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Outdoor Grill Buying Guide

A comprehensive guide that explains the exact information necessary in order to buy the best outdoor BBQ grill for your deck or patio.
Getting Started
When the weather gets nice, one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is by gathering up friends and family and cooking a delicious meal over a hot grill. As the technology of barbecue grills continues to evolve, the challenge of deciding which one is right for you transforms into an endless search through rotisseries, infrared burners, BTUs, and dozens of other features you have never heard of. If you’re looking to buy your first outdoor grill, this grill buying guide should cover all the things you’ll need to know.

Take a few minutes and check out the infographic we've created (on the right) that explains interesting and useful facts about getting your grill on. For more information or for help purchasing the best BBQ Grills - Outdoor Grills for your home, call one of our sales specialists at 888.228.5800 today!
Type
Charcoal Grills
Charcoal
The classic choice, a versatile charcoal grill is easy to use and adds an authentic barbecue flavor to any grilled food. They’re very simple— basically giant steel bowls that hold smoldering charcoal— which makes them affordable and very dependable. A charcoal grill is also capable of producing very high heat, which is great for searing meat. But reaching those temperatures can take upwards of 20 minutes, and the heat isn’t evenly distributed throughout the cooking area. Charcoal grills also tend to have a higher long term fuel cost, though charcoal is typically easy to find at any supermarket.

Best For: Those with backyards, and who are grilling purists that want an authentic, smoky flavor. The higher temperature (compared to gas) allows for easier seared meat.

Disadvantages: Set up is more involved that with an gas grill; it can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes. Because of the ash created from burning charcoal, these grills involve the most clean-up. Charcoal grills are usually banned on apartment and condominium balconies, due to the risk of fire from stray hot embers.

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Electric Indoor Grills
Electric
Electric grills plug into a standard wall outlet, and use an electric heating element to cook food. Like gas grills, they don’t alter the flavor of the food being cooked. The heat is very even, and easy to control, but electric grills usually can’t reach the high temperature levels of charcoal or gas grills. One plus to electric grills is that they’re the only type of grill that can safely be used indoors.

Best For: City dwellers living in condos or apartments that can't use charcoal or gas as a fuel source.

Disadvantages: Electric grills do not offer the authentic BBQ flavor, and do not get as hot as a flame-producing grill.

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Natural Gas Grills
Natural Gas
Natural gas grills require the installation of a dedicated gas line. While they are more expensive to install, natural gas grills tend to have lower fuel costs over time. Cooking food on a natural gas grill is a two-step process. First, the natural gas is burned in order to heat the coal or porcelain briquettes. The heat is then transferred to the cooking surface of the grill. As an added bonus, a natural gas grill's utility extends beyond that of a traditional grill. Some natural gas grill models even offer features that let you roast, braise, bake, or fry.

Best For: Impatient chefs looking to quickly fire up the grill and get to work. Also for those who do not want to worry about preparation or clean up.

Disadvantages: Authentic BBQ flavor can be lost on natural grills. Also, price tags and installation costs can be higher.

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Propane Grills
Propane
One of the most popular choices, a liquid propane grill is easy to use and has significantly less clean up than charcoal grills. Simply turn the knobs, press a button, and you're ready to go. Propane grills also come with several options that aren't available on charcoal grills. Users can easily adapt their propane grill for natural gas and have access to features like side burners and infrared burners.

Best For: Anyone looking for an easy to use grill with a selection of features, without the extra expenses of natural gas and charcoal. Quick and easy setup and cleanup make propane a good choice for inpatient grillers who enjoy properly cooked food but don't care about authentic flavor.

Disadvantages: Though hauling around the propane tank and finding a place to refill them may be a hassle, the real disadvantage is the possibility of running out of propane while grilling. Seasoned grillers typically combat this by keeping a second propane tank on hand.

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Smokers
Smokers
Smokers are a specialty item for slow cooking foods with unique and rich flavor. Smokers bathe food in waves of rich smoke to add an intense, succulent, and smoky flavor. Designed for long and slow cooking at low temperatures, smokers take patience, but ultimately lead to an amazingly authentic taste.

Best For: A barbeque naturalist that wants a true, authentic, natural, rich smoky flavor. Good for anyone who wants to get the process started and sit back and let the smoker do the work.

Disadvantages: Smokers aren't as versatile as the alternatives; their design is focused towards certain foods and loses effectiveness on others. Smoking food is also a time investment and is not as versatile as alternative grilling methods. Another disadvantage is that smoking can be accomplished on a gas or charcoal grill.

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Wood Pellet Grills
Wood Pellet Grills
Fueled by hardwood pellets, this new type of grill offers many of the benefits of both charcoal and gas grills. Wood-pellet grills use a digital control system to automatically dispense the necessary amount of wood pellets into the grill, based on your temperature settings. An induction fan pulls in and circulates outside air, creating a convection cooking process. This precise control provides the even cooking surface of a gas grill. But since the pellets create smoke as they burn, food gains the smoky flavors of charcoal. The result is the best of the two types of grilling.

Best for: those looking for the benefits of both gas and charcoal grills.

Disadvantages: Tend to be more expensive, are dependent on electricity so they're not portable.

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Ceramic Grills
Ceramic Grills
Ceramic grills, as their name suggests, are made out of porcelain glazed ceramic. These Grills are immensely efficient at retaining both moisture and heat. This is due to the ceramic material and dome shaped lid, which absorbs and radiates heat back to your food. In addition to the advanced shape and material of Ceramic Grills, dampers located on the top and bottom have been added to provide easy control of the airflow and internal temperature. To properly use the dampers, simply keep them open for a higher internal temperature or keep them closed for a lower temperature. Keep in mind, the dampers will be extremely hot while the grill is in use, so be sure to wear grill gloves before any adjustments.

Ceramic grills use charcoal as a fuel source and can provide cooking temperatures ranging from 150 degrees to 700 degrees, making them the perfect option for 2-zone system grilling. For those new to the 2-Zone grilling system, it is when coals are placed on only one side of the grill. This allows for the griller to have multiple cooking zones, one that offers direct heat, the other indirect.

Best for: people who enjoy cooking many different types of grilled cuisine. Those who are looking for an authentic bbq flavor.

Disadvantages: Ceramic grills tend to be on the expensive side, and are on the heavier side which limits their portability.

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Size
As you begin your search, think about how much power and space you are going to need. Will you be grilling for a family of four or a team of 20? Do you have a large space for the grill, or do you live in an apartment or condo that would be more suited for a smaller, portable grill? Take all of these questions into account when selecting the best grill for you and your family.

Do you cook burgers and hot dogs or typically racks of ribs? When a manufacturer refers to a grill's primary square inches, they are providing the size of the main cooking grate. A higher number of primary square inches means more burgers or ribs can fit on the grill at once. The term secondary square inches refers to the measurement of a grill's warming rack. Some grills will have a warming rack to keep food warm or to cook fare such as potatoes and other root vegetables.

If you're looking at gas grills, make sure the grill has enough heat production to meet your demands. Don't pick a grill only because it has the highest BTUs. We suggest you compare that number with the size and shape of the grill. Smaller, more compact, grills can have higher cooking temperatures with fewer BTUs, and still prepare food well.

Primary Square Inches
The primary square inches specifies the amount of grilling or cooking surfaces the grill offers.

Secondary Square Inches
The secondary square inches specifies the amount of work space on the grill including warming racks and side burners.
Things To Think About
Construction Materials
Make sure you note what material the grill is made of. This could include ceramic, stainless steel, cast aluminum, or cast iron. Stainless steel is the preferred material of professionals, since it is easy to clean and typically doesn't rust. Ceramic grills like the Kamado Joe, are gaining popularity, due to the fact that they keep your food juicy and tasty, while offering a unique grilling experience.

Cost
Though cost may not directly be the most important factor when it comes to taste, it is necessary to think about the cost of fuel. Natural gas or Liquid Propane grills have a higher, short term cost, however, the long term cost of fuel is far less than charcoal. At Abt, we offer a wide selection of grills to fit any budget.

Help, Support and Maintenance
Taking care of your grill will extend its life and performance. Be sure to inquire, about the clean-up and maintenance procedures of the grill you are interested in purchasing. On the support side, picking a manufacturer with a quality customer service program could save you hours of frustration down the road. Several manufacturers offer customer service on anything and everything grill related and will happily coach you through any process.
Features
Each grill comes with its own selection of features to improve your outdoor grilling experience. Consult the list below to determine which features are "must-haves," and which ones can be sacrificed.

Burners
Flavorizer Bars (Weber)
By having more burners available, you will have more control over the heat. Burners facilitate direct and indirect heat.


Flavorizer® Bars (Weber)
Flavorizer Bars (Weber)
Flavorizer bars, a term coined by Weber, convert the flame output of the burners to infrared energy and protect the burners from direct drippings. These bars are only available for Weber grills.

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Grates
Grates
Cooking grates come in two forms: stainless steel and enameled porcelain. Stainless steel resists rust and other types of hard-weather corrosion. Porcelain enameled grates protect the steel skeleton from rust and heat damage. Porcelain is also a good insulator, which allows the grill to maintain a higher temperature.

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Infrared Burners
Infrared Burners
Infrared burners are the newest technology in outdoor cooking because they perfectly sear food every time. First, heat is directed from the gas burner to a ceramic tile. Then the heat is converted to infrared energy. Finally, heat is radiated onto the food. Infrared burners achieve extremely high heat and allow for quick searing of meat, which locks in the juices.


Electronic Igniter
Electronic Igniter
A modern day match for your grill, a push button quickly ignites the grill allowing you to quickly begin cooking.

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Rotisseries
Rotisseries
Rotisseries move the food around the heat to create generally juicier meats that are self-basted and slow roasted. Rotisserie cooking requires a lot less heat than traditional grilling techniques.

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Side Burners
Side Burners
Used for sauté pans, cooking pots, or other items that shouldn't be grilled, but require heat. Side burners also let you cook a full meal on the grill, without having to walk back into the kitchen.

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Thermometer
Thermometer
Used to monitor cooking temperatures, they can be found on the grill's body or hood. Some grills come with a multipurpose thermometer that can be removed and used to gauge the foods interior temperature.

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Warming Racks
Warming Racks
Warming racks, or warm up baskets, attach to the inner housing of the grill and add space to keep grilled foods warm.

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Accessories
Brushes
Brushes
Left over drippings and grime can deteriorate the grill's structure and ruin the taste of the food that is grilled. Grill brushes make cleanup quick and easy, and help extend the life of the grill.

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Carts & Drawers
Carts & Drawers
Grill carts and drawers add extra utility space to the grill. Some premium models also add several storage compartments, work surfaces, shelves, and more.

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Cookware
Cookware
Specialized pans, holders, cutting boards, griddles and more. Whether you are making pancakes, shish kabobs, or pizza, having the right cookware is the key for grilling perfection.

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Covers
Covers
Covers protect your grill and keep it looking new. Covers also keep your grill safe from corrosion caused by outdoor elements. With the proper fitting grill cover, your grill's life will be extended. Most covers can even be stored in a built-in compartment while the grill is in use.

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Drip Pans
Drip Pans
Drips pans collect any grill run-off and are easily removed and replaced, making clean up effortless.

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Grates
Grates
Replacement or upgraded grill grates can improve your grilling experience. They can also bring life back into an old grill.

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Grillware
Grillware
A professional grill master should look the part. Specialized gloves keep your hands safe from the high heat, while aprons keep your clothes clean.

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Tools & Gadgets
Tools & Gadgets
Geeks and grill masters unite with a collection of grilling gadgets that create the full grilling experience. Gadgets can monitor temperature, convert propane connections to natural gas, and add LED lights for nighttime grilling.

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Rotisseries
Rotisseries
Abt offers a selection of add-on grill rotisseries, letting you enjoy the slow-roasted, extraordinary flavors that come from rotisserie cooking.

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Side Burners
Side Burners
A side burner provides an additional cooking surface, so you can prepare other items while grilling—without having to run in and out of the house. Warm up some gravy, steam veggies, or melt butter on the burner while the main course is on the grill.

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Utensils
Utensils
Forks, tongs, spatulas, and sauce brushes give you the control to ensure your food turns out exactly the way you intend. Utilizing the proper utensils can take you from an average griller to a grill master.

Shop Utensils
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