Discard whatever brochure you had before and check out Your New Guide to Pick the Right Grill because we've got the experience to know what your burning questions will be. We know about all the functions of your future grill and the real life scenarios and troubling circumstances you may have with your backyard and/or patio - trust us, after 43 years in business, we've heard everything.
Let’s begin with the most popular backyard barbecue – the gas grill. Gas grills use combustible gas, such as liquid propane or natural gas, as their fuel source. These barbecues are perfect for the person who wants something easy to use, simple to maintain, and relatively adaptable to personal preference. Thus, these grills are manufactured with a myriad of features and size options.
Gas barbecues will come in an array of styles: freestanding, portable, and built-in (which offer the most customization options). With that being said, even the most seasoned pitmasters who like using real natural charcoal, pellets, or wood can benefit from having a gas grill because of its functionality; few outdoor smokers will be capable of heating up as fast as a gas one.
Here in Canada, natural gas is in abundance, and many would agree that it’s less expensive and more convenient to use natural gas than propane. Although, propane actually burns hotter, don’t fret too much if you're deciding between the two gas types because your barbecue will manage the BTU output, making the end result the same. So, what gas type should you go with?
It really comes down to if you have a natural gas connection and/or if you don’t mind refilling a propane tank regularly. With a propane barbecue, you’re able to move the barbecue anywhere you want, which may be a huge benefit for you if you have a large patio. We bring this up because a natural gas barbecue is permanently affixed to a house (or where the natural gas outlet is) by a hose. If one wanted to move their natural gas barbecue beyond the reach of its current hose, they would have to purchase a new hose or an extension. However, an extended gas hose would result in a lower gas pressure.
Charcoal: the Origin
Let’s move on to the origin of barbecuing itself. While all kinds of wood-burning barbecues exist, charcoal grills are far more common. Now, we should clarify that "charcoal barbecue" is an umbrella term that refers to the style of barbecue that uses charcoal, briquettes, wood sticks, etc., as a fuel source. Just like their gassy counterparts, charcoal grills come in many styles. That being said, the kettle barbecue is probably the most recognizable style.
The kettle barbecue was pioneered by Weber in the 1950's. The Weber Kettle features all of the things that make a good charcoal grill; adjustable air shutters for temperature control, high heat capabilities, and relatively easy clean up and maintenance.
Fuel consumption was a point we touched when discussing gas grills, so what about charcoal? It’s quite simple, the hotter you burn – the faster your charcoal or briquettes will run out. You can adjust the air intake on your charcoal barbecue to adjust the temperature inside the smoker. Fuel consumption also depends on what you’re burning (hardwood lump charcoal, uniform-sized briquettes, etc).
Kamado: the Evolution
The next popular charcoal grill style is the kamado. A kamado is a ceramic cooker (unless we’re talking about the Broil King Keg 5000), directly inspired by the most ancient of outdoor cookers. Kamado manufacturers such as Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe feature heavyweight ceramic bodies that insulate incredibly well, offer easy maintenance, and a cooking experience unlike anything else.
Who are kamado cookers perfect for? Our answer: those people who are passionate about barbecue, admire the finer details, and don’t mind being attentive to their barbecue while it’s cooking over a long period of time.
Speaking of long periods of time, another popular style of charcoal barbecue is the vertical smoker, which is exclusively a smoker. These grills usually do not have the capability that a kettle or kamado does to reach hot searing temperatures, but are designed to maintain that perfect low and slow temperature and infuse your food with a generous amount of smoky flavour. Well-designed vertical smokers will feature a water tray to keep the food moist, as well as a separate entryway (apart from the top) to add additional charcoal as needed.
Compared to a gas grill, which would feature an electronic ignition module built into the barbecue for easy start up, a charcoal barbecue can take a bit of getting used to and won’t heat up as quickly as a gas or a pellet grill. There are different ways to ignite charcoal, all effective but with varying degrees of effort and lengths of time to achieve cooking temperature.
In addition to charcoal and gas there is a third fuel source that is taking the barbecue world by storm. Due to their ease of use and functionality, pellet grills have erupted in popularity over the years. They're often known as the “set it and forget it” type of grill. So how does it work?
First and foremost, a pellet is compressed hardwood that is meant to be burnt as a fuel source. Think of a little one-inch wood sausage - that’s sort of what a pellet is like. The pellets will be loaded into a hopper, a section on the side of the grill that feeds the pellets to the burn pot.
Who are pellet grills excellent for? Our answer: those who want wood-smoked flavour without any of the perceived hassle of charcoal.
All of these features come together for a complete package that is incredibly user-friendly. However, cleaning the ash out frequently is the annoying key to maintaining the longevity of a pellet machine. As well, they are great for smoking and things that require relative heat like baking and roasting, but is one going to be able to sear a steak? Perhaps with the right accessories or pellet grill (some are hotter than others), but you won’t get the same finish as with a gas grill. This is part of the reason why many avid barbecue smokers will work on their pellet grill alongside a gas barbecue. Feature-wise, some units will have a rotisserie or the ability to add one, but additions like side burners are only beginning to appear, for example, the 2022 Traeger Timberline features an induction burner.
Choosing a barbecue really comes down to what one wants to do and what kind of fuel source they want to use. At Barbecues Galore, we carry top brands in all of the three categories we have elaborated on here, hopefully we’ve been informative enough justify the title of this article. And if we have (or even if we haven’t) but you still have additional questions don’t hesitate to hit that chat button in the corner of this webpage and chat with one of our barbecue experts. You can also call, or come into one of our five stores across Canada, where our barbecue experts are also in abundance, we have two stores in Calgary and three in the Greater Toronto Area.