How to Choose the Right Grill


Ray Lampe, Dr. BBQ

Choosing the right grill is really a personal choice and there’s many things to consider. Gas grills, charcoal grills, and pellet grills make up most of the market so first you’ll need to choose one of those categories. 

Gas Grills

For me, gas grills just don’t deliver the flavor I’m looking for. I do understand the convenience and there are some very nice ones out there that fit a lot of cook’s lifestyles, so if you’re in that group, the things I would look for are:

  • Multiple burners – nice for indirect cooking where you want to put the food on one side and the flame on the other. The more options you have the better off you will be when cooking small and large things.
  • Some way to add wood chips or chunks to the equation for that great wood flavor – the addition of wood for flavor is obvious and important to me but maybe not to everyone.
  • Lots of BTU’s for high heat searing
  • A history of durability – Durability is great but probably comes with a higher price tag so look around and see what combination fits you best. 

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grills are a little bit more in my wheelhouse and probably deliver the best combination of great flavor and versatility. Any charcoal grill can cook direct or indirect, and you can control the fire by the amount of charcoal you use as well as how much oxygen you let the fire have. You can experiment with different types of charcoal that are all readily available as well as adding wood chips or chunks for that extra smoky flavor. The quality of a charcoal grill will vary from small and basic, to big and fancy. I think grill space and the ability to control the oxygen flow are key and that’s what I would look for first. Once again durability is important and probably comes with a little higher price tag so look around and find the value and quality that is the best fit for you.

Pellet Grills

Pellet grills are very popular these days and it’s not hard to understand why. They offer great convenience with their “set it and forget it” controls. With a pellet grill it’s really simple to cook good quality slow smoked BBQ as well as smoke roasted foods at oven temps. Just keep the hopper full and it’ll keep cooking and add a smoke flavor.

Most popular grills are great at searing steaks and chops so you might want to keep that old charcoal grill around for that. Many find a combination of a pellet grill and a gas grill fit their needs. You do have to remember that a pellet grill is a mechanical piece of equipment and while most are very reliable these days, you can have a breakdown and of course you can’t cook very well if the power is out!