Which BBQ Grill is Right for You?

Which BBQ Grill is Right for You?

We just flew through like a million years of barbecue history. From Christopher Columbus to today’s various cooking customs, we learned a lot. But by now you’re probably thinking: Enough chit-chat. Is it time to eat yet?!


Before we grill, we need to decide what kind of grill is best for us. Should be simple, right? Well, it turns out there are about a zillion options. Here’s a quick breakdown, from the traditional to the newfangled.


It doesn’t get more traditional than a campfire. Rub a couple of sticks together and bon appetite! Don’t know how to build a fire Survivorman-style? Check out this REI® advice on How to Build a Campfire. Once the fire is going, what should you cook – and how? According to Crash Course: The 6 Major Types of Grills, “Open pit grilling is epitomized by Argentina’s asado and Brazil’s fogo de chão—meats roasted on stakes in front of a fire. Campfire grilling includes the salmon “bakes” of the Pacific Northwest; Connecticut’s planked shad; and the roasting of marshmallows on sticks to make that American scout favorite: s’mores.” The article also says this method of cooking is best for whole lamb, goat, pig, and salmon, rack of beef ribs, and skin-on fish fillets.

Charcoal Grill

Briquettes anyone? Cooking with charcoal is time consuming but oh-so tasty. Truth is, most barbeque purists insist on this method to get that signature smoky flavor. How did it all start? In Popular Mechanics® A Brief History of the BBQ Grill, in 1952, “George Stephen, a welder at Weber Brothers Metal Works, cuts a metal buoy in half to make a dome-shaped grill. He uses the top half as a lid that seals in flavor and evenly distributes heat, and adds vents to get oxygen to the fire. The iconic Weber® grill is born.” We’ve come a long way since the first charcoal grill (see The Big Green Egg®) but all charcoal grills have two major disadvantages. There’s a lot of prep time. Worse, it takes even more time to clean up when you’re done. Enter the Shop-Vac® Ash Vac, which is specially designed to remove cold ashes from BBQ grills and more.

Gas Grill

In the 1960s, according to the same The Popular Mechanics® article, “In a bid to get customers to buy more natural gas, William G. Wepfer and Melton Lancaster of the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company redesign a charcoal grill to run on bottled propane.” And just like that gas grills exploded (sorry, bad word choice) everywhere. And what the gas grill lacks in tradition, it more than makes up for in speed, ease of use, and cutting-edge tech (see Infrared Cooking).  However, gas grills are more expensive than charcoal. High-end options can cost you over $1000. On the flip side, you can snag a propane-powered Coleman® stove for under $50.

Electric Grill

It’s a little known fact that electric grills are powered by nuclear fusion. Just joking. It’s electricity. But why would you want electricity cooking your burger? According to Money Crashers 4 Types of Outdoor Barbecue Grills, electric grills are best for people who are prohibited by fire regulations from using gas or charcoal grills. (Think condos and apartments.) But as the article points out, “Electric grills can produce results that look similar to their fire-powered cousins (grill marks are easy to come by), but they are not a replacement for the traditional grill. The smoky flavor is all but lost when using electricity.”

Whatever grill you choose, join us next time for some innovative BBQ hacks that promise to take your grill skills to the next level.

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Popular Mechanics® is a registered trademark of Hearst Communications, Inc.
Weber® is a registered trademark of Weber-Stephen Product Co.
Big Green Egg® is a registered trademark of The Big Green Egg, Inc.
Coleman® is a registered trademark of The Coleman Company, Inc.