Especially during the warmer months of the year, there is no better way for spending your free time than cooking your food outside – I’m sure every grilling enthusiast agrees with me on that.
However, to be able to throw amazing grill parties in your garden, you have to know which kind of grill will meets your needs best.
These days, choosing the correct grill is not as easy as it was back in the days when the only real option was the old-fashioned, standard charcoal grill. While there is nothing wrong with it, and it still remains the most popular choice around the world, it’s still good to know all the other options so that you can make a choice which you won’t ever regret.
Without further ado, let’s take a loot at all your grilling options. There is nothing to lose by getting some knowledge about the modern alternatives, but I’m sure there’s a lot to gain.
I’m quite sure you’re well familiar with these – it’s hard to believe there is someone who never grilled or participated in outdoor grilling with the use of a standard, charcoal grill. What are the main properties of such grills, and why do they remain better in some cases than the modern, gas grills?
- Temperature – that’s the thing that gives them the upper hand against their counterparts. Charcoal grills can heat to amazing temperatures, and while you don’t always need that when grilling food, there are certain food products which require high temperature to be properly cooked. The most notable example of such food are steaks – they have to be grilled really fast, because the less time they spend on your grill, the more tender will they be. Additionally, it’s only through the process of fast grilling on a smoking hot grill you can acquire what’s called a Maillard reaction – which is a chemical process during which the flavorful brown crust creates, on the exterior of your steak. A steak that cooks slow and long becomes gray and hard, and I’m sure that’s not what you call a perfect steak.
- Price – charcoal grills are normally way cheaper than their gas counterparts. You can get a really good charcoal grill for as low as around $150, but of course, you can spend more if you’re looking for a custom made charcoal grill – one covered with bricks, for example. Yet, the starting price is really low, as they are pretty simple and straightforward. Keep in mind, these days you can also get a lot of additional features for your charcoal grills, such as the thermometer for example, so investing in an old-fashioned grill doesn’t mean you have to stay behind, technologically.
- Using it – whether that’s a problem or not, is up to you, but it’s good to remind you that a charcoal grill needs a substantially higher amount of time to get started, because there is the whole procedure of filling it with charcoal, then starting then fire, and then waiting for the charcoal to get hot. Some people, me among them, like this whole procedure, as it adds to the atmosphere of your outdoor grill party. The best of things are worth waiting for, as they say, right?
- Maintenance – unfortunately, charcoal grills require more maintenance and care than their gas counterparts plus the smoke they create can be problematic if you have neighbours living really close by. They also take longer to cool down.
- Additional features – except for the minor features like a thermometer that I’ve already mentioned, there are cool and handy things you can equip your charcoal grill with – such as a smoker if you’re a fan of smoking your food on occasion or additional trays used for different kinds of grilling, slower or faster for example.
The modern alternative to charcoal grills. While they surely have their assets, such as easy maintenance, versatility and the ease of use, in my opinion, they don’t provide the much sought-after atmosphere and feeling of your traditional, old-fashioned charcoal grill.
- Temperature – they heat up faster than the charcoal grills, but usually not to such extreme temperatures as the ones that can be acquired with charcoal grills. The temperature can also be easily regulated at all times, so if you need the precise temperature to cook temperature-sensitive food, then gas grill is the way to go ( a good example can be vegetables or fish).
- Price – much more expensive than the charcoal grills, they start at $200 for the most basic options and finish at around $5000. It’s worth it to remember, that the cheap models are really nothing to write home about, so be prepared to pay at least $1000 for something decent.
- Using it – they are way easier to operate than the charcoal grill, once you get a hang of them – they don’t generate as much smoke, easily fire up and heat up fast, there is really not much to say about it, it’s about as easy to use as your average cooktop.
- Maintenance – easy to clean and easy to use, no ash and no charcoal involved.
- Additional features – if you’re willing to spend some extra money on it, you can get handy features such as sear burners, rotisserie or infrared burners for your gas grill. However, they really don’t come cheap, so keep that in mind.
Alternatives to grills
If a grill isn’t up your alley, but you’d still like to try out some outdoor cooking, then it’s best you think about pizza ovens or smokers. While you can get an add-on smoker for your charcoal grill, it doesn’t come close to the real thing.
Pizza ovens, on the other hand, can get really hot and when made professionally, will allow you to cook the best of pizzas, better than the ones you can find in your average restaurant.
Certainly, both of these options are very tempting and worth taking into consideration.
Built in vs free standing
Decide whether a free-standing or a built in option of your grill to get – while a free standing grill usually makes less of an impression, it’s considerably cheaper and, of course, mobile.
On the other hand, a built-in grill is usually larger, allowing you to throw real outdoor cooking parties at your place, which will impress all of your guests.