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Outdoor Grill Buying Guide

Whether you're barbecuing meat or preparing hamburgers and hot dogs for your tailgate party, having the right outdoor grill for your menu and business model is imperative to successful grilling. This guide will go over the outdoor grill styles, grill sizes, and grill accessories needed so you can purchase the best grill for your establishment with confidence.

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Use the following links to navigate this guide and learn more about outdoor grills:

  1. Types of Outdoor Grills
  2. Charcoal vs Gas Grills
  3. Grill Dimensions
  4. BTUs for a Gas Grill
  5. Grilling Accessories

Types of Outdoor Grills

Adding a grill to your outdoor dining space can enhance the dining experience by adding a level of authenticity to your establishment. Many outdoor grills are portable, making them easy to transport to events or move around your facility. Below, we'll break down 10 of the most popular types of outdoor grills and their uses.

Restaurant Equipment

Gas Grill

Gas grills are powered either by liquid propane or natural gas. Propane grills tend to be the more popular of the two options due to their portability, cheaper upfront cost, and ability to heat up faster when compared to natural gas grills. If you have a natural gas utility line, then a natural gas grill is a great way to keep your overall energy cost low.

In general, gas grills are easier to use, easier to clean, and have faster heat-up times than charcoal grills, making them the preferred choice for high-volume use. Plus, they emit less smoke, making them a great option for cooking meats and poultry as well as grilling fish, vegetables, and fruit.

Restaurant Equipment

Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills utilize charcoal to deliver a natural smoky flavor that enhances the flavor profile and texture of foods. While they are slower to heat up than gas grills, charcoal grills are able to reach hotter temperatures. Because they do reach higher temperatures and produce more smoke, charcoal grills are ideal for beef, pork, and chicken but may not be the best choice for cooking more delicate foods such as fish and vegetables.

Charcoal grills do not have temperature control knobs, so the temperature cannot be precisely regulated and operators will need to arrange the coals to create cooking zones. While charcoal grills are more time-consuming to clean than gas grills, many operators believe that the trade-off is well worth it for the taste.

Restaurant Equipment

Pellet Grill

Pellet grills are one of the most versatile and easy-to-use grills, and they allow you to grill, sear, braise, roast, and smoke all with the same unit. They feature a digital control panel that can set timers, monitor internal temperatures, and measure the temperature of the meat with incredible precision. Because of the digital control panel, pellet grills do require electricity to operate.

Fueled by wood pellets, they feature an auger that automatically feeds the pellets from the hopper into the flavor chamber to be heated and turned into flavorful smoke. The automatic feed system also means that they are very efficient in terms of fuel usage.

Restaurant Equipment


Outdoor smokers are ideal if you have a large outdoor space and are looking to have a menu specializing in smoked and barbecued foods. Some types of smokers feature digital and programmable controls for easier, more precise cooking while other smokers require more oversight throughout the cooking process and are considered to be the most authentic way to smoke meats.

Most outdoor smokers are used for low and slow-cooking meats and other foods. Some smokers do have the capabilities to bake, braise, roast, and even grill foods, making them a versatile option for operators looking for a more diverse menu.

Restaurant Equipment

Kamado Grill

kamado grill is an egg-shaped grill of Japanese origin. The ceramic body provides superior heat retention, which cooks the foods more evenly and also conserves fuel better. While they are charcoal powered, kamados are more versatile than a standard charcoal grill, allowing you to grill, smoke, and roast your food all with the same unit.

A kamado grill has ventilation, which allows you to control the heat within the ceramic body for a more consistent and even cook. Many also have two-tiered cooking grates to cook large quantities at a time.

Restaurant Equipment

Kebab Grill

A kebab grill, or mangal, features a long charcoal bed, open top, and ventilation holes on the sides. Its shorter width allows the skewer sticks to hang over each side of the grill, which makes it easy to rotate them as they cook. Popular in a variety of cuisines across Eurasia, a kebab grill is used to cook shish kebab, shashlik, spiedini, and other meat or vegetable skewers.

With its compact, simple design, transporting a kebab grill is a painless task, making it great for catered events and outdoor patios. They are also quick to clean and come with a tray for easy disposal of the charcoal ash.

Restaurant Equipment

Argentinian Grill

Prepare authentic Argentinian-style barbeque with an Argentinian grill. Designed to burn wood or charcoal for low and slow cooking, it is great for grilling beef, chorizo, chicken, and vegetables for a traditional asado or your Argentine menu. An Argentinian grill features a movable grill grate that allows you to bring your food closer or further away from the heat to control the intensity.

An Argentinian grill, also known as a parilla, provides grillers with easy access to the coal bed for greater temperature control. It features a firebox on the side of the grill to burn the wood down to embers, making it easy to refuel the coals.

Restaurant Equipment

Pig Roasters

Roast whole pigs easily and efficiently with a pig roaster. Their large size makes it easy to cook whole pigs, ribs, and brisket without turning the meat. They are fueled by charcoal or wood to infuse the meats with a smoky flavor.

Pig roasters feature an adjustable chimney flap to provide greater control over the airflow and cooking temperature. They are ideal for country clubs, caterers, and other establishments looking to cook large quantities of meat for a crowd.

Restaurant Equipment

Built-In Grill

If you are looking for a more permanent solution to your outdoor grilling needs, a built-in grill may be the best option for you. They are ideal for establishments like resorts and tiki bars that keep their outdoor spaces open year round.

Built-in grills often boast higher power capabilities, making grilling for many customers at once an easy task. They come in natural gas and liquid propane options and can be used with compatible attachments, such as a smoker box, to expand their cooking capabilities.

Restaurant Equipment

Towable Grill

If being able to transport your grill from location to location is one of your biggest priorities, then a towable grill is a great option for you. They are ideal for tailgates at a big sports event, catering an outdoor wedding, and other outdoor events.

A large grilling space allows you to cook dozens of different items all at once. The grills are mounted on trailers and conform to all transport safety standards, allowing you to tow them with your vehicle on any road or highway.

Charcoal vs Gas Grills

Charcoal and gas are the two main power sources for grills and the debate over which is better is a longstanding feud. Since both have their advantages and disadvantages, the question of which grill is right for you comes down to how you want your food to taste, the price of the unit, and what the average demand is at your establishment.

Charcoal vs gas grill chart

Charcoal Grill Pros and Cons:

  • Can reach temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for steaks and large cuts of meat
  • Provide that smoky, rich flavor that is often associated with barbequing
  • Take a longer time to heat up
  • Do not feature any control knobs so the temperature cannot be precisely regulated
  • Cleaning a charcoal grill of the ash and remaining coals can be a time-consuming and dirty job

Gas Grill Pros and Cons:

  • Offer quick start-up times, typically reaching the optimal cooking temperature in just 10-15 minutes
  • Evenly distribute heat across the grilling surface
  • Often have temperature control knobs so you can regulate heat more precisely, allowing you to create different heat zones for searing, cooking, or warming
  • Their fuel tank can be easily refilled
  • Require little cleanup after cooking
  • Due to the absence of coals, gas grills lack the smoke flavor that many crave for their grilled foods
  • Tend to require regular maintenance of their mechanisms, including valves, burners, and vents

Grill Dimensions

The best way to determine which size grill you will need is to consider what your production level will be. Once you know what your average demand will be, you can figure out the right size grill based on the number of burners it has and its cooking surface width.

  • low production grill will have 1 to 5 burners and a cooking surface width of 19" to 74".
  • medium production grill will have 2 to 8 burners and a cooking surface width of 54" to 76".
  • high production grill will have 6 to 10 burners and a cooking surface width of 56" to 81".
Restaurant Equipment

BTUs for a Gas Grill

The BTU of a grill measures the total heat output, per burner, in a given amount of time. For a standard gas grill, you'll want anywhere from 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of your main cooking grate. You'll need to consider how frequently you plan to use the grill in order to determine if the total BTU of the grill will work for your needs. Let's take a look at what the total BTU range should be for each production level:

  • Low Production Grill: 45,000 to 180,000 BTUs
  • Medium Production Grill: 49,000 to 180,000 BTUs
  • High Production Grill: 99,000 to 160,000 BTUs

Grill Accessories

In addition to choosing the best outdoor grill, ensure you have all the equipment and accessories you need to expertly grill your meats!

  • Basting Brush: Spread liquid marinades over the top of meat with basting brushes to enhance the flavor of your food. Most basting brushes feature very long handles to protect the operator from the hot grill.
  • Grill Thermometer: Thermometers are important for determining whether your meat has reached a safe temperature for consumption. Many grill thermometers mount right inside your grill so that you can monitor temperatures at a quick glance.
  • Grilling Gloves: Maximize safety while grilling with grilling gloves. They protect your hands and wrists from accidental burns and allow you to pick up food directly off the grill grates once the heat is turned off.
  • Grill Cleaning Tools: There are a variety of grill cleaning tools, such as grill scrapers, bricks, and screens, that remove burnt-on food, debris, and grease from your grill with ease.
  • Marinade Injector: Infuse flavors directly into your meats with marinade injectors to enhance their tenderness and juiciness. Simply inject and cook for delicious results.
  • Grill Cover: Protect your grill from snow, sleet, hail, rain, and other inclement weather conditions with grill covers. They help keep your grill looking like new year-round.
  • Grill Side Burner: Adding a side burner to your grill is perfect for sauteing or keeping sauces hot to increase your efficiency. You can even move items that are finished cooking over to the side to keep warm.
  • Dome Lid: Use a roll dome lid to cover the cooking surface while using the grill to lock in heat and smoke. It also provides an easy way to protect the grates while the grill is not in use.
  • Grill Side Shelf: Keep your spices, utensils, and other ingredients close by as you grill by adding side shelves to your grill. They also offer extra space for plating, ensuring the ultimate fresh-off-the-grill presentation.
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