How To Choose The Best Charcoal Grill
If youre interested in purchasing a charcoal grill, its a little more straightforward. Look for models that have tall, tight-fitting lids for indirect grilling, as well as adjustable vents in both the top and bottom for controlling the heat. Charcoal grills that feature a hinged grate or door in the front of the grill to allow for the addition of fresh charcoal and wood chips are great, too. Finally, make sure the grill has an ash catcher for easy cleanup.
Best Grills: Bells And Whistles
If youre investing in a higher-end gas grill, Anderson appreciates the added perk of rotisseries, which he said are a must for the best tasting grilled chicken the rotating grill cage bastes the meat in its own juices. Otherwise, youll find options like built-in lights for night cooking, side burners, ceramic infrared burners, warming doors for finished foods, porcelain coating, searing stations, smart connectivity and easy-packing features.
Gas Grill Safety Tips
With proper care, cooking on a gas grill can be just as safe as cooking on your stovetop. Here are some precautions you’ll want to take to have the safest grilling experience:
- Ensure your grill is placed at least 10 feet away from your home and any flammable structures like sheds or trees. You’ll also want to make sure nothing directly above the grill can catch fire.
- Always store propane tanks outside.
- Clear grease traps regularly to prevent grease fires.
- Flare-ups are a normal part of grilling. If drippings from your food are causing the burners to catch fire, keep the lid open and move your food to the cold side of the grill until the fire burns down. For really fatty cuts of meat, you may need to keep the food moving to prevent flare-ups in the first few minutes of cooking.
- When you’re finished cooking turn off all the burners and close the valve on the propane tank. The valve should never be left open when the grill is not in use.
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How Easy To Operate Compared To Other Grill Types
A pellet grill looks imposing, but its deceptively easy-to-use. As expressed so perfectly at SeriouslySmoked.com,
As long as you can empty the bag of pellets into the hopper and touch a few buttons, you can use one of these grills.
Honestly, thats about right!
Unlike with most smokers, a pellet grill knows when to add more wood and how much. How?
A thermometer inside the cook chamber monitors the ambient temperature. When it drops below the target you preset on the digital controller, more pellets are delivered from the hopper to the fire pot. There, they are automatically ignited and fanned to produce more heat and smoke.
Compared to a charcoal grill, you do not need to tend your fire by hand, adding more wood as needed. With charcoal grills, youll also spend time fiddling with dampers and vents to control the airflow and adjust the temperature up and down.
Even comparing a pellet grill to a gas grill, the pellet grill is easier. On a gas grill, the temperature control is manually set by adjusting the gas flow with a dial. And ambient air temperature and how much wind will affect where to set things day to day.
Its all part of the hobby, but its daunting for beginners, and even experienced pitmasters find it tedious sometimes. With a pellet smoker, its essentially set it and forget it.
Something else youll never worry about with a pellet grill is a flare-up.
No more burnt edges and no more singed arm hair.
Should I Get A Charcoal Grill Or Gas Grill
If youre looking for a new grill, youll probably notice two main options gas or charcoal. Gas vs. Charcoal. Charcoal vs. Gas grills. Weve heard it every way possible. Its an age-old debate amongst grilling enthusiasts around the country, with some swearing you cant be the authentic taste from a charcoal grill, while others believe that a gas grill is much more convenient and easier to use.
Both grills have their pros and cons, so its down to your own preferences when deciding whether you should get a charcoal or gas grill. Its important to choose the grill that best fits your persona preference, otherwise you might waste money on a product that wont get much use.
Lets see what each type of grill has to offer to see what one is best for you!
Advantages of a Gas Grill
One of the big advantages of a gas grill is how easy it is to use. They turn on instantly and will heat up in around ten minutes, with the gas burners being very efficient heat regulators.
Not only do they retain heat well, they also control it better than other grills, with the ability to adjust the temperature of the burners for cooking at different temperatures.
There are a few ways to fuel the grill too. You can hook it up directly to your gas line for an endless supply of gas or buy individual propane tanks and connect these to the grill, both of which are usually cheaper than buying charcoal.
Disadvantages of a Gas Grill
Advantages of a Charcoal Grill
Disadvantages of a Charcoal Grill
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Why You Should Trust Us
I’ve been reviewing grills and smokers full time since 2012. To my knowledge, nobody else does this full time, and nobody else has cooked on as many grills and smokers as I have. I assemble products, measure temperatures, slam lids, turn dials, kick casters, study warranties, take pictures, and cook a lot of food.
I also consider look, feel, functionality, durability, and price. Given the enormous variety of products and designs, there is no one-size-fits-all test. I cannot simply plug a cooker into a computer and measure its myriad qualities. My tests are both rigorous and thorough, objective and subjective. My overall goal is to provide useful and accurate information to help you select the best equipment for your needs. For additional detail on the many tests we run at AmazingRibs.com, read more about our testing procedures.
The cooking tests I use vary by the product in question. For example, I wouldn’t test most smokers by trying to sear steaks because they’re usually made for low and slow smoking, not high-temperature grilling. A gas grill that boasts its high-heat capabilities? On go the steaks.
For temperature tests, I use multi-channel digital thermometers with temperature probes clipped to the cooking surface. Gas grills often have uneven heat. When testing gas grills, I always spread bread slices across the cook surface, then flip them to reveal the heat profile. Bread slices that vary from white to brown to black across a grill’s surface indicate uneven heat.
Should I Buy A Natural Gas Or Propane Grill
In general, natural gas grills are best for static grills or outdoor kitchens, while propane is best for grills with wheels. A natural gas grill hooks into your home gas line, which means you never have to worry about running out of propane. However, you can’t move your grill around, which may not be ideal, depending on your setup.
Recommended Reading: Charcoal Vs Gas Grill Taste Test
General Rule For Choosing Grill Size
Well get more into the details of choosing sizes, but start with this easy calculation: For every person you want to cook for, allow around 72 square inches of grilling space.
This means that you would want to get something with at least the following minimum sizes:
- Three people: 216 square inches
- Four people: 288 square inches
- Five people: 360 square inches
- Six people: 432 square inches
In many cases, people will round up to the next hundred to ensure that they have enough space.
Grilling things that are too crowded leads to less tasty results and more cooking problems. Extra space is an essential factor to consider adding.
Can You Sear On A Pellet Grill
Quite simply, no, you cannot sear on a pellet grill. Most models do not have a spot on the grill for access to direct heat. And, no matter how hot the ambient temperature gets, you need that direct heat to sear.
A few models now offer a searing zone over the fire pot or even a propane side burner.
If you plan to do it all in one place, you might want to investigate these options. Alternatively, you can try heating a cast-iron griddle or skillet on the grill grate and then sear on that.
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Weber Spirit Series Grill Problems
Weber Spirit Series Grill Sear Grates
Although Spirit does have a sear zone, it’s just another row of burners. It will cook faster, but if you want those char marks on your food, it’s not in the design.
You cannot smoke or add flavor to a spirit, but there aren’t any other grills with smoking capabilities at this price.
The Weber Spirit series grills are a smaller grill. If you have a large family or like to entertain, then a four-burner Genesis II may be a better option.
Best Cheap Gas Grill Best Under $300
- More grill space would be nice
Cooking Space: 630 square inchesGas Type: Propane Max Temperature: ~600° F
There is serious firepower inside what looks like youre run-of-the-mill grill that sits on the curb at Home Depot. The three-burner, multi-vent, barrel-style grill reaches temperatures in excess of 600 degrees without the use of an infrared burner, a necessary tool for most non-premium grills to hit temps that high. At 600 degrees, youre able to put a proper sear on anything, not just grill marks . This power is aided by the addition of heat diffusers over the burners upside-down, V-shaped steel shields that even out heat distribution and good airflow. As with any frugal-minded grill, you shouldnt expect it to stay in top shape for too long, but you wont find a cheap grill packing this much ordinance. In testing
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What Flavor Profile Do They Produce
Youve got a ton of options because wood pellets come in a variety of flavors. What youll notice, though, is that no matter which wood you choose, you wont get the level of intensity of flavor that charcoal and offset smokers create.
The smoke produced by pellets is clean and mild. As a result, your food is infused with a subtle touch of smoke.
For some folks, thats just right. But, if you love deep smoky flavors, this might not be the cooker for you. Still, its a step-up from the zero smoke you get out of an electric or gas grill.
Now, smokers are some of the most creative DIYers on the planet, and a few have found ways to bolster their standard grills smoke output. For a simple solution, you might try adding a smoking tube or a basic foil pouch of wood chips for some extra body. But this isnt possible on a pellet grill.
When To Replace Your Grill
Most brands will offer two kinds of warranty: one will cover labor, which typically lasts for up to two years, and a secondary warranty for parts, which will usually last much longer. This coverage can last for the lifetime of the grill, and will cover all of the essential parts, such as the burner, cooking grids and the housing. Your grills lifespan will also depend on how well you take care of it.
First of all, you should keep it clean, which means covering it when its not in use and sheltering it from the elements. If you opt for a grill which is made of durable materials, such as cast iron or stainless steel, these can last for as long as 20 years. We dont recommend buying an extended warranty because these tend to cost more than any potential repairs during the grills lifetime.
If any repair costs are half the value of a new grill, we suggest buying a replacement. Similarly, if you notice any rust or cracks in the firebox, youre better off investing in a new grill. If cracks appear in the gas hose and regulator, then youve got a potential gas leak on your hands, so you should at least replace those parts before using your grill again.
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Want To Color Your World
Unlike refrigerators and clothes washers that are available in fashion-forward shades like ruby red or apple green, mid-range and premium ranges are typically available in shades of black, white, and stainless steel. Youll have to look at pro-style ranges to get custom colors such as red, blue, and green.
Weber Spirit Series Grills
- E-210 – Enameled lid and grates, two burners, closed cart
- E-310 – Enameled lid and grates, three burners, closed cart
- S-315- Enameled lid, stainless grates, three burners, closed cart
- E-330 – Enameled lid and grates, three burners, a sear station, and side burner, closed cart
- SP-335 – Stainless lid and grates, three burners, a sear station, and side burner, closed cart
- SX-315 Stainless Smart grill with Stainless lid and grates, three burners, a sear station, and side burner, closed cart
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The Benefits Of A Charcoal Barbecue
Getting started is always more of an issue with charcoal but dont feel like you need to resort to firelighters or lighter fluid . Invest in an affordable charcoal chimney, which allows you to light them with just a few sheets of newspaper, funneling oxygen up through the coals. Then its simply a case of pouring them onto the grill and you’ll be ready to cook in 20-30 minutes.
Versatility is really the key here with the consistent radiant heat helping you along the way. You can sear really hot and fast , slow-cook large cuts indirectly and place produce directly into the hot coals, though we’d recommend wrapping in foil.
Indirect grilling, which is cooking slowly with the heat source to the side of the produce , is also more viable thanks to the radiant heat. The simplicity and space of the grill will allow you to play with wood smoke, choosing whole pieces of hardwood, or chunks, as well as the more conventional chips.
Green Mountain Grills Vs Treager
Green Mountain Grills have been gaining a lot of popularity since they launched in 2008.
They were ahead of the game when it comes to including WiFi as standard option with their wood pellet grills. No other brand offers WiFi at this low price point.
Well built and competitively priced, they are a strong alternative to Traeger.
A lot of their fame comes from the excellent Davy Crockett grill, which we named our best portable pellet smoker. This grill competes with the Traeger Tailgater, but with the GMG you get WiFi which is really handy when you are camping.
If you arent interested in a portable grill, they also sell the popular Daniel Boone model which has 468 square inches of cooking space.
For the price, Green Mountain Grills make an excellent Traeger alternative. You just dont have the full range of features and sizes available.
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Best Portable Gas Grill
- Folds away and fits in a trunk with ease
- At 30+ pounds, it’s not light
- Fold-out prep counters are cute, but I’d rather have a few more inches of grill
Cooking Space: 189 square inchesGas Type: PropaneMax Temperature: ~475° F
A rule of thumb: if you want a portable or small grill, odds are you want a Weber. It couldnt be more different than the iconic Smokey Joe, but its strength and value are just as clear. At first glance, it looks chintzy it is not. A cast-aluminum body and lid provide balanced heat inside the grill, and complete rust-resistance. Theres space for about 10 burgers, and it gets hot enough to char them without overcooking. Its ready to grill out of the box, and its about as good as truly portable grills get. Our only qualm lies with the fold-out prep counters on the sides. While useful in theory, they’re not quite big enough to use for most cooking tasks and the truth is we’d prefer Weber eek out a few more inches of grill space in their place.
Which Traeger Is For Me
Before you decide on a Traeger model, you need to ask yourself these questions:
All these questions are important because not all Traeger grills are equal. Once youve answered these questions, youll have a better idea of which Traeger is best suited to you.
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What Can A Gas Grill Do For You
Gas grills are pretty standardized, when you think about it. Sure,there are a fair few gas grills that you can add some wood chips to so that youcan add some nice smoked flavor, and there are certainly some grills that canact as an oven, but for the most part, gas grills are meant to do exactly asthe name suggests. They are meant to grill your food to perfection.
Gas grills are also known for being relatively quick with theircooking, depending on which model and type you invest in. This is good for whenyou want to cook a quick and easy dinner for your family on a late night.
Gas grills are also considerably easy to operate as well, meaning thatyou dont need a lot of cooking experience to be able to use one of them. Allyou really need to do is know how to turn the knobs to get your desiredtemperature.
Grilling food traditionally with a gas grill can give you theadvantage of being able to cook either end of the grill at a differenttemperature, which is spectacular for larger meals. This gives you theopportunity to have one type of food cooking on one end of the grill, andanother type of food at the other end.
Most other grills dont have this option, making the gas grill rather unique in this aspect. In a way, you can compare this feature to the different burners on a stove top.