Nothing compares to cooking on an open flame. Whether you’re roasting mouth-watering vegetables or grilling juicy steak kabobs, the barbecue is perfect for sealing in the natural flavor. If you are looking to join the millions who already enjoy the barbecue life, or want to replace or upgrade their equipment, a little homework may be in order before being met with the dozens of choices available. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) offers a factsheet for grill buying to help narrow down the seemingly endless possibilities. Charcoal or Gas? Stainless Steel or Cast Aluminum? $150 or $500?
What’s Your BBQ Budget?
Setting a budget is a realistic place to begin, as some barbecue grills can cost $1,000+. A good way to establish a budget is to decide where you will be using your grill (backyard, patio, apartment balcony) and consider your space restrictions. This will help narrow down some of the choices and perhaps set a price range for you in the process.
The Big BBQ Question: Charcoal, Gas or Electric?
Before your shopping process begins, the looming question of Charcoal, Gas or Other must be answered. Charcoal grilling aficionados swear by the smoke flavor, despite the mess of dealing with the charcoal and required cleaning of these grills. Charcoal does require ample heating time before it can be used. Gas grills offer convenience in that with a push of a button the gas ignites and, with limited pre-heating, the grill is ready to use. For some, the other category includes electric grills. These grills are an eco-friendly, easy to use and often the best choice for apartment-dwellers. For more on cooking with gas and charcoal, check out this article on www.allrecipes.com.
Grilling Safety Tips
After choosing the perfect grill, check back in with HPBA and make sure anyone who plans to use the grill is familiar with how to do so safely. Only use barbecue grills outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Use long-handled utensils and be cautious of clothing with strings (aprons) or shirt tails. Be prepared to handle the fire and flare-ups with a water bottle, baking soda, fire extinguisher or garden hose. And always use common sense when grilling.
Fun Fact: Nearly 74 million U.S. households have barbecue grills with 45% of grill owners using their grill at least 1-2 times per week in the summer months.