4 Types of BBQ Grill: Which is Best for You?

Sep 18, 2018 | Blog

Over the years different types of grills have flooded the market to cover almost every possible use. There are the traditional small camping grills, old-school pit barrel, even modern smoker/grill combo units. They also can vary based on fuel sources such as gas, charcoal, wood pellets, and even electric.

Each model will have its pros and cons, and it pays to think about what you need a grill for. Barbeque Smoked calls this the three Ws. Where will you be cooking? When will you be cooking? What will you be cooking?

Let’s take a look at these four styles and see what they have to offer.

Four Different Styles of Barbecue Grills

1. Charcoal and Wood Fire Grills

Charcoal is the most traditional grill when it comes to barbecue. It is also the preferred fuel source for that perfect smoky flavor. Another benefit to using charcoal is that many grills will easily double as a smoker, something most cooks love to be able to do!

We included wood in this selection as you can also incorporate flavors of wood chips with your charcoal for added smoky flavor. Both of these fuel sources are interchangeable.

The Downsides

While the charcoal grill is a classic, they definitely have some drawbacks. The first being that they can get dirty rather quickly. Since you are using charcoal as your fuel source, the grill will produce a lot of ash. Most grills will have integrated ash collection systems which make it easy to dispose of.

The next issue is the time it takes for the grill to reach the appropriate cooking temperature. Depending on the method you used to make your fire, it can take up to 30 minutes before you can start cooking. These grills perform well in spring and summer, but in cooler months like winter and fall, they can be a pain at keeping a consistent temperature.

What to Look for

When it comes to shopping for charcoal grills, you can get units as low as $50 and upwards of $300. One of the best in the business when it comes to charcoal is Weber. Beginners and enthusiasts alike can attest to the quality and construction of these grills. If you’ve never used a charcoal grill, consider the Weber kettle grill as it’s rather inexpensive and perfect for learning various cooking techniques like direct and indirect cooking.

If you’re looking to start smoking, the Weber bullet is about as good as it gets. The bullet smoker is so popular there are entire competitions dedicated to them.

2. Propane and Natural Gas Grills

Gas grills are by far the most popular in the United States. They are easy to use, a breeze to achieve a consistent temperature, and are probably the best for newbies and average families. Temperature control is as easy as turning the gas knob, and most models come with features like electronic ignition for a painless start.

There are two different styles when it comes to gas grills. Most people are familiar with propane, but sometimes they can be converted to use natural gas. Natural gas options are convenient but only if you have access to a natural gas line.

The Downsides

While gas grills are fairly easy to operate, they definitely have drawbacks. One of the most noticeable is the lack of smoky flavor you can achieve. Like the first option, the charcoal has a smoky flavor you can infuse into your food, where-as gas will just cook your food at a high temperature.

The next obvious downside is the price. Gas grills are always going to be more expensive than charcoal. This is because of the engineering and moving parts involved.

Another issue you may run into is inconsistent burners. This is a very real problem in this industry and one you can test for with bread. Meathead Goldwyn from AmazingRibs goes over this concept better than we ever could, check out his article here.

What to Look For

When it comes to gas grills you want to consider the number of burners you will need. This number is directly related to the cooking surface; the greater the cooking surface the more burners required.

Like we mentioned before, this grill is the most popular in the United States. Manufacturers have average families in mind and will often include additional side burners and infrared searing options. Consider these when making your decision.

On average these grills range from $100 and go up into the thousands. Natural gas grills are usually the ones in that thousand dollar range.


3. Electric Grills

Electric grills are somewhat of a newcomer in the world of grilling and smoking. Thanks to technology, electric grills can be used indoors and outdoors. They are great for getting a consistent temperature by turning the control knob to your desired setting.

These grills are most common among people who live in cities and are also used by people who need a portable grill on a budget.

The Downsides

Similar to gas, the taste is somewhat lackluster. Sure, they can produce grill marks, but what are grill marks without the smoky flavor?

What to Look for

Luckily, this is where electric grills shine. Some of these can run as cheap as $50. With that said, the smoker variety can quickly spike in price up to $500. While these run off of electricity they will commonly use pellets, or briquettes as a fuel source.

4. Pellet Grills

Pellet grills are quickly taking over the barbecue market. These grills combine elements from a few different styles, and that’s what makes them so solid. For instance, they are powered by electricity, they use wood pellets for fuel, and they are just as easy as gas grills to start and dial in a temperature.

Pellet grills use small pellets as their fuel source. They come in a variety of flavors and blends, similar to the wood option above. These pellets are loaded into a large hopper and fed down a tube with an auger. The auger pulls the pellets to a firepot where a hot rod will burn the pellets. All the while, an induction fan stokes the fire so the heat and smoke can rise into the barrel. Under the grill grates is drip tray to prevent grease from reaching the firepot.

The Downsides

Like all the other options, there are a few issues we should mention.

The first problem is that most of these grills are in the higher price range. The price is somewhat justified considering it has several of the benefits of every grill we’ve listed so far.

The second problem is similar to charcoal in that you should always have a backstock of pellets. The weight of the bags varies based on the flavor of the pellet. If it’s a specialized blend you may only be able to buy 20 lbs, whereas a popular blend like hickory or mesquite is readily available in 40 lb bags. Depending on how often you grill, a 40 lb bag could last you 2-3 months.

The last issue is that it needs electricity in order to operate. This means that the grill isn’t really portable.

What to Look for

The first thing to consider is the price. On average these grills will run from $400 to $1000. The prices are often a result of larger cooking surface, increased hopper capacity, and features like temperature probes and digital readouts.

Billy Stewart

Chef and Reviewer for Barbequesmoked.com

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