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With so many different models and features to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start when looking for the perfect gas grill.
In this blog, we explore seven popular features to consider that will help you make an informed decision.
1. Size of the Cooking Surface
To estimate how much you can cook on your gas grill, you will need to know the size of your cooking surface area and the type of food you plan to cook.
Here are some general guidelines to help you estimate:
Hamburgers & hot dogs: You can usually cook 4-6 burgers or 10-12 hot dogs per 100 square inches of cooking surface.
Steaks: You can usually cook 2-3 steaks per 100 square inches of cooking surface.
Chicken & fish: You can usually cook 1-2 chicken breasts or fish filets per 100 square inches of cooking surface.
Vegetables: You can usually cook 4-6 servings of vegetables per 100 square inches of cooking surface.
Keep in mind that these are just estimates. The actual amount of food you can cook on your gas grill will depend on the size of your grill, the temperature you're cooking at, and the thickness of the food you're cooking.
Stainless steel, cast iron, and porcelain-coated cast iron are all popular materials for grill cooking surfaces, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages:
Stainless steel: Stainless steel grates are durable, easy to clean, and rust-resistant. They heat up quickly and evenly, but can be prone to sticking, especially with delicate foods like fish. Some stainless steel grates have wider spaced rods that allow for more direct heat and searing, while others have narrower spaced rods that provide better support for smaller foods.
Cast iron: Cast iron grates retain heat well and provide excellent searing capability, making them ideal for cooking steaks and other meats. They can be prone to rusting, however, and require regular seasoning to maintain their nonstick properties. Cast iron grates can also be heavy, making them difficult to handle and clean.
Porcelain-coated cast iron: Porcelain-coated cast iron grates offer the best of both worlds, combining the heat retention and searing capability of cast iron with the durability and rust-resistance of porcelain. They are also easy to clean, as the porcelain coating helps prevent sticking. However, porcelain-coated grates can be prone to chipping or cracking if they are mishandled or cleaned with abrasive materials.
Stainless steel grates are a good all-around option, while cast iron grates are ideal for searing and creating grill marks. Porcelain-coated cast iron grates offer the best of both worlds, but may require more care and maintenance to keep them in good condition.
The heat output of a grill is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). It's important to understand that higher BTUs don't necessarily mean a better grill.
Here are some things to consider when looking at BTUs:
Cooking surface area: The BTUs needed will depend on the size of the cooking surface. As a general rule, you'll need around 80-100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface.
Material of the grill: A grill made of higher quality materials, such as thick cast iron, will hold heat better and require fewer BTUs to maintain a consistent cooking temperature.
Number of burners: The number of burners will affect the amount of BTUs needed. More burners generally mean more BTUs, but it also means more control over temperature zones.
Wind conditions: Windy conditions can affect the heat output of a grill, so if you plan to grill in a windy area, you may need a grill with higher BTUs.
- Fuel type: Propane and natural gas grills have different BTU requirements. Natural gas grills generally require fewer BTUs than propane grills due to the lower pressure of natural gas.
It's important to look at the overall quality of the grill, as well as the size of the cooking surface and the number of burners. A high BTU rating alone doesn't necessarily mean a better grill.
4. Ignition System
Choose a grill with a reliable ignition system, such as an electronic or push-button ignition. Here are some things to consider about ignition systems:
Type of ignition: There are several types of ignition systems, including manual, electronic, and automatic.
Manual ignition systems require a match or lighter to light the grill.
Electronic ignition systems use a battery-powered spark to light the gas.
Automatic ignition systems use a timer and a spark to light the grill at the push of a button.
Quality of the ignition system: Look for an ignition system that is high quality and built to last. Cheap ignition systems can fail quickly, leaving you with a grill that is difficult to light or unsafe to use.
Ease of use: Consider how easy the ignition system is to use. Automatic ignition systems are generally the easiest to use, but they require batteries and may be more expensive.
Safety features: Look for ignition systems with safety features, such as a built-in safety valve that shuts off the gas flow if the flame goes out.
Maintenance: Consider the maintenance required for the ignition system. Some ignition systems may require regular cleaning or replacement of parts to keep them working properly.
Overall, look for a system that is high quality, easy to use, and safe, with the appropriate features for your needs.
5. Temperature Control
A good gas grill should have adjustable burners and a built-in thermometer to help control cooking temperatures.
Here are some things to consider about temperature controls:
Number of burners: The number of burners affects the temperature control of the grill. More burners generally mean more control over temperature zones, allowing you to cook different foods at different temperatures.
Heat distribution: Look for a grill with even heat distribution, so that the temperature is consistent across the cooking surface. This will help you cook your food evenly and prevent hot spots.
Type of control: Gas grills typically have either dials or knobs for temperature control. Dials are easier to read and may provide more precise control, while knobs are easier to adjust and may be more durable.
Built-in thermometer: A built-in thermometer can help you monitor the temperature of the grill and ensure that your food is cooked to the appropriate temperature. Look for a thermometer that is accurate and easy to read.
Additional temperature control features: Some grills may come with additional temperature control features, such as vents or dampers that allow you to adjust the amount of oxygen to the burners, or infrared burners that provide intense heat for searing.
6. Side Burners
Side burners are a popular feature on many gas grills, and they can be useful for cooking side dishes, sauces, or even boiling water.
Here are some things to consider about side burners:
Size & power: Look for a side burner that is appropriately sized and powered for your needs. Consider how often you plan to use the burner and what types of dishes you will be cooking on it.
Location: Consider the location of the side burner on the grill. Some grills have side burners that are integrated into the main cooking surface, while others have separate burners located on the side of the grill.
Quality: Look for a side burner that is high quality and built to last. Cheap side burners may not provide enough power or may fail quickly, leaving you with a grill that is difficult to use.
Ignition: Look for a side burner with a reliable ignition system, such as an electronic ignition or automatic ignition. A reliable ignition system will make it easy to light the burner quickly and safely.
- Ease of cleaning: Consider how easy the side burner is to clean. Some models have removable drip pans or grates that make it easy to clean up after cooking.
7. Storage & Mobility
Keep in mind how you plan to store and move the grill, especially in the winter.
Size: Consider how much space the grill will take up when not in use during the grilling season, and the space you need to store it during the winter.
Wheels: Look for a grill with wheels that can be easily moved around, especially if you plan to move the grill frequently. Consider the quality of the wheels and how well they will hold up over time.
Folding shelves: Some grills come with folding shelves that can be folded down for storage or to save space when not in use. This can be useful if you have limited space for storing the grill.
Cabinets or shelves: Look for a grill with cabinets or shelves for storage, especially if you plan to store accessories or propane tanks with the grill.
Weight: Consider the weight of the grill, especially if you plan to move it frequently or store it in a location where you need to lift it.
Whether you are a seasoned grill master or just starting out, a high-quality gas grill can be a great investment in your outdoor cooking experience.
You can always rely on the expertise of our sales associates to help you select the perfect gas grill. Visit one of our four Indiana showrooms to browse our gas grill selection for yourself. We offer free assembly and delivery on gas grill purchases over $300. Ask a store associate for more details.
Then make plans to get out there, fire up your new grill, and enjoy some delicious food with family and friends!