Gas Grills - What To Look For

Porcelain-coated cast-iron bars or stainless-steel grates are superior for distributing heat evenly. The best grills heat evenly across the cooking surface, so food that isn't directly over the flame reaches the same degree of doneness as food that is. Other good heat-distribution devices include ceramic briquettes and vented metal plates.

What the experts say to look for in a gas grill - Gas BBQ Grill Links

What the experts say to look for in a charcoal grill - Charcoal Grill Links

Look for a grill with variable temperature settings. The more control you have over temperature, the better your barbecues will be. You'll not only be able to grill, but also to sear and slow-roast. Some lower-cost grills don't allow for individual control over burners, but higher-end models often do. Some have marks for the settings and some are continuously variable.

Don't worry too much about British thermal units (Btu). Pros say you shouldn't pay much attention to this measurement of heating power, which has little bearing on practical grilling. A grill's strength has more to do with its heat distribution mechanism, size and geometry. Btu specs are interesting for comparison from grill to grill. However, a model that is rated below others in its class is a red flag, judging from user reviews. It may heat slowly or inadequately.

Make sure the grate has closely spaced, wide rods. You don't want delicate foods like fish or vegetables to fall through.

Many grills have shelves and warming racks. Grills that include shelves are convenient for chopping, basting or mixing sauces, and essential for putting a plate down. Warming racks are nice for toasting buns farther away from the heat source or for keeping food warm. Nearly all models have both.

A side burner lets you do all of your cooking for a meal on the grill, but can add to cost. This component allows you to cook side dishes like rice or veggies without having to run back and forth between your yard and kitchen. Side burners are also great for heating barbecue sauces. However, some experts say few people actually use side burners, and they have lower power than the main burners.

Rotisseries are popular, but consider if you'll use one. If you don't think you'll ever cook a whole rotisserie chicken or turkey on your gas grill, consider skipping this feature, which adds to expense. It's an add-on option for many grills.

Budget for an LP tank and accessories. Few grills come with liquid propane tanks (*Est. $30), and a spare tank is handy, too. A cover is essential if the grill will be stored outdoors. A wire brush is also essential. You'll need basic grilling tools like tongs and a spatula if you don't already have them. Some grills use fake briquettes or can smoke chips in a box to create a more charcoal-like barbecue flavor. Gridded wire boxes for grilling fish and small vegetable pieces help prevent those foods from falling into the grill. Other accessories fit into the nice-but-not-necessary category, but you can spend hundreds for convenience or specialty cooking products.

Consider free assembly promotions. These are common, but the catch is that an assembled grill won't fit into a car. Unless you own a truck, free assembly is only a benefit if you were already planning to pay for delivery.

•Infrared heating is popular in high-end grills. Many restaurant grills use infrared heating to generate the kind of power needed to sear steaks perfectly. Infrared heat cooks food by interacting with its molecular structure; it doesn't rely on hot air as much as charcoal or gas grills. Some expert reviewers find no improvement with infrared heat, however.

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