What To Look For When Buying A BBQ

Backyard BBQs can be a big part of summertime. Outdoor grilling can give you and your family the best memories (and the best steaks) of your life. Only worrying about how to season your meat this summer can leave you feeling rest assured knowing all your other needs are being met with the best barbecue for you. But how do you choose the right one?

Here are some factors to consider when thinking of buying a new barbecue:

Fuel

The choice is no longer between only gas or charcoal. When shopping, you’ll have to choose from gas, charcoal, and other types of grills on the market.

Pellet Grills

Pellet grills are fueled by wood pellets which offer the added taste of cooking with wood. These pellets are safe and easy-to-use that come in a variety of flavours based on the type of wood used. These grills have unmatched precision with digital thermostats that allow you to choose a precise cooking temperature.

Electric Grills

Electric grills can be small and convenient for travelling and camping.
This type of grill runs on electricity, making it a great alternative to other grills when things like a gas grill are inaccessible. Electric produces fewer fumes and smoke, making it possible to use even indoors! They even come in a portable model!

Smoker Grills

A smoker BBQ uses heat from smoke instead of heat that is generated directly from a fuel source. Smokers cook food with less heat over longer time periods and leave behind that delicious, smokey flavour.

Gas Grills

A gas grill is one of the most convenient and common grills to have, you just have to turn on the burners to start the grill and you’re good to go! Gas grill models are available in either natural gas, by a fixed gas line, or propane by removable and refillable propane tanks. Propane barbeques are more generally more common than natural gas barbeques. They can come with many additional feature options including multiple burners, automatic igniters, and many more accessories.

If you choose a propane grill, check to see if a propane tank is included in the price as this can add $20-$30 to your cost to buy it separately.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills you a great degree of heat control as you determine the amount by the size of fire you build. The primary fuel source for these types of units is lump or briquette charcoal, or you could use wood chips to mimic a smoker grill. Charcoal has fewer flare-ups produced than gas units as drippings are caught by the charcoal underneath safely.
Purchasing a new BBQ for a good price.

Price

A barbecue can range anywhere from $150 to $10,000. You can find grills at your local grocery store, hardware store and even department store. There are hundreds of grills on the market and these local stores will only carry a few types. Knowing how much you are willing to spend will help narrow your search down a lot but the amount you spend on yours will affect the quality and capabilities of your new grill.

Durability

The metal and materials that the grill is made out of is also something to consider. The main body of most grills is usually made from cast aluminum, cast iron, sheet metal or stainless steel depending on the fuel type and model. Stainless steel is the favoured material when it comes to cooking equipment, and the most expensive, but not all stainless steel is made the same. But the truth is that most cast aluminum will usually outlast the quality of stainless steel.

When you chose your material, make sure to check out the whole grill and see how it is put together. The material of the frame is something to look for, not just the body to look for a sign of potential rust development. Some brands and manufacturers can take shortcuts with the materials in their barbecues like some stainless steel grills have frames that are only painted with steel that will rust over time.

Size

When it comes to choosing a size, consider how you plan on using your grill, are hosting regular backyard BBQs or just feeding your family? Generally, measure 50 square inches (or 322 cm2) of cook space per portion of food. It is handy to have a grill that is large enough to have multiple cooking zones for things like searing, or slower cooking.
Someone using their new barbecue grill for homemade burgers.
Other things to consider in the size is if it can fit a rotisserie spit in it (that some bbq brands can accommodate) or, if you plan on hosting big events, you might want a grill that has more prep area with things like side burners or warming areas that would increase your size.

BTU (Heat)

British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a measure of the maximum heat produced when a grill’s main burners are on high. Higher BTUs don’t necessarily mean higher temperature or more heat. The range of how hot your barbecue models surface and its heat efficiency comes from other factors as well, like having a well-fitting lid, a back that isn’t open, and a good thickness of the sides for heat retention. Don’t purchase a grill based on a high BTU number, instead compare the number with the size of the grill. More compact grills can create a higher temperature to cook food with lower BTUs.

When you choose your BBQ, the cooking surface is more important than the BTUs, but 35,000-45,000 BTU is good for grilling light meats and vegetables while 50,000-60,000 BTUs are good for searing and grilling heavier meats like steak.

Grates and Burners

Cooking grates are something to consider. A good cooking grate will capture and hold heat, creating those impressive grill lines we all love. Higher quality BBQs have stainless steel grates that conduct heat evenly and are easy to clean and upkeep. Most commonly BBQ grates are made from porcelain-coated cast iron or porcelain-coated wire. A porcelain grate cooks and cleans well for a basic grate. Burners in gas grills are what produce the flames and typically run in straight lines under the grates. Grills can have tented bars or “flavourizers” that cover the burners to protect them from getting clogged while vaporizing any drippings that fall adding to the flavour of your food. The more burners you get the more you will be able to control the cooking temperature. A one-burner grill will cost you less but will have more cold spots, while two to four burner grills will let you create different cooking zones with various temperatures.

Extra Features

There are many extra features that can be added or come with a grill. Things like a side burner, multiple cooking surfaces, smoker boxes, rotisserie burner, lights, and many more things! Different models have different add ons but remember that a basic grill will do a lot of stuff and most extra features don’t get the same amount of use. These will cost you more money so knowing what features you will actually use is a good idea.
Pellet grill with a digital thermostat for temperature control.

Accessories like different grates that produce different temperatures, warming racks to keep food hot, utensil storage space, side burners for all these extras can be useful but can add unnecessary expenses to the price and take up more physical space in your backyard if you can’t afford that. Consider what you will realistically use often; just because you could deep fry a whole pig while rolling out bread at your bbq, doesn’t mean you will do those things.

Lastly, some tips and things to think about before bringing home a new BBQ and introducing it to your family are things like required assembly, the brand’s warranty that is provided, and how easily parts are replaced and available to you if there is a need for replacement. You want to be outdoor grilling food on the perfect grill, not struggling to put it together or having it fall apart and leaving you paying more for repairs or replacement parts.

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