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A Guide to Barbecue Grills


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images

Having a backyard barbecue is the quintessential summer activity. There's nothing like the smell of grilled meat wafting through the warm air. Hot dogs with perfect grill marks, juicy burgers, chicken kebabs, grilled corn—the possibilities are endless when it comes to grilling food outside. In general, there are six major types of grills on the market. Choosing a grill comes down to personal preference and style of cooking. Keep reading to discover how they work, what they can do and which one is right for you.

Gas Grills

Gas grills are the most popular choice in the United States. They are quick to heat up, they run on efficient natural gas or propane and they are easy to clean. Gas grills are ideal for the casual griller who likes to make burgers or steaks without a lot of prep time.

Freestanding Gas Grills

Freestanding gas grills come on wheels to they can easily be transported or moved around.

Built-in Gas Grills

Built-in gas grills are an attractive part of your outdoor entertaining area. They take up less room than free-standing grills.

Infrared Gas Grills

Instead of relying on hot air to heat the food on the grill, infrared gas grills use gas to heat a solid element that radiates heat into the food. The heating element also heats the air, creating some convection, but less air is circulated and therefore the food retains more moisture. Infrared grills can also cook foods faster with their high heat.

Natural Gas Grills

Natural gas grills typically use the same source of gas that heats your home. They are efficient, fast and easy to use.

Pros + Cons of Gas Grills

Pros: Quickly heats up, minimal prep time, easy to clean

Cons: Lacks the traditional smoky flavor of a charcoal grill, doesn't get as hot as charcoal grills, can be very expensive

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are a classic choice for backyard barbecues. They require store-bought charcoal that is lit with lighter fluid and burns out over the course of a few hours. These grills are ideal for grill masters who have some time on their hands to light the coals, let them heat up, grill the food, then let the coals slowly cool down. Cleanup is also a bit messy, but the smoky flavor of your food is worth it.

Charcoal Kettle Grills

Kettle grills are much smaller than traditional charcoal grills and are much easier to to transport. These are ideal for on-the-go barbecues for tailgating or camping.

Kamado Grills

Kamado grills, which originated in Japan, are ceramic, egg-shaped grills that retain heat and moisture. They start up quickly, and the enclosed grill allows the smoke to penetrate the food better.

Traditional Charcoal Grills

These grills are typically made with heavy duty cast iron. If you're seeking old-school grilling and the ultimate smoky flavor, this grill is for you.

Pros + Cons of Charcoal Grills

Pros: Higher heat, smokier flavor, traditional method of grilling

Cons: Take longer to heat up, messier prep and cleanup, difficult to keep hot in high winds and cold temperatures

Electric Grills

These grills are as easy as plugging them in and grilling away. They're perfect for indoor grilling.

Pros + Cons of Electric Grills

Pros: Great for low-maintenance grilling, no mess of charcoal, can grill indoors, fast and easy to use

Cons: Lack traditional smoky flavor, can't grill where there aren't electrical outlets

Wood Fire/Pellet Grills

Wood fire/pellet grills provide the unbeatable flavor of meat cooked over a wood-burning fire. Throw it back to caveman times with this type of grill.

Pros + Cons of Wood Fire/Pellet Grills

Pros: old-school, traditional style of grilling with unique flavor

Cons: Takes time to get the fire going and then burned down enough to start grilling food, can be expensive

Header image courtesy of Carnivore Style