If there’s one positive to be taken from the Coronavirus year that is 2020, it’s the fact that we’ve all had the opportunity to master our backyard BBQ grilling game. Whether you’ve had friends and family over to homegate for the weekend football games, or you’ve just chilled out with some nice steaks or fish on a weekday night, chance are you’ve given your grill more use than normal this year. If it’s time to buy a new one, here’s some tips to consider.
1. How Big is the Party?
Grill manufacturers differentiate models by the number of burners—typically two to six—but that doesn’t necessarily tell you the size of the grill. The usable cooking surface, which is measured by how many burger patties a grill can fit:
Small grills: can hold 18 or fewer burger patties
Midsized grills: large enough to hold 18 to 28 burger patties
Large grills: large enough to hold 28 or more burger patties
2. Burgers and More
A basic gas grill is fine for cooking burgers and hot dogs, but if you enjoy grilling fish and sizzling steaks, make sure the grill’s temperature gets high enough to sear a steak and low enough to slow-cook ribs. Indirect cooking is a great way to slow-cook large or tough cuts by placing the meat next to the fire, not over it, with the lid closed to retain heat.
3. Bring on the Heat
Rather than focusing on the BTU of a single burner or all the burners combined, look for the grill’s max temperature and temperature range. A fuel-efficient grill can reach high maximum temperatures with a fairly low BTU count, which uses less gas to deliver the same temperature. Well insulated hoods and thick burners and grates can better utilize the same BTUs than grills with a less efficient design.
4. Burners and Grates
For gas grills, burners are the most replaced part and should last 2 to 10 years. Check for brands with burner warranties of around 10 years. BBQGuys have a Gas Grill Warranty Comparison Chart on their website. Stainless steel and coated cast-iron grates are better for searing and maintaining even grilling temperatures. The greater the distance between the grates and the burners or flavorizer bars, the fewer the sustained flare-ups. Less space between the grates means more contact with the food and more delicious caramelization.
5. Solid Construction
For the long haul, stainless steel is more durable. Carefully look over the construction of the grill. Jostle the assembled grill from several points to test sturdiness. Grill stability is important in order to prevent tipping. Check the cart, wheels, lid, and firebox. Stainless steel carts with seamless construction and welded joints are sturdier.