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How to Buy a Grill

Grills of Barbecue University

“Which grill should I buy?” is one of the questions I am asked most.

Today’s grillers face a staggering selection of grills, from modestly priced hibachis to “supergrills” costing $20,000 or more. And while I wish I could give a one-size-fits-all answer, I can’t. I urge would-be buyers to define their own grilling personalities.

My personal “desert island” grill would be a conventional kettle grill as it offers great
versatility—perhaps I could make my own charcoal from coconuts! But a convenience-minded gas griller or diehard wood griller wants a different sort of live-fire experience.


If you love the sport of grilling—that is, building and maintaining a fire—a charcoal grill (preferably with a lid) is for you. While great for direct grilling, most are well suited to indirect grilling and smoking, too. They tend to be relatively inexpensive and take up less real estate than a gas grill on your patio. And you have many options, from the American backyard favorite, the kettle grill, to two models that hail from Japan—the diminutive hibachi (great for one or two people) to the egg-shaped kamado-style cooker, which is an awesome grill or smoker.

A factor to consider: oftentimes, a kettle-style grill offers a rotisserie as an option—something I find appealing, as I love rotisserie chicken. Some offer cast iron grill grates, the kind that make killer grill marks. Most important, purchase a grill that is durable and that offers a solid warranty. This protection is especially important for kamado-style cookers, which are usually made from ceramic.


There are hundreds (thousands?) of gas grill models for grillers who appreciate their convenience. How do you sort through the options?

You’ll want at least two burners, so that you can shut one off for indirect grilling. Three or four are even better. Higher quality grills offer burner tubes that are made of stainless steel or brass.
Higher-end gas grills also feature a battery-powered igniter.

Gas grill

A grease collection system is a plus, too, especially if you and your people love pulled pork or other fattier meats.

Side burners are convenient—I often use them on my shows. Although, you can inexpensively replace them by purchasing a butane-fueled burner that you can position on a side table. They are great for warming sauces or making side dishes.

Before buying, kick the tires. In other words, does the grill look and feel well-constructed and solid, or cheap and flimsy? Are there plenty of tool hooks and ample storage? How is the company’s service record? Buy a grill built to last, and buy more grill than you think you need. Believe me: you’ll grow into it.

Again, buy a grill with a comprehensive warranty.

I’ll cover smokers in a separate blog.

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