Grills are our summer kitchens, and everyone has their favorite style and needs. There are, however, a few practical things to consider before you buy.
1. Charcoal or gas. There are people who believe that grilling should only be done over charcoal. They argue that the flavor is enhanced by the coals. There are pros and cons to both styles. Charcoal and gas will both require a fuel source, however, propane grills are faster to heat up, and cool down. You also don’t have the mess of charcoal ash to deal with.
If you are going to be using the grill for smoking, then you should probably go with the charcoal grill. This grill will burn both charcoal and wood, and works best for long, slow smoking techniques.
Charcoal fires take a little more work to maintain, and you occasionally have to add more briquettes to the fire to maintain temperature, but die hard grillers think that this is worth the trouble.
Not all propane grills have the same features. Some have extra side burners, just as your kitchen range. Others may have temperature controls. What features you choose pretty much depends on the price you are willing to pay.
Whichever grill you choose, check out the grates. Stainless steel, cast iron and ceramic are all options. Stainless will stick easier than the others.
2. Don’t buy the biggest and most expensive grill you come across only to find that you don’t need that size, or don’t have room for it. Determine how many people you will normally be feeding, and how large or small your barbecue area is. For smaller families, a tabletop or small free standing grill might do the job.
If you have a large family or are planning on having large parties, you will, of course, need something that has more grilling surface. Large, propane grills can be larger than your indoor range, and you will need a large patio, deck or backyard area to use and store it.
3. Whatever you decide on, make sure that it has wheels so that you can roll it around. Also, it’s a very good idea to buy a grill that has side shelves, either permanent or the kind that fold down. You will need this room for your grilling accessories.
4. Stainless steel grills are easier to take care of than those that are painted. The heat from the grill will scorch, mar, and eventually destroy painted surfaces.
5. Unless your grilling needs only consists of a few hot dogs or burgers, you will definitely benefit from having a grill with a hood. Many foods need longer cooking times, and you will want some method to maintain the temperature inside the grill.
6. Look for cleanability when purchasing a grill. Will it be easy to remove the ashes from the charcoal grill or clean out the drip tray with a propane model? Clean up after grilling is important, and should be easy.
7. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is stable. Charcoal or propane, the grill is going to be hot and you need to know that it is not going to fall or tilt while in service.