As you prep your patio for spring, did you notice that your grill didn’t quite weather the winter? If you’re in need of a new grill for the upcoming grilling season, you won’t find any shortage of options. So, what does make a good outdoor grill?

The Right Fuel

For decades, the barbecue fuel debate has been split down the middle, between charcoal loyalists and gas devotees. These days, there are five different grill fuel options: gas, charcoal, electric, wood and pellet. Gas and electric fans usually will point to the convenience of grill lighting and the ability to bring their grills to a hot temperature quickly. Those who prefer to power their grills with charcoal or wood generally point to flavor advantages. Neither is right nor wrong. The fuel type you choose comes down to your personal preference and which type of grill you find most convenient.

Controllable Temperature

Regardless of which type of grill fuel you choose, you want to be sure you choose a grill whose temperature you can accurately control. That means you need to be able to get your grill temperature to a high searing temperature to get a quality crust on steaks and burgers, and you need to be able to control a low temperature for smoking ribs and briskets, or even baking dessert on the grill. On a gas or electric grill, temperatures should be straightforward, and the grill should have accurate heat-control dials. On a charcoal- or wood-burning grill, there should be vents in the grill that can be opened and closed to regulate air flow and temperature.

Ample Cooking Space

You  want to ensure that your grill is adequately sized for your cooking needs. Again, there is no one-sized-fits-all grill. If you’re usually only cooking for two to four people, a small grill is sufficient. If you cook for a crowd, cook foods that require indirect heat, like ribs and brisket, or cook large items like whole chickens, you will want to look for something larger. All grills will list their cooking surface area, and usually a measure of what foods will fit on the grill. Be careful to read size information carefully: Some grill manufacturers will include the warming rack in their grilling surface size..


Many people have come to regard grills as disposable. They go to the home-improvement or big-box store and choose a huge grill for a low price. But you get what you pay for. When you invest in a quality grill, your grill can last years, or even decades. Look for grills made of heavy-duty metal or ceramic. All joints should be securely welded. In addition, cooking surfaces should be stainless steel.

Extra Features

Grills come with all sorts of additional features; infrared burners, rotisseries, warming burners. They can be portable or they can be fitted into an outdoor kitchen. As you shop, know which features you would take advantage of, or even consider a must have, and which features you can pass on.

If you’re shopping for a new grill this season, stop by the Tri-County Hearth & Patio showroom. We carry a wide selection of the nation’s top grills, and our grill experts can answer your questions and help you find a grill that meets your needs.