This post first appeared on Lou’s Tips from the Toolbox.
Today, barbecue grilling isn’t merely a trend, but a downright way of life for many Americans. And while a growing number of people toss steaks, hot dogs, seafood and veggies on the grill even when the weather is cold, the warmer temperatures of summer mean an even bigger contingent of us will take our cooking outdoors. So fire up the barbie with these tips for buying an outdoor grill:
Among the fuel options, it really comes down to personal preference and how much work you actually want to do when grilling.
Choosing to grill the old-fashioned way means you’ll enjoy the aroma of food cooking over coals and the hands-on experience of mastering a fire. Weber’s “One Touch®” Silver Kettle (about $65) has a terrific easy-clean system to make life easier when the meal is finished.
Easier to clean with no ashes to dispose of, gas grills can be portable (LP tank) or not (direct connection to the home’s gas line). The Broil-Mate® natural gas grill (about $280) is an excellent entry-level gas option.
Electric models require the least amount of work but obviously need an electrical outlet. Salton’s George Foreman® Indoor/Outdoor Grill (about $70) helps to “knock out the fat.”
Whichever fuel source you choose, consider buying the best grill you can afford: While the higher-end models will cost a lot more up-front, they’ll pay off in terms of maintenance and quality in the long-run.
Size and Portability
Size is really a matter of your individual needs, so do some thinking before you make a purchase decision. Do you have a large family or is it just you and your spouse? Will you be doing a lot of backyard entertaining? What kinds of food will you be grilling – will you need room for big steaks and vegetable skewers, or will hot dogs and hamburgers more often be on the menu? Where will the grill be situated-on a spacious patio or a small deck?
Another factor is whether you’ll be transporting the grill. Do you plan on taking it to picnics or on camping trips? Do you want a unit you can place in the car for tailgating? If so, you’ll need a smaller model on wheels that can be easily packed for travel – I recommend the Weber Q® grill (about $180), the quintessential tailgate grill. If you’ll only be using the grill at home, a larger, stationary model will suffice.
Whether you are a grilling gourmet or just a backyard barbecuer, there is an array of gadgets to suit your needs: Multiple burners, smoker boxes, side shelves, rotisseries, condiment and utensil holders, clip-on lights, cabinets and large workspaces are just some of the available extras.
All in all, it really comes down to how upscale you want to go. While basic grills can cost under $100, top-of-the-line units can run over $1,000, and custom bricked-in patio models can fetch plenty more. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, ask the helpful folks at your neighborhood Turner Ace store.