Once the climate begins to grow a little more pleasant outdoors and the birds begin to chirp, if you are like me you will start to yearn for some grilled cuisine.
During the months of spring and summer one of the nicest ways to appreciate the outdoors is to get together family and friends and cooks some incredible food over a hot grill. Just like every other appliance seems to be evolving the same is happening with BBQ grills. This makes things all the more challenging when it comes down to choosing the right choice for you.
There is a big range of outdoor cooking devices to choose from as well as grills there are smokers and Pizza ovens, wok burners and Crawfish cookers. Pretty much anything you can cook indoors can be cooked outdoors and usually tastes better!
This overview should serve to help make the experience of choosing an outdoor cooking option easier for you.
The Different types of Grill for Cooking Outdoors
We shall start off by introducing the various types of grills that are used for outdoor cooking
A charcoal grill is likely to be at the top of many folks list. They are user-friendly and the charcoal provides that unique barbeque flavor to the meat that is being prepared. They are uncomplicated to use consisting of a big steel container that holds the hot charcoal that is used to heat your food. They are economical and dependable.
Charcoal Grill can generate a huge amount of heat which makes them ideal for searing steaks. Having said the downside is the time it takes to achieve these high temperatures. Its usually about 20 minutes for a charcoal grill to heat up completely. Even then the heat might not be distributed evenly over the cooking area.
Charcoal is also easy to obtain and you are likely to find it in your local stores but also the negative is that charcoal grills over the long term tend to have a greater fuel cost.
If you want to cook on high temperatures and like seared steaks and that smoky authentic BBQ flavor then charcoal is the way to go.
There are some drawbacks as well. For instance the set up process is more involved than using a gas grill and it can take longer to reach the heat required for cooking. Also they can be more messy as the ash that is generated after burning charcoal means that it involves the most post cook clean than other grills.
If you would like to do your grilling on your patio this can be done with an electric grill. An electric grill obviously required that you will need an electrical socket available nearby. It uses a conventional electric heating element to cook the food.
Much the same as gas grill they don’t really transform the flavor the food that you are cooking. The advantages are that the temperatures are easy to control and that the heat is also evenly distributed.
But electric grills normally are not capable of reaching the high temperature levels that a charcoal or gas grill will perform at.
One advantage is the safety aspect – in that you can use it in an enclosed patio or on a balcony area.
If you are a city dweller living in an apartment these are ideal .
Natural Gas Grills
If you are using these types of grill then you will need to have a professional install a dedicated gas line.
Though they are more expensive to install they do tend to reduce fuel costs over the long term.
Natural gas grills tend to heat up fast and are easy to clean. Many of the newer grills have more added features so that you can do much more than just grilling on them.
The disadvantages of these grills are the price to get the natural gas installed.
Propane grills are extremely popular. Simple to use and without the dreaded clean up afterwards that charcoal requires. Preparation for cooking just requires the turn of a knob and a press of a button.
Yep! That easy!
Propane grills often come with additional features such as side burners and infrared.
If you are looking for an easy to use grill that is affordable then propane will likely be top of your list.
The main thing with propane is to make sure that you have enough propane in your tank. It’s always wise to have a spare tank around just in case.
If you love slow cooked cuisine which has that distinct, smokey flavor then you are likely to appreciate the benefits of buying a smoker. Smokers immerse the meat or vegetables in billows of smoke so at to add that smoked flavor that a lot of us love. This kind dof grill is made specifically for long, slow cooking at a low temperature. Smokers do require patience but the wait is well worth it when you produce that authentic taste. Just imaging those slow cooked, fall of the bone ribs is making me salivate!
Wood Pellet Grills
These types of grills use hardwood pellets as fuel. They use a digital control system which automatically dispenses the quantity of wood pellets required based upon the temperature which you’ve selected. Making using of an induction fan which draws in and circulates outside air, producing a convention oven style cooking experience. This method provides a cooking surface that is even similar to using a gas grill. Because the pellets generate smoke while they are burning, the food items will get a smoky flavor which you’d typically get when using a charcoal grill. Using this kind of grill you get a great mix of outdoor cooking styles.
The disadvantages of using a wood pellet grill would be that they are typically more costly and because they are dependent on electricity it makes them less portable.
While ceramic grills have been around for a very long time they have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. They are constructed from porcelain glazed ceramic. These types of grill make use of the ceramic material, the shape and a dome shaped lid to efficiently retain heat and moisture.
Ceramic grills also have two dampers located on the bottom and top of the grill these control the airflow and the internal temperature. It’s essential that you make effective use of the dampers. To provide a higher temperature you keep the dampers open and if you want a lower temperature then you have to close them. keep in mind that the dampers are going to get very hot, if you are going to make adjustments make certain you wear some heat resistant gloves.
Charcoal is the fuel choice for ceramic grills. They are able to offer temperatures that vary between 150 degrees up to 700 degrees. Due to this they are excellent for 2 Zone System Grilling. This offers you the option to cook on both direct heat and indirect heat.
The versatility of these grills is the main selling point and they look pretty good to! The disadvantages would be that they tend to be fairly costly and because of their weight portability might be an issue.
Do your homework if you are thinking of buying a ceramic grill as some of the ‘branded’ names are twice the price of the lesser known [but just as effective] models.
What size Grill Do you Need?
When you begin to look for the ideal grill the first thing to think about is its size. You need to consider space you will require for your grill. Who are you planning on Grilling for? Is it just you and your close family or will you be grilling for large groups of people?
If you are living in an apartment or condominium a portable grill should be adequate. Its very easy to get carried away when buying a grill so think ahead and determine the size and capacity you will need.
You should take note of the size of the cooking grate most manufacturers specify the size of the main grilling area. Some grills have a warming rack as well. If you check through reviews of grills on Amazon many of the reviewers discuss the amount of food they cooked on their grills and the types of food items that cook best.
When you are planning to buy a barbecue grill ensure that the grill is able to produce sufficient heat to meet your requirements. Don’t choose a grill just because it has the highest BTU’s. You need to compare the Number of BTU’s with the size and shape of the grill. Grills that are fairly compact will provide higher cooking temperature levels with lower BTU’s and can prepare food equally as well.
The Different Features of a Grill
Each and every grill is likely to have its own variety of components which can improve your experience of grilling. Check out some of the features below if you want to find out the ones you would like or the ones you can do with out.
Grates – Most grates come in two different types you have stainless steel ones or enameled porcelain. Both are fine to use and both prevent rusting. Porcelain also makes a very good insulator.
Burners – If you have a burner you have the ability to have much more control over the temperature of your grill. They also help with direct and indirect heating.
Side burners are used for cooking pots or other items you want to have but shouldn’t be placed on a grill. If you get a grill that has a side burner, you will be able to cook a full course meal on the grill, without having to visit your kitchen.
Infrared Burners – this is a new type of technology that has started to be used with many grills. They are useful for searing meat and providing a uniform heat.
Electronic Igniter – This makes grilling even easier with a push of the button your grill will ignite quickly and effortlessly.
Rotisseries – If you want to cook a whole chicken cooking it on a rotisserie is a great option. Some grills have this option as a nice add on.
Other Outdoor Cooking Options
If you love to spend time in your backyard and enjoy a good cookout apart from the weather there is nothing stopping you cooking pretty much anything outdoors.
There are dedicated wok Burners, Pizza ovens you can even cook crawfish outdoors.
Some folks even enjoy brewing up beer in their Backyards, its much safer and you don’t have a house smelling of beer being brewed!
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you enjoy backyard living check out some of our other articles about chilling and grilling in your backyard idyll.