Summer BBQ Buying Guide |

Summer BBQ Buying Guide

The Victoria Day long weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer. You’ll start to find that as your head home from your day you will be walking by the scent of delicious food being cooked on the grill. Barbecue is perfect summertime food, and it can be made as decadent or as healthy as you like. If you are looking to purchase a new barbecue but are not sure what type to get or what to look for, read on! We’ve got different types of barbecues, the benefits and drawbacks to each, and even a recipe fit for the grill type.

Gas Grill

Why it’s Great! A gas grill uses either propane or natural gas to provide the heat. Gas grills are easy to use, hold their temperature well and they can reach high temperatures quickly. This type of grill is great for your every night dinner and perfect for cooking foods that don’t need a lot of time like seafood and steak. There is very little clean-up required post-cooking, and propane and natural gas are much cheaper than charcoal.

What to Look For: Make sure the grill has a gas gauge and a thermometer. Look for stainless steel grill plates over porcelain and if you’re looking for barbecue that will last, look for a full-top stainless steel model. Unless you’re in a small apartment and need something smaller, look for a grill that has at least a 500-600 square inch surface. This will allow you to cook multiple foods and feed a number of people at the same time, and it also lets you use indirect heat for foods that require longer cooking like roasted chicken. If you plan on making lots of roasted food consider purchasing a grill that comes with a rotisserie attachment.

Things to Keep in Mind: The biggest drawback to using a gas grill is the flavour, or lack thereof. Because gas grills don’t use fire, you don’t get the smoky flavor that comes with using a charcoal grill. It can also be difficult to cook foods for long periods over a low heat.

Master Chef Stationary Natural Gas BBQ

Cost: The cost of a gas grill can range widely, but there are 3 main categories: low end, mid range and high end.

You can pick up a lower end model for around $200-$500. There won’t be a lot of extras with these models and it will likely only last a few seasons. You can extend the life of it by keeping it clean and covered when not in use. An example of this type of grill would be the Master Chef Stationary Natural Gas BBQ which retails for $300. You can typically find these grills at your local hardware store.

Mid range grills are perfect for most people. They are typically durable though not made completely of stainless steel, and come with a number of burners and sometimes a few extras. There will be more power in these models, allowing you to sear meats. The grills should last you 5-10 years if you take proper care of them. Grills in this category range in price from $500-$1200. You can sometimes find these grills at your local hardware store, but you can also search specialty stores or go online to find the right grill for your needs. This Napoleon Prestige Grill retails for $800.

High end grills range in price from $1200 to over $10,000. These are statement pieces that are often as beautiful as they are functional. These grills should be all stainless steel and last the test of time. These grills will provide lots of heat and often come with lots of extras. The higher in price you go, the more likely they are to be set up for natural gas. You will want to purchase one of these grills from a specialty store. This American Outdoor Grill retails for $2800.

Dish to Try: Beer Can Chicken is perfect for this kind of grill. You don’t need a rotisserie attachment to make this delicious juicy chicken, because the steam created by the beer helps keep the chicken nice and moist. Also the beer can only needs to be half full so you can enjoy a few sips while getting the grill ready.

Charcoal Grill

Weber Kettle Grill

Why it’s Great! Charcoal grills use the heat and smoke from charcoal (which is actually wood and not coal) to heat your food. Using charcoal gives your food the maximum smoky barbecue flavor. Many purists consider this the only type of true barbeque. This grill is great for when you have an afternoon free and want to spend some time outside, perhaps drinking a few beers while you monitor your food. Charcoal grills are simple to set up, fairly easy to maintain and last a long time. The price of a charcoal grill is typically cheaper than the price of a gas grill.

What to look for: The first thing you need to consider is what size grill you want, these grills can vary in size, but the standard sizes for charcoal grills are 18” 22” and 26”. Look for a sturdy base with a cover that closes tightly. There should also be vents in the lid that can control the airflow. To make clean-up easier look for single-handed ash cleaning system.

Things to Keep in Mind: Getting the grill to heat up takes a lot longer than gas grills so it’s not an ideal grill when you are short on time. Maintaining the correct temperature is not too complicated of a process, but you do have to monitor your grill much more often than a gas grill. Charcoal is more expensive than gas so even though the price of the grill is cheaper, in the long run a charcoal grill my cost you more.

Cost: Charcoal grills range from $50 to around $400. You can find these grills at your local department store and also at speciality stores. The most popular charcoal grill on the market is the Webber Kettle Grill with the 18.5” size retailing for $150.

Dish to Try: Seafood might seem like a strange choice for a charcoal grill but this Veracruz Scallops with Cool Green Chile Sauce will win you over. The scallops pick up a smoky flavour which pairs nicely with the richness of the scallops, and the sauce is both spicy and cooling at the same time.

Smoker Grill

Big Green Egg

Why it’s Great! These bullet or rocket style grills are made for all day, low and slow cooking. They are made to cook with smoke at a low temperature, typically around 225 degrees. This is the grill you want if you’re into preparing tough cuts of meat like ribs, brisket and pulled pork. It’s also rather stylish and may attract comments from your neighbours.

What to Look For: Smokers can be fueled by many sources including propane and even electricity, however charcoal and wood are the most common types of fuel used. Typically even the smallest smokers are large in size and can feed a sizable family, but if you throw a lot of backyard parties you can purchase smokers than can feed 100 people or more. Make sure the unit has a good seal and that that there are vents for airflow.

Things to Keep in Mind: Time is the biggest constraint with a smoker. Because it’s most commonly used for tough cuts of meat, it can take a long time to thoroughly cook them at low temperatures. Meals prepared in these grills are best for weekends, or any time when you have a full day to devote to cooking. Also if you like to grill fish and steaks this may not be the best choice of grill for you.

Cost: Smoker grills can range in price, but on average you can expect to pay around $400-$800 for the smoker. The type of fuel you choose will also affect the price, with propane being cheaper than charcoal. The popular (and cutely named) Big Green Egg retails for around $750. What’s great about this smoker is that it can also function as a grill and oven.

Dish to Try: These Baby Back Ribs are fall off the bone tender. Just leave out the MSG (you won’t miss it) and give yourselves at least 5 hours to smoke the ribs.

Portable Grill

Portable Grill

Why it’s Great! These mini grills are great for trips to the beach, camping and any other time you may want some grilled food when away from your main grill. These grills are also great for apartments that are too small to house a full sized grill.

What to Look For: The first thing to consider is if you want a gas or charcoal grill. After deciding on the fuel source, look at the size. When you will be using the grill should affect your decision about the size. If you plan on toting around your grill on hikes and trips to the beach, you will want something lightweight and very portable. If you plan on keeping it stored in the RV then you can look at something a little heavier with a larger surface area.

Things to Keep in Mind: Because these grills are smaller, they will not provide the power of a full grill, so it may take a little longer to cook your food. Portable grills are great for fast cooking foods like steak, seafood etc, but are not really made to handle the low and slow cooking of a brisket. Many portable grills only have one burner which means that indirect cooking may be off limits. Keep in mind the clean up factor when deciding between a charcoal or gas grill, when you are in parks or at the beach, having to find a safe place to dispose of your coals may be an issue. If you are using gas, make sure to bring along extra canisters of propane, you don’t want to run out of fuel hallways through cooking up some chicken legs.

Cost: Portable grills are typically cheaper than your standard grill. Prices range from $50 to $100 for the grill itself. Also remember, charcoal grills will cost more than gas grills over the long-run. This Cuisinart All Foods Gas Grill retails for $125.

Dish to Try: This recipe for Filet Mignon Steaks with Garlicky Shrimp is perfect for a portable grill. This recipe uses direct heat and the grilling time is only 20 minutes long. Who doesn’t love a meal of Surf and Turf?

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