Choosing a grill is a lot like choosing a woman (or man). Are you ready for a big commitment or do you want something cheap that you can ditch when something better comes along? Do you want something that can easily fit on a balcony without being a fire hazard? Are you prepared to piss away money on chunks of carbon to keep the fires burning? Well, Guydster may not be able to help you with women, as proven by these previous analogies; but we can help you sort through your needs to find the right grill. Lets look at the top three gas and charcoal grills and maybe an electric “grill” if there’s time.
Weber Genesis E-330
First off for the gas powered grills is the Weber Genesis E-330. The E-330 may be our favourite on the list because of its proprietary flavour bars strategically placed to catch falling grease and burn it to make the food taste better. The porcelain-enameled cast iron grates distribute heat evenly and the porcelain-enameled everything else gives the grill a nice finish. Cooking area is a big plus for the Genesis series. With a 507 inch surface area, the Weber has the biggest main grill; which is great for large gatherings. Another great feature is the searing burner on the left side of the grill; allowing you to really up the heat and get nice sear marks without over cooking the steak. The side burner is a nice feature that you won’t find on the charcoal grills. The Genesis E-330 is available in both propane tank and natural gas powered versions. Now this choice will come down to whether or not you have a line to hook the grill up to and whether you’d rather save twenty dollars or never have to refill a propane tank. $799 for the propane model and $819 for the natural gas model at Amazon.com
Napoleon Mirage Gas Grill with Infrared Rear and Side Burners
Next up is the Napoleon Mirage for the gas grills. Now Napoleon’s main grill isn’t as large as the Weber, but that is nothing to get a complex over. The Mirage actually has two of our favourite special features; the first being the infrared burners. The rear rotisserie burner will allow you to cook your chicken, lamb or shwarma like your favourite restaurants and the side burner can sear with ease as the IR burners reach temperatures north of 1500 F in minutes. The second sweet feature is the integrated cutting board/ice bucket on the left side. Having a beer within reach at all times, while barbecuing, is a must. The stainless steel finish is pretty standard, but the stainless steel cooking grid may give you trouble in the long term. Clean up is typically easier with gas grills and even easier with the removable drip pan (just be careful). The backlit knobs are a nice touch if you find yourself grilling a lot at night. $944 for the propane powered model and once again, you pay a little more for the natural gas powered version at $989.
Broil King Regal Pro
Rounding out our gas powered picks is the Regal 490 Pro from Broil King which wins in the category for most food items featured in the display picture. What sets this grill apart is the number of burners. The previous two grills have three main burners, but the 490 Pro has four dual-tube burners for more even heat distribution. Broil King’s grill also features a rotisserie burner, and while not infrared, it is more powerful than that of the Mirage. Its grilling space is comparable to the Genesis and actually has slightly more total cooking area, at 695 square inches, if you include the warming rack and side burner. The Regal features built-in lights for night use and while we would give the edge to the Mirage in comparing the rotisserie ability, it’s clear that the cast iron cooking grid will lead to greater longevity of your grill. Propane model costs $908 and only a little more for the natural gas model at $912.
Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Grill/Smoker
Now an important thing to note before looking at the charcoal grills is that yes the grill itself is quite a bit cheaper, but coal costs significantly more per cookout than gas. That said, the argument in favor of charcoal has never been economics; it’s flavour. It’s the unmistakeable smokiness that you can’t get with gas. If you don’t like that flavor, congratulations, you can skip ahead to the end of the article for a guygasm. If you aren’t crazy, let me tell you about the Kamado Kooker. Known originally as the big green egg, but only available in red, black and brown; the Kamado Kooker’s odd shape sets itself apart as a conversation piece. Its double insulated walls of 22 gauge steel provide incomparable insulation, which not only requires you to use less coal; but also allows you to maintain slow cooking temperatures for hours, with ease. The dampers are numbered allowing you to keep track of how much ventilation you need with certain dishes. The cast iron cooking grid is 307 square inches. Not as big as the gas grills, but plenty big enough for the standard barbecue. $349 at Amazon.com
Broil King Steel Keg
Broil King’s Steel Keg is another Kamado style grill. Its cast iron cooking surface is a little bit smaller than the Char-Griller, at 280 square inches, and Steel Keg costs more than twice as much. So why do we think you should get a Keg? Tailgating, this grill is ideal for tailgating. Perhaps we should have led with that. The stand is heavy duty and can be easily attached to the trailer hitch on the back of your car. The wheels are big enough so that you can push it along like a dolly as opposed to what feels like balancing the grill on the front half of a broken skateboard. Broil King’s Kamado grill also uses lump charcoal which reaches maximum temperatures much more quickly than briquettes. And it matches the beer keg you should also bring tailgating. $899 at Amazon.com
Weber Gold 22 1/2″ Kettle Grill
Our final grill is a classic and you can’t go wrong with a classic. Firstly, the price tag of under $150 dollars is going to be very appealing. Even if gas is cheaper in the long run, that will only be true after hundreds of cookouts. The cooking grate is made of plated steel; not cast iron, but still easy to clean. Making clean up even easier is the One Touch cleaning system powered by hand crank, three blades will push all the ash into the collector underneath. Weber’s kettle grill has a much larger main cooking area than the last two grills at 363 square inches. Of course even larger models exist for slightly more coin, but we like this one because it is compatible with the Kettle Pizza Deluxe Kit. In fact, get this kettle grill, the pizza kit and Grillbot, the grill cleaning robot, and you are still only spending half a grand. $133 at Amazon.com
Char-Broil Patio Bistro Electric Grill
There are only two reasons anyone should get an electric grill. Either you live in an apartment with strict fire regulations or George Forman himself gave you one of his as a gift. With a 240 square inch cooking area, you aren’t going to host a big cook-out, but the small size of this electric grill makes it ideal for balcony dwellers. Honestly, electric isn’t as bad as we’ve been making it seem. It’s better for the environment, cheaper and the 1750 watt infrared burners are actually better at keeping moisture in than the convection heating method of gas and charcoal. Just be careful when emptying the grease catcher, it can fill up rather quickly. $135 at Amazon.com
Honorable Mention: Cal Flame Master Chef Outdoor HPB Island
The only reason Cal Flame’s Master Chef isn’t the only thing on this list is it will probably cost as much as a car when they release a price point. Not only does the Master Chef have a big 800 square inch cooking surface, there is also a ceramic Kamado cooker to the right and a fire pit on the left. This unit also features: a mini-fridge, ice maker, programmable LED lights, a fireplace and two mini waterfalls. Master Chef may be the pinnacle of backyard grilling, but you may have to turn to a life of crime to afford it. calflamebbq.com