13 Types of Grills to Cook Your Meals Just Right
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
The humble, but right types of grills are indispensable features in backyard barbecues and cookouts — the reason behind saliva-inducing aromas and perfectly charred meat and veggies that define the success of an afternoon or evening spent barbecuing.
While much of it lies in the hands of the cook, having the right grill definitely plays a huge role—the right grill could mean all the difference between ‘burnt’ and ‘perfectly grilled’.
13 Types of Grills
Level up your grilling game with the following types of indoor and outdoor grills. Most are for the outdoors at home, though some you'll recall seeing integrated inside of restaurants, too, such as our first on the list.
These portable, small Japanese grills, named after the Japanese word for “fire bowl”, became quite the rage after Benihana arrived on US shores. The temperature control in this grill is as simple as lowering or raising the cooking grate—this puts the meat closer or farther away from the charcoal, resulting in high or low cooking temperatures.
Hibachis are great indoors and outdoors, with a quick cooking time for small cuts, thin slices, sates, skewers, and teriyaki. Note, though, that these grills don’t have lids. That apart, hibachis are an excellent option for beginners and budget barbecuers who don’t have the space or funds for a full grill.
It's interesting to note that many of us think of hibachi grills as griddles, the big flat surfaced grills, but those are actually teppanyaki grills, while hibachi grills are as pictured above, with a "fire bowl" sending open flames up to a cast iron grilling surface. As you can imagine, these would be much more difficult to clean than a flat griddle surface.
These exotic-sounding grill types utilize charcoal for cooking. Their most distinct feature, after their egg/dome-shaped structure (which has earned them the nickname “egg grills”), is their versatility — you can roast, bake, and smoke in these grills.
Due to the insulating materials that efficiently lock moisture and reflect heat back towards the center, food cooks well in these grills, from burgers and steaks to types of pâté.
The most popular Kamado grill varieties are the Big Green Egg. Though maintaining the temperature is easy in these grills, they can take quite a while to get warm in the first place, as well as to cool down after usage or if you want to lower cooking temperatures.
Many folks use a heat deflector with their Kamado grills to ensure even cooking, but this is already kind of built in due to the shape of the egg grill and the ability of ceramic to radiate heat.
Gas grills are the most popular grills out there, a staple in most American backyards. These types of grills, as the name suggests, run on gasses such as propane and natural gas instead of charcoal.
Gas grills are extremely convenient, starting, heating up, and cooking in a matter of minutes. Though you won’t get the distinct smoky flavor that charcoal lends to food, you can cook a range of delicious grilled dishes, and even better, clean up in no time at all.
However, gas grill varieties, though they’re the most common, are also among the highest-priced grills, so consider these only if grilling and caring for your grill are going to be regular features in your life.
With a tankful of propane, a gas grill can give you around 25 hours of grilling time before replacement. If you install a conversion kit in your grill, you can use both natural gas and propane for grilling purposes.
If your grill is solely a natural-gas grill, you’ll need to install a built-in natural gas line between your house and grill, which means that you can’t move it around easily. However, the line means that your fuel supply will be uninterrupted while cooking.
If the flavor is important to you and your barbecue parties are popular, the OG charcoal grill is a no-brainer. This grill imparts a lovely smoky flavor to the meat and is great for cooking large amounts of food in one shot, which makes it easier to feed more people at once.
Charcoal grill styles are favored for outdoor cooking, though they heat up more slowly than electric or gas grills. However, the temperatures they can reach are much higher than anything a gas or electric grill could afford. The only way to control the heat in these grills is to create direct and indirect cooking zones by arranging the coals.
Charcoal grills are also much harder to clean, as are the inevitable charcoal stains on your carpet, but many folks find the flavor worth the effort. These grills are also the best option for cooking large, tough cuts of meat for long periods, breaking them down sufficiently to result in rich, delicious flavors. Charcoal grills are also quite cheap.
Smoking may not be a good thing otherwise, but it’s a great thing when your grill’s doing it. Having the right types of smokers makes all the difference, too.
Among the oldest cooking methods in the world, smoking was widely used to cook and preserve foods. Food would be exposed to smoke for a long time, resulting in delicious meat with a smoky flavor and long shelf life.
Smokers are similar, cooking foods for long periods at low temperatures. These different types of grills can be powered by gas, charcoal, or electricity, and often, chips of wood are added to impart a beautiful aroma to the food.
Smokers, like charcoal grills, are good for large cuts, and if you don’t mind waiting a while for your food, there’s nothing like investing in a smoker to level up your grill game.
Charcoal Kettle Grills
Though technically a type of charcoal grill, kettle grills warrant their own piece given their massive popularity. These grills are shaped like a kettle (hence, the name), and are super lightweight, making them easy to carry around. They also have lesser charcoal requirements than other types of charcoal grills.
Many folks swear by charcoal kettle grills, stating that cooked meat is juicier and tastier when cooked on this grill. You can also perfectly sear meat easily with this grill, given the extremely high temperatures it can reach.
However, the warm up time for this grill is extremely long , up to 45 minutes, so they’re not the best idea if patience isn’t a virtue you appreciate.
Got a small space where you can’t do too much smoking or grilling? An electric grill is for you. With one of these, nothing can stop you from cooking all those types of sausage you're hungry for.
These grill types are supremely convenient, requiring no fuel, heating up fast, ensuring an even cook, and easy to clean. These are among the smallest available grills on the market and come in tabletop and portable versions too.
Additionally, given that they’re electronic, you’re not going to get any flavor from the fuel itself, but you can make up for this with added flavors, liquid smoke, and marinades.
Pellet grill styles combine the best of a grill and a smoker, so you’re truly getting the best of both worlds with this one.
With pellet grills, it’s quite easy to achieve a smoky flavor while also ensuring perfectly cooked meat. It’s as simple as setting the cooking time and temperature in the grill, with pre-loaded food-grade hardwood pellets added in automatically by the grill for smoke and heat.
These types of grills have in-built temperature control measures that constantly adjust the temperature and grill to ensure that the cooking temperature stays close to what you’d punched in.
Pellet grills may not give you the kind of browning or charring that other grills can, but they’re great for cooking large cuts over long periods, without you having to constantly check in (should you need to check in, though, some models allow you to do so from your smartphone).
Additionally, given their electronic nature, you’ll need an uninterrupted power supply for these kinds of grills.
These different grill types, as the name suggests, are easy to carry around and use, making them a great option for those who constantly camp or enjoy picnicking and barbecuing frequently in new spots.
Their portability doesn’t come at the price of reliability; these grills are well made, sturdy, and solid, making them great for any kind of terrain. Portable grills run on propane or electricity, so while you won’t get the much-talked-about smoky flavor, you’ll get meat cooked fast and well.
These different grills are also a great idea if you live in a building that doesn’t allow charcoal or gas grills.
Indoor lovers need not be disappointed—there’s a grill specially designed for indoors, too. You can grill up all types of onions, burgers, and fries for dinner easily even when it's raining outside.
Indoor grills are countertop devices that give you all the feels and tastes of a barbecue minus the smoke. You can pick from a griddle, an open grill, or a grill pan, the three most common indoor grills. Another point in this grill’s favor is its inexpensive and beginner-friendly nature.
These grills use both charcoal and gas as fuel. This is made possible by the division of the grill into two separate areas, where one side is fueled by gas and the other by charcoal.
However, you’ll need to fuel the gas part through a separate, external propane tank, and if you’re not someone who uses the any types of grills regularly, this can be quite a hefty investment.
DIY Steel Drum Grill
It may sound impossible, but making your own grill is quite simple. All you need is a steel drum (one that has a 55-gallon capacity) that you can use as a smoker or a barbecue and a few other materials to convert your drum into a full-fledged barbecue.
If you’re looking for a summer DIY project, making your own grill has its merits, since you’ll be saving quite a bit, keeping yourself busy, and enjoying some great food once you’re done building.
Sometimes these are called instant grills or ready-to-use grills. These varieties of grills are meant to be used by people who maybe grill once every few years if that, or for times when you're going camping and won't have access to a campsite or picnic grill. Some people live in apartments that won't allow them to keep a grill but provide a safe area to use one.
They're single-use, meaning once you use them you'll throw them away. They feature everything you need to grill, including the cooking grate surface and a foil pan to hold the charcoal. Don't forget to bring your grill tools and any types of spatulas!You'll just need a little lighter fluid and a lighter to start the coals.
They're inexpensive and easy to clean up (because you don't clean it up, you throw it away). But you can't close a lid to build up heat and just need to cook over the open flame, and get it done within about an hour before the grill takes on too much damage. They're wasteful but I felt you should know they exist.
Types of Grills to Manage Your Meals
For many grill masters out there, self-proclaimed or otherwise, improperly cooked meat can be quite ruinous. So, if the steaks are high (pun totally intended), help your case by investing in the right choice from the different types of grills.