which you purchase the grill will offer service after the sale.
What features are "must-haves"?
Every grill has a different set of features. Some have multiple burners, while others have grates. Some use an infrared burner, while others have electronic igniters. You may want a grill that offers a thermometer or a rotisserie option.
When it comes to outdoor cooking, one of the most important steps is choosing the right grill for your purposes. Follow these steps and you'll find the grill of your dreams quickly.