The sun is high overhead and sprinklers are watering the lawn. The afternoon is going to be long and hot, and you're bound to have some friends over for a barbecue by the evening. You've just realized, however, that you don't actually have a grill -- though you do have some time to run over to the store to get one.
But what is the best grill to buy for the summer? This article will explore the different types of grills available, the best grills for summer weather, and the best grills for outdoor barbecues of all types. Let's get started.
Portable grills would be a popular type of grill among those who are casual barbecue enthusiasts -- those who may cook one to three times a season (like during the big summer holidays). They come in a variety of forms and shapes but are generally small enough to be transported easily.
Portable grills can come in charcoal, propane gas, electric, and Kamado varieties. As such, they differ in the types of fuel they use, the way they cook, and how they impart flavor to different foods (see below).
In general, though, the largest types of portable grills are waist-high "walk-around" grills with lids -- and the smaller types of portable grills are short "stand-alone" grills that can hold modest amounts of food.
In terms of summer use, portable grills would be best for small family meals or camping trips. Relatively easy to carry and clean, some portable grills can accommodate an upper and lower grill, for resting meats and other foods.
If you're looking to barbecue or grill foods regularly, you might want to consider a gas grill. These grills are large, near-stationary (as most of them have wheels) devices that can accommodate plenty of food, with enough room for meats, vegetables, and of course, hamburgers and hot dogs.
Powered by propane tanks or hooked up to lines of natural gas, gas grills can be started with a simple button push and adjusted with temperature-specific dials. Gas grills can have multiple burners, have a consistently heated cooking surface, and may include side shelves.
Gas grills are also a popular "frequent barbecue" grill because they are comparatively easy to clean. Unlike charcoal grills, they do not require their insides to be cleaned of soot and ash, and only require their insides (their grates, barriers, and drip pans) to be cleaned of food bits and oil.
Finally, gas grills are often marketed with BTUs (British Thermal Units) as a selling point. BTUs can range in the tens of thousands however, this is not as important as the amount of BTUs per square inch. That said, a solid gas grill should be in the range of 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch.
Charcoal grills are perfect summer-style grills that are great for entertaining. They can come in many different shapes and sizes, from dome-shaped standalone units to huge gas grill-like devices, to simple rectangular stands.
The one thing they do have in common is the fuel source they can accommodate -- charcoal. This can come in the form of easily lightable charcoal briquettes, hardwood/lump charcoal varieties that burn with substantially less ash, or a mixture of both.
Charcoal grills are believed to leave food with the flavor of smoke -- and this may depend on the type of charcoal you are using. One thing that is certain is that you can arrange the coals on the bottom of the unit to give the grill hotter or cooler spaces over which to cook food.
Charcoal grills do require quite a bit of cleaning, so be prepared to clean and dispose of any ash that accumulates on the bottom of the unit. Unlike gas or electric grills, however, charcoal grills allow for a more natural burn.
You will have to wait about 20 minutes to get a charcoal grill ready, but that may be just the right speed for longer summer parties. With the adjustability of the top vents of a charcoal grill -- allowing the grill to heat (when open) or cool (when closed) accordingly, it might all be worth it.
Electric grills are, of course, grills powered by electricity -- and they usually (but not always) take the form of somewhat smaller, close-to-the-ground units. If your neighborhood or home does not allow gas or charcoal grills, electric grills can be a convenient alternative.
Electric grills have a heating element -- a coil-like structure -- that runs in different patterns along the base of the grill, depending on the manufacturer.
Though these grills do not offer the flare-ups or smokiness of charcoal and other grills, they do offer a grilling surface with even heat. A common complaint with electric grills is that they do not give off any flavor to food.
If you are looking for an electric grill, look for one that has a high-temperature range, around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. In this way, you will be able to cook your favorite foods reliably.
Finally, electric grills are relatively easy to clean, with no ash to remove.
Kamado grills are based on the concept of the Kamado (meaning "stove" or "place for the cauldron" in Japanese) cooking unit. Traditionally large stoves that housed large clay pots, the Kamado (referred to as a "Mushikamado" in smaller sizes) was heated by wood or charcoal.
Modern-day, Western-style Kamado grills are based on the traditional Kamado concept. Currently, a "Kamado Grill" refers to a somewhat egg-shaped ceramic unit that contains a grill and space to put wood and charcoal underneath the grill area.
Since the body and lid are made of thick ceramic, they help the interior reach very high temperatures. It is not uncommon for Kamado grills to reach 600 to 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
This can make cooking meats, vegetables, and even pizzas in the range of possibility. For a unique summer grilling experience, you may want to try a Kamado grill.