Types of Grills

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Updated September 29, 2022

If you are new to the world of outdoor cooking, you may wonder about the various types of grills out there. The best grills, after all, are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and feature sets, with different fuel sources and cooking processes. So which grill type is best for your next outdoor gathering? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • There are kinds of grills out there to suit a wide variety of tastes and cooking styles. Your preferred type of grill is out there.
  • The most popular options are propane gas grills and charcoal grills, though electric models are increasing in popularity.
  • For smoking meats and low and slow cooking, go with a pellet grill or a kamado grill. Another popular type of grill is the portable grill.

Grill Types Explained

Gas and charcoal grills make up the vast majority of commercially available products if you are comparing Nexgrill vs Blackstone. Some grills use electricity, however, if you are searching for the greatest electric grills. There are even indoor BBQ grills for those who want to avoid the outdoors.

Insider Tip

Measure your outdoor space before making a final decision to ensure you have enough room for your chosen grill.

Many grills are made in the USA if you wonder where Weber grills are made. Others include robust and advanced additional features if you are comparing the Char-Griller 980 vs the Masterbuilt 1050.

Gas Grills

Gas grills, which use natural gas or propane as the primary fuel source, are extremely popular, as they are relatively budget-friendly and excel with cooking a wide variety of ingredients. Getting a natural gas line installed in the home can be something of a hassle, but propane tanks solve this problem. Another benefit of gas grills is that they don’t use electricity at all, so you can use them while camping without any fuss.

Modern glass grills come with all kinds of advanced features like temperature sensors, smartphone integration, flat-top cooking surfaces, and more.

Reasons to Buy

  • It’s a gas grill. These have become standard for a reason. They are easy to use and reliable.
  • They do not require electricity to operate, making them great for camping or living off the grid.
  • If going with a natural gas grill, you won’t ever have to replace tanks or worry about your fuel source running out.

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Propane tanks are cumbersome and only provide around 15 hours of cooking time.
  • You will need to install a natural gas line for certain grills, which may not be available in your area.
  • Some areas require a permit for natural gas grills, though not for propane-based grills.

Tips on Buying a Gas Grill

  • If money is tight, go with a propane-based grill over one that uses natural gas to avoid the price of installing a new line.
  • Comparison shop to find a model that is large enough for your needs and includes features you are likely to use.
  • If buying a propane grill, make sure also to purchase a propane tank to go along with the appliance.

Charcoal Grills

As the name suggests, these grills use charcoal briquettes as a primary fuel source. This makes them great for a wide variety of cooking applications, including smoking meats. Charcoal grills also burn hotter with more charcoal, giving a fairly analog method of temperature control.

This makes them easy to use and allows would-be chefs to create hot and cool zones throughout the grill based on charcoal placement. Charcoal grills are available in many different configurations and setups to suit many modern grill masters.

Reasons to Buy

  • They are much better than gas grills for smoking meats at low temperatures.
  • You can reuse charcoal briquettes before they lose effectiveness, saving on money and easing fuel-related frustration.
  • They also get really hot with enough charcoal, making them great for searing meats.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • They can take a while to light, especially when compared to gas grills.
  • There is a fairly steep learning curve with using charcoal grills before you will master heat regulation.
  • Charcoal grills get pretty messy during use and require frequent cleanings.

Tips for Buying a Charcoal Grill

  • Look for a model with plenty of room, especially if you will be smoking meat.
  • Remember, long cooks require multiple charcoal applications, so have plenty on hand.
  • Modern appliances include certain tech-forward features, like smart assistant integration. Go for one of these if that is your bag.

Pellet Grills

Pellets and charcoal grills are similar in using processed wood as the primary fuel source. Wood pellets are ultra-compressed pieces of wood that burn for a long time, making them ideal for smoking and “low and slow” cooking. Pellet grills feature dedicated fireboxes for adding and removing pellets, making them pretty convenient.

Pellet grills are known for imparting a unique and ubiquitous smoky flavor to ingredients, particularly certain cuts of meat.

Reasons to Buy

  • If you want that delicious smoky flavor when cooking meat and vegetables, this is your best bet.
  • Pellet grills are known for cooking ingredients evenly, so this is a great option for new chefs.
  • This type of grill excels with low and slow cooking, including slow-roasting brisket and the like.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Pellet grills are somewhat new technology, so they can get pretty expensive.
  • Many pellet grills require electricity for the ignition process, so they won’t be the best fit for camping.
  • Not great for searing meats or other cooking tasks that require ultra-high temperatures.

Tips for Buying Pellet Grills

  • Shop for sales if you want to get a pellet grill without breaking the bank.
  • Make sure also to purchase pellets and store them in an airtight container, as they do not react well to humidity.
  • Since many require electricity, look for other enhanced features such as digital thermostats.

Electric Grills and Indoor Grills

Electric grills are powered by electricity, so they do not need an external fuel source like gas or wood. This makes them especially desirable for those with limited space outside or those who don’t want to learn the ins and outs of alternative fuel sources.

Additionally, electric-powered grills can also be used indoors, as they don’t create too much smoke during use. This varies, however, according to the make and model and various regulations regarding indoor cooking.

Reasons to Buy

  • Extremely easy to use. Just turn it on, adjust the temperature, and you are ready to go.
  • You don’t need a natural gas connection, a propane tank, charcoal briquettes, or wood pellets.
  • Some electric grills can be used indoors, with surprisingly robust temperature ranges.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • There will be no smoky flavor to speak of, as these grills don’t really produce any smoke.
  • Electric grills tend to be on the smaller side, so don’t expect them to feed a large family.
  • You need electricity, so these are not for use in camping or off-the-grid type scenarios.

Tips for Buying Electric Grills

  • Since you are already using electricity, look for models with digital thermostats and other bells and whistles.
  • Make sure the model you choose is certified for indoor use, if that is your intention, as not electric grills fit the bill.
  • Some electric grills integrate with smartphone apps, which can be handy for tracking progress.

Kamado Grills

These cute little grills are a sub-category of charcoal cooking appliances, just wrapped in an adorable egg-like shell. Kamado grills are primarily ceramic and shine as portable options in a pinch. Though small and cute, however, these grills can get extremely hot due to the nature of the design.

Warning

Make sure to clean and properly maintain your grill, as dirty grills can start a fire.

They are also great at maintaining low temperatures for smoking and engaging in “low and slow” barbecue recipes. In other words, they excel at both ends of the temperature spectrum.

Reasons to Buy

  • They get really hot for searing. They do low temps for smoking. Kamado grills are surprisingly versatile.
  • The enclosed cooking area translates to an increase in smoky flavors, particularly meats.
  • Kamado grills are made for portability, so they are small and light.

Reasons Not to Buy

  • They tend not to feature much surface area, so not great for large families.
  • They take a long time to light, especially when compared to natural gas or propane grills.
  • There is a learning curve before you get the hang of temperature control. You are going to burn some steaks at first.

STAT: Grill grates can be made from cast iron, chrome-, or porcelain-coated steel. (source)

Tips for Buying Kamado Grills

  • These are available in many unique designs and colors, so pick one that suits your personal taste.
  • Practice makes perfect. Watch some YouTube tutorials before committing to a purchase.
  • Remember that kamado grills often use charcoal, so have some on hand.

Grill Type FAQs

What's your grilling style?

Depending on your grilling style, you may prefer indirect heat or certain heat sources. If you want slow cooking, go for a pellet smoker or lump charcoal. If you want high heat, go for gas-powered grills.

How to choose the right grill for you?

There are many grills out there, so choose based on desired fuel source and cooking style. Kettle grills are great portable options, and wood pellet grills are great for smoking. There are also plenty of different types of charcoal grills with different feature sets.

How large of a grill do you need?

Size is extremely important here, as you need room on the grill grates to cook enough food for friends and family. Always go a little bit larger than you think.
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