Basic grill types range from charcoal to propane to natural gas, and sometimes even electric. The add-on features available with one model may help tip you toward one over the other.
Some propane grill models, for example, offer a side burner. That burner, typically about the size of an ordinary gas stove burner in your kitchen, can be a big convenience. It allows cooking vegetables, sauces and other parts of the meal while the main dish is grilling.
But natural gas models will often provide a larger burner, or more than one for more complex meals. Propane models can and sometimes do offer more than one, but they tend to be somewhat smaller in size to retain portability. Natural gas grills are expected to remain in one place most of the time, so designers can make them slightly larger and heavier. That leaves more space for additional burners.
Removable drip pans can be a big benefit as well. A drip pan provides a repository for grease and bits of meat or bun that might make their way through the grill and into the bottom. The ability to slide out a pan makes for much easier clean up.
Other removable parts may be simple cast iron grill bars and even miniature ceramic briquettes.
Grill bars that can be lifted off make for easy clean up. You don’t generally want to remove them for pre-placing meat, though, since the meal will cook best if the grill is hot. But some recipe variations will suggest placing meat on a cold grill for a variation in effect. That makes for easy seasoning or applying rubs away from the heat.
Many propane and natural gas grill models use not only the flame from the heating elements, but briquettes the size and shape of traditional charcoal. These are made of a permanent (or nearly so), reusable material (usually a ceramic composite). The flame heats the briquette and you get the advantages of flame cooking and briquettes. That provides a very even kind of heat.
The briquettes do require some maintenance, however, since they get dripped on by grease and carbon will build up on them. They can be cleaned to a limited extent and replacements are usually available, though they last for dozens of cooking sessions.
Still other add-on features can make one model or brand more attractive than another.
Most standard-sized barbeques will come with a lid, but the type of lid can make a difference. Some have handles in less inconvenient places, such as the front. That means that when you open the lid your hand and arm are directly over the heat. Ouch! More intelligent designers place them on the side so you can open the lid in mid-session without risk or discomfort.
Thermometers integrated into the lid are a great option on some models. That makes it easy to test the temperature without lifting the lid so you know just when to start, turn or end. That’s very handy on a propane grill especially where you want to try to conserve fuel as much as possible.
Trays at the bottom or on the side are convenient for storing tools, platters and food before it goes onto the grill. Well-placed hooks or tool-holder kits are a feature you’ll use every time.
Once you find a number of basic models you like, check out the extra features they offer to influence your final choice.