Buying a grill can be a frustrating and nerve-wracking experience. Something that should be fun ends up being stressful: are you buying the right grill? Are you sure you’re getting all the features you need? Is it still going to work next year? What about in five, or ten years? If something breaks, will you be able to fix it?
While buying an affordable grill from your local hardware store might not cause that much anxiety, buying a higher end grill certainly can — not to mention all of the models to choose from.
We’ve built a guide to the five most reliable grills you can buy today — but before we get to that, let’s talk about lingo a bit, and what you should be looking for in a grill.
Understanding Grill Lingo
To make sure you’re comfortable buying the most reliable grill, it’s important for you to understand the language that goes along with it. Here’s a list of the most common words you’ll see when shopping for grills.
BTU: The BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a measurement of thermal energy. In the world of grills, it is the amount of gas usage to the maximum heating output of the main burners under the cooking grates. Inexpensive grills will have more burners in order to boast more BTU’s. In reality, a higher-quality grill will have fewer burners with the same amount of BTU’s as its counterpart, giving you more powerful burners.
Burners: It could be said that burners are the most important factor of a reliable gas grill. They typically work by allowing gas (natural or propane) through one end and allowing it to escape through tiny holes along the edge. They are underneath the cooking grid and supply the heat used for cooking.
Burners come in different shapes, materials, and sizes according to the make and model of the grill. Different materials include stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic. Burners are either blue flame (like your typical grill) or infrared.
Side Burners: Side burners allow you to bring the comfort of your indoor kitchen into the great outdoors. An extremely popular addition to outdoor kitchens, side burners are typically a single or double burner that functions like the cooktop range you’re familiar with.
Cooking Grids:Also known as grill grates, cooking grids are the metal grids that hold your food above the flame. They are an integral part of the grilling experience and should be kept clean and free of rust or other impurities that might jeopardize the flavor of your food, or worse, your health.
Cooking grids are made of stainless steel, porcelain, or cast-iron. Each material has it’s pros and cons, but in the end, we recommend stainless steel because it lasts the longest on the grill.
Warming Rack:The warming rack is a second rack above the cooking grid, keeping the food further away from the flame. It is often used to keep food warm after it has been cooked. It might also be used to cook food that needs a slower, gentler cooking experience, like vegetables.
Burner Control Knobs:These knobs are typically found at the front of the grill. They turn the grill on and control the amount of fuel going into the burner to increase or decrease the flame, thus controlling the temperature.
Ignition Switch: The ignition switch is the source used to ignite the flame in the burners. Different types of igniters include Piezo, battery-operated, and electric.
Piezo is the classic igniter that you might be used to. You either push a button or turn a knob and hear a large click sound and the flame ignites.
Battery operated igniters create sparks until the flame ignites.
Electrically powered igniters are the newest technology and usually found in high-end grills. They are also known as hot surface igniters. The ignition module is powered by a transformer.
What to Consider Before Buying Your Next Grill
The day you decide to buy a new grill is exciting, but there’s a lot to consider before you take that step. We want to make sure you have the information you need to help you purchase a grill you can afford that will last a long time.
While it might be tempting to walk into your local big-box store and buy the first shiny grill you see, the last thing you want to do is have to go back the next year and buy the same or similar grill again because the first one broke. Take into consideration that spending more on a reliable grill brand today will save you money in the long run on repairs and replacing in the future. Many of the grills found in big-box stores are imported and not held up to the same quality standards we have in the USA. It’s just not worth the risk.
Grills are typically made of stainless steel, cast aluminum, sheet metal or cast iron. A long-lasting grill will be made out of stainless steel due to its durability. It’s important to check the entire grill. Sometimes manufacturers might skimp and construct the frame out of lower quality steel. Make sure you are getting what you pay for.
Grill Fuel Types
Grills can run on natural gas, propane, or charcoal. Natural gas requires your grill to be connected to a gas line. It will cost less in the long run and prevents trips to the store to refill your propane tank. Keep in mind that you can’t run a propane grill on natural gas and you can’t run a natural gas grill on propane.
Cooking Area of the Grill
How much space do you have for your new grill? You’ll want to think about the size of the footprint your new grill has.
Do you plan on grilling for large amounts of people or just you and a few guests? What kind of meats and food do you plan on cooking on your grill?
All of these play into the size of grill you’re going to want to buy.
The cooking area is the actual amount of square inches where the food is placed on the grid to cook. A three-burner gas grill will have approximately 450-500 square inches of cooking area which is typically enough for the average household. Large households, or people who enjoy entertaining large groups of guests, will want a grill that has five or six burners (550-650 square inches of cooking area).
Most Reliable Grill Brands According to The BBQ Depot
Now that you know the language of grills and the considerations to think about before purchasing your next grill, let’s dive into our list of grills we’re sure will bring you satisfaction.
Lynx grills have been around since the 1990s and are some of the most top-tier grills on the market. You’ll love the way their sleek design adds to the luxury of your outdoor space. We’ve been selling them for decades and consider ourselves experts. Not enough can be said about the functionality and incredible performance of a Lynx grill. Here’s why they make our list.
- Made in the USA
- 25,000 BTU’s per burner
- Lifetime warranty on burners and cooking grates
- Blue LED lights on the knobs
- Trident Infrared Burner - temperature control precise enough to cook a salad or sear a steak
- Ceramic burners (no porthole cleaning required, self-cleaning)
- Ceramic radiant briquettes - for an even heat distribution
- Hot surface ignition - the simple push of a knob will start your grill
- Seamless welded construction - this means no more moisture or grease collecting
- Lynx hood assist - you can lift the hood of your grill with one finger
- Wind deflecting fin - to ensure gusts of wind don’t alter the temperature of your grill
Alfresco has been manufacturing some of the world’s longest-lasting grilling equipment for over 15 years. They have truly mastered the craft of outdoor cooking and are exceptional at what they do. With the development of their ALXE grill, they became known for their lustrous and upscale design. Here’s why Alfresco made our list of the most reliable grills.
- Made in the USA
- 304 commercial grade stainless steel construction
- Hidden Spiral Torsion Hood Assist
- Up to 900 degrees of surface temperature; 5-way refractive ceramic briquettes
- 27,500 BTU, 18SR Scale Restraint SS/Titanium Burner with double lanced ports
- Control Panel is engineered to create a draft to keep knobs, panel and bullnose cool
- 1500-degree ceramic infrared SearZone Burner
- Industry-leading 2-year full; Lifetime SS warranty
Twin Eagles Grills
Twin Eagles grills provide stylish innovation with high-quality craftsmanship. Its distinguished design and stunning features set it apart from other grills on the market. It has consistent high-performance with top of the line engineering. This brand of grill is a trusted choice when it comes to reliability, and has been for years. Here’s why.
- Made in the USA (California)
- Hot surface ignition - ignites the first time every time
- Hexagonal grates - creates more food to surface contact
- Zone dividers - so you can regulate the temperature of one burner at a time
- Internal halogen lighting
- Double-lined extra-thick hood - for temperature control
- Interchangeable sear zone
- 5- part grilling system
- 304 stainless steel construction
- 25,000 BTU’s per burner
- Radiating ceramic briquettes
Fire Magic Grills
Fire Magic grills are solidly built and have been setting the standard for quality construction of grills for over 75 years. In fact, many of their older charcoal and gas grills are so long-lasting they’re still in use today. We’ve chosen to highlight the features of their Echelon series. We’re proud to have this luxurious grill on our list. Here’s why.
- Made in the USA
- Trapezoid cooking grids
- 16-gauge Flavor Grids for even heat distribution - allows heat to rise from the burner to disperse heat quickly
- Heat zone separators between each burner
- Cast stainless “E” burners made from ¼” thick cast stainless steel
- 25,000 BTU per burner
- Hot surface ignition
- Blue LED control panel lights
- Halogen interior lights
- Optional motorized kit for hood assist
- Lifetime warranty on the burners and cooking grate - for peace of mind
- “5 ways to cook” - sear, grill, smoke, rotisserie, and charcoal
TEC grills invented the infrared grill over 40 years ago, years ahead of their competitors. Truly they set the pace when it comes to temperature range. They have perfected the art of temperature control and can hit an ultra-low 200 degrees as well as hit those ultimate searing temperatures. TEC grills are among the best of the best. Here’s why they made the list of our favorite reliable grills.
- Made in the USA
- 100% infrared grilling system - eliminates hot air, allowing food to retain its juices
- Enhanced charbroil flavor - there are radiant glass panels just underneath the cooking grid that incinerate all the juices and drippings which creates a smoky vapor beneath the food
- Temperature range - 200-850 degrees Fahrenheit
- Self-cleaning - just close the hood and turn up the heat for 10-15 minutes
- Energy-efficient - uses 50% less gas than other grills
- 304 stainless steel
Throughout your research for a long-lasting grill, keep in mind that materials and features are the most important factors when determining longevity. Grills manufactured in the USA are held to rigorous quality and safety standards. Imported grills and their materials are not held to those same standards. Most of those grills found at big-box stores aren’t meant to last more than a year, and many are imported. A dollar saved today might end up costing you more in the long run when you have to repeatedly replace a subpar grill. Investing in a premium grill today will provide you with reliability and a grill that will last you for years to come.
By purchasing a higher-quality grill like those listed above, take into consideration the money to be saved on:
- Maintenance and replacement costs
- Replacing the same grill over and over again
- Proper heat distribution - this will save you money in gas over time. Uneven heat distribution results in wasted gas
- A smaller, more durable grill versus a bigger, cheaply made grill
At the BBQ Depot we pride ourselves on our vast knowledge and experience when it comes to choosing a grill that will last. We’ve been selling and repairing grills for decades and we know which ones can be relied on and which ones cannot. Let’s make this the summer you finally buy the grill you’ve always wanted. Let’s make this the last grill you buy for years to come.
Contact us today with any questions and we’ll help you find the reliable grill you’re looking for.