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Outdoor Grill Buying Guide

Outdoor Grill Image

With the wide variety of outdoor grills available, purchasing an outdoor grill can seem daunting. We are here to help you make the perfect purchase when determining what type of grill would fit all of the cooking needs of your household. Please use this handy buyer's guide to better educate yourself on all the factors that go into the decision-making process of buying a new outdoor grill.

Fuel Types of Outdoor Grills

Grill Fuel Types

Gas Grill

Using a gas grill, fueled by natural gas or liquid propane, is very convenient and allows for a more even cooking temperature. Natural gas can be connected by a gas line from your house with a continuous flow that never runs out. Liquid propane grills can be moved around easily and are transferable from place to place. Although liquid propane grills are very convenient, always pay attention to the size of the gas propane grill being heated since the liquid propane tanks are limited in size. Note: Check with your local gas company when choosing a natural gas grill.

Charcoal Grill

Food can be more flavorful when grilling with charcoal. Cooking with this type of grill can take more time because heat is not evenly distributed. In spite of changing technologies and different features, do not be discouraged from purchasing a charcoal grill. It is meant for the serious barbecue grill enthusiasts.

Grill Installation Types

Grill Installation Types

Built-In

Built-in grills can be installed on or in your existing countertop space. They can also stand alone. These grills are more stationary in nature.

Freestanding

Freestanding grills do not have to be installed in or on a countertop or kept in one place. They are more portable and often include swivel casters for easier movement.

Surface Area Terms

Surface Area Terms

Primary Square Inches

This is the area size of the cooking surface for a grill and helps you determine how much food to purchase.

Secondary Square Inches

This is the size of the warming racks, sometimes included with a grill. Warming racks may be attached or removable. They may also be purchased separately for use with your outdoor grill.

Total Square Inches

This is the measurement of the full space of the grill cooking area.

Other Factors & Features to Consider When Shopping

Feature Things to Consider
BTU's (British Thermal Units) BTU's indicate the volume of gas a barbecue grill can burn. Grills that are securely engineered use fewer BTU's and cook food more resourcefully. In this case, sometimes less is more. When researching the amount of BTU's, too many can lead to burner damage and reduce the life of the grill. The rule of thumb when considering the amount of BTU’s in a grill is that larger grills with larger cooking surfaces entail higher BTU's.
Number of Burners The more burners a grill contains, the more control the chef has over the heat distribution. When deciding the amount of burners needed, consider the number of people the grill will be cooking food for and if direct or indirect heat is needed. Grills generally come with anywhere from 2 to 9 burners. The most common number of burners you will see is 4 or 5.
Cooking Zones Along with the main burner space, many grills have other types of burners or cooking zones available. Side burners make multitasking while cooking much easier. They can be used to cook a side dish or keep foods warm. Sear zones or sear settings aid in cooking steak, scallops, fish, and chicken. Smoker boxes or trays let you place wood chips inside and allow you to cook a rich, smoky flavor into your meats. Many smoker boxes or trays are removable. Rotisserie systems use infrared burners for slow roasting and browning your meat. Radiant Heat – Ceramic briquettes or ceramic radiant technology provide even radiant heat distribution while cooking.
Flavorizer Bars A patented cooking system designed by Weber, flavorizer bars are designed to convert the juices that drip into the grill into smoke, adding flavor to the food. They are made of porcelain enamel or stainless steel and will eliminate the need for lava rocks or ceramic bisques while also containing flare-ups.
Cooking Grates Porcelain enamel and stainless steel are two popular types of cooking grates available. When cooking with porcelain enamel grates, the cook will notice wide sear marks; stainless steel grates leave more defined sear marks. Porcelain enamel grates are easier to clean while stainless steel grates are more durable. Though stainless steel grates require more maintenance when cleaning, they retain heat longer to allow cooking at lower temperatures.
Ignition System Different grills have different types of ignition systems. Crossover ignition systems allow the cook to light all burners at once rather than igniting each one separately. Individual burner ignition systems allow you to control each burner independently. Push-button igniters are an easy-to-use, automatic lighting tool for the modern day outdoor grill. This matchless feature provides quick, easy lighting every time.
Thermometers Thermometers or temperature gauges are used to identify the cooking temperature of the grill before or during the cooking process. They may be mounted somewhere in front of or inside of the grill. If your thermometer is separate from the grill, it can also be used for checking the temperature inside the meat to ensure that it is thoroughly cooked.
Grease Management System These channel oil and grease away from flames while grilling, helping prevent flare-ups.
Drip Trays Drip trays or slide-out bottom trays filter excess grease and cooking juices into a catch pan for easy clean up. Many drip trays are removable and included in your purchase.
Grill Color Stainless steel and black are the most common grill colors. White, green, brown, and grey are less common color choices, but also available.
Grill Lights Many grills include built-in lights to make nighttime cooking easier and safer.
Enclosed Storage Area Some outdoor grills include an enclosed storage area. This may be a cart that the grill is placed on. Grills that are fueled by liquid propane may feature an enclosed tank storage area.
Work Surface The work surface is a permanent countertop area which provides more space on either side of the grill.
Swing-Up Work Table This adds more workspace to a grill with a table that pulls up and locks into place. It is a great feature to have when you want to store your grill in a confined space while it is not in use.
Tool Holders These allow easy access to all of the barbecuing utensils you may need when cooking. Typically, tool holders are found on the side or in front of the cooking surface.
Other Accessories Accessories, such as vinyl grill covers or flexible hoses for use with grills powered by natural gas, may be included with your grill purchase or bought separately.