Before you buy a grill, these tips for choosing the best grill might be helpful!
One of my family’s favorite activities is cooking on our patio. My husband loves to grill sausages, steaks, and hamburgers — as well as the occasional vegetable I squeeze in.
Besides the atmosphere and delicious flavors, the main reason I love grilling outdoors is because I don’t have to do as much “cooking.” Instead of feeling chained to the grill watching our food cook, I can enjoy hanging out with the family in our garden!
The grill is definitely my husband’s domain. He loves experimenting with different styles of outdoor cooking.
Over the years, we’ve tried a variety of outdoor cookers:
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages — and if he had his druthers, my husband would fill our patio with the full lineup of every outdoor cooking tool available!
Looking to buy a grill, but not sure which one to get?
I’m going to outline the pros and cons of some of the best types of outdoor grills to help you choose one that fits your family’s needs.
TIP: With the cooler weather coming, you may even score a discount!
#1 – Charcoal Grills
Price: $90 to $200+
For the purists out there, nothing beats the traditional chargrilled taste of barbecue cooked over an open flame, powered by good old-fashioned charcoal briquettes.
To achieve this classic flavor, you’ll need a charcoal grill — which is still the most affordable outdoor cooking option. However, that affordability comes with sacrifices in terms of convenience and time.
Charcoal grills require more patience than gas-powered grills. They’re also messier and more difficult to clean.
Charcoal grills can get super hot — making them great for searing those beautiful grill marks. But they also take a good 20 to 40 minutes to heat up — meaning you need to plan ahead.
Similar to a gas grill, the food is cooked on a grate over the fuel source. But the heat is controlled by the number of briquettes you use and by regulating airflow — making it trickier to work with than gas.
The biggest selling point of a charcoal grill is that unique, smoky BBQ flavor you get from charcoal cooking. According to my cousin, a Southern-raised barbecue professional, charcoal is the only way to go. He won’t cook on anything else!
Kettle-Style Charcoal Grills
Traditional charcoal “kettle” grills are a lot simpler than gas grills.
They have no mechanical parts. — that means there are fewer elements that might fail and no burners to clog up.
Inexpensive and lightweight, a kettle-style charcoal grill is ideal for small spaces and tight budgets!
Cart-Style Charcoal Grills
A step up from the kettle grill is the barrel or cart-style charcoal grill.
Cart-style grills are much larger with more surface area for your cookout cuisine — making them a good option for larger families or those who entertain often.
A cart-style charcoal grill also tends to have heavy-duty porcelain and cast-iron components, which should last longer.
Many models offer the option of a smoker add-on, giving you some more versatility in your outdoor cooking.
#2 – Ceramic Grills
Price: $300 to $800+
These dome-shaped grills are unique and fun, and they come in different colors — which can help jazz up your outdoor space!
They use the same fuel as charcoal grills, but the ceramic material they’re made from is excellent at retaining heat, and their shape helps radiate that heat back into the food.
This means you can cook food longer while still retaining moisture or sear at high temperatures.
Although they’re significantly more expensive than most other grills, ceramic grills are well worth the investment.
In addition to searing, grilling, and smoking meats & vegetables, a ceramic grill can also replicate a wood oven and be used for baking pizzas and bread.
Versatility is the biggest benefit of this cooker — but the high price and lack of portability (they are very heavy) mean they’re not the perfect fit for everyone.
#3 – Electric Grills
Price: $70 to $180
Unlike charcoal grills that impart flavor to the food from the cooking source, electric grills don’t affect flavor at all.
They also can’t get as hot as charcoal or gas grills — so searing is trickier.
However, they are very user-friendly and simple to operate.
Electric grills are best for small spaces, balconies, or other places it might not be safe or convenient to use a charcoal or gas grill.
TIP: An electric grill is the only type of grill that can be safely used indoors.
#4 – Gas Grills
Price: $200 to $1,500+
The clean simplicity of a propane grill (or natural gas grill) really does make it stand out as an all-around great outdoor cooker.
Quick, even heating, easy start-up, simple cleaning, and lots of versatility make gas grills the workhorse of the outdoor cooking realm.
The only real sacrifice is that smoky BBQ flavor.
The simple controls and fast heat of a gas-powered grill mean you can easily increase the temperature to sear at a high heat or lower it to cook using indirect heat.
The electronic ignition makes a gas grill easy to use. It’s also easy to clean.
TIP: To clean a gas grill, simply let it burn super-hot for a few minutes, then simply brush away the debris once it’s cooled using a high-quality BBQ grill brush.
Gas grills come in lots of shapes and sizes, with add-ons and options — such as propane burners, rotisserie burners, infrared grilling, and even built-in coolers — so you can easily turn your gas grill into a full-on outdoor kitchen if you want to!
With a wide range of price options and the ability to heat up quickly and evenly, a gas grill is a perfect fit for families.