Buying a Grill for Summer Cookouts? 3 Essential Tips You Need to Know

Looking to get some outside time while you cook your meals? You need a grill, but just what type of grill do you need?
Buying a Grill for Summer Cookouts? 3 Essential Tips You Need to Know

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No matter what your dietary preferences may be, grilling is a great way to spend some time outside while you prepare a meal. While plenty of people tend to think of burgers, hot dogs, and sausages on the grill, there are plenty of opportunities to grill vegetables and even fruit as well.

That's all well and good if you've already got a grill, but what if you're in the market for one? With prices ranging from $25 to thousands, it can be tough to pick the right one. That's why we've got a few handy tips to help you make your decision.

1. Charcoal vs. Pellet vs. Gas

There are three main types of grills, each of which work slightly differently and can impart different flavors to what you're cooking. Of course, that's not the only difference between them, as this choice also affects how you go about cooking your food. This is the first and possibly most important decision you need to make before buying a grill.

Charcoal is the "classic" method of grilling and one purists still swear by. These are known for the smoky flavor they impart, with strong hints of wood. These also require the most care when cooking, as well as some patience as they often take a little longer to cook.

Gas grills are more convenient but often looked down upon by purists. These still impart a flavor to food -- cooking via flame always will -- but not as intensely as a gas grill. Electric grills are also an alternative, somewhat like big George Foreman grills, and these impart almost no flavor.

Finally pellet grills are another option, and these can act as grills or smokers. These can impart the most intense smoky flavors to what you're cooking, but are also more expensive.

2. How Big a Grill Do You Need?

Once you've decided the type of grill you're going for, it's time to figure out what size you need. This will, above all else, depend on how much food you want to cook at once. If you're cooking for one or two people, a small grill will suffice, and a bigger grill will likely be a waste of money and space.

If you're feeding four or more people, you'll want a bigger grill, but what this means can vary greatly. Some grills simply provide a large cooking area, while others provide various levels and sections for cooking at different temperatures. More full-featured grills will include warming areas for buns and other similar features.

You also need to keep portability in mind. Many larger grills sold, especially those of the electric or pellet varieties, aren't meant to move very often. If you want something to take camping with you, you'll want to stick to charcoal or gas.

3. What's Your Budget?

If you don't want to spend too much money on a grill, charcoal and gas grills are your best bet. These can easily cost you hundreds of dollars, especially if you want a full-featured grills, but smaller portable varieties are relatively cheap.

Pellet grills are more expensive, generally starting out at $300 or more. If you want an electric grill that is more than a glorified George Foreman grill, you'll also be looking at spending a decent chunk of cash. Infrared varieties get even more expensive.

Need Some Recipe Ideas?

Once you've got your grill, it's time to get cooking. Chances are good that you'll have some ideas, but once you've been grilling for a while, you may begin to get tired of the same old recipes.

If you're looking for something to cook with a little nerdy flair, take a look at our list of nerdy cookbooks. These pull from TV shows, movies, and video games, giving you plenty of new ideas. You may not be able to grill them all, but we're sure you'll find something to cook up outdoors.