Comparing Types of Backyard Grills

Wood pellet smokers, charcoal kettle grills, ceramic "egg" grills... It's hard to know which type is right for you. Don't spend money on a trendy option that doesn't suit your needs for a backyard grill.

If you spend any time watching grilling videos or BBQ videos on YouTube, or if you belong to any online forums or social media groups about grilling, you can easily start to feel like you need to have one of every type of grill available, to cover every situation or every type of food that you want to cook.

Let me assure you: this is not true! Yes, it can be fun to experiment with different types of grills and with all kinds of tools and accessories, but the average person can get along just fine using one type of grill for their backyard cooking.

What exactly do we mean by "grilling"?

Maybe we should take a moment to define "grilling" as used throughout this site, because it's a term that varies in its specific definition all around the world. 

Wikipedia calls grilling "a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side," with "a significant amount of dry, radiant heat."

In the United States, grilling usually means cooking outdoors, most often with food placed on a metal grate (or "gridiron") that is suspended over direct or indirect dry heat generated from charcoal, wood, or propane gas. 

Although sometimes used interchangeably with "barbecue," "barbeque," or "BBQ," those terms in the U.S. can specifically mean cooking with indirect heat and smoke -- but may also refer to the cooked food itself, "to the grilling device used to cook the food (a barbecue grill), or to the social event of cooking and eating such food" (thanks again, Wikipedia). 

To keep it simple, "grilling" on this website is the act of outdoor cooking over wood or charcoal, and a "grill" is a device used to accomplish that cooking.

Backyard grilling can be anything from an occasional hobby to a primary method of cooking, but it is a reliable source of delicious smells drifting on the breeze from one yard to another (especially popular during nice weather), and the techniques can be quite fun to master!

What are the major types of grills?

On this site, I discuss three major types of grills: the kettle grill and the ceramic grill (both heated by charcoal) and the pellet-style grill, which is heated by compressed wood pellets.

These types of grills can all be used for smoking food (using a lower temperature and longer cooking time), as well as for grilling.

Sticking to what I know best, this site does not address natural gas/propane-powered grills or any other grill types.

What should I use for my backyard grilling?

The grill you use depends on several things: personal preference and familiarity, what kind of food you're cooking, and what you want to do with that food!

Let's dive into much more detail about each type:

After learning more about each type of backyard grill, you will have plenty of information to decide on a type of grill to purchase — or you will feel more confident in getting the results you want from the grill you already have!