There are few things more American than the outdoor barbecue. In fact, studies show that we spend more time grilling than you might expect. Not only do we pull out our grills during warmer holidays like Memorial or Labor Day, but 10% or more of us even cook on cooler ones like Thanksgiving or Christmas!
Of course, it’s much easier to commit to a backyard cookout if you have the right equipment, which is why choosing the right grill is so crucial. With so many types of barbecue grills on the market these days, you can be forgiven for not knowing the difference between them. To help you make your choice, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options when it comes to outdoor grilling.
If you’re looking for a smoky and unmistakable chargrilled flavor on your BBQ meat and vegetables, only a charcoal grill will do. Versions of this traditional option have been around for ages, though modern models have come a long way in terms of facilitating your backyard cookout.
As their name suggests, charcoal grills require lit charcoal briquettes at the bottom of the grill using the same method as a wood-burning stove. They allow airflow to pass through the inside of the grill and toward a vent on the top.
In addition to the amount of charcoal you use, this airflow affects the internal heat of the grill, which can reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees. Because there are no other controls to allow you to adjust this heat, beginners sometimes find this cooking option tricky to get the hang of.
These popular options are the best BBQ grills for any backyard chef who demands completely even cooking every time.
Also known as “egg grills” or “egg cookers,” these ceramic grills rely on the same principles of the traditional charcoal kettle grill, with some small upgrades.
First, it uses hardwood lump charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes as a heat source. Next, due to the engineered egg shape of these grills, it’s possible to make small adjustments to vary the cooking temperature. In addition, thanks to its ceramic structure, a kamado grill can tolerate extreme heat even in cold weather.
Using food-quality wood pellets as a fuel source, pellet grills impart a unique flavor onto your BBQ fare. These grills offer a great deal of oversight over your cooking temperature, as they come with electronic controls that make it easy to specify your desired temperature range. Whether you’re grilling a large roast or heating up some hot dogs, pellet grills are versatile enough to tackle the task with little monitoring.
For cooking enthusiasts who want to dabble in both grilling and smoking their food, pellet grills can be a good choice: they combine the best features of both smokers and grillers in one convenient unit. What’s more, these can be the best patio grills for anyone who wants to try flavoring their food with different fuel sources, as the wood pellets come in a range of flavors from hickory to cherry to pecan.
The most popular type of grills today, gas grills allow you to make delicious BBQ meals fast, even if you’re a beginner. For casual grillers, this option is often a good place to start, as these grills can reach high temperatures in no time, meaning that you’ll spend less time worrying about the heat and more time chowing down with friends and family.
It’s important to note, of course, that you can divide gas grills into a few subcategories:
- Natural gas grills: These grills can use either your home’s natural gas line or a natural gas connection
- Propane grills: These tend to be more portable, though you’ll have to refill your propane tank on occasion
- Infrared grills: Using either natural gas or propane, these use infrared technology for fast cooking
- Flat top grills: Often powered by propane, these have a flat surface rather than a grated grill top
No matter which option you choose, gas grills tend to be affordable and great for backyard chefs of any cooking ability, though you’ll want to make sure you get a high-quality unit!
If you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow charcoal or gas grilling, electric grills can be a convenient choice. Because all you’ll need to do is plug the grill into an outlet, these options can be the best outdoor grills for a quick, hassle-free setup and less mess during cleanup.
However, it’s worth noting that you won’t get the smoky flavor you’d get from other BBQ grills. You should also that these grills tend to be compact, which can make it hard to cook for a large crowd: instead, you might find it easier to supplement your meal with some mouthwatering fare from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit!
It’s worth mentioning portable grills as a unique subset of the types of grills above. They may fall into one or more of the categories on this list, especially if you’re lucky enough to stumble across a good portable combo grill, but they have the added convenience of being easy to move around.
Whether you want to go camping, tailgating, or cook further away from your patio, these grills can be both efficient and affordable. Note, of course, that their portable design can make them smaller than many of the options above, so you may find it challenging to cook for large crowds.
Check Out These Popular Types of Barbecue Grills
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the grill you choose. The important thing is to find a model you like, familiarize yourself with its use, and get cooking! Knowing the difference between the most popular types of barbecue grills can help you make your decision, but don’t hesitate to test them out for yourself.
Looking for more guides to help you navigate your next purchases? Check out our other posts on finances, home goods, and more.