Propane Barbecues

Really cooking with gas

Learning to barbecue is a rite of passage for many families – it's a summer pastime that's practiced all over North America . A propane barbecue is the stereotypical barbecue that most people learn to cook on, and they're an extremely popular choice when it comes to grilling those steaks. King of the Hill's Hank Hill obsessively extols the virtues of a clean-burning gas that leaves the meat "tasting like meat", and many real-life barbecue chefs who don't like the smoky flavor of charcoal agree with Hank. They'll tell you that propane does the best job of making their steaks taste great.

Propane barbecues are everywhere – the choices can be overwhelming if you're looking for a new barbecue this year. Consider some important factors before making your final selection:

  • Price – how much are you willing to spend on your barbecue?
  • Size – how much do you barbecue for yourself and your family? How about for your friends and neighbors? Would your needs be better suited to a smaller barbecue such as a hibachi, or a bigger model such as brick barbecues ?
  • Construction – what do you want your barbecue to be made out of and what tools will you need to help you cook?
  • Features – what are you looking for in a barbecue?

The price of your barbecue is probably the most important factor that you should consider. Some propane barbecues include the cart and tank in the price, but you may have to buy the tank separately with other models. Prices range from a $50 hibachi to a $15,000 deluxe propane grill from some online stores. Keeping your barbecue usage in mind should help you decide what the right price is for you.

Construction of your barbecue is important – the main cooking unit, or head, should be made of cast-iron, aluminum, or sheet metal. If you're looking to spend a lot on your barbecue, you can go with stainless steel barbecue. The cooking grates on your barbecue can be made out of porcelain, bare cast-iron or stainless-steel. They're all great materials, but keep in mind that porcelain is easily chipped, and bare cast-iron will need to be coated with cooking oil to prevent rust. Your best bet is stainless-steel, but get ready to dole out the big bucks, because it's expensive. Burners should be stainless-steel, cast-iron or brass.

Barbecue carts are important – you don't want your barbecue rolling away. You can choose from lower-quality steel-tubing which is held together with nuts and bolts, or higher quality welded joints which will hold together better. Your cart can be a two-wheeler, which will require you to tilt the cart up in order to roll it around, or a four-wheeler, which will mean that you'll need to make sure it's on a flat surface to prevent a runaway barbecue.

What kind of features are you looking for in your barbecue? If you're an ubër-barbecue chef, you may want to include a rotisserie or smoker drawer in your purchase. A barbecue rotisserie will allow you to barbecue whole chickens or joints of meat, for the best roast you've ever tasted. Other features include grill baskets and fuel gauges. You can also get an igniter, which is a knob or push button, if you're skittish with matches.

Make sure to check out our great barbecue recipes for meal ideas when you get your new grill!

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