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BBQ Showdown: Which Grill is Right for You?

Whether you're a seasoned grill master or a novice cook, choosing the right grill can make all the difference in your outdoor cooking experience. From the simplicity of a charcoal grill to the interesting innovation of pellet grills, there's a grill out there to suit every taste and preference. Here, we break down the most popular types of grills and give you all the info you need for summertime sizzling, searing, and smoking. 

Charcoal Grills

charcoal grill with open flames

What is a Charcoal Grill?

Charcoal grills are classic cookers that use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal as fuel. What sets charcoal grills apart is their distinct smoky flavors and ability to reach high temperatures quickly, which is ideal for getting that coveted sear on steaks and burgers. 

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

To use a charcoal grill, arrange the charcoal in a mound in the lower grate and light it with lighter fluid or a chimney starter. When the coals start glowing red-hot, spread them evenly and let the flames rise to the grill’s upper grate to heat your food. Once you’re done, remember to put the coals out by shutting your grill and closing its vents. 

What to Cook on a Charcoal Grill 

Cook these foods on a charcoal grill:

  • Steaks
  • Burgers
  • Pizza
  • Chicken

Gas Grills

stainless steel gas grill in outdoor kitchen

What is a Gas Grill?

Gas grills are a relatively straightforward solution for grilling enthusiasts who crave precision and control. Powered by your home’s natural gas supply, gas grills ignite with just the turn of a knob and are favored for their consistent temperatures and user-friendly nature.  

How to Use a Gas Grill 

To start a gas grill, open the lid, ignite the burners, adjust the temperature, add food, and cook it to your liking. When grilling is over, confirm all burners are off and the grill is cooled down before closing. 

What to Cook on a Gas Grill 

  • Steak
  • Pizza
  • Watermelon
  • Chicken

Find yourself in a BBQ rut? Check out five unsuspecting foods that taste glorious when grilled.

Propane Grills

propane grill with propane tank in backyard

What is a Propane Grill?

Propane grills work much like gas grills, but they use refillable propane fuel instead of a direct gas connection for added convenience and portability. These grills can make unforgettable meals no matter where you are and are fantastic for camping and tailgating situations. 

How to Use a Propane Grill

To use a propane grill, connect the propane cylinder to the grill, ignite the burners, adjust temperatures, and cook your food. 

What to Cook on a Propane Grill

  • Seafood
  • Meat 
  • Vegetables 


smoker grill with smoke coming out of it

What is a Smoker?

Smokers are a secret weapon for barbecue grill lovers. They harness the power of low-and-slow cooking to transform tough cuts of meat into tender, melt-in-your-mouth delicacies. Think of them like the grilling equivalent of a slow cooker. These specialized types of grills come in various styles, including offset smokers, vertical water smokers, and electric smokers, each offering its own unique cooking experience and infusing food with rich, smoky flavors over time.

How to Use a Smoker 

To use a smoker, preheat your unit of choice and add wood chips or chunks to the firebox or smoker box. Once the smoke is billowing, place your seasoned selections on the cooking grates and let the smoker work its magic, checking on your meats periodically. 

What to Cook in a Smoker

  • Brisket
  • Turkey
  • Chicken wings
  • Pulled pork

Pellet Grills

man holding pellets for pellet grill in hand

What is a Pellet Grill?

Pellet grills represent the perfect marriage between the grill and the smoker, utilizing hardwood pellets as fuel to impart a rich, wood-fired taste to every dish. These high-tech cookers feature digital temperature controls, allowing users to set their exact cooking temperature. Still, pellet grills excel at low-and-slow barbecue while also being great for high-temperature grilling, making them incredibly versatile.

How to Use a Pellet Grill

To use a pellet grill, fill the hopper on the side of the machine with your favorite wood pellets, ignite the flame by turning the grill on, and let the grill do the rest. 

What to Cook on a Pellet Grill

  • Ribs
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Chicken breasts

All types of grills need cleaning and good care. Learn how to take care of your grill here 

Electric Grills

electric grill surrounded by raw fruits and vegetables

What is an Electric Grill? 

Electric grills are among the most convenient types of grills for urban dwellers and apartment residents. They can cook without open flames, and they are compact and portable. Electric grills are suitable for indoor and outdoor settings. 

How to Use an Electric Grill

To use an electric grill, simply plug it in, preheat the cooking surface, and place your food on the grate. While they may lack the smoky flavor of traditional grilling methods, the ease of use and versatility of electric grills make them a top choice for those seeking hassle-free grilling. 

What to Cook on an Electric Grill

Food Seasoning Tips for Different Types of Grills

Now that you’ve explored all the types of grills you can buy, you’ll want to perfect your prep for what will go on your unit of choice. Check out our guide to cooking with salt to find out how 13 different varieties can shift flavors and make meals stand out!  

Types of Grills FAQs

When do grills go on sale?

The end of summer, marked by Labor Day weekend, is usually the best time to find grills at discounted prices. 

How long do grills last?

Entry-level grills typically last up to five years, with mid-tier options lasting ten years. Luxury grills sometimes work properly for more than twenty years. 

How much do grills usually cost?

Prices for quality grills range. Some options can be as cheap as $200 or $300, while other popular brands sell units above $1,000. 

How do I clean my grill? 

Use a grill brush with tough bristles to remove grease and residue. Before scrubbing, cover your grill with hot, soapy water and baking soda.