If you’ve got enough scratch to be looking at premium gas grills, then you’re in luck. Why? Because the under $1000 range, down to about $800, is one of the sweet spots for gas grills. You’ll get a lot of features for the price in a solid, long-lasting grill.
Check prices on our favorite premium gas grill at Amazon
As you’ll see at the bottom of the page, we’re aiming to discuss grills priced between $800 and $1000. Getting the best value grill in that price range is going to narrow things down a bit. Truthfully, the $800-$1000 range is under served. There should be more companies making grills in the range. But as you can see by the list above, it’s pretty limited. So without further adieu, here is our pick…
The Genesis II E-410 is a great grill. It’s got an excellent balance of solid build, great grilling capability and some nice features that make it an excellent buy for the price. While its retail price might be just a bit over, you’ll be able to find this best rated gas grill for under $1000 in many places.
Why is it so great?
First up, the build:
Four burners is nice, giving the grill a bit of space to work with. 646 sq inches isn’t massive, but you’ll notice that in the under $1000 range, it’s on the larger side.
Stainless steel everything is great, but the associated costs with building an all stainless grill will shoot it out of this price range. The Genesis uses a mix of porcelain-enameled cast iron (solid, cost-effective choice) and stainless steel. Kinda the best of both worlds.
One nice thing about the E-410 is it is iGrill 3 ready. Meaning you can buy the $100 dollar plus Bluetooth temperature gauge, put it on your grill and have the data from the temperature probes show up on your phone.
Another thing we like is the open cart design. While it might not look as nice as doors, in theory it’s easier to build, allowing Weber to put the money elsewhere in the grill. Plus, it makes it much easier to get to stuff under the grill.
Keep in mind – at this price range, you’re not getting an entirely stainless steel grill. The frame and lid will have cast aluminum or iron. Weber claims a welded tube frame, as opposed to rivets, which should lend a fair amount of stability over the years.
One thing we like to take a look at: the warranty. Weber warranties the cookbox, lid assembly, burners, ignition system and grease management system for 10 years in regards to no rust-through or burn-through. The Flavorizer bars and grate are for 5 years and everything else for 2.
A note – the grease management system. Props to Weber for trying something even though it looks decidedly lo-tech. Any drippings are guided down into the drip pan at the bottom. Easy to get to, no muss, no fuss.
Some people have reported wind issues. Unknown if they were grilling in a wind tunnel as the pan is supposed to lock in place fairly well.
The bigger issues – bugs and animals. Perhaps the random dog or cat that really likes the drippings of what you’re cooking. Being open like it is, you’ll need to keep an eye on it.
Barring that one issue, the Weber Genesis II E-410 is a fantastic choice.
Check prices on our favorite premium gas grill at Amazon
Up next is a non-Weber grill. I mention that because Weber seems to have a lock on so many awesome grills at so many price points.
But there’s competition.
The Saber Cast 500 is a solid grill. The major difference it has with the Genesis II E-410 is the Saber Cast is an infrared grill.
Yup, this $1000 bad boy is an infrared grill, meaning we don’t fully understand the science behind it. I mean, we would, but here’s the important thing – it cooks awesomely.
Okay, a little science – infrared cooking means the food isn’t being cooked directly over a flame. The burners are each in their own little stainless steel box. They direct their heat at a perforated sheet of stainless steel, which is directly under the grates.
If it sounds like they’re putting an uncessary extra step in the process, you’d be half wrong. There is an extra step, but for infrared cooking, it’s crucial.
But here’s the great thing about infrared cooking: no flareups. Because the food is not directly over a flame there are no flareups. The hot grates allow you to sear a steak and get decent grill marks. Also, because the heat is radiating upwards towards the food, as opposed to hot air and flames in regular grilling, the food will dry out much slower, resulting in juicier steaks, shrimp, hot dogs, chicken, etc.
Is it perfect? No. It’s still a fairly simple grill. And if infrared was such a perfect way of cooking, it would have overtaken the grill market, but it hasn’t. Some people like the old ways.
I’ll put it this way – my next grill, I’m going to take a hard look at an infrared gas grill. If it will produce moister food, with less flareups and make everything easier, I’m all for it.
Oh, and they claim it uses 30% less fuel. Which is kinda sweet.
Here are the specs:
Only issues that seem to come up are these: If you leave it outside and uncovered rain can roll down the lid and get into the drip pan. Solution: don’t leave your $1000 grill outside and uncovered. Either get a cover for it, bring it inside, or stand over it lovingly with an umbrella. Also, some people have reported trouble with low temperatures. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
Last point – the warranty. Stainless steel (except grates and burners) are lifetime for structural integrity. Meaning they may look bad, but if they’re not falling apart, then they just look bad. Burners are ten years, grates are five and everything else is two. If it falls under warranty, they’ll replace it, but you’re on the hook for installation. All in all, a decent warranty.
Check prices on the Saber Cast 500 at Amazon
“Hold on,” you might be saying. “That’s a dinky little grill for the price.”
You might be right. Or, like that little kid who knocked me out in high school (Hi, Matt!) the Genesis II LX E-240 just might be punching above its weight.
The obvious question is why does a grill this small cost this much?
The answer is simple: build.
Let’s take a look at some specs.
That right there at the bottom is the reason for a two-burner grill to come in just under $1000. The Weber Genesis II e-410 is a physically larger grill with 4 burners, but its grates and Flavorizer bars are made out of porcelain coated ceramic. While the Genesis II LX E-240 only has two burners, it has more stainless steel where it counts.
Bonus points for being iGrill3 compatible as well as including a light (although that light is… small).
If you’re looking for a great quality smaller grill constructed with upgraded materials, the LX E-240 is a grill to look at. However, if you simply need a larger grilling area, the other grills here, like the Genesis II E-410, the Saber Cast 500 or the Broil King Regal S490, might be a better match for you. Otherwise, this compact gas grill might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Check prices on the Weber Genesis II LX E-240 at Amazon
Remember all the stuff we said about balancing features with build quality?
It all gets thrown out the window when it comes to the Broil King Regal S490 Pro
4 burners? Check. Side burner? Yup. Rotisserie included? Bird yes. More stainless steel than you can shake a grill mop at? Yes, yes and yes. Made in the USA? You bet.
Honestly, we don’t know how Broil King does it. They pack more features into a grill in this price range than any other company.
Which makes us pause. If it’s too good to be true… Yeah, we can’t say that’s the case with the Regal S490 Pro, but we’re wary.
The one thing that starts to make us pause is the warranty. The cookbox has a limited lifetime warranty with the burners and rotisserie burner getting a ten year guarantee. The Flav-R-Wave cooking system, grates and other stainless cart components all get 5 years with everything else (including the paint) coming in at 2 years. Honestly, that’s a little slim. And makes us wonder if it was built better, might the warranty also be better?
That’s the main reason we don’t put this grill as our top pick. If Broil King had an amazing reputation of making fantastic grills that last for years and they backed it up with a warranty to rival Weber or Saber Cast, we’d put it in the top spot.
While they’ve got a decent reputation, their warranty doesn’t instill a lot of confidence for the long haul. But, that’s us.
If you really need a rotisserie or the 4 burner size, then have at it. Or, if you’ve got no problem with plunking down another grand for a grill sooner rather than later, then take a shot on the Broil King Regal S490 Pro. Just make sure you know what you’re getting.
Check prices on the Broil King Regal S490 Pro at Amazon
The $800 – $1000 range of premium gas grills is, in our opinion, a great price range to be shopping for a grill. While most grills in this range won’t have as many bells and whistles as the higher priced luxury grills, you’ll walk away with a solidly built grill for your hard-earned money.
Does that mean all the grills in this price range are fantastic? Heck no! That’s the purpose for this whole article. We’re pointing out a few of the models we think stand out at this price point.
What should you look for?
Honestly, no frills.
Generally, the fancier the grill gets, the quality of the product will drop comparatively. Meaning you’ll get a fancy grill that likely won’t last that long. Or that will be more expensive than the price range we’re looking at here.
You’re not going to find an all-stainless steel grill that is built well with good quality steel for under $1000 that’s going to last ten years. As much as we’d all like it to happen, it’s just not.
In other words, avoid the built-in things. The refrigerators, the ovens, the islands: avoid those. Rotisseries, maybe. Look for a grill that cooks and cooks well. Yes, there will be stainless steel. But I’d try to stay away from it as much as you can. Why? It costs the manufacturer more. And to come in under a certain price point, they’ll scrimp elsewhere.
Make sure you read the warranty. See what it covers and compare it to other grills you’re looking at buying. Once purchased, make sure you register it. Grills from major manufacturers will streamline the warranty and repair process. Store brands, and some other major brands, too, may not stand behind their products as much. Weber, Broil King and other major brands have reputations to uphold and will stand behind their products as long as they’re taken care of.
The under $1000 gas grill market is a great price range because you are able to find grills with some decent quality features. The top-selling, top-rated brand in this range is the Weber for a good reason – they make a great grill. There are others, of course. We’ve listed some below. But as always, be wary of grills from unknown or less than reliable manufacturers. Check the warranty carefully. And don’t forget to focus on the most important function of all in a grill – how well it cooks.
A few things to note:
If you’re not quite ready to spend a thousand bucks on a shiny new gas grill, here are a few posts you might want to take a look at:
Buying A New Gas Grill? Check Out These Best Rated Gas Grills
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $300
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $500
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $800
Portable Gas Grills – Best Of Both Worlds
Good Luck! Oh, and stop on by again and tell us what you think.
Note: When you purchase something after clicking a link on our website, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
In many ways portable gas grills represent the best compromise in terms of convenience and flavor. While of course not as full featured as their bigger brothers they can do a fairly respectable job of grilling up some good food (assuming you’ve got the requisite skills). Add in the fact that you can take them far more places and store them in spaces that you can’t even begin to think of putting a full size gas grill and you’ve got a winning combination.
Portable Gas Grills vs Portable Charcoal Grills
While we do have a love for portable charcoal grills (see here) the fine folks here at LTB do know that sometimes gas is just so much easier than charcoal it isn’t even funny. Yes, charcoal does produce a better flavor on some foods (but not all). Yes there is a traditionalist/classical aspect to charcoal that can’t be ignored. But if you factor in the portability of the grill then portable charcoal grills, while awesome, can start to lose points quickly when compared to portable gas grills.
Places And Situations Where A Portable Gas Grill Can Shine
While they aren’t going to win over the “charcoal rules” crowd anytime soon, if you’re looking for a grill that is easy to transport, easy to setup and less messy, then here are some situations where the gas grill might win out:
So when does a portable charcoal grill win out? Whenever you are willing or able to deal with lugging the briquettes around, hassle with the charcoal cleanup and are allowed to by whatever group governs where you are going to be grilling.
What To Look For
First thing is going to be fuel source. Most portable gas bbqs are going to run off of the standard 14 ounce gas canister that you can find pretty much anywhere. Make sure you can find them in your area, can order plenty to keep on hand, or can get them in the place you plan on going to. If your grill does not utilize the standard size canister, is there an adapter? Will you be able to get ahold of the canisters they require the next time you want to do some grilling? What about a few years down the road?
A fair number of these propane powered grills will have adapter hoses and connectors that allow them to be used with larger 20 pound propane tanks and canisters. Some can even be hooked up to the propane connectors on RVs. If that’s something you’re interested in or may be interested in, find out before you buy the grill, not after.
Next up is going to be cooking ability matched with what you are likely to cook. Most portable grills are going to do fine with hamburgers, hotdogs, kebabs, steaks, chicken pieces and the like. Standard grilling fare. Expect much more than this and you might be disappointed. If there is a special item you know you’re going to be cooking you might want to do some research specifically for that kind of food on the grills you look at. Other than that, take a look at reviews for the grill, make sure it can get high enough heat to do what you want and the design of it is a good one.
Finally you’ll be looking at the portability vs build quality balancing act. Making something lightweight and easy to carry is good, but if it doesn’t stand up to the rigors of your particular transport style and method, its not going to be a good purchase. When considering these things, keep the size of the grill in mind as well. Although great, you probably don’t need a Napoleon Freestyle gas grill if you’re just cooking for you and your honey down on the beach. While an awesome grill, you might be better suited with something smaller, lighter and far less expensive. However if you’re looking for something portable and compact but high quality with a warming area, the same Napoleon Freestyle might make an excellent choice.
Some of the Portable Gas Grills That We Like
We’re going to do a quick roundup of the grills we like the looks of or have heard good things about. We’ll be going in depth on many of these a bit down the road.
Weber Q Series and Go-Anywhere.
The Weber Q series of gas grills are pretty awesome. No, they aren’t cheap and there’s a reason for that – they are quality grills. They currently come in 4 flavors – the Q100, Q120, Q200 and Q220. They differ in a few areas, size and BTU output being the two major ones. While the Q100 does not come with folding side tables, all the others do. The Q100 and Q200 come with a push-button ignition – the others have electric. Like most Weber grills there are a plethora of accessories – covers, griddles, carts, etc. They also come with decent warranty as well as a backlog of available spare parts. If you haven’t picked up yet on the fact that LTB is a fan of most things Weber, then let’s spell it out – we’re fans of all things Weber.
Another Weber contender is the Go-Anywhere gas grill. A nice little rectangular grill, it cooks fine, is compact and more importantly, is inexpensive. While it may not have many bells or whistles and kinda looks like something your dear old dad may have owned, it’s a solid little grill. Underestimate it at your peril.
Cuisinart Portable Gas Grills
Cuisinart has a long reputation for making quality kitchen appliances and recently they’ve started putting out some portable gas grills that do fairly well. The three we here at LTB like are the Petit Gourmet, Everyday and All-Foods. The Petit Gourmet is a nice little grill in an attractive package that is fairly well designed and easy to transport. The Everyday and the All-Foods are more utilitarian in their look and less easy to transport. However they are bigger and as a result offer larger cooking areas; 240 sq. inches for both the Everyday and the All-Foods as opposed to 145 for the Petit Gourmet. The Cuisinart Everyday has a taller hood that can possibly fit a chicken under while the All-Foods has a more streamlined hood that pretty much rules out cooking taller foods. All three can be connected to a larger propane tank with attachments that are of course sold separately. Reviews and ratings of these grills are complimentary and speak highly of them.
One final note on the Cuisinart grills – the Petit Gourmet model is sold as a tabletop grill and also with an attached folding “Versi-Stand” for about 20 bucks more. The All-Foods offers a similar situation with the base model being tabletop and also available attached to a collapsible rolling cart, also for about 20 bucks more. Cuisinart also sells a stand for around 50 bucks that can also hold a propane tank. The Everyday seems to be only a tabletop model, so if you’ve got your heart set on it, but want a stand, you have an option or two.
Coleman RoadTrip Series
Coleman makes a number of gas grills and frankly the lineup is a bit confusing. We’ll sort it all out in a later post but basically you’ll probably be looking at the RoadTrip series, specifically the RoadTrip LX, LXE and LXX. They all are nice little grills that come with built in folding stands, some with wheels, some without. What’s the difference? Not much. We’ll get into it more in another post, but most people seem to like these decent little grills. Not everyone, but most. There are some problems that people have run into (warping lid mostly) that can usually be prevented by reading up about them and not doing the things that made the problems for other people (cover down, heat on high). Basically the LXE is the standard model. It is red and has wheels. The LXX is black with a built-in thermometor in the lid. It also has wheels. The LXE is blue, has no wheels and no thermomoeter. All three have the same cooking area – 285 sq. inches. All three put out 20,000 BTUs on 2 burners, except the LXX which puts out 22,000 (really? does that make much of a difference?).
Basically if you want wheels (and we recommend you get one with wheels – the beasts weigh about 40-45 pounds or so) then you’ve got the choice of red (LXE) or black (LXX). If you don’t care about the wheels or really really like blue, go for the LX.
Napoleon Freestyle Gas Grill
Napoleon is another favorite company around the Love That Barbecue headquarters because they generally make pretty awesome grills (at pretty awesomely large prices). Luckily for the portable gas grill seeking crowd, they also make a portable gas grill – the Freestyle Gas Grill (not to be confused with the Freestyle Electric Grill). The Napoleon Freestyle is all stainless steel, has a 215 sq. inch main cooking area and a 105 sq. inch warming area. Yup – a portable grill with a warming area. This little devil cranks out 14,000 BTUs, can be hooked up to bigger propane tanks and has a whole handful of different mounting options if you don’t dig the tabletop design. It’s a sweet grill that comes in on the top end of both quality and price – a shade under 300 bucks. Spendy for a portable grill.And if you want the infrared heating model, expect to pay in the mid 300s. Yes, they offer a portable grill with infrared heating. Now are you starting to understand why we like Napoleon?
Aside from the Webers, the Cuisinarts, the Colemans and the Napoleons of the world, there are a lot of other companies making portable grills. Some of the ones that we’ve heard mixed reviews on are Solaire, Holland and Magma. Solaire produces the Anywhere and Everywhere grills. They get good reviews but customers have had mixed experiences. Made in the USA but some have complained about the lack of decent customer service. Just sayin’. Holland is another brand that gets good reviews from professional reviewers but really mixed by customers – people either love it or hate it. Their Companion is probably their most famous/infamous grill. The last in the honorable mention category is the grills made by Magma. Stainless grills that cater to boaters and RVers, they have been American made for 30 years and running. We’ll be digging in to Magma grills a bit down the road because they seem to have a very devoted (almost fanatical) following. Prices are on par with what you’d expect for an American made stainless product.
There you have it – the Love That Barbecue roundup of portable gas grills. Go ahead and check them out and if you take a swing on one, let us know how it turns out.
One last thing – if a portable gas grill doesn’t float your boat and you’re looking for something a little more sizable, here are a few posts you might want to take a look at:
Why An Electric Grill Is Better Than Gas Or Charcoal (And Why It’s Not)
Buying A New Gas Grill? Check Out These Best Rated Gas Grills
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $300
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $500
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $800
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $1000
Good Luck! Check out any of our other posts and let us know what you think.
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Spring is here (a little late and slow going) and it’s time to really start thinking about grilling more and more. What’s that you say? You need to get a new gas grill? Your old one is busted/lost/stolen/too small/not cutting it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to hook you up with all kinds of info on the best rated gas grills. More info than you can shake a stick it. But not so much that you get lost. We’re even going to throw in several recommendations at each price point if you keep on looking.
Three of Our Favorites: the Char-Griller 3001 Grillin’ Pro, the Weber Genesis E-310 and the Broil King Monarch 20
Okay. First up. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. If you’re looking for a general grill buying guide, then go check out The LTB Buying Guide Part 1 if you’ve already got a grill and are looking to upgrade. Never bought a grill? Then you’ll need The LTB Buying Guide Part 2. Once you get done there, come on back over here. Don’t want to sift through all that and want to get straight to the nitty gritty? Excellent. We like your style.
We are going to expand on this article a bit further down the road with some more choices but essentially if you’re looking to buy a gas grill you’ll need to figure out a few things first.
Portability – do you need to lug it around? Do you want the option? If you’re looking for something that is easy to move and maybe take to a friend’s house, tailgate party, a picnic in the park or whatever, then you’ll need to take a good hard look at portable gas grills. They have their drawbacks, size being the biggest one, but if you’re looking for something that can move around easily then a portable gas grill can’t be beat. Yes, we do love portable charcoal grills as well, but they are more difficult to clean up and carrying around the charcoal is messy and heavy.
Price – what can you afford? This is going to be the biggest determining factor over BTUs, size and other assorted features. Are you looking for something in the 300-500 dollar range? 500-800? 800-1000? Over 1000? Well, you’re going to have lots of choices. Let’s start taking a look at the options you’ve got.
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $300
Honestly, at this price range, you are probably better off going with charcoal. Yes, you can find gas grills under 300. You can even find gas grills under 200. But that doesn’t mean they are going to be great quality or last very long. As mentioned other places on this website, the LTB crew recommends going with major brands over store brands whenever possible. Why? Quality and replacement parts are the two biggest reasons. If you’re looking for a cheap gas grill, consider something by Brinkmann, Char-Broil and even Broil-Mate. These companies are likely going to be your best choices.
If you want a more in-depth look at some nice options in the under $300 range, check out the post we did over here.
Still Want A Gas Grill Under $300?
We also highly recommend that if you’re on a budget and have your heart set on a gas grill, go with a portable gas grill instead. You can get a higher quality grill at a price more in your price range if you start looking at portables. Yes, they are smaller. Yes, you won’t be able to cook as much at one time. But you probably won’t be needing to replace it in a few years like many of the other gas grills in the budget range.
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $500
Once you start looking in the 300-500 dollar range, you can begin to get some decent grills. Most major manufacturers offer grills in this price range, albeit smaller and with fewer features when compared to their pricier cousins. Don’t get suckered into buying something with lots of features at this level either – the company likely skimped somewhere else when adding in all the fanciness. Go for brand name and quality build in this price range. A 5 – 10 year warranty is likely to be found on these grills as well with a few being made in North America, although many will be made in China. Of course, our name brand recommendation still stands here, perhaps more than the other price ranges. The grills we like in this range are from Char-Broil, Broil King, Dyna-Glo and Weber.
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $800
Bumping up from the 300-500 range into the 500-800 range is going to bring lots more options. Stainless steel is going to be more prevalent here but don’t rush out and buy all stainless. The quality of the steel can be lower than higher priced grills so be wary. More features are going to be found on these grills (side burners, rotisseries, infrared heating, etc.) but the most important feature is how well it cooks. If you’re at a store, open it up and take a look at the quality of manufacture. If it looks and feels cheap it probably is, regardless of the price. Broil-King is heavy in this range, as is Weber. And if you’re looking for a Napoleon grill, (ahhhh, Napoleon) then this price range is the lowest you can go to get one.
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $1000
While there doesn’t seem to be much of a price difference between 700 and 800 dollars, there is a decent jump in features and quality in the grills in the two different price ranges. Better quality steel can be had, but we still recommend on how it cooks and satisfies your need for features than how shiny it is. Remember – all that shinyness can turn to rust if it’s not taken care of or if the steel is lower quality. Buy well in this price range and your grill will stay with you for many years, properly taken care of, of course. Weber, Broil-King and Napoleon – seeing a pattern?
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $2000
Originally I had split this up into two sections (under $1500 and under $2000) but it was kind of a waste of space. There isn’t that much of a difference between these two price areas to justify separating them. Why? The major brands competing here are all going to be the same. If you find a grill you like for around $1300 then odds are good the same company will produce a highly similar grill with some extra niceties for about 500 bucks more. The reverse is also true – find a nice grill just under two grand and the same company is likely to have a very very similar grill closer to the one grand mark with a few things missing from the higher priced grill.
Why is this price range a good range to be buying a grill in? Well, in many ways, it is kinda the sweet spot for gas grills. You’re going to be getting a good quality grill that will last for quite some time. Major manufacturers are going to offer good service and replacement parts for these for years to come. You’ll be able to get some good features that you want that will actually work well as opposed to some of the less expensive grills. Just remember that you’re still getting what you pay for and although 1000 or 2000 bucks is a lot of money, in the grill world it’s still budget. Uber-wonder-grills (Amazon link) can run 10 times this price.
Like we said – spend a bit more and get a bit more fancy. Spend a bit less and get yourself a great grill but maybe without all the fancy that comes with putting up another 500 or 800 bucks. That being said, here’s some of the grills we like the looks of in this range. In this price range, we can only get behind two manufacturers – Weber and Napoleon.
So, there you have it in a nutshell – our recommendations for best rated gas grills at a number of different price points. Make sure to fully realize what you’re buying; you can’t get a super high quality fancy grill for next to nothing. Understand that the price is going to be the biggest factor in the initial quality of the grill. After that, how well or poorly you take care of your new gas grill is going to have a big effect on how long it lasts you. Good luck!
What? That’s not enough info? More, you say? Give you some more? Well, we’re here to serve, so if you’re looking for more details about best rated gas grills at different price point, here you go:
Portable Gas Grills – Best Of Both Worlds
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $1000
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $800
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $500
Best Rated Gas Grills Under $300
Or, just swing back to our homepage and let us know what you think.
So you love to grill and have a sweet barbecue set up just the way you like it. But you’re tired of draggin’ everything in and out of the garage or storage place you use when you’re not grilling. Or maybe you’ve got a nice deck setup where your lovely lovely grill can hang out but you don’t really have a place to store all the other stuff – the coals, the wood chips, the extra gas canisters, all the stuff that seems to go with grilling. You’d like to spring for a full-on outdoor kitchen (who wouldn’t) but times are tight. You need some outdoor storage for all your bbq stuff, but what’s a poor guy to do?
Simple. Man up and realize that solutions are far closer and simpler than you think.
If you’re wanting to go the route of a pseudo outdoor kitchen then feel free to start a-building onto your deck. If you’ve got the know-how and a few plans then have at it. If you have the ideas but not the skills then you’re going to need to pay somebody for their troubles or bribe them with food or some sort of compensation. Don’t overlook the re-purposing of used material and supplies. Your local dump or recycling center or wherever used furniture gets disposed of can be a treasure trove if you don’t mind used stuff for outdoor storage of your bbq supplies.
However, if you’re looking for something less permanent there are a whole lot of other storage options and they usually begin with plastic. Rubbermaid is often the undisputed king (or queen) of the plastic storage accessory but that doesn’t mean your local store won’t have some awesome choices as well. Other companies do a fine job in this field, but Rubbermaid pretty much dominates all.
You are probably going to be looking for either a storage box or more of a storage shed with doors. Boxes will be more flexible in size and where you can put them, but the downside is everything kind of goes in on top of each other. The storage shed style is nice in the fact that you’ve got doors that open up so you can easily get in and look at what you’ve got and what you need. The drawback is the size and price – these things are neither small nor cheap.
We’ve got a few choices from Amazon that we like the looks of, both shed style and box style. Go ahead and take a look and see if anything fits the bill for you. One thing to keep in mind though – plastic isn’t perfect. High heat, direct sun and really really cold temperatures, like Minnesota cold, can make it live a short miserable life.
Take a look and let us know what you think.
I admit I’ve always been leery of grilling salmon for two reasons – first is a potentially lethal fish allergy I have. Just touching the stuff gives me a rash. Breathing in the cooking fumes of it makes me cough. But second and more importantly is the fact that I never seem to get it right. No matter what I try it always ends up being an expensive mess. That’s why I really dig the idea of using cedar planks for grilling fish.
Why Cedar Planks
Cedar is known for being rather aromatic. The native inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest learned long ago that fish, the staple of their diet, cooked on cedar planks over the fire made the fish turn out moist and delicious with a wonderful smoky flavor to it. Although I am originally from this great region of the United States I had not heard of cedar plank grilling until recently.
But Why Cedar Planks, Not Other Wood?
Well, truth be told, cedar planks are the most popular now. Originally the Pacific Northwest tribes also used alder in addition to cedar, but I gotta tell ya – cedar smells much better. Nowadays people have tried and extol the virtues of oak plank grilling, mesquite plank grilling, maple plank gri… you get the picture. While each variety of wood will infuse the meat with their own unique flavor, cedar planks are pretty much on top right now. That, however, doesn’t mean you can or should only use cedar or you shouldn’t experiment. By all means – go wild!
How Do I Do It?
Well, how you don’t do it is get the cheapest cedar you can find and slap your fish on top of it. That’s a sure way to ruin good fish and maybe send you to the hospital. You’re going to need to find some cedar planks that do not have any chemicals or varnish or anything whatsoever. Safest way – cut down your own cedar tree or buy some planks from a store that is selling them specifically for grilling.
After you’ve got your planks, it’s a good idea to burn them first. Just put them over heat for a few minutes per side and then be done. They’ll be ready to go next time you cook.
Now for the actual grilling, there are a few steps you’re going to want to take.
Pretty easy, actually.
What About the Planks?
Good thing about the cedar planks you use for grilling salmon – they can be reused as long as they aren’t charred and burnt to a crisp. Wash them like you would any other dish with soap and water and set them aside to dry. As long as they aren’t warped or cracked or charred to badly, then keep on using them. Once you start asking yourself “Does this look like it’s too far gone” the answer is probably yes and you’ll need to get yourself some new ones. Break and crumble up your old ones and mix them in with the coals to get some nice extra smokiness if you’re using charcoal.
Is Planking Only For Salmon and Fish?
Truthfully, no. Many people have experimented with beef, pork, and chicken and reported great success. Pretty much any kind of meat you want to use can be planked.
Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
Well, folks, today we’re going to take a little walk down memory lane. Not my memory or yours certainly, but the memory of (cue spooky deep voice) ALL MANKIND!
Today we’re going to take a look at the history and origin of barbecue. Why? Because here at Love That Barbecue we truly do love barbecue and all it encompasses. And since you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, we’re going to see where the term and idea of barbecue came from. And as long and involved as that may sound, it will actually be pretty short.
Why? Because we are neither historians, experts or grammar kings. We just love barbecue.
The history of the term itself is not clear, but of course the history of cooking meat over fire is as old as mankind. Since fire was first discovered and meat cooked over it, people have been in love with it. Well, we like to imagine the love when in all reality it was a necessity. But we can say they loved it because we are rewriting history.
The term barbecue itself first entered the English language around the late 1600s. Explorers and pirates, or buccaneers as some liked to call themselves, came across a peculiar style of cooking in the Caribbean and south Florida where the meat and often the whole animal was suspended on sticks above a fire for a long long time, often overnight. The word “barbecue” first appeared in the dictionary in 1756.
Of course as time went on people moved here and there, cultures blended together and regional varieties were created. We aren’t going to go into all the different varieties of barbecue here today – that will be likely set aside for a series of articles later. Suffice it to say the different types of barbecue are numerous.
However, as far as the history of the word, in the English language the word is a little over 300 years old. Here’s to hoping it will continue for another 300 years. Or more.
I have to admit, portable charcoal grills have a special place in my heart. Why? Hard to say. They’re cool, effective, cheap, easy to store and as long as you understand their limitations, they do everything their bigger brothers do in a more convenient package.
Perhaps the king of portable bbq grills is the Weber Smokey Joe. Why? Mostly because of the reasons I mentioned above: It’s cheap, effective, easy to store and works like a champ. You’ll need to understand that it is small. The smallest full-size charcoal kettle grill Weber sells is the Weber One Touch Silver 18.5 inch. The Smokey Joe has a 14.5 inch grill. Now don’t get me wrong – 4 inches is a big difference. Don’t buy one of the Smokey Joes thinking you can get a whole bunch of food on there. You’re only going to realistically be able to cook for up to 4 people. More than that and there are going to be decent wait times. But like this video shows, you can get a decent amount of food on the thing if you try.
The Smokey Joe comes in two flavors, the Silver and the Gold. The Silver is the one we all know and love. The Gold comes with a wire lid lock/carrying handle. It also has vent holes on the sides instead of the bottom which is the reason there is no tray at the bottom of the kettle. Up to you which one you prefer. Some people have voiced displeasure for the side vent placement; others seem to have no problem with it. Guess it all comes down to if you think you need the lid lock/handle contraption or not.
Weber also recently re-introduced their Jumbo Joe. This little devil is pretty much the same as the Smokey Joe Silver except for the 18.5 inch grill. Yup, you read that right – 18.5 inch grill, the same size grill as the smallest of the full-size charcoal grills. One thing to keep in mind – the Jumbo Joe doesn’t have a super big top end. The lid to the grill is a little short, so don’t buy it thinking you’ll be able to stuff a full size bird under there. It’s compact for a reason. But if you’re looking to grill for more than 4 people and think the Smokey Joe isn’t going to cut it, then go for the Jumbo Joe.
In fact, I’m going to stop this article right here. Why? Because in all reality you should be buying the Weber Jumbo Joe. Or the Smokey Joe if you’re cooking for less people. If you’re looking for a great portable bbq grill for more than 2 or 3 people, the Jumbo Joe is going to be pretty much head and shoulders above all else. Price? The Smokey Joe Silver runs around 30 bucks with the Jumbo Joe going for around 60. Is it worth double the price?
Take another look at that video. That’s 13 chicken legs stuffed onto the Smokey Joe. Now consider the Jumbo Joe has a 62% larger cooking area. That works out to about 21 chicken legs. Lots more sausages. An extra steak or hamburger or two. You get the picture.
And if you think I’m being unfair to all other portable charcoal barbecue grills, don’t worry, I’ll write another article about them later. But this one needed to be all about the Weber Joes.
Not a fan of the charcoal? Check out these posts to see if there’s something there that lights your fire (or your heating element):
Why an Electric Grill is Better Than Gas Or Charcoal (And Why It’s Not)
Portable Gas Grills – Best of Both Worlds
This is going to be a pretty short article, but I didn’t want it lost in the middle of the other article on cleaning a charcoal barbecue grill.
If you’re looking to clean a gas grill, then you’ve got it easy over the charcoal crowd. Why? because you have the POWER! By that I mean once the cooking is all done, you can turn the gas up to high for a bit and burn off all the leftover stuff. After that, cleaning up is a breeze.
The steps go like this:
Not complex. We’re of course not going into all the different kinds of grills on the market. Or the different ceramic grills, lava rocks, burner covers, etc. Neither are we delving into the various steps you’ll need to go through deep cleaning a Napoleon or Weber or Brinkmann or… you get the idea. For those kinds of goodies, check your owner’s manual. If you don’t have one, it’s a good bet the company has them available for download. Check out our resources page for links to some of the major manufacturers.
Deep clean your gas grill once a year. We like to do it at the end of our grilling season, usually sometime in December. Other people stop grilling in September or October so that’s when they clean theirs. It’s really up to you. But if you’re grilling a fair amount, or even just a few times, it’s a good idea to give it a thorough once over every year.
Remember this, though – if you’ve got a newish or expensive or newishly expensive grill, or if you’re using a grill that you do not own, be sure to check what the manufacturer says is okay and not okay. Murphy pretty much guarantees about the time you say “Yeah, I’m sure this will be okay” is just the exact time it isn’t. Try an idea you heard from somebody else and mess up not only your grill but your warranty as well? Yup, done it myself. Heard the horror stories from friends who’ve done it too.
So that’s it. Cleaning up a gas grill is pretty simple. As long as you don’t blow yourself up. Good luck!
So you’re looking for the best way to clean your bbq grill, hunh? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I recently had my BBQness tested and found myself lacking: I had let my grill sit over the winter without cleaning the grill. If, like me, you’re looking to clean a charcoal grill, then keep on reading. If you’re looking to clean a gas barbecue grill (something I’ll be doing later – this weekend’s barbecue party is all about the classic charcoal, baby), then head on over here. If you want the backstory to this post (there’s always a backstory) then you might want to check this out. Regardless, let’s get to it.
If you find yourself in a similarly unfortunate situation where you haven’t cleaned your grill for a while, or even if you just want to give your beloved grill a good scrubbing, you have to realize – there is no one best way to clean a barbecue grill. There is no magic trick, no really great solution. It seems like every third bbq griller I meet has their own special way to clean a grill that they swear is the absolute top way to clean up all the mess from cooking. But when they show me how or explain it to me, I always nod my head while thinking “That doesn’t sound much easier than the last guy.”
You see, here’s the secret to cleaning up a dirty, crusty bbq grill – there is no secret. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take elbow grease. You’re going to get dirty. You’re going to hate it. But truth be told, it’s all part of the process of eating great food. So accept it for what it is and move on. Call it the Zen of grilling. Or the Zen of cleaning off your dirty dirty barbecue grill. Whatever you like. Just get used to the idea.
Here are the steps you’re going to likely need to take:
So. What tools do you need? First up you’ll need a place to soak the grill. Doesn’t need to be deep but it does need to be wide enough. I’ve seen all kinds of setups. One guy I knew had an old half of a whiskey barrel lined with black plastic. Another guy used an old kiddy swimming pool. One friend had a deep/tall Rubbermaid plastic rectangular bin and he put the grill in vertically. It all depends on what you have on hand, what you are willing to repurpose and what you are willing to spend. I use an old broken wheelbarrow my father-in-law was throwing away. I tossed the broken undercarriage; put some silicon caulking in the leftover holes and viola – instant bbq grill cleaning tub. Bin. Whatever.
Now, as far as what to use when you soak, it’s up to you. Some people use a vinegar mix to spray on or soak in. I tried it once. It worked well, but I dumped the mix onto the lawn. Killed the lawn in that one, large spot. Since we don’t have a large concrete place to dump the water I don’t use that method. I just use good old dish soap. It doesn’t seem to kill the lawn as much. At least I don’t clean the grill in a place that will be noticeable if it does any damage anyway. Other people I’ve talked to use various mixes; Simple Green, old wine, baking soda, unicorn tears, whatever. Pretty much all fall into the “if you like it go for it” camp. Except flammable liquids. Don’t. Just don’t, no matter how much your buddy swears it works. Don’t believe him.
Last up comes the scrubbing. I’ve had good luck with any old wire brush. SOS pads work well too, but man those little metal fibers can work their way into your skin so use gloves. Random steel wool – same thing. Works, but be careful. I try to limit the amount of scraping I do because it can harm the rack, but if you’re happy scraping away or you don’t have time for a long soak, then go ahead. Make sure you’ve got some old clothes you don’t mind throwing away and I’d recommend some safety glasses just in case. One guy I knew almost lost an eye because a wire bristle flew off and landed in his eye. Up to you, really. If you like the pirate look (or the Governor look) then go ahead sans safety glasses. Something tied around your face covering your mouth would be a good idea as well. Bandana, old t-shirt, kitchen towel or something.
To recap, you’re going to need the following things:
Once you’ve got all that together then have at it. Remember – 16-24 hour soak is good. Set it up at night and then have at it first thing when you get back from work the next day.
Another option – toss the old grill and buy a new one. If you’re dealing with a Weber charcoal grill like ours, a new grill is going to run you 20-30 bucks. Not cheap, but if it’s time for a new one, well, then its time.
A couple of odds and ends before we finish –
One friend of mine puts his bin in the back of his truck, sets up the soak, then drives it down to the local self-car wash. Uses their high pressure water washer to clean it off lickety split. Has to go rotate car washes occasionally because they don’t care much for it, but it sure does work fast. Myself, I don’t have a truck so I can’t do that. If you’ve got a high powered steam cleaner or access to one then go ahead and try it.
Speaking of steam cleaning, some people say that once the cooking is all done, soak a newspaper in water, put it on the rack, cover up everything and let it steam away inside. I haven’t personally tried this and I probably won’t. Seems like it might be an okay idea if you’ve got an easily and cheaply replaceable rack, but something does seem off about the idea.
Oven cleaner – like the newspaper idea it seems, on the surface, to be okay, but it also seems a bit… hinky. If you don’t mind the heavy chemicals, then be my guest. But I’m going to pass on this idea.
Basically, cleaning a grill is simple. Soak it, scrub it and rinse it. It isn’t easy. It’s definitely messy. You’ll probably hate it. But if you love barbecue like we do, you’ll do it all in the name of fantastic food. Good luck.
So you need to buy a new grill.
Well, maybe need is too strong of a word. Want? Desire? Obsess? Whatever the reason, you’re in the market for a new barbecue grill.
So you go to your local hardware store or big box store of your choice and are dazzled by three things – the size of grills nowadays, the features and above all the price.
Sticker shock? Yeah, that’s what it’s called when your mouth hangs open despite your best efforts when you see the price of a grill you like the looks of.
What’s an average Joe to do?
First things first
Take into consideration how often you will realistically be grilling outdoors.
“Every day!” you say. “Every weekend!” Well, while the enthusiasm is commendable, the reality will more than likely fall short of that.
There are lots of things that will conspire against your best-laid plans to migrate into an all-barbecue all-the-time lifestyle. Family, work, sick kids, bad weather, allergies, the incessant cleaning of the grill – all these and a myriad of other reasons can keep you from your dream.
So take a dose of reality and try again.
A good rule of thumb is to start with how many days you actually grilled outdoors the previous season. That’s probably how many you’ll barbecue this year. Maybe add 50% on top of that, but much more than that may be wishful thinking.
No, not that kind. We’re talking grills, man, grills. Take a look at what you have now. What are the pros and cons of your setup? What would you like to have? What features have you found on your current grill that didn’t work? What were some that did? What have you seen on grills in stores, on the internet or at friend’s houses that you thought were rather cool. Is there a direction you’d like to take your family’s grilling experience that you cannot do without a special feature your grill currently does not have? Answers to these questions will go a long way in helping you figure out what you’re looking for. They may even set a clear direction for your grill shopping.
Good Enough for Santa Claus
Some may find it useful to write out a wish list of things they would like. While this is a good way to start, it can also be a frustrating time waste. Sitting around, making a list, checking it twice, fretting over this feature and that. Examining the BTUs and grilling space. BE A MAN as Don Corleone would say. Perhaps it’s just the nature of this writer, but going back and forth between the extremes of pouring over the endless minutiae of a gourmet grill and longing for just a rack over some coals helps me get to the point where I can buy a grill in peace.
Here are some of the things you will need to put some serious consideration into before you buy your next grill. If you care. If you are overwhelmed, don’t pitch in the towel, just go the easy route, get a Weber Charcoal Kettle Grill or a Smokey Joe and be done with it. For those who want something more than that, read on. The list that follows comes in no particular order.
Yes, I listed this first, but that doesn’t mean it should come first. While it is important, some people focus on this too much but not in the way you may be thinking. Some people will say “I’ve got 1000 bucks to buy a grill with” and if they are unlucky, one of three things will happen.
Don’t be that guy. Price is important but don’t fixate on it. Remember – you get what you pay for. Quality doesn’t usually come cheap. Buy the best grill you can afford and don’t look back. Pay for quality and only cry once.
These can be divided up into three basic categories – things you can’t live without, things you’d like to have and things you don’t care about. There may be some things you actually hate and won’t buy a grill that has them, but I don’t really think you’ll need a separate category for those. You may find out that things you think you can’t live without, after a bit of reflection, can move to the other two categories, freeing up your options quite a bit.
Fuel source – charcoal gas or electric.
Wait, did you say electric? Yes, I did and believe it or not, it does have its place. But as far as the great debate between charcoal or gas – the choice is yours. Like the time spent on getting the charcoal just right? Charcoal’s for you. Hate it? Go with gas. Like the smokiness that comes from a charcoal grill? Go, charcoal, go! Hate it? Gas, here I come. Hate the concept of cooking over open flame connected to a can of highly pressurized exploding gas? Charcoal, sweet charcoal. Comfortable with it? Gas is your friend. Truly, there are great arguments to be made for both and people whose opinions I respect come down on either side of the fence for this. One thing you will find – the sheer number of gas grills available on the market today outweigh the number of charcoal grills. I think this is owed primarily to the cooking convenience of gas compared to that of charcoal.
You can go another route – get yourself two grills. Crazy, I know, but hear me out. If you like the futzing with the charcoal on the weekends then get yourself a reasonably priced charcoal grill for the weekends. Weber’s classic charcoal grill runs between 100 and 150 bucks. But for those times when you want to grill quickly, like during the week or for unexpected guests, get an inexpensive gas grill. Good gas grills are around 500 bucks. If you’re really on a budget, join the 7% of Americans who have an electric grill. Cheap, easy, and while many people claim they’re not “authentic grills” it’s better than cooking a steak or a burger in a pan. Medium sized quality electric grills can be about 250 bucks or more. So for about 400 bucks including accessories (charcoal chimney, tongs, spatula, fork, etc.) you can set yourself up with a good charcoal grill for the weekends and the big cookouts and have a cheap electric or gas grill for the times you want to grill but don’t have the time to mess with the charcoal.
This is more about honesty than anything else. How many people will you honestly cook for? Do you see yourself cooking for maybe 4-10? Or is it closer to 15-20? Or more? Seriously try to estimate the number of people who you will realistically be cooking for over what you imagine the lifetime of the grill to be. Start with a smaller grill and want to upgrade in 3-4 years? Possible, and may be a good decision. You might even be able to sell your old grill for a bit of cash. Buy an enormous grill and never actually use it to its full potential? That’s a waste of money.
If you’re going with gas, this is going to be a consideration. Do yourself a favor – don’t get wrapped up and caught up in the BTU race. Yes, BTUs are important. But the marketing guys at the barbecue companies and the stores that sell them love the BTU factor. Why? How often do you catch yourself debating horsepower with your car buddies or phone battery life when purchasing a new phone? Or zoom capabilities on a new camera. It’s in most guy’s nature to want more. More zoom, more horsepower, more BTUs. A well designed grill can have lower BTUs and do a great job of cooking, better even than a poorly designed grill with higher BTUs. Point? Keep BTUs in mind, but cost, features, and size are going to be more important than BTUs.
Those 5 things (price, features, size, fuel source and heat) are going to be the basic things you’ll need to get sorted out first before you get much closer to buying your new grill. Once those things get narrowed down a bit, you can start to focus on smaller issues. Like what, you say? Like the following things you’ll need to take into consideration down the road before you plunk down your cash.
Materials – what’s it made of? Stainless steel? Aluminum? Cast iron? Cheap metal painted over with something black? Each choice will have an impact on the price of the model you buy. While we here at LBT are fans of stainless steel and would recommend narrowing your preference to that, aluminum does have it’s place, as well as cast iron in some situations. Stay away from cheap metal, though. It won’t last long and you’ll end up needing to replace the grill sooner rather than later.
Durability/Stability – If you’re shopping at a place where you can actually handle the grill itself, give it a good shake or two. If it feels rickety you may want to pass on it – floor models should be set up as well as they can be. If it’s still shaky, then it’s shaky and not something to be relied upon. If you don’t have the luxury of looking at your top choices in person, then read as many reviews as you can before you buy online. And be sure the place you buy from has a good return policy. Amazon comes to mind.
Name brand vs. store brand – Name brands are the big boys. Store brands are either made by the store (hence the name) or made by big companies and rebranded in a deal between the store and the company. A deal that may only be in place for a year or two making replacement parts difficult to find down the line. Although store brands can do a fine job and be good grills if you take care of them, LTB recommends that whenever possible you stick with name brands.
Now, go to it. Figure out some of the things that only you can answer – how many people will you be cooking for? What will your fuel source be? What’s your budget? What features can you live without and which ones are must-haves? Keep durability in mind as well as BTUs and what the grills are made of. Try to stick with a name brand whenever possible. And remember these last two very important points – 1) A grill is simply a tool – it allows you to be the best cook you can be. 2) If you take good care of that tool it should last a fairly long time, no matter how much it cost. the flip side is this – if you don’t take care of it, it will last a very short time, no matter what the cost.
Location Location Location
The next consideration you should figure out is where you will be using your grill. This will affect all others, so think well. Outdoors or indoors? Balcony or deck? Apartment or house? Dorm room, RV or boat? Being able to use a grill outdoors in the backyard of a house is going to open up many many options in regards to which grill to choose. If you have your heart set on grilling but only have a small area on a balcony to use, then you’re going to be rather limited. However, don’t think that by limited we mean no options. There’s always options, and luckily in the world of the barbecue grill, some of those options are going to be great.
A secondary consideration to where you will be using it is going to be where you plan on storing it. If you’re able to let it sit outside without worrying about it getting stolen then you’re set. If you’ve got a garage or storage area you can easily put the grill in at night after it’s cooled down and cleaned up then you’re golden. However, if you’re going to have to shove it into a closet, under the kitchen sink or in a cupboard, then you’re going to need to really think long and hard about the next consideration.
Gas, Charcoal or (gasp) Electric?
This is going to be the primary thing you’ll need to figure out when buying a grill. Your choice is going to depend entirely on your needs and situation, not on the needs and situation of the person selling you the grill. Yes, take into account the advice of people you know and even the salesmen, but ultimately you’re going to be the one living with and trying to make the grill produce great food, not them.
The Case for an Electric Grill
Electric grills in some ways don’t make much sense. If the purpose of grilling is to cook food over an open flame, why cook on something that doesn’t even produce a flame, right? Well, it’s not always about the open flame. Grilling is often about cooking outdoors with friends and family. About enjoying time together over food. Having an electric grill can come pretty close to approximating that experience. And by pretty close, I mean the only thing that is different is the food is going to taste slightly different than if it was cooked on a charcoal or gas grill. The time spent with friends and family is going to be just as great.
Many people will often say the flavor and smokiness that are part and parcel of cooking on a grill are not present on food cooked on an electric grill. Maybe so. Well, honestly, it’s totally true. But if you simply don’t have the option of using a charcoal or gas grill, don’t give up on grilling for your and your family. Whether it’s a little George Forman grill, a smokeless DeLonghi, a good sized Napoleon electric or a Weber Q 280 electric, they all can do a pretty good job of grilling most anything you want.
Don’t give up on your grilling dreams just because you have to buy electric. Ask yourself this: Which is more limiting, having an electric grill or no grill at all?
Charcoal or Gas
If your living situation is one where you can buy a charcoal or gas grill, then congratulations. You’ll have so many grills to look at you’ll probably go dizzy. The first thing you’ll need to figure out is if you want a charcoal or a gas grill. Generally people who have an opinion about this have a strong opinion. Here are some things to consider –
Charcoal or gas is going to be a fairly personal opinion dictated by what your personal living situation is, what kind of cooking you plan to do, what level of convenience you are after and what kind of grilling experience you want to have. Here’s the good news – if you buy an inexpensive to medium priced grill, you aren’t out a lot of money, so if you don’t like it you can probably sell it and buy a different kind that is more suited to your tastes.
Fat Wallet or Thin Wallet?
Price is going to be the next consideration for most people and rightly so. Not everyone has thousands of dollars to throw down on a monster grill for their first time grill purchase. So what kind of money are we talking about here?
Well, it goes back to your charcoal/gas/electric decision. If you choose electric you’ll probably find a decent grill anywhere from 50 dollar range up into the 500 buck range. Charcoal is going to run you around 40 bucks or so for a Weber Smokey Joe or 100-150 for a Weber Classic Kettle (they like to call it the Weber One Touch. Fools.) on up into the multiple thousands of dollars. A good gas grill is going to start around 400 bucks or so and go up also into the multiple thousands of dollars. Note that I said a good gas grill is going to start there. Yes you can get them cheaper but that doesn’t guarantee they are good. Weber (there’s that name again) does make some quality gas grills in the sub 400 dollar range, but make sure you know what you’re getting.
If you’re inclined to buy a gas grill but are on a fairly tight budget and don’t want to spend much on the actual grill itself, we’ve got two suggestions:
As I mentioned before, price isn’t something you should be focusing on at this point. Right now what you want to be doing is figuring out what kind of grill you want to buy, what size you’ll need and what features you’re looking for. Remember, you can always just pick up a Weber Smokey Joe or Kettle charcoal grill for between 40 and 100 bucks. Best barbecue I ever had was cooked over a Smokey Joe so they can do the business. (hint, it was the company that made the meal, not the grill)
What you really don’t want to do is look at your wallet, decide you have X amount of money to spend and then find the grill with the most features for that price. You can end up with much more grill than you’ll ever need. You can also find yourself overlooking the accessories and other needful things that go along with a new grill purchase.
The best thing is to figure out what kind of grill is best matched to your situation and then find something that matches your requirements and your budget.
As in “matters of size” not “size is all that matters”. Cooking areas is something that gets thrown about when discussing grills. Primary cooking areas, secondary cooking areas, warming racks, all that stuff. Kinda confusing. Most barbecue experts (not referring to the LTB crew – we’re experienced enthusiasts, not experts) recommend 300 square inches and up for a reasonably sized grill. 400 plus is considered ample grilling space. I’ve only found one resource that tells how much size per person. It said to calculate about 50 square inches per serving. So if you plan on cooking 3 burgers or 3 hot dogs or 3 steaks, then you’ll need about 150 square inches of grill. Now, everybody knows that a hamburger, a hot dog, and a big t-bone steak are going to be different sizes. This is just a rule of thumb. Don’t take it as gospel.
Another thing to consider is if you plan on cooking vegetables and other things along with your primary meal. Those will all take up grill space as well. Corn, kebabs, potatoes, etc. all add up. Warming racks will keep these things warm after they are cooked. Nice to have if they are a feature on the grill you’re looking at, but not crucial.
Still confused? Stick with the 300 rule of thumb, then. Family of four? Maybe up to 8 or so when company comes? Yeah, 300 – 400 will work, but you’ll have to eat in shifts. Like, all the burger lovers eat when the burgers are done, all the steak lovers next. You’ll find a way to make it work. Does that mean you should pass up the previously mentioned Weber Q220 because it’s only got 280 square inches of cooking space? If you plan on regularly cooking for lots of people and everyone needs to eat at the same time, then yeah, get something bigger. But if there are no concrete plans to have a steady rotation of large amounts of people or if the occasional larger group can eat when the food is ready and not fall over from hunger, then it’ll be fine.
This is going to be pretty simple, but it needs to be said – you get what you pay for. Cheaper grills are going to generally be made out of cheaper materials, have cheaper designs, or will cut costs in less than obvious ways. Like having sub par materials for the inner workings of the grill while making the outside look all fancy. How can you fix this? Two ways, really. Well, three.
This is where things get tricky. Grills and their subsequent parts can be made out of many many different kinds of materials. Aren’t they all steel, you say? Nope. Steel isn’t always what you want, either. The main body of the grill is more than likely going to be made out of stainless steel, cast iron, cast aluminum, enamel-coated steel or plain old sheet metal. Which is best is going to depend on your point of view. Stainless steel is generally going to be more expensive, is considered to be higher quality and is often the choice or professionals. Try to stay away from plain sheet metal. Enamel-coated steel can be a fine choice if it is made by a reputable manufacturer. Cast iron is great but heavy and needs to be oiled well. Cast aluminum, when done well, can last a very long time. A word of caution about stainless steel – not all stainless steel is created equally. Cheaper stainless steels aren’t worth much at all.
Horse Before the Cart
While the body may be made of a nice quality material, there is no guarantee the cart is going to be made of the same stuff unless it specifically says so. Many times the cart is made of cheaper material. That’s not a reason to run away screaming, but it needs to consider into your decision. Why are they made of different materials? Cost. In effort to bring a stainless steel bodied grill in under a certain price point, compromises elsewhere may need to be made, such as making the cart out of sheet metal or plain steel. Problem is, those two materials rust faster than stainless steel and won’t last as long. If you know what you’re getting, that’s great. If you’re okay with the compromise and know the conditions the grill will be stored in and can mitigate any durability issues with the cheaper cart, then go ahead. Just make an informed purchase, that’s all.
It’s all about the grill, man.
Grill materials, like the grill body and the cart, can be made out of a number of different materials. Popular choices (by the manufacturers) are: stainless steel, cast iron, porcelain coated stainless steel or porcelain coated cast iron. Stainless steel is nice and should last for a good long time. It will, however, develop chips and the meat will stick to these chipped areas. Cast iron is an awesome choice but it will need to be cleaned well and oiled well. Porcelain coatings aim to solve both of the problems of chipped stainless steel and the need to maintain cast iron. However they introduce problems of their own. Cheaper porcelain coatings are thinner which mean they will chip more easily. Chipped coatings of course mean food sticks to it and rust can start. Be sure to keep metal tools as far away from porcelain coatings as you can. That means scrapers, spatulas, tongs, meat forks – they all can weaken and chip the material. Brushes made with metal bristles to clean – great. Metal scrapers – poison.
If you can swing it, cast iron is probably the best. Heats well, holds heat and if taken care of can last a really long time. Like decades long. Yes, plural. If you aren’t willing to put in the work, porcelain coated cast iron is going to be a good second choice. Stainless steel is probably the cheapest yet will still last a long time. Just do your best to keep metal implements away from the grill and it will last a whole lot longer.
BTUs (Hint, if you’re buying a charcoal grill or an electric grill, you can skip this)
Ahhh, BTUs. The love of marketing folk and competitive people everywhere. By competitive people I mean the guys who look at your awesome grill and ask “How many BTUs that baby pump out?” Here’s a secret, something you can mention offhand to the next guy who asks you that –
BTUs have nothing to do with how good the food tastes.
So what are BTUs? BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. They are used when discussing the merits of different gas grills. It is a measurement that basically tells how much heat is generated. For the technically minded folks, a BTU is how much heat is required to bring the temperature of one pound of water up by one degree Fahrenheit.
More BTUs are good, right? Not so fast. Smaller grills will require less of course, while larger grills require more. A poorly designed grill may use more BTUs to achieve the same amount of cooking heat as a well designed one. Generally, a 500 square inch grill will need anywhere between 35,000 and 50,000 BTUs to do their job well. Again, smaller grills less, bigger grills more. Higher BTUs mean you should be able to control the level of heat well. However higher BTUs also correlate to higher fuel consumption. And again, design plays a part as well.
And now for our feature presentation
Grilling, at its most basic, is cooking food over an open flame (sorry, electric grill folks). Modern grills, however, can do sooooo much more than that. It’s all in the features. What features, you ask? Glad you asked (you may be sorry, though). This list, while not complete, may give people looking for their first barbecue grill a starting point to understand what all the terminology is about.
There are a whole lot of other features that companies cook up (bwahhh ha ha, cook up) in order to convince you theirs is the grill to buy. Some are useful, some are a draw and some you should pass on. If you’ve got any questions about something you see, be sure to leave a comment or send us an email. We’ll put it on the list and explain it to the best of our abilities.
Yes, many companies offer a warranty. No, it’s probably not everything you’ll expect. The different parts of the grill will have differing levels and periods of warranty. Read it closely and understand it. For example, as I mention in this article, Napoleon has a “Limited Lifetime” warranty which means for major things it’s replacement if it fails because of manufacturing defect in 5 years, 50% off full retail after that. Some parts of the grills under this warranty only have 1 year of coverage, some 2. Personally, I like Weber’s warranties – not because they’re better or cover more than other grills, but they are very clearly explained on their website. Other companies have either awesome, good or less than stellar warranties, so check them out thoroughly before you buy. Be sure to search around online and see how well a company stands behind their warranty and how good their customer service is as well. Companies in all industries may drag their feet or make it hard for a person to get them to stand behind their warranty. Best bet is to check around online or talk to your friends about a company’s reputation.
Auld Lang Syne
Wow, that ended up being a much longer article than expected. I’m sure there’s stuff we left out or glossed over that you may want more explanation for. Tough! Just kidding. Let us know what you think and we’ll do our best to help. Hopefully those who are looking for their first barbecue grill (yes, even the people who will buy electric) have learned a bit and are closer to making an informed decision. Ultimately that’s what this guide is all about – information and wise purchases.
Please remember that the most important thing when buying a grill isn’t the BTUs, the price, the size, the fuel source or any of that. It’s the cooking you do on it and the time spent with friends and family. I keep repeating that because it’s true. And also remember that an expensive grill won’t make you a better cook. It’d be nice if they did, but they don’t.
Good luck and happy grilling.