Choosing the Right Grill
Can you think of a better end to a warm summer day than the delicious smell of sizzling burgers and hot dogs on the grill? With the snow finally gone it’s just about time to dust off the old grill and get ready to barbecue up some chicken for the family, right? We all dream about getting a bigger and better grill; one with more real estate for cooking, or more refined cooking temperatures, or maybe just some larger side trays to deposit more cooked food onto!
If this is the year for your new grill then you have a big decision ahead of you. The type of grill you choose will greatly affect the food you cook and how much it costs to maintain. So which type of grill is the best? Well first let’s look at the major types of grills out there right now.
- Hardwood Lump Charcoal
So which one is the right one for you? Let’s take a look at what each grill has to offer as well as their drawbacks.
Pros of a Gas Grill
Gas grills are best for making a quick meal. They are simple to use, with very little setup or clean up required (aside from whatever mess you make). With a gas grill, you have much more instantaneous control over the temperature. You can very simply increase or reduce heat by adjusting temperature dials. Depending on the size of the grill, you can opt to cook over direct or indirect heat by turning burners on and off. Weber makes gas grills from the ultra portable Weber-Q models all the way up to the six burner Summit series. Propane is a great and safe fuel source that is readily available and easy to set up. If you have access to a natural gas line then it will prove even cheaper for you and more convenient than having to run out and buy propane!
Some gas grills also have cool features like an electric rotisserie, side burner, and searing station. The side burner is great for boiling corn, lobster, or steamers outdoors if you don’t want the steam or smell inside – especially when the AC is running. Grilling onions outside is also a good idea.
Cons of a Gas Grill
There are two things that keep people away from using a gas grill: Price and Taste.
Gas grills are almost always more expensive than charcoal grills, as they are more costly to manufacture.
Many people prefer the taste of food prepared on a natural fire vs. a gas grill. Food prepared on a gas grill can still be delicious, but even those that come equipped with a smoke box will give only a faint hint of the delicious, smoky flavor you get from cooking on charcoal.
Things to Keep in Mind
Gas grills are great for those who needs to get grilling fast. The smaller, cheaper models can last a long time with proper care and maintenance. The more expensive models are loaded with different options. When looking at different models, you should try to find a grill with porcelain covered or stainless steel grill bars. These provide great grill marks while still proving to be the easiest to clean. Iron bars will need to be removed to clean and bent stainless steel sheets are really annoying to clean off when they get really dirty. At Koopman Lumber, we’ve talked with many customers who have bought and thrown away one or two (or more) inferior gas grills over the years and are finally ready for a Weber. Most of the Weber grills we stock have additional features that are only found at authorized, independent dealers. Gas grills are typically regarded as a safer option than charcoal. Many condos and apartments do not allow charcoal grills due to the fire danger.
Koopman does stock the Weber Performer Grill that has a gas fired charcoal setup. So starting your charcoal is simple, reliable and easy.
Price for grill: Starting at around $100 and moving up into the lower thousands, most mid range gas grills will run you between $500-$1000.
Pros of a Charcoal Grill
Charcoal grills are the centerpiece of any barbecue purist’s backyard. They’re tough and usually boast generous real estate for cooking. Cooking with charcoal gives food the smokey flavor that many barbecue enthusiasts desire. They burn at a higher temperature than gas, allowing you to sear meat more easily. If that wasn’t enough, they’re almost always less expensive than propane grills!
Cons of a Charcoal Grill
Charcoal grills can take a long time to warm up to the right cooking temperature – as much as 45 minutes in many cases. From laying the charcoals to preheating the grill for cooking, it’s a long process. Many people want to get the grill started as quickly as they can and get the food on the plate as fast as possible. Buying charcoal fuel is typically more expensive than buying propane or natural gas per BTU. The upfront cost of a charcoal grill will be cheaper, but in the long run you’re spending more on charcoal than you would in propane throughout the life of your grill, especially if you use it frequently.
Things to keep in mind
Charcoal grills are one of the most delicious ways to make food, a result that many consider to be well worth the investment of time to use them. With a lower upfront cost, they are a great option for someone who might not have enough to spend on a propane grill up front but is okay with charcoal being a more expensive fuel source in the long run.
Price for grill: Starting at $100 with a few high-end models in the thousands. $150-$300 is the normal mid range price and a grill in this range will be good for a long time.
Wood Pellet Grill
Wood pellet grills are an increasingly popular product on the market. Unlike traditional grills, the wood pellet burning grill is most accurately described as a smoker.
Pros of a Wood Pellet Grill
Wood pellet burning grills are convenient and relatively inexpensive. A 40lb bag of grill pellets usually costs between $20-40 and can last for weeks or even months depending on what you’re cooking. The amazing flavor that you get from this method of cooking this way is worth keeping in mind. This is the ultimate grill for that delicious smoked taste we all love. Because pellet grills cook using indirect heat, all items on the grill get smoked thoroughly.
The grills are easy to set up and use, needing only to be filled with pellets and plugged into an electric source to have a quick and easy meal.
Cons of a Wood Pellet Grill
As cool as these grills are, they do have what some consider to be drawbacks. Pellet grills have a lot more moving parts than a traditional grill, rendering them much more vulnerable to something breaking. The augers can clog, the electronics can burn out and the ash will build up. Regular maintenance is needed about every 5-10 grilling sessions, which includes cleaning the grates and vacuuming out the ash that builds up.
Things to Keep in Mind
The market is still relatively new for these grills but is rapidly expanding. Each new advance in pellet grill technology brings better features and increased temperature control. When convenience and operating costs are a concern ,you can’t go wrong with one of these grills!
Price for grill: Starting as low as $399 and going into the lower thousands.
Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Creating charcoal involves burning wood in the absence of oxygen. The result of this process is hardwood lump charcoal. Unlike charcoal briquettes, hardwood lump charcoal contains no additives, which yields a much cleaner burn.
To be more precise, this is not a different kind of grill, but instead a different method of cooking on a charcoal grill. We just couldn’t help but give it it’s own section!
Pros of Hardwood Charcoal
Hardwood charcoal is a more natural form of charcoal. It’s the fuel of choice for barbecue purists who love that great, natural taste. The lumps of hardwood charcoal burn hotter, light faster and leave behind less ash than their briquette cousins. It is also more responsive to oxygen, meaning the temperature is easier to control if you have a grill with air vents and temperature control.
The Big Green Egg is probably the purest form of this type of grill. It’s based on technology thousands of years old; using ceramics to retain heat and moisture and create a cooking experience like no other. There isn’t adequate space here to list the myriad benefits of the Big Green Egg, but you can find out more at www.koopmanliving.com. A quick scan of the internet will also demonstrate the enormous fan base for this amazing grill. Many people even have both a propane grill and a Big Green Egg on their patio to get the best of both worlds.
Cons of Hardwood Charcoal
While hardwood lump may be the most pure form of charcoal available, it does have a few drawbacks. In contrast to grills fueled by gas, hardwood lump charcoal can require a good 10+ minutes to get the fire going and have some nice coals to work with. It also takes time to adjust the temperature cooking. On a windy day, this fuel can be consumed a lot faster than on a calm day. You may also experience difficulty when attempting to regulate the cooking temperature. You will have to deal with ashes on a regular basis, but a good quality lump charcoal like Wicked Good Charcoal or Big Green Egg Organic Charcoal are burn quite efficient, so they don’t yield a lot of ash build up.
Things to Keep in Mind
Hardwood Lump Charcoal Grill are the purist’s dream for charcoal cooking. If you’re not as concerned about a natural burn, you might not find this premium option worth while. But if you are looking for that natural taste that you can only get from the hardwood charcoal, this is the fuel for you.
Price for fuel: From $10 to $30 depending on brand and size of bag
Whichever grill you decide to get one thing is for sure: you’re in for a summer of delicious food! If you need more help making your decision, you should head down to the nearest Koopman Lumber store and consult with any one of our specialists. We are one of the few places in the area where you can find ALL of the grill types highlighted above. Your grill is something you should take pride in so don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions in store or online at www.koopmanlumber.com.