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How To Select the Perfect Outdoor Grill for Summer

Outdoor Grill

Stews and roasts are perfect for the chilly winter months, but when warmer weather rolls around, the best meals are those made on the grill. The possibilities are endless, really: steaks and burgers, of course, but chicken and fish are also great when cooked over a fire, as are big veggies and kabobs. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, pizza on the grill is a fantastic treat that even picky eaters will love.

Summer is just around the corner, and if you don’t have your own outdoor grill, it’s time to think about getting one. There are lots of choices for all sorts of cooking preferences and every budget, but which grill is the best one for you? Here are five things to consider as you shop for the perfect outdoor grill for summer.

Charcoal or Gas

How your grill is fueled is probably the biggest decision you’ll have to make before you buy one. Your two main choices are charcoal or gas, and each one offers distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Fans of charcoal grills will tell you that you absolutely can’t beat the flavor of cooking over open coals. It simply tastes like outdoor cooking, and is much more pronounced and delicious than any other cooking medium. Sure, you’re still grilling when you use gas, but you miss out on the beautiful flavor that charcoal imparts.

However, charcoal takes a little while to get going before it’s ready to use; you can’t just light it and start cooking. With a gas grill, you just turn it on and you can start cooking in a few minutes. With charcoal, you’ve got to either prime a pile of coals with some lighter fluid or load up a charcoal chimney with newspaper and coals, then get them burning, then wait for them to ash over, then spread them out, and then preheat your grate before you can even put your first steak on. This is a process that can take as long as 45 minutes, so if you decide to cook with charcoal, you’ve got to plan ahead a little.

Charcoal also needs to fully extinguish before you can put your grill away. You can speed this process up a little by cutting off the coals’ oxygen supply, but again, it can take an hour or longer for coals to finally die out and cool off. Again, turning off a gas grill is a much more immediate process; you do still need to let it cool down before putting it away.

Finally, charcoal is messy — and there’s really no getting around that fact. This is the real trade off for the flavor that you get, and it’s a trade that not everyone is willing to make. Charcoal grills need to be cleaned out after each use, a lousy job no matter how you do it. Gas grills need to be maintained, but there’s no dirty ash to deal with.

What do both styles have in common? Whether you go charcoal or gas, you’ll have to replenish your fuel from time to time, either as bags of charcoal or briquettes or as tanks of propane. (The only exception to this is if you have a natural gas line on your patio and can hook up your grill directly to it.) Ultimately, while charcoal is a tastier way to grill, the convenience and ease of gas is a huge selling point for a lot of people.

Metal or Ceramic

The majority of grills that you see, whether they’re charcoal or gas, are metal. It’s a material that’s fairly lightweight, inexpensive to manufacture, and able to withstand the intense heat of grilling. However, in recent years, ceramic grills have increased in popularity. This is in large part to their superior ability to retain heat and moisture, making anything that’s prepared on them more evenly cooked and juicy.

It would seem, then, that a ceramic grill would be the way to go, but they offer a few definite disadvantages. For starters, they’re heavier than their metal counterparts. And, while they’re relatively durable, they are a lot more susceptible to cracking or breaking than metal grills. But the real downside to ceramic grills are their price; it’s tough to find even a small ceramic grill for under $300. Go for a larger one, and you’re looking at a few hundred more, putting them out of the price range of many consumers.

Grill or Smoker Combo

Most grills are just that: grills. However, some people want to get actual barbecue, or slow smoked meats, from their outdoor grill. While you can technically smoke in any kettle grill, individuals who prefer the smoky taste of barbecue may want to consider a combination grill and smoker. Ordinary consumer models are typically taller models that look sort of droid-like (think R2D2), with extra room in the bottom for wood, while more expensive commercial models are shaped more like an oil tank; some can even cook an entire hog.

Outdoor grill and smoker combos will typically cost twice as much or more as regular grills, so smoking is a feature you’ll have to really want to make it worthwhile. If you’re just interested in grilling, though, a combination grill and smoker is probably not worth the investment.

Size

The size of the grill that’s best for you is largely dependent on how much you’ll be cooking at once. Large families, for example, will probably want to spend more money on a larger grill; a smaller one can be adequate, but it will take a few rounds to cook enough food to feed everyone. Couples or individuals who live alone, however, can get away with a smaller, less expensive model.

Price

What’s your budget? Even if you’ve got a family of six or more to feed, there’s still a grill within your price range. As mentioned, material, size, and smoking features will all significantly affect your cost. It’s also important to remember, though, that cheap grills typically won’t last as long as well-made (but more expensive) ones. Our best advice is to buy the most well-made product that you can afford, and with proper maintenance, it should last for many summers to come

Get Cooking!

Summer is almost here, and it’s the best time to shop for an outdoor grill. Perhaps the best part of buying a grill, no matter what style or size you choose, is that you can usually set them up and have them ready to use within an hour or two. What are you waiting for? Pick up an outdoor grill today, and you’ll be able to enjoy a fantastic meal cooked on those grates tonight.

Written by Housely

I craft the best articles on home renovation, real estate sales, and home decorating ideas found on the Internet.