Home Grilling Grill Guides Guide to Selecting the Right Grill

Guide to Selecting the Right Grill

Grilling is a cooking method that involves heating up meat, vegetables, and other food items using dry heat produced by charcoal, gas, or electricity. Many people would say that grilling is one of the best cooking methods, as it enhances the flavor and the aroma of almost any food.

In order for you to perform the said cooking method, you will need to have a grill, which is an appliance that is specifically made for grilling different types of food or ingredients. With so many grills to choose from, which one is perfect or suitable for your preferences? To help you make a decision faster and easier, here is a guide to selecting the right grill.

What is a Grill?

grilling skewers on a grill

A grill is a type of appliance that is used to heat up or cook food using dry heat, which comes into contact with the food from the bottom or the side of the grill to the center. In order for us to understand how exactly grills cook food, let us take a look at the three methods of heating food, which are conduction, convection, and radiation.

Convection Cooking

Convention cooking occurs when the heat is carried by oil, water, or air and surrounds the food to be heated. One great example of convection cooking is boiling an egg using a pot that is filled with boiling water. Another example of convection cooking that is very popular today is air frying, wherein very hot air is utilized for frying food instead of frying it normally using a pan, cooking oil, and a stove. Gas grills, which is a specific type of grill, perform convection cooking when the lid at the top is closed, as it circulates the hot air produced by the heated gas around the food being cooked.

Conduction Cooking

Conduction cooking occurs when heat is applied directly to the food. A good example of conduction cooking is frying, wherein the pan heats up and applies direct heat to the food placed on it. The heat from the stove would transfer to the pan, and the pan would then concentrate the heat to its center. In addition to the pan, the grill’s cooking grate also performs conduction cooking, as it also heats up and creates grill marks on the surface of the food. [1]

Radiation Cooking

Radiation cooking is the process wherein light or heat waves travel from the source to the food that is being cooked. So, radiation cooking doesn’t produce direct contact between the source of the heat and the cooked food. There are two primary types of radiation cooking, which are infrared radiation and microwave radiation. [2]

In infrared radiation, the cooking appliance uses a ceramic or electric heating source that produces electromagnetic energy waves. These energy waves would then travel around or on the cooking appliance and would then heat up the food on or inside the appliance’s cooking container. For regular grills, infrared radiation cooking is made possible by burning coals under the cooking grate.

On the other hand, microwave radiation occurs when high-frequency waves travel through the food and agitate the food’s water molecules with friction to produce heat. As the name of this method already implies, the appliance that relies on microwave radiation cooking is the microwave oven, wherein the food inside the oven will be heated using radiation instead of gas or coal.

Different Methods of Grilling Food

There are different ways for grills to cook food, and these methods rely on the position of the food on the grill, as well as the materials used as a heat source or for the parts of the grill. Here are some details about the various ways that grills cook food.

Direct Heat

Direct heat is a grilling method wherein the food is placed at the center of the cooking grate. The grate absorbs heat from the charcoal or gas below and transfers it to the bottom surface of the food, thus creating grill marks. The heat that isn’t absorbed by the cooking would then flow around the grill when its lid is closed. The lid reflects convection heat, which would then help in heating up the food faster. [1]

Indirect Heat

Indirect heat is the grilling method where the food that is being cooked is placed on the side of the cooking grate rather than in the center. The cooking grate still absorbs the heat from the bottom of the grill and would still create grill marks on the food. However, most of the heat that travels to the top of the grill would move to the side, so it wouldn’t circulate as well compared to the direct heat method. Indirect would allow the food to cook much slower, which is recommended for specific meats or ingredients.

Lid-Off

The lid-off grilling method works similarly to the direct and indirect heat methods, but the difference is that the lid is taken off or lifted up the grill when cooking. Because there is no lid on the grill, the heat doesn’t circulate, so the only part of the food that is absorbing heat is the bottom. So, if you are going to grill a thick piece of meat using the lid-off method, you may need to turn it on its other side from time to time in order for the meat to cook properly.

Flat-Top

The flat-top grilling method involves a solid top or griddle that doesn’t have holes or empty sections, unlike the regular grills that have cooking grates where the heat can travel to the top. In the flat-top grilling method, the heat coming from the charcoal or gas is absorbed by the griddle, and the griddle heats up and cooks the food on top of it. [1]

The Different Types of Grills

There are different types of grills that people can choose from. Each type of grill offers its own set of pros and cons, so you would have to know more about each type in order for you to decide what is best or most suitable for your cooking. Here are pieces of information about the different types of grills.

Charcoal Grill

One of the most common types of grills is the charcoal grill. As its name already suggests, the charcoal grill gets its heat source from charcoal that continuously burns for hours while inside the grill. [3] The popularity of the charcoal grill is mainly attributed to how the charcoal gives the cooked food a “smoky” flavor. The downside to the charcoal grill is that the charcoal may take 15 to 30 minutes before it can produce enough heat for cooking food, but if you are patient and you really want the smoky flavor for your meat or dish, then the charcoal grill is perfect for you. Here are a few suggestions if you are looking for a good charcoal grill.

  • Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill – this is one of the most popular charcoal grills on the market, as it has a relatively good size for small backyard or patios. This charcoal grill has a barrel-style body that is made from heavy duty steel with powder coating for extra durability.
  • Cuisinart CCG-190 Portable Charcoal Grill – if you want a portable grill that is perfect for barbecue parties anywhere, you should get this CCG-190 charcoal grill by Cuisinart. This portable charcoal grill has a 150-square-inch chrome plated grate that is sufficient for grilling three pieces of steak simultaneously.

Gas Grill

If you want a grill that heats up much faster compared to the charcoal grill, then you should get the gas grill. The gas grill is the type of grill that gets its heat source from the gas line of your home, but there is also another type of gas grill called the propane grill, which is connected to a propane tank. [3]

As mentioned earlier, the main advantage of the gas grill is that it will heat up faster, so you don’t have to wait for 15 to 30 minutes anymore just to create a suitable temperature for grilling. However, the drawback to the gas grill is that it needs to be connected to a gas line whenever you use it, so you really can’t place the gas grill anywhere besides the areas where the gas line in your home is accessible. As for the propane grill, the propane tank can be quite heavy, so it is still not as portable as the charcoal grill. Here are two popular gas grills you should check out.

  • Char-Broil Performance 4-Burner Cabinet Style Gas Grill – this gas grill is one of the highly-rated on the market, and the reason why it is rated high by reviews is because of its durable stain steel burners that can cook different types of food and ingredients efficiently.
  • Cuisinart CGG-7400 4-Burner Gas Grill – another great gas grill is the CGG-7400 that is manufactured by Cuisinart. It has a 443-square-inch cooking space that allows you to cook up to 20 burger patties. In addition, it also has cast iron grates that are capable of even heat distribution and retention.

Electric Grill

Another type of grill that can heat up quickly is the electric grill. Instead of being connected to a gas line or propane tank, the electric grill is connected to the house’s electrical line. The biggest advantage of the electric grill is that it can retain its temperature even under cold climates or temperatures outdoors. So, even if it is freezing cold outside, you will still be able to grill food on an electric grill, as long as it is connected to a safe electrical outlet.

What’s also great about the electric grill is most of them have a relatively smaller body compared to other types of grills, so they are perfect if you don’t have enough space in the backyard or porch. However, the smaller size may be a con for some people that want to cook bigger portions of meats and dishes. Here are two of the best electric grills you can buy today.

  • George Foreman GGR50B Electric Grill – a very popular and best-selling electric grill is this George Foreman GGR50B, which features the brand’s tough nonstick coating, as well as an adjustable temperature control. If you don’t want to place this electric grill on a table, it comes with a removable stand so that you can place it anywhere in the backyard or patio.
  • Char-Broil Patio Bistro TRU-Infrared Electric Grill – another Char-Broil product is the Patio Bistro, which has TRU-infrared cooking technology that allows the electric grill to cook evenly without flare-ups or accidental burning on specific parts of the meat or other ingredients.

Kamado Grill

A peculiar type of grill is the Kamado grill, also known as the “egg grill” because of its egg-shaped body. The Kamado grill is arguably one of the most versatile cooking appliances in the market, as it can be used not only for grilling but also for smoking meats or cooking pizza. [3]

This type of grill uses charcoal as its heat source, and its egg-shaped container allows it to retain high temperatures better than most types of grills. But, the drawback to the Kamado grill is that it has a small cooking area, so you may not be able to grill or cook large portions of food on the grill in one go. Read below for two Kamado grills that we highly recommend.

  • Kamado Joe Classic Joe II Grill – the brand that popularized the Kamado grill is Kamado Joe, which has been making high-quality grills since 2009. The Classic Joe II is an upgraded version of the first iteration of the Kamado Joe grill, and it features a ceramic body with 18 inches of cooking space for grilling or smoking.
  • Char-Griller E16620 Akorn Kamado Grill – if you want to have other choices beside the Kamado Joe grills, you can check out this Akorn Kamado grill by Char-Griller. This Kamado grill has 20-inch cooking diameter that allows you to cook more than 25 burger patties at the same time.

Smoker Grill

If you just want to get the smokey flavor for different types of meat without overcooking them, then you should get a smoker grill. The smoker grill is basically a slow-cooker variant of charcoal and gas grills, as it is specifically made to grill food slowly at low temperatures. [4] The slow cooking process allows the grill to produce a much stronger smokey flavor for the food that you are cooking. What’s also nice about smoker grills is their large size, so you can already smoke plenty of meat in one go.

The disadvantage of smoker grills compared to other types of grills is that they will take hours to cook meat properly, and many of us don’t have a lot of time to use a grill. However, if you are going to organize a barbecue party with friends or family members, it is recommended that you use the smoker grill hours before the party begins so that the smoked food will already be ready for the party. 

In addition to longer cooking times, smoker grills can also be very expensive for some people. But the smoker grill is worth it to purchase if you truly want a stronger smokiness for your grilled dishes, as other types of grills cannot produce the same smokey flavor as the smoker grill. Here are two of our suggestions when it comes to great smoker grills.

  • Realcook Vertical Steel Charcoal Smoker – this is considered one of the best smokers today, as it has a large cooking space with two separate compartments that you can use as barbecue grills or smokers. This smoker also has a built-in thermometer so that you will have an easier time monitoring the temperature of the smoker and see if the meat inside will cook proper without being undercooked or overcooked.
  • Pit Boss PBV3A1 Electric Smoker – if you want an electric smoker instead, you can get the Pit Boss PBV3A1, which has integrated analog control and four porcelain cooking racks that are coating for durability. This electric smoker also has a front-loading wood chip tray so that you can easily take out or add more wood for smoking.

Portable Grill

For those that want to organize a barbecue party with friends or loved ones anywhere, the portable grill is arguably the best type of grill for them. The portable grills are designed to have a relatively small body size, and they are also compatible with smaller propane tanks for better portability. Most portable grills can run on 16-ounce propane tanks, and these tanks can then be stored in the built-in storage compartment under the grill. [5]

The cons to portable grills are that they are quite pricey, and most of them are not as durable as other types of grills because of their lightweight and thin parts. However, if you aren’t going to use it frequently or extensively, portable grills can last much longer. Check out two of the best portable grills below.

  • Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill – it may not look like a grill at first glance because of how small it is, but it is capable of grilling food as efficiently as the larger charcoal grills. This Everdure CUBE grill features a lightweight and compact body that is perfect to bring for camping or for barbecue parties at other people’s houses. 
  • George Forman GFO201R Electric Grill – this electric grill features a removable stand so that you can easily carry it around while also giving you the ability to place the grill on top of the table. The rectangular shape of this grill allows you to have more cooking space, as it has 200 square inches of grilling surface that can accommodate up to 12 servings of food.

Wood Pellet Grill

Another great grill that can do proper smoking is the wood pellet grill. This type of grill is an electric version of a charcoal grill, so its heat source comes from electricity, while the smokiness that it produces is from the wood pellets that are placed on the firepot. Because the wood pellet grill is electric, it can heat up faster than a charcoal grill and a smoker grill. So, if you want a faster way to smoke meats and other ingredients, the wood pellet grill is a suitable choice. [5]

The drawback to the wood pellet grill is that it needs to be connected to an electrical outlet, so you wouldn’t be able to place it anywhere compared to charcoal grills and smoker grills, which are not connected to anything since they have their own heat source. Furthermore, wood pellet grills can also be quite expensive, so be ready to shell out plenty of money if you really want to buy a wood pellet grill. Here are two great wood pellet grills you can check online or in physical stores.

  • Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill – one of the most versatile wood pellet grills on the market is the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill, which is not only a grill but also a smoker, an oven, and a roaster. This grill also has a 572-square-inch cooking space that is perfect for large barbecue parties.
  • Traeger Grills Ranger Portable Wood Pellet Grill – for portability, you can get this Ranger wood pellet grill made by Traeger Grills. This grill features a cast iron griddle that can cook any type of food evenly and efficiently, and it also has a cook timer that will tell you when it is time to check on the food you are cooking.

Rotisserie Grill

The rotisserie grill is a special type of open grill (a grill that doesn’t have a lid) that is specifically used for meats that need to be rotated slowly in order to cook properly. [4] One of the best delicacies that are cooked on rotisserie grills is roasted chicken, which needs to be rotated in order to have perfect browning on its skin.

Most rotisserie grills come with a cooking grate, so you will be able to grill other types of meat or food on the bottom of the rotisserie. So, the rotisserie grill is one of the most versatile types of grills you can buy, but the downside to it is that it doesn’t have a lid, so you may need to flip the food on the cooking grate every now and then in order for them to be cooked thoroughly. Check out these two great rotisserie grills.

  • PARTAKER Kettle Grill Rotisserie Kit – to cook great roasted chicken, you can get this kettle grill rotisserie kit by PARTAKER. This 22-inch kettle grill has a universal rotisserie attachment that is perfect for roasted chicken or for other types of meat. This grill also includes a kettle tool holder where you can place different tools and seasonings.
  • Commercial Bargains Portable Rotisserie Grill – this is a relatively large rotisserie grill that is suitable for grilling a roasted whole pig. However, it is still portable enough to be moved around anywhere in the backyard or front yard. It features a 30-watt motor that automatically rotates the rotisserie so that you don’t have to manually turn it.

Indoor Grill

The indoor grill is the type of grill that you can use inside your home and in your kitchen. Indoor grills are significantly smaller compared to charcoal grills, and they can also be placed on top of a counter. In order to not produce too much smoke in the kitchen, indoor grills get their heat source from electricity, so you would need to plug them into an electrical outlet for them to work.

Indoor grills are also inexpensive, so they may serve as the best entry point for those that want to try grilling for the first time. However, because of how small indoor grills are, they may not be suitable for people that want to cook a lot of food simultaneously. Moreover, unlike charcoal grills and smokers, indoor grills don’t really produce the smokey flavor, so the taste of the food you cook on indoor grills may not be as satisfying as the food cooked on outdoor grills. Here are two good indoor grills for you to check out.

  • T-fal OptiGrill XL Indoor Grill – this highly-rated indoor grill features an automatic cooking technology that analyzes the thickness of the food and bases the cooking time and temperature on the measurements. But, in order for it to have better accuracy in grilling, you would need to select one out of nine auto cooking programs, which include red meat, fish, pork, and sandwich.
  • Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill – another popular indoor grill is electric searing grill made by Hamilton Beach. This grill has a nonstick grilling plate that is very easy to clean after use, and it also has an extra-large drip tray that enables you to have a cleaner cooking surface since the tray catches the juices before they spill on the table or counter.

What You Should Consider When Buying a Grill

Now that you know about the different types of grills, you should then learn about the things that you need to consider when you are buying a grill. Because there are so many choices for grills, you would really need to be knowledgeable and meticulous when it comes to finding the best grills, as there will be some that may not suit your needs or may not be as high-quality as the others. Here are the things to consider when buying a grill.

Check for the Components of the Grill

There are some grills that don’t have complete parts, so you would need to make sure that the grill you are buying has every component needed for different methods of grilling so that you won’t have to buy parts separately. [6] Below is a list of components that a grill should have:

  • Burners
  • Cooking grates
  • Cooking system (direct heat, indirect heat, or a combo of both)

Advanced or modern grills would have more components than old-school grills, and the parts you will find on this new generation of grills include side burners, storage cabinets, heat shielding, infrared burners, and even LED lights at the exterior of the grill so that you will be able to do some grilling at night.

Know Where the Grill is Made

A good way to know if the grill is made from high-quality materials and assembled with care is to know where it is made. Most of the best grills today are made in the United States of America, although these grills are usually more expensive compared to the grills that are made overseas. However, if you want a grill that would last much longer and would cook food with better efficiency, then it is worth it to buy an American-made grill. [6]

Research the Reputation of the Grill’s Brand

The country where the grill is made is typically not enough to know if a grill is high-quality, as there are some US brands out there that don’t really make good products or items for their customers. So, you will also need to know about the reputation of the grill’s brand. If the reputation of the brand is good, then you will most likely have a much better time picking grills from the brand since you already know that their products are reliable and durable.

Check Out Reviews of Popular Grills

In order to have an easier time learning about the reputation of different brands, as well as the quality of the grills they make, then you should read or watch reviews of various grills online. With reviews, you will be given every piece of information that you need to know about popular or best-selling grills, from their pros and cons to their unique features that may be helpful for people that are new to grilling. If you also don’t have a lot of time to check out grills one by one, reading or watching reviews is suitable for you, as it will only take you a few minutes to know all the things you need to decide if a specific grill is perfect for you and your home.

Find Out if the Grill Has a Warranty

Another thing that you should look for when buying a grill is the warranty, as this will guarantee that you can get your grill replaced or repaired if you ever experience issues with it. Even though many people reviewed a specific grill to be durable, there will be instances where the grill may have issues or damages in certain parts or components. If your grill has a warranty, then you can easily take it to the brand’s repair or customer care center to get it replaced or fixed. Most brands offer a 1-year warranty, but there are a few that provide a lifetime warranty for their customers.

And these are all the things you should know when buying a grill in physical stores or online shops. While it is recommended to check out grills one by one in physical stores, many of us don’t really have the luxury of using many hours of our day just to find the best grill. 

Fortunately, there are reviews and online guides that will help you make the choosing process much faster and easier for you. Use this guide so that you will have a hassle-free time finding the best grills on the market.

References

[1] Meathead Goldwyn. (2020, August 21). Meathead’s Science of Grilling. Leite’s Culinaria. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://leitesculinaria.com/105312/writings-how-grilling-works.html

[2] Traylor, R. The Relationship Between Heat Transfer and Cooking. Webstaurant Store Blog. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.webstaurantstore.com/blog/postdetails.cfm?post=976

[3] Ballis, S. (2021, April 29). Which Type of Grill is Right for You? What to Know Before You Buy. All Recipes. Retrieved November 7, 2022, from https://www.allrecipes.com/article/types-of-grills/

[4] Raichlen, S. Crash Course: The 6 Major Types of Grills. Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://barbecuebible.com/2016/03/18/6-types-grills/

[5] Naru, L. (2022, July 11). The Most Common Types of Grills, Explained. Taste of Home. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-choose-a-grill/

[6] The Outdoor Appliance Store. 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Grill. The Outdoor Appliance Store. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.theoutdoorappliancestore.com/5-things-consider-buying-grill/ 

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