There’s something primal about cooking your food over an open flame, and a barbecue makes the task easy. With so many options available on the market, it can be tricky to know just which barbecue is the best for your grilling needs. Whether you’re buying your first grill, or upgrading your current BBQ, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about how to select the best barbecue for your needs.
Probably the most important factor when choosing a BBQ is the size. You want a grill that is big enough to accommodate the amount of food you typically cook, with enough space to let you cook food at multiple temperatures. Ideally you want one zone for searing, one for slower cooking, and another for finishing. Grills come in sizes ranging from extra large to compact, perfect for big family get-togethers or apartment grilling. Generally speaking, a small grill can handle about 18 or fewer burgers, medium grills 18-28, and large grills 28 or more.
Another important consideration when BBQ shopping is what type of fuel it uses. Natural gas barbecues are convenient if you already have a gas line installed outside, and provide a constant fuel source. Propane barbecues are another popular option, and also start quickly. They do require the use of a propane cylinder which will require filling from time to time. There are many grills that can be converted from propane to natural gas with a simple conversion kit – just look for those with a convertible valve system if you plan to install a natural gas line down the road.
Finally, there are charcoal and electric grills, which use charcoal briquettes and electricity, accordingly. Electric grills heat up quickly and are easy to control, but don’t give the same taste as other options. Charcoal grills impart an authentic BBQ flavor to foods, but take a while to set up, and aren’t as precise with temperature control.
If grilling year-round is something you’re keen on, experts recommend investing in a barbecue made from stainless steel. This way it can withstand being left out in any kind of weather condition, from blazing hot summers to snowy winters. Stainless steel units will cost more, but the longevity is worth the added price. Aluminum and sheet metal grills will be more affordable, but might only last one or two seasons before they need to be replaced. Avoid models with sharp metal corners and edges for added safety.
The stability of a barbecue is important in order to help prevent tipping. Give any grill a good jostle from multiple points to check its sturdiness and build quality. A grill with a stainless steel cart with seamless construction and welded joints tends to be more sturdy than painted steel carts assembled with nuts and bolts.
Stainless steel and coated cast iron cooking grates give the best sear and maintain cooking heat, with stainless steel being the better pick for long-term use. Porcelain-coated or wire grates are more budget-friendly options, and have good non-stick capabilities.
A side burner (or two) comes in handy for preparing other parts of a meal, such as boiling a pot of corn or frying vegetables. They’re also good for use with a cast iron pan.
Electronic igniters are generally easier and more reliable than their rotary or push-button counterparts. Simply replace the battery as needed, and you’ll always be ready to grill.
Perfect for roasting a whole chicken, a rotisserie burner and accessories are a feature typically seen on higher-end models.
Some grills feature LED backlighting on the control knobs or panel, which makes it easier to see what you’re doing in the dark.
Pull-out Propane Tank Tray
Barbecues with a pull-out tray for the propane tank to sit on make turning the tank on and off a cinch, and allow for smoother tank changes.
Many grills come with wheels or casters at all four corners or legs, which makes it easier to move and maneuver your grill into place.
The BTU rating of a BBQ is a measurement of the amount of heat output it provides, which doesn’t necessarily mean a faster cooking time. It’s best to focus on the size, fuel source, and features of a BBQ before worrying about the BTU rating. That said, a grill of between 65,000 and 100,000 BTUs should be plenty powerful enough for most home cooks.
If you don’t need a grill right away, wait until August or September to purchase one. This is because retailers need to clear them out in order to make room for holiday merchandise, and lower the prices accordingly. Expect to invest anywhere from $100-$3,500 or more for a barbecue, depending on the size, quality, and features.
Protect Your Investment
If you’re going to invest several hundred dollars or more on a new grill, you want to protect your investment. Investing in a barbecue cover will help keep the exterior of your unit looking new for years to come. A wooden scraper makes fast work of cleaning the grates, without the potential danger of metal wire brushes. Don’t forget to clean your grill after each use, and make regular grate oiling a part of your routine maintenance.
Don’t forget to check the Flipp app to find the best deals on barbecue supplies for your grilling needs. Add scrapers, covers, and tools to your Flipp shopping list to check for sales and to make sure you don't forget anything on your barbecue supplies list.