What’s best, an outdoor kitchen grill that is built-in or one or one that is freestanding?  Gas or charcoal?  Smoker or rotisserie?  Here we are in the middle of grilling season and the great grill debate is still in full swing.  You are wondering why you didn’t make some decisions earlier in the season.  Well, don’t fret.  Start planning now and as the season eases along grills will go on sale and you’ll be ready to snap up your perfect option.

Here is some information that should help you pick the right grill for you.

Gas Outdoor Kitchen Grill

Pros: A big advantage of the gas grill is hat it is quick to heat up and quick to cool.  Also there will be very little clean up time so this is a terrific choice for those who want to be able to turn out a quick weeknight grilled dinner. If you use a grill for more than burgers and steaks, you will appreciate that the lower, more regulated heat of a gas grill is a better option for delicate foods like fish, chicken and veggies.

Cons: In general, gas grills do not get as hot as charcoal grills, which can means getting a good sear on a steak can be difficult.  Gas grills can cost cost more than charcoal grills, with a range from about $200 all the way up to $5,000, depending on the brand, size, and add-ons.

Consider infrared and sear burners:  Some upper-end gas grills now include superheated elements that offer the opportunity cook foods (like steaks) in a way that an ordinary gas grill isn’t able to do.

Rotisserie add-on:  If a crisp and juicy, slow roasted chicken is something that makes your eyes light up and your mouth water, then a rotisserie add-on might be worth the investment.  Before making the purchase, be sure your grill will be able to accommodate the addition – double check that your lid will close when the rotisserie is in place.

Should it be freestanding or built-in?  If you are planning a new outdoor kitchen, a built-in grill will offer a seamless look.  But there are reasons to consider a freestanding grill:  the cost will be lower and you have more flexibility if you decide in the future that you want a different type or size.

Charcoal Outdoor Kitchen Grill

Pros: Charcoal grills can get very hot — perfect for those seared grill marks on your steaks. Some people prefer the flavor that a charcoal grill adds to food and they make a sound choice for slow-cooked or smoked meats. Even a high end charcoal grill will be much less expensive than a gas grill – an estimated range would be $100 to $300, maybe even less for a small portable option.

Cons:  A charcoal grill will take longer to start than a gas grill, they create more unhealthful smoke and they can be difficult to clean.

Add on a smoker. Some brands of charcoal grills are made with low/slow barbecue cooking and smoking in mind. But even if you buy a standard kettle-style grill, you have the option to purchase an add-on designed to turn your unit into a smoker.

There are also dedicated smokers.  If your preference leans towards the convenience of a gas grill but you would love to smoke meats for special occasions, you can always purchase a dedicated smoker.  These units are terrific for maintaining a low, steady heat that’s needed for traditional southern BBQ.

Pizza oven?  If delicious home-made pizza is a family favorite, an outdoor oven should be on your must have list.  These ovens are built to get very hot for that professional crisp and chewy crust that is so popular today.

What to look for when shopping for an outdoor kitchen grill

  • Pick a size that is right for your lifestyle. Are you cooking for two or frequently hosting large gatherings?  Choose accordingly.
  • The wobble factor. You want a grill that offers a solid stance and general sturdiness, especially in a freestanding grill that could topple over.
  • Material thickness is key. A unit made of thin metal can easily become damaged and lose the ability to hold heat well.
  • Durability is important. The construction should be solid, not flimsy.
  • Check out the moving parts. These are the elements that are most likely to break so pick a product with sturdy parts made of heavy metal.

The great grill debate will go on from season to season.  Hopefully this information will help make the choice that is right for you so you can quit debating and sit down to a lovely grilled dinner.  Bon appetit!