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What kind of outdoor grill should you buy?

Summer is right around the corner. As evenings get longer and warmer, it’s time to pull out the patio furniture and enjoy the outdoors. Are you looking to add a grill to your collection? Or do you want an upgrade? Whatever your grilling needs, there are a variety of options for you. The two most popular types of grills on the market today are charcoal grills and gas grills. Both offer affordable models. So what kind of outdoor grill is right for you? As you might expect, that depends on your specific grilling needs.

What kind of outdoor grill should you buy for portability?

A big determining factor of the type of grill you buy is how much space you have to store and operate it. If you have a spacious patio or backyard space, a larger gas grill or open flame charcoal grill will feel right at home. Charcoal grills provide more portability than gas grills which often need dedicated space to operate. But due to safety concerns with an open flame and its potential environmental impact, there may be restrictions on whether you can own and operate a charcoal grill. Be sure to check your local guidelines before buying a grill.

If you live in a dry area with open flame restrictions or don’t have as much open space, a gas grill may better suit your needs. If you have space and want a more portable option, charcoal is the way to go.

What kind of outdoor grill should you buy for the price?

While there are a lot of affordable grill options on the market today, the price difference between grill types can be a huge determining factor. You can buy a charcoal grill, with tools and supplies, for under $50.  The cheapest gas grills top off at just over $100. But depending on how often you use your grill, the long-term costs of a gas grill are much lower. Each bag of charcoal costs on average $17 and only contains enough for three uses, whereas propane tank refills come in as low as $3 and provide 25 days of grilling.

If you want a grill for occasional use, charcoal would be the cost-savvy option, whereas gas grills are more affordable for regular grillers.

What kind of outdoor grill should you buy for the best temperature control?

A big difference between gas and charcoal is the amount of control you have over temperature. With a charcoal grill, there are no dials to be exact, and flames need constant supervision. Gas grills have dials for full temperature control, allowing you to cook your food to specific temperature requirements. It also gives you the flexibility of turning down the heat if you need to step away from the grill for a moment.

Due to how charcoal grills operate, they also call for a sometimes lengthy setup and clean-up process. Charcoal takes time to heat up, unlike a gas grill where you can flip on a dial when you are ready to cook. Coals also need time to cool before you can empty the grill, clean it and put it away.

If you plan on grilling regularly but won’t have the time for set up or clean up, a gas grill is more convenient with stove-top-like dial control. Considering the time you dedicate to grilling, and what you plan on grilling will help determine which grill is best for you.

What kind of outdoor grill should you buy for the best flavor?

A big reason people opt to grill food over other cooking methods is flavor. Grills elevate your meats and vegetables with seared and smoky flavors. For the seasoned palette, the difference between a charcoal and gas grill is a stark contrast. Charcoal grills deliver the classic barbecue flavor, adding both searing and smoke to your grilling staples. While you can still sear with a gas grill, it lacks the smokey flavor that some people prefer and instead instills your food with a bacon-like flavor. Charcoal grills also offer coals in different flavors, such as oak, hickory, and mesquite, to better suit different flavor profiles.

What other types of grills should you consider?

While charcoal and gas grills are the most popular on the market, there are other grill options as well. Whether you are a seasoned griller looking for a step up from a typical backyard grill, or have no outdoor space and are considering an indoor option, here are a few grill types that could suit your needs.

Wood pellet grills

Wood Pellet grills offer the temperature control of gas with the smoky flavors of charcoal. Dial-controlled temperature allows you to smoke your meats and vegetables with a precision that wouldn’t be available in a charcoal grill. Like charcoal grills, wood pellets come in an array of flavors such as hickory, maple, apple, pecan, alder, cherry, mesquite, and oak.

But like charcoal grills, there is a bit more upkeep for a wood pellet grill versus a gas one. Wood pellets can go bad, so you can’t leave them in your grill between uses. Pellets also take longer to heat up than a gas grill would.

Unlike charcoal and gas grills, wood pellet grills need electricity to use and would need an outdoor outlet available. Wood pellet grills also have a high starting price, with lower-end models coming in at around $250.

Wood pellet grills are ideal for seasoned grillers who prefer a smokey flavor and would enjoy more temperature control than offered with a charcoal grill.


For a guaranteed smokey barbecue flavor with every grill session, you can’t go wrong with a smoker grill. Great for cooking large cuts of meat and serving groups of people and big parties. Compared to other grills, smokers have a much longer cook time. But, the extra time spent cooking is the secret to its rich, smoky barcebue flavor. With models starting at just under $200, smoker grills are more of a monetary commitment than a charcoal or gas grill.

Electric grills

If you want to grill but don’t have space for typical models, an electric grill may be perfect for your needs. Electric grills are ideal for apartment dwellers, with countertop grills made for indoor use as well as stand-alone grills that are the perfecct size for small balconies. Since it cooks with electricity and not smoke or gas, they are healthier than other grills. But it you’re looking for a grill that will give you that classic barbecue taste, an electric grill might not be the best choice. Its addition to your monthly electric bill can also become significant with regular use.