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We know choosing the right gas grill for your outdoor kitchen can be overwhelming. There are so many features to sort through, it might seem impossible to pick the perfect modal. So, we broke the process down into a few easy steps for you below. Answer these questions for yourself, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the right gas grill for you!
First, you have to decide the structure you want. Would you like a built-in gas grill, or would you prefer a freestanding one?
Built-in gas grills are installed directly within your BBQ island, providing a natural place to gather within your outdoor kitchen. They can often be purchased with a line of matching equipment and accessories, which helps your outdoor area look more put together. And, not that you’ll ever want to leave your dream backyard, but a built-in gas grill can definitely add to your home’s value.
If you’d like to be a little more flexible, you should consider a freestanding gas grill. In this case, your grill would be on a cart that you can move around whenever you feel like. This gives you the flexibility to easily adjust your outdoor setup. Most freestanding gas grill carts have an enclosed storage area where you can keep your fuel and accessories. If you’re often also preparing side dishes, you should purchase a freestanding grill with a side burner.
Next, decide if you want to use natural gas or propane gas. They cook very similarly and are relatively equal in price, so it’s more about what you have easily accessible to you. It’s not a great idea to convert from one fuel type to the other because it can void your warranty. Any conversion should only be done by a licensed professional, so you’ll want to be 100% sure you’re choosing the right fuel type for you.
Natural gas is usually used with built-in grills. It probably makes sense to go this route if you already have natural gas lines in your home. A plus of using natural gas is that you don’t ever need to worry about running out of fuel (as long as you pay your gas bill to the utility company, of course!.
If you don’t have an existing natural gas line in your home, you’ll probably want to use propane. Hardware and grocery stores typically carry the standard 20-pound propane tank, so it’s easy and convenient to exchange and refill. It does require a bit more work in that sense, but the portability of the tank allows for more movement than you’d have if you were connected to natural gas.
Another factor to consider is what size grill you’ll need. Think about how many people you’re typically grilling for vs. the maximum amount of people you’d cook for, and how often you’re preparing that much food. It usually makes sense to purchase closer to the maximum size you’ll use because you can always turn off burners you’re not using, but you can’t just add them if they aren’t there to begin with! The larger grills usually have more burners, so you can be more flexible with what you’re preparing. We’ve broken up grills into four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. Check out how those are defined and what we think each size is best used for below. The amount of people a grill can feed is going to vary for every backyard chef depending on what you’re preparing and how, but we’ve tried to give you a general sense of what you can cook on each.
Small grills contain one to three burners with a cooking surface of 26 inches wide or smaller. If you want to make a full meal for a small family or cook a dozen burgers or so, we’d recommend a small grill. One thing to remember about a small grill is that you’re not going to have as many temperature zones when you have fewer burners, so mastering things like indirect cooking will be more of a challenge.
A large grill has a cooking surface between 34 and 42 inches wide with three to six burners. This gives you the freedom to experiment with all kinds of different techniques, using heat zones and indirect heat or even cooking more than one course at a time. A large grill would be great for preparing a large meal for a large family or making a bunch of burgers for your friends.
An extra-large grill is anything above 43 inches wide with up to eight burners. If you’re the pro griller among your family and friends, you might want to consider an extra-large grill. You’ll be able to prepare plenty of food for larger groups. Extra-large grills have more bells and whistles like rotisserie cooking systems, sear burners, and extra storage space.
You also have to think about what classification of gas grill will work best for you. We’ve assigned four different classes based on different features - luxury, premium, practical, and economy. A huge part of our classification is based on the warranty options associated with the grill. Always, always, always, pay attention to the warranty before making your purchase decision so you know if your grill will be protected if something needs to be replaced in the future.
Luxury gas grills are the cream of the crop. These grills are made of the highest quality materials and features and typically have lifetime warranties. Luxury grills are going to be the most reliable with the biggest range of temperatures and, frankly, the most visually appealing all around.
Premium gas grills are just one step down from luxury. These grills are going to last a long time and some even carry lifetime warranties. They’re usually built with 304 stainless steel, which is most commonly seen in commercial-grade kitchens. Premium grills are easy to control, meaning you can depend on consistent results in the quality of your meals. They’re also easy to personalize with a wide range of accessories.
Practical gas grills are going to limit what cooking styles you can use because these don’t have as many features or sizes available. They’re also more affordable than the higher classes, but still of an acceptable quality. Grills in this category will be reliable with an adequate amount of heat retention, but the max temperature is usually around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Practical grills are typically built with stainless and painted steel. Warranties don’t usually last longer than 10 years.
Unsurprisingly, economy gas grills are not as highly recommended by us. Their materials are lower quality, so lifespans of the grills tend to be shorter. As a result, warranties are usually more limited too. Grills in this category also have more limited features, so you won’t really be able to use it for much more than basic grilling. That said, temperature gauges and ignition systems can be unreliable, making the griller’s job more challenging.
Ultimately, your grill needs to work for you and your grilling needs. Now that we’ve got the logistical needs out of the way, you can think about the most important part: enjoying the grilling experience!
If you like to impress friends and family by serving beef that looks like it came straight out of a steakhouse kitchen, you might love an all-infrared grill. These are capable of high heat and moisture retention, resulting in the perfect sear mark on even the thickest steak. They also tend to have fewer high intensity flare-ups.
If you are more of a slow smoker, you could benefit from charcoal tray accessories or gas/charcoal combo grills with two separate fireboxes. You could even consider a wood chip smoker box to blow your guests’ minds with incredible BBQ flavor.
If you’d like to keep it simple, buy a dependable grill with basic controls. (This does NOT necessarily mean economy class, either, unless you want it to!) If you want your outdoor kitchen to be the talk of the town, consider LED backlit controls or internal stadium lighting. You could even customize your setup with grill racks, pizza accessories, or Wi-Fi or Bluetooth based thermometers.
If you add lights or a rotisserie to your grill, remember you’ll need to plug in to a standard electrical outlet. The type of fuel you use on your grill is going to affect the ventilation system you’ll need. All of these things will impact the location of your grill within your outdoor kitchen, too. Don’t worry, we can help you design your outdoor kitchen if you need help with the planning!
We don’t recommend building a combustible BBQ island, but most built-in grills will need an insulated grill jacket if they’re put in one.
Regardless of the options you choose, we definitely recommend purchasing a cover for your grill so you know your investment will be better protected from inclement weather (and therefore last longer!)
We want to stress that British Thermal Units (BTUs) are not the most important factor in determining heat output or grill performance. You should be more focused on what your grill’s temperature range and max temperature are. If a grill can reach high temperatures with a lower BTU count, it’s going to be more fuel-efficient (aka cheaper for you).
We are here to make your purchasing process smooth so you can get to grilling quicker. If you still have questions after checking out this guide, please reach out to us. We are more than happy to help you understand your gas grill options!