Choosing a grill | Living the Country Life

Choosing a grill

Read our tips before you head out to buy a new grill

Radio interview source: Ernie Boys, vice president, product management, Weber-Stephen Products

Listen to the radio story

Basic or elaborate?

I love outdoor barbecuing but my husband Bob and I go round and round over what method to use. He likes the gas grill because it's faster and easier. I like the charcoal grill because I think the food tastes better. So, we have both.

Ernie Boys is vice president of product management for a grill company. He says if you're shopping for a new grill and mulling over the multitude of choices, there are a few considerations that might help focus your search.

"Cooking space, number of burners, side burners or rear infrared with rotisseries, that's the first part. There are a number of grills that are just the basics. If all they're going to be barbecuing is hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, pork chops, chicken pieces, that's all they need," Boys says. "But if they want the flexibility of doing side dishes or doing larger cuts of meat then you look for things that have a lot of these other features."

Grill sizes are measured in square inches. Anything around 500 to 600 square inches will work well for the average-sized family. If you have a big family or you like to entertain large groups of people, a grill with 1,000 square inches or more would do the trick. Once you've got size figured out, you have to decide on the fuel you'll be cooking with. Boys says it comes down to personal preference.

Gas vs. charcoal

"There are the true diehards that swear by the taste of cooking on a charcoal grill," Boys says. "But the trend that we've seen is that more and more consumers are using gas, either the LP in the small propane tanks or natural gas because of the ease, the convenience and the speed of use of a gas grill. But more and more people are using charcoal as well."

As if a grill wasn't hot enough, consumers want it cranked up even more. Boys says they want a high-heat area of the grill for searing meat. Some are being sold now with "sear stations" that raise the temperature to around 900-degrees. This allows the ability to quickly sear meat ,which locks in juices, and creates perfect caramelization.

As you browse the grill displays, you'll find a lot of them are now made out of stainless steel. Boys says his company has porcelain enamel on steel which allows them to offer different colors such as black, green, blue, and even copper to add a little more pizzazz to the back patio.

Learn more:

Outdoor kitchens: Once you've selected the perfect grill, why not expand on the idea and create an entire outdoor kitchen? Here are some great ideas.

Grilling glossary: Bone up on all the latest grilling terminology before you go shopping.

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