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Grilling is the natural cooking choice for those who believe that things just taste better outdoors. Whether you're considering a gas, charcoal or electric grill, use our guide to determine the best one for your needs.
Gas grills use liquid propane (LP) or natural gas.
Some gas grills are equipped with infrared burners as an additional cooking feature. Infrared heat is from a radiant heat source, rather than hot rising air (convection) used in conventional grilling. Infrared elements heat up faster and therefore cook faster. If you’re new to infrared grilling, experiment, follow directions carefully and keep an eye on your food until you master the technique.
What's a BTU?
A gas grill's heat output is rated in British thermal units (BTU). Because this measurement is related to the size of the burner, it can be difficult to compare BTU ratings of different grills. A large grill with a high BTU rating cooks at a similar temperature as a smaller grill with a lower BTU. The ability of a grill to reach and sustain cooking temperature is more critical than how hot it can get. To ensure the best cooking performance, look for infrared burners that help to seal in juices.
Charcoal grills use charcoal briquettes, wood or a combination of both.
When using a charcoal grill, make sure to dispose of ashes regularly. The best way to do this is by letting the ash cool for 48 hours. Pour water over them to speed up the cooling process. Then place the ashes in foil and dispose of them in a noncombustible trash bin.
Smokers are available in electric, charcoal and gas models.
Electric grills must plug into an electrical outlet.
Still another option for the outdoor cooking aficionado is an outdoor stove. They typically work with propane tanks, but some can be converted to natural gas.
Now that you've determined the type of grill that you want, consider a few other options to determine the best grill for your needs.
When grilling, use caution and keep an eye on children. A gas grill can generate over 800°F of heat. When lighting charcoal grills, use only pretreated briquettes or charcoal grill starter fluid. And be mindful of grill placement. The heat can damage your home's exterior -- especially vinyl siding.
Keep food chilled and covered when it's outside. Even better, leave it inside until it's time to cook. Don't rush the cooking process, and use a meat thermometer. Always keep your utensils and cutting board clean.