The BBQ Grilling Guide
Back in the good old days, Dad would wheel the grill out of the garage, fill it with charcoal, douse the briquette with lighter fluid and start a glorious fire to cook our Fourth of July meal.
While many grill masters today still extol the virtues of charcoal, others enjoy the convenience of gas grills, while a few have become wood pellet converts. If you are not familiar with wood pellet grills, or if you are in the market for a new backyard cooking device, check out our list of the top 32 barbecue grills.
1) Char-Griller 2-2424 Charcoal Grill | 2) Char-Broil Charcoal/Gas/Smoker Combo | 3) Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Grill | 4) Blackstone 3-in-1 Kabob Charcoal Grill | 5) Master Cook Propane Gas Grill | 6) Char-Broil American Gourmet Offset Smoker | 7) Camp Chef SmokePro DLX Pellet Grill | 8) Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill | 9) Camco 57305 Olympian 5500 Portable Grill | 10) Bonfire 3 burner propane grill | 11) Magma Marine Kettle Gas Grill | 12) Napoleon BILEX730RBIPSS Propane Gas Grill | 13) Masterbuilt 20070910 Electric Digital Smoker | 14) Cuisinart CCG-190RB Charcoal Grill | 15) Party Griller 32” Charcoal Grill | 16) Char-Broil Bistro Electric Grill | 17) Char Broil Performance 475 Gas Grill | 18) George Foreman GFO201RX Electric Grill | 19) Hamilton Beach 25361 Indoor Grill | 20) Weber 67014001 Natural Gas Grill | 21) Marsh Allen 30052AMZ Hibachi Charcoal Grill | 22) Zojirushi EB-CC15 Electric Grill | 23) Tayama TG-868 Tayama Indoor Grill | 24) Weber 51010001 Q1200 Propane Grill | 25) Lynx L600PS Sedona 36-Inch Gas Grill | 26) Lion Premium L75625 32″ Propane Grill | 27) Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gas Grill | 28) George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill | 29) Coleman Road Trip Propane Portable Grill | 30) Char-Broil Classic 280 Gas Grill | 31) Weber 46100001 Spirit S210 Gas Grill | 32) Weber 46810001 Propane Gas Grill |
Types of Barbecues and Grills
There are three major types of grills, being gas, charcoal or pit.
Today, gas grills are by and far the most popular on the market. Commonly using propane to ignite and hold the flame, they also use natural gas direct from the home. They are quick, reliable, consistent and the easiest to learn on. The come in various sizes and when building an outdoor kitchen, are often the most common found as the main cooking source.
Easily kept clean, they often start at one or two burners (the flame source) and extend past the five to seven mark. Ideally, you want at least two burners to provide you with the option of cooking on direct and indirect heat sources.
For daily grillers and party hosts, the gas grill is one of the most worthwhile investments you can cook on. Starting at under $100, they range in price upwards of $50,000 for a gas kitchen or some custom models by companies like Lynx.
Aside from choosing a gas grill with two or more burners, you also want to invest in one with a good temperature gauge and, ideally, a marker that shows how much propane you have left in the tank. I myself always pick a grill that either comes with or has the option to attach an aftermarket rotisserie which makes cooking meats like chicken, duck, roasts or lamb a lot of fun.
A great benchmark gas grill is the Weber Genesis that should serve you well, no matter if you are a single family or an apartment building owner with 50 units – it will always work reliably. If you want to be mobile, take a look at these portable gas grill versions.
You can even buy a stand for them that allow you to use it at home. While they are perfectly fine for burgers and brats, you will not get the same heat you would get from a full-size grill, and so it is not ideal for searing steaks or fish. Of course, you can use it for finer cuts, and it is better to have a grill than no grill at all, just bear in mind that is has certain limitations.
Charcoal grills are my favorite grills and I especially recommend the Weber 22″ charcoal grill or the Big Green Egg if you’re as frequent a barbecuer as I am. Although I own a large seven burner gas grill, I reserve my gas grill for quick grilling on weeknights when I’m tired or when I’m cooking for large groups of people.
Sometimes, I’ll also use it as an auxiliary cook source if my charcoal grill is too full or I want to seperate the flavor profiles without them marrying together. A good example of that is if I’m barbecuing ribs and my homemade bourbon baked beans but want to quickly grill up some veggies on the side.
Charcoal grills burn much hotter and drier than gas grills for the most part which helps to sear the meats and invoke a naturally smoked flavor. Aside from making better food (in my opinion), they’re also far less costly than gas grills, but do require a bit of a learning curve and more of a time investment.
When buying a charcoal grill, my favorites are the kettle style or egg shaped grills which, in my opinion, provide a much more satisfying grill experience.
The dome of the lid actually helps to allow both direct and indirect cooking and therefore makes it an ideal choice for your daily barbecue. They aren’t usually very large, but you can buy larger table grills. For the most part, charcoal grills come in camp size perfect for traveling up to about 25 inches or a little more depending on the manufacturer.
Unlike a gas grill, a charcoal grill relies on one of the following types of fuel to make and maintain the flame:
Charcoal briquettes are probably the most common fuel source for a charcoal grill, although the one that I don’t recommend. Often they come with various chemicals or additives treated into them such as borax, petroleum or coal dust. It makes them easier to light, but they aren’t as natural as the lump charcoal and can often alter the flavor of the food.
Lump Hardwood Charcoal
This is my go-to for the grill. Lump, real hardwood charcoal that’s untreated and left for me to play with. The lump charcoal is something we can consider organic, and like anything organic, is usually more expensive. However, not by much.
If a large bag of briquettes costs you $16 at the store, the lump charcoal might be around $18. It takes a bit more effort to light, but it burns far hotter and imparts the smoke you’re looking for from a charcoal grill.
Like the fire pit listed below, the hardwood logs are also one of my favorite fuel methods to cook over. They are often used simply to enhance flavor, but if your money or neighborhood allows it, try using them in lieu of the charcoal. I will warn you though, it takes far more effort.
Not something to use as a primary fuel source, wood chips are used to impart wood and smoke flavors into the food. Able to be purchased in bulk or by the bag, wood chips come in a variety of flavors including hickory, cherrry, oak, pecan, mesquite and apple, among others.
One point that’s noteworthy is that not all wood is conducive to cooking. If you try using your leftover Christmas tree you’ll be very saddened to find that softer woods impart some very harsh flavors into the food. You might as well add bug repellent to your marinade.