F&W’s Christine Quinlan researched dozens of grills to figure out how to get the most for your money.
Alfresco 56-inch Deluxe(right)
What makes this model special:
- Storage can be replaced with fridges (this model is $12,170)
- High-grade stainless steel burners
- Smoker box with a 7,000-BTU dedicated burner
Look for grills manufactured in the U.S. using high-grade stainless steel that’s assembled by hand with welded seams (meaning there are no external screws). Welding prolongs the life of a grill, since bolts and screws are susceptible to rust. Other standard extras: halogen lights inside the hood for nighttime grilling; built-in trays to hold condiments; and large side shelves and built-in storage space.
tip Some companies sell all models as “grill heads,” which include the burners and hood, but not the cart. Unless you’re planning to install the grill in the countertop of an outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to purchase the cart separately.
Paying more for a grill buys flexibility. Some models are hybrids that easily switch between gas and charcoal or wood. Others include infrared burners for high-heat searing in addition to traditional burners. Although lower-priced models force buyers to choose among accessories, at this price, powerful side burners, large smoker boxes and built-in rotisseries are often all standard.
Mostly stainless steel, sometimes cast iron. Sections of the grates are often designed for cooking specific foods, like meat, fish and vegetables. For example, the spaces between the grids are narrower on the vegetable surface to keep food from falling through.
A battery-powered electronic ignition, which emits a continuous spark, is standard.
Primary cooking surfaces are typically 700 to 800 square inches, enough to grill food for 12 to 15 people.
Usually a lifetime warranty on the burners and frame, and five to 10 years on other parts.
Brands to look for
Alfresco, Altima, Blue Star, Capital, Dacor, DCS, Fire Magic, Kalamazoo, Lynx, TEC, Viking.