What's the best grill you can get? That's a question you might very well be pondering right around now, whether you're aiming to buy soon or are already slinging burgers on one—and wondering if you made the right choice. Did you?
After all, as Derrick Riches, backyard chef and barbecue expert at TheSpruce.com points out, there’s a broad range of product lines for outdoor grills, and they "have one of the widest price ranges of any consumer product."
Moreover, prices for outdoor grills are increasing, because grill makers are putting a lot of bells and whistles on products that most ordinary humans simply don’t need, Riches says. Costs for such add-ons—like
infrared burners, flavorizer bars, and rotisserie burners—can add up. Thus, Riches advises shopping for only enhancements that you need or at least will actually use. (Of course, it's still fun to see what high-end grill models are on the market today.)
Description: Gas grills typically use liquid propane or natural gas as their fuel source. They became a backyard favorite in the 1960s as an alternative to charcoal grills.
Pros: Riches says gas grills are cheaper to operate over time than charcoal grills.
“You can spend $20 to refill your propane tank for a dozen cookouts, whereas charcoal grill refills only get you three or four cookouts,” he says.
They’re also convenient to use—most heat up within 10 to 15 minutes, hold temperatures steady, and clean easily, because drips are usually vaporized.
“If you want a grill that you can come home and fire up on a Tuesday night to cook up chops quickly, you’re probably better off with a gas grill,” says Riches.
Cons: “The flavor isn’t as authentic as you get with a charcoal grill,” says Riches. Most gas grills also don’t radiate as much heat as charcoal grills; gas grills typically reach only 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Price range: $100 to $5,000
Description: Charcoal grills use briquettes or all-natural lump charcoal. When burned, the charcoal transforms into embers and radiates heat up toward the top vent. Charcoal grills come in all shapes and sizes, including ceramic cooker, brazier, barrel grill, kettle grill, pellet grill, square charcoal grill, and Japanese hibachi.
Pros: They impart a “more authentic, smokier flavor” to food than gas grills because you’re burning wood, says Riches. They also generate more heat than gas grills, with some charcoal grills reaching 700 degrees.
Cons: Charcoal is dirty to handle and creates a lot of ash, which make the grills hard to clean. It also has higher operating costs, because it's more expensive than refueling gas. Charcoal grills also take longer to fire up, and can be more difficult in terms of temperature control than gas grills.
Price range: $100 to $2,000