Grill Buying Guide

Learn what grill styles are available, how to find the right size, and which accessories you'll need! 

For many homeowners, grilling is a fundamental part of summer — or any other time of the year. Whether you're building a custom outdoor kitchen or just want the option to prepare your favorite meals outside, adding a grill to your backyard is essential.  

You’ll also be able to upgrade your grill with extra features and accessories that let you enhance your cooking techniques to add more to your outdoor menu.  

With so many models on the market, choosing a grill that meets your needs and looks great in your space can be a challenge.  

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to grills, including which styles are available, how to choose the right size, and which accessories you’ll need to create the ultimate grilling experience!  

FIND THE BEST FUEL SOURCE 

Gas  

Gas grills are very convenient and easy to operate because they receive a constant flow of fuel, and you won’t have to wait for charcoal or briquettes to heat up before you start cooking.  

They have built-in ignition systems that allow them to start and stop instantly. Instead of using a match or lighter to manually ignite your grill, you'll simply turn a knob to switch it on and off. 

Gas grills operate with Natural Gas or Liquid Propane. There's no significant difference between the two fuels in terms of how they cook your food, so your decision comes down to what fuel is available on your property and which is most convenient for your lifestyle.  

Keep in mind, gas grills designed for one fuel type cannot be used with another fuel type. For example, if you purchase a Natural Gas grill, you will not be able to use Liquid Propane as your fuel source and will need to hire a professional to hook your grill up to a Natural Gas line. 

wrench icon Pro Tip:

Some gas grills come with conversion kits, but you will need to hire a licensed professional to convert your grill to the desired gas-type. Converting your grill may void its warranty, so be sure to double-check the manufacturer’s specifications outlined in the installation manual.

Natural Gas Grills 

Natural Gas grills are very convenient if you have an existing Natural Gas line on your property and want to make your grill a permanent part of your outdoor living space.  

Just like an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, Natural Gas grills receive a constant flow of fuel, so you can cook as much as you’d like, without worrying about running out of gas. 

You will need to hire a licensed gas professional to route your gas line to your grill or install a Natural Gas line if you don’t already have one.  

Propane Grills 

If you don’t have a Natural Gas line on your property or your grill will be placed in an area that can’t accommodate a gas line, consider a Liquid Propane grill.  

Though you will need to swap out your Propane tank when it’s empty, you can find standard, 20-lb. tanks at your local grocery or hardware store.  

Using Propane also makes your grill mobile, so you can move it around your backyard with ease.  

Charcoal  

If you really enjoy cooking, then you probably like to experiment with different flavors. While gas grills are easier to operate, charcoal grills deliver more flavorful meals. With the use of various wood and charcoal, you’ll be able to infuse your food with that char-grilled, smokey flavor many barbecue-lovers crave. 

Pellet

Pellet grills use small pellets of wood or charcoal that burn much longer than traditional charcoal. The heat is controlled by an electrical system that ignites each pellet as needed, so you won’t have to wait for all the coals inside your grill to heat up before you can start cooking. Similar to a convection oven, a pellet grill lets you smoke, grill, bake, and braise food.  

Kamado 

Kamado grills are round, ceramic units fueled by charcoal. They function like wood-fired ovens and feature thick, insulted sides that absorb a significant amount of heat to cook your food evenly. You can use a Kamado grill for standard meals, like steaks and burgers, or you can turn it into an outdoor oven or smoker.  

Electric

If you're looking for an eco-friendly, healthy alternative to a traditional gas grill, or if you live in a place that doesn’t permit the use of gas or charcoal grills, then an electric grill is your best option. Electric grills require little to no preheating, use less energy, and emit fewer carcinogens than other grill types. They also burn cleanly and don’t produce open flames or smoke, which eliminates the risk of a fire. 

Hybrid 

We understand the dilemma of deciding between charcoal and gas. On one hand, gas grills are the most user-friendly, but on the other, charcoal grills create so much flavor. Hybrid grills offer the best of both worlds with versatile designs that accommodate gas, charcoal, pellet, wood, and Propane fuels. Some hybrid grills have separate fireboxes, which can be used at the same time, while other models make it incredibly easy to swap out one fuel for another whenever you’d like.  

CHOOSE YOUR CONFIGURATION  

After you determine which fuel you’re going to use, you’ll need to choose a grill configuration. You have the option between a Built-in or Freestanding model.  

Charcoal, pellet, gas, and electric grills come in both built-in and freestanding configurations, while Kamado grills are only available as freestanding units.  

Built-In Grills 

If you’re building a custom outdoor kitchen, then a built-in grill is the best option.  

Also known as grill heads, built-in gas grills are permanently installed into a kitchen island or counter.  

Plus, built-in grills are often available with a full line of matching outdoor equipment and components to offer a uniform look for your space. 

Post-Mount Grills  

Designed for condos, apartments, and other compact areas where space is limited, post-mount grills offer a permanent solution for homeowners who aren’t interested in an entire outdoor kitchen island.  

Post-mounted grills can be bolted into a wooden deck or concrete slab. You can hire a gas professional to route a Natural Gas line to your post-mounted grill, or you can use a Propane tank.  

Freestanding/Cart-Mount Grills 

If you don’t have an outdoor kitchen or you’re looking for a more portable option for your cooking setup, then a freestanding grill is ideal.  

These grills are placed on a mobile cart that has an enclosed storage area for your Propane tank and cooking accessories, so they aren’t visible but are still easily accessible.  

Portable & Tabletop Grills 

Portable and tabletop grills give you the freedom to take your cooking station with you wherever you go. Think of cookouts on the beach, tailgating at a stadium, barbecues in the park, and home-cooked meals at a campsite.  

These compact models are small enough to sit on a kitchen counter, making them ideal for areas that can’t accommodate a full-sized grill. Tabletop grills are also available in electric models that are safe to use inside, so you can enjoy freshly grilled food in the colder months.  

GET THE RIGHT GRILL SIZE  

The size of your grill and the number of burners it includes determine how much food you’ll be able to prepare at once and which cooking techniques you can use.  

Grills are available in a wide range of sizes, from small, two-burner models to extra-large units with several burners and ample storage space.  

While it’s tempting to opt for the fancy Goliaths of the grill market, if you buy a model that’s too large, you’ll end up spending more on fuel than necessary.  

When choosing your grill size, ask yourself the following questions:  

  • How often do I grill?  
  • How many people do I regularly cook for?  
  • What is the maximum number of people I anticipate cooking for?  
  • Do I like to prepare simple meals or spreads with elaborate side dishes? 

Small Grills  

Small grills are typically equipped with two burners and have a cooking surface of 400-500-square-inches or less.  

If you’re a casual griller who occasionally cooks for fewer than four people, a small grill is the best choice. 

The Patio Post-Mount Gas Grill by American Outdoor Grill features a 432-inch cooking surface and two burners. An infrared back burner and rotisserie kit let you cook a variety of mouth-watering meals, while an easy-to-use drip collection system guarantees an easy clean-up.  

Medium Grills  

Medium size grills range from 500-600 square inches and come with two to four burners.  

More burners provide an opportunity to experiment with different cooking methods and prepare side dishes as you grill up the main course, because you’ll have more than one heating zone.  

The Sterling Patio FR Pedestal Infrared Gas Grill by TEC has a 592-square-inch cooking surface and uses infrared technology to guarantee even heat distribution and high temperatures for searing. Side shelves and extra storage space under the grill help keep your cooking space organized.  

Large & Extra-Large Grills   

Homeowners who love grilling and regularly host friends and family should look for large grills with a 600-700-square-inch cooking surface and four or more burners.  

Summerset’s 32” Sizzler Built-In Gas Grill is equipped with four burners and has a generous 795-square-inch grilling surface. It also includes a stainless steel U-tube burner to ensure there are no cold spots on your grill.  

You can customize the Sizzler with a few optional accessories, including a rotisserie kit, a liner to keep more heat inside your grill, a built-in grill cover, and a sear burner for Michelin-Star steaks.  

There are even extra-large grills with up to eight burners and cooking surfaces that range from 800 to 1,000 square inches.  

Extra-large models are geared toward experienced grill enthusiasts and usually include luxurious upgrades, such as side burners for simmering, high-temperature infrared burners for searing, rotisserie systems, built-in smokers, LED lighting, storage space, and more. 

For example, the Lynx 54” Built-In Gas BBQ Grill features a whopping 1,555-square-inch grilling surface, three ceramic burners for maximum heat retention, and one infrared burner for searing at high temperatures. It also includes a built-in temperature gauge, a rotisserie system, internal halogen grill surface lights, and an insulated hood that keeps your grill cool to the touch.  

wrench icon Pro Tip:

You can add more cooking space by purchasing a grill with a half shelf. Warming racks also come in handy for preparing food at a lower temperature, keeping food warm while you cook the rest of your meal, or toasting buns for hot dogs and hamburgers.

UPGRADE WITH ACCESSORIES 

When you’re looking for features to upgrade your grill, consider what kind of grilling you currently do and which cooking techniques you might like to try in the future.  

Side Burners

Side burners provide an extra cooking surface for foods that don't require direct heat or must be cooked at a lower temperature, such as grilled vegetables. Adding a side burner lets you prepare the whole meal right at your grill, so you won’t have to make any trips inside to tend to your side dishes. 

Infrared Burners

Often used by restaurants, infrared burners achieve extremely high temperatures for searing, browning, and caramelizing. The best way to prepare a steak Gordon Ramsey would approve of is by quickly searing the outside to keep all the juices locked in. 

Rotisserie Kits

A rotisserie kit evenly cooks large foods, such as whole poultry. It includes durable, rotating prongs to hold your food in-place as it cooks. 

Thermometers

A thermometer will continuously monitor the internal temperature of your grill, so you can make sure your meals are always cooked perfectly. 

Charcoal Trays

You can easily transform your gas grill to charcoal or change the taste of your meals with a removable charcoal tray. Ideal for low-and-slow cooking, charcoal trays infuse your food with a robust, smokey flavor. 

LED Lighting

LED back-lit control knobs and internal grill lights add an eye-catching element to your outdoor space and keep the kitchen open long after the sun goes down.

Covers

We always recommend putting a cover over your grill when you aren’t using it. A fitted, weather-resistant cover will protect your grill from harsh weather conditions and prolong its lifespan. 

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WE’RE HERE TO HELP  

Have more questions about grills? We'd love to help! Call our team of NFI Certified experts at 844.284.0506 today! 

MORE RESOURCES  

Looking to create the perfect outdoor kitchen? Here are six things to consider before you start building.  

Should you build your own outdoor kitchen or buy one? Here are the basic requirements for both options.  

Keep your outdoor kitchen in tip-top shape throughout the harsh winter months with these important tips!