Before you rush out and buy the first shiny appliance you see, take a moment and consider your options. Choosing the right gas grill is an investment that can make or break your backyard BBQ party, or even a simple backyard cookout with your family. This guide will walk you through some of the key factors, to transforming you from a grilling novice to a backyard barbecue hero.

Choose Your Cooking Style: Freestanding or Built-in Grills?

Your budget greatly contributes to the style of grill you want to cook on. One cliche always comes to mind, you get what you pay for. With that, two styles of grills also play a role in the type of cook you want to be.

  • Freestanding Grills: If you prefer the flexibility to grill wherever the mood takes you? Freestanding grills can be your friend. They're easier to install, generally more affordable and perfect for smaller areas like balconies, small patios, or impromptu tailgate battles. However, be prepared for fewer bells and whistles, especially when you purchase a less expensive model. For the novice griller, this is a good starting point. But for the grillers that want a little more from the freestanding grill, the price range will be higher, but you'll have cooking features like a side burner shelf, a rotisserie unit, and interior lighting. Lighting is important during evening hour cooking. The last thing you want to happen is serving a burnt hamburger to a party guest.

Fire Magic Freestanding Grill Cart

Grill Cart Image by Fire Magic
  • Built-in Grills: This is great for any novice chef when you crave a permanent grilling station. It is seamlessly integrated into your outdoor space into an outdoor kitchen. With help, you can design the built-in grill island to your cooking preference. Want more countertop space for preparation or serving, maybe more cooking features, like larger grill, side burners, and warming drawer. These offer undeniable aesthetic appeal and invite conversations for all, especially when seating is designed for the island. The cook is no longer isolated while barbecuing as one would be with a freestanding grill. However, they require professional installation and tend to be pricier.

Fire Magic Grill Island

Image by Fire Magic

Determine Your Gas Type: Natural Gas or Propane?

  • Natural Gas: Convenience is your game? A direct connection to your home's gas line eliminates the need for LP tank refills. Natural gas is often cheaper and delivers consistent heat, but installation might require professional help. Always contact a licensed professional when installing a natural new gas line.
  • Propane: Value portability above all else? Propane-powered grills offer independent grilling freedom, ideal for outdoor adventures, and some say cook hotter. Whether that is true or not, it's for the griller to determine. More importantly, propane tanks are generally easier to set up but require tank refills and may cost more in the long run.

Choose Your Grill Size: Small, Medium, Large, or Extra Large?

Meduim Size GrillSmall GrillLarge Size GrillExtra Large Size Grill
Small Grill: 26 inches or less and 1-3 burners are perfect for balconies or solo grilling moments, these compact grills pack a punch in a tiny package. However, their compact layout may limit options for more intricate temperature control and advanced techniques. But don't expect them to feed a crowd. Medium Grill: Ranging from 27 to 33 inches wide, offers the sweet spot for most grillers, offering enough space for family cookouts and friendly barbecues. With 2-4 burners, they handle both direct and indirect heat cooking like a champ. They may include bonus features like side burners and rotisserie burners. They won't break the bank and still let you flex your culinary muscles.Large Grill: These gas grills (34-42 inches of sizzling potential) come armed with 3-6 burners, ready for any culinary challenge. Master heat zones for smoking ribs or crank up the heat for perfect sears. Be prepared for a bigger price tag and potentially more storage space.

Extra Large Grill: With its expansive 43+ inch cooking surfaces and up to 8 fiery burners, this grill will conquer any technique, from searing steaks to slow-smoking brisket, thanks to versatile heat zones. Rotisserie systems, sear burners, and spacious storage carts often grace these champions of culinary abundance. But remember, these come with a higher price tag and are great for the serious griller.

It's important to keep in mind that the number of people a grill can feed will vary based on personal preferences and cooking methods. (Four Grill Images by Twin Eagles)

Consider a price that fits your budget:

Freestanding Grills: The perfect grill should fit your wallet as well as your backyard. Explore a wide range of options, from budget-friendly freestanding grills for under $500 to luxury models ranging from $3000 - $5,000.

Built-in Grills: Your backyard sanctuary deserves a grill that aligns with your financial ambitions. These grilling gems can range from budget-friendly options around $1,500 to high-end marvels topping out at $10,000. Set a realistic budget before you unleash your inner chef, then focus on finding the perfect built-in grill that fits your vision and wallet.

Whether you choose a built-in or freestanding grill, prioritize features that truly matter to you, like the size of the cooking surface, burner power, durability Etc. Don't let the allure of bells and whistles tempt you beyond your reach – a well-crafted grill within your budget will create countless memories. So, set a realistic budget before you start your quest, then focus on finding the best grill within your range that offers the features and quality you need. A well-made grill within your budget will provide countless seasons of sizzling satisfaction. Remember, the true luxury lies in the joy of grilling, not the price tag.

Consider the BTU rating:

Think of BTUs (British Thermal Units) as the measure of your grill's heat output. Higher BTUs mean more heat, allowing you to sear steaks like a pro or achieve consistent low-and-slow cooking. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility (and potentially higher gas bills). Choose a BTU rating that matches your needs without overspending. Less expensive grills will provide burners that produce 10,000 BTUs per burner, while more expensive grills will install burners that produce 20,000 - 25,000 BTUs per burner. BTU output will make a difference in cook time, especially when you are entertaining friends and family. So choose a BTU rating that matches your needs without overspending.

Consider Durability:

Your grill should be a loyal companion, not a rusty relic after one summer. Look for grills made with quality materials like 304-grade stainless steel. A good second option is cast iron for longevity. Porcelain-coated grates are easy to clean, but once moisture sets in, the coating separates from the steel and rusts out. Stainless steel grate tends to last longer while thicker grates hold heat better. Remember, investing in a well-made grill is an investment in countless future grilling victories.

Consider The Way You Like to Cook:

Do you dream of perfectly seared steaks and smoky-sweet pulled pork? Choose a grill with powerful burners and ample cooking surface for direct heat mastery. Crave the tender perfection of slow-smoked brisket or juicy barbecued chicken?

Look for grills with multiple burners and features like built-in smokers or rotisseries for low-and-slow grilling success.

Choosing the perfect gas grill can be the difference between a burger and hotdog meal or a perfectly seared steak with sauteed mushrooms and hickory smoked vegetables. By considering these key factors and aligning them with your grilling style and budget, you'll be on your way to backyard barbecue glory. Now go forth, grill master, and conquer the flame! Summertime calls for the allure of the flame, the sizzle of a juicy steak, and the aroma of charred meat, wood chips, and smoky vegetables. The call of the grill is hard to ignore.

Final Thoughts:

Choosing a gas grill might seem daunting, but it's also an exciting opportunity to unlock a world of culinary adventures. Remember, the perfect grill is an extension of your grilling passions, a partner in countless smoky feasts and backyard gatherings. Take your time, weigh your options, and choose a grill that sparks your inner grill master.