The 7 Types of Grills: How to Choose?
Over the years, lots of different models of grill have flooded the market to cover almost every use. There’s the traditional small camping grill, old school barrel pit type, modern smoker/grill combo units, plus different fuels such as gas, charcoal, wood pellets and even electric.
Each model will have its pros and cons, and it pays to think about your grill use:
- Where you’ll use it (portability, access to mains power, ability to wheel over rough ground)?
- When you’ll use it (All season, summer months)?
- What you’ll be cooking (standard burgers and sausages, or will you want to smoke too)?
Once you’ve nailed down exactly what you want from a grill, it’s time to start researching! Don’t forget; some people often have two grills. One larger model that can cope with a party at home, and a small portable one they can throw in the back of an RV or camper van.
Types of Grills
1. Charcoal Grills
These are the traditional grill most people think of when you say “BBQ”. Charcoal is also the fuel that many enthusiasts love to use as it gives that perfect smoky flavor. Another benefit to using charcoal is that many grills will easily double as a smoker unit, something most cooks love to be able to do!
As for the negatives, they’re harder to keep clean thanks to the ash, plus you’ll need to give the grill time to get to a consistent cooking temperature. The accepted timeframe is about 20-30 minutes after first lighting. Whatever you do, please never cook on a freshly lit charcoal grill – that’s a surefire way to get food poisoning!
For those of you who are going to be cooking in cooler temperatures, it’s worth noting that charcoal grills can struggle to keep up during the Fall and Winter months.
2. Wood Fire Grill
Another popular choice for the enthusiast, wood grills are almost the same as charcoal grills, save for the difference in fuel. Typically, wood grills are open flame models and can’t be used for smoking. They’re also mostly associated with camping and beach use, making home versions much harder to come by.
On a more positive note, you’ll achieve a terrific flavor with a wood grill, and wood as a fuel is about as cheap as it comes – especially if you have access to trees you can cut yourself! There are also newer Pellet grills which use wood pellets to smoke/grill with. They come in a variety of flavors that most grillmasters are after with a wood fire grill.
3. Gas Grills
By far the most popular type in the USA, gas grills are easy to use, a breeze to achieve a consistent cookout and probably best for a newbie to the world of grilling. Temperature control is as easy as turning the gas knob, and most models with come with features like electronic ignition and temperature control.
Of course, all this convenience comes with a price. You’ll never realistically achieve the same smoky flavor with a gas grill as you would on a charcoal or wood unit. Gas units can also be expensive to purchase and operate, thanks to complex internal parts and the replacement of gas cylinders.
Still, gas is popular for a reason, and if you just need an outdoor grill for the occasional cookout, it’s probably the best choice.
4. Electric Grills
These are a relative modern newcomer to the world of grilling. Thanks to new technology, electric grills can be used outside, and getting up to temperature is as easy as plugging it in and setting the control knob to your desired setting.
Of course, the same “flavor” issue comes with the electric grill just as much as the gas. You’ll also have to consider the electric usage of the grill, just as with electric heaters and boilers – your meter will spin quickly once you start grilling! There’s also portability to consider too, although these units tend to be lightweight, you’ll always need access to mains power to get up and running.
5. Ceramic Grills
These grills are starting to become more and more popular. Even standard steel grills are being coated in porcelain enamel and with the good reason – the insulation properties are amazing! Ceramic grills are superb for smoking and they also make good grills too.
The downside to the ceramic grill is the price. These almost always sell at the top end of the market and you’ll probably not see them for sale at your local Wal-Mart. They can also be quite heavy and unsuitable for frequent transport.
6. Natural Gas Grills
If you want the propane ease of use, yet without the bottles, natural gas can be a good choice. These grills connect directly into your homes gas supply and provide all the same benefits of a good propane unit.
Of course, if you’re in the market for a natural gas grill, you’ll need to consider getting a qualified plumber to come and install the unit. In this respect, purchasing a natural gas grill is like replacing the oven/hob in your kitchen.
Like propane gas grills, you’ll also struggle to achieve that smoky charcoal flavor too.
7. Portable Grills
These are the cheapest and easiest grills to use. Mostly used for camping and beach parties, the portable grill can be carried in a car with ease and used wherever you want. On the negative side, you’ll be unable to cater for more than 10 people, and to cut down on weight, most portable grills will come without key features.