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Ask Lorraine: How to choose the best barbecue

Expert shares her advice for selecting the right backyard grill

Shopping for certain appliances can be a bit of a chore, but nothing elicits more excitement than looking for a new BBQ. 

Now that we’re in prime BBQ season, a great grill is a must. Whether you’re a casual summertime BBQ-er or the die-hard, year-round type, spend some time researching the features and options available before you head out to make a purchase.

Heritage Home Hardware carries a variety of models. Each has something special to offer, as Lorraine explains below.


Portable grills are ideal for deck and patio use; they’re super convenient. You can move your propane grill around and they’re easy to refill.

Many backyard grill enthusiasts prefer propane over natural gas because it burns at a hotter temperature. They heat up fast for quick weeknight dinners.

Many come with multiple burners so you can cook an entire meal at once. Individual temperature controls regulate heat for different foods. Some have large side shelves which give you plenty of workspace; many are also equipped with hooks, providing a place to hang your BBQ accessories.

Other convenient features to look out for include: an electronic ignition for quick, reliable start-ups, rear rotisserie burners, middle and side burners, and secure tank storage cabinets.

Propane grills are environmentally friendly. They produce water vapour and carbon dioxide with low greenhouse gas emissions. They also have a small carbon footprint.

Natural gas

If your home has a natural gas line, a natural gas barbecue can connect to it quickly and easily. It’s the perfect choice for those who like to BBQ often. They start up quickly and the constant flow of fuel allows for uninterrupted grilling.

Several models have patterned, cast-iron cooking grids that sear meats well and impart optimal flavour. Griddle-style side burners are often included and are ideal for warming sauces or cooking vegetables. 

Fun extras to look for include multiple burners, automatic push-button igniters, rotisserie burners and built-in lighting.

Natural gas grills produce less smoke. They’re also generally less expensive than propane grills. There is no tank to refill, and they have a small carbon footprint. 


If what you love most about grilled foods is the wood-fired flavour, a pellet grill is the way to go. Wood pellets are exposed to intense heat, so they combust and emit both heat and smoke; an internal fan then distributes that heat throughout the grill. 

Wood pellets are available in an array of flavours, including alder, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, oak and pecan. Each type adds its own unique accent to dishes.

This type of grill requires electricity to run. Digital control boards ignite the grill, and a dial controls the temperature.

The convection heating of a pellet grill allows you to bake, roast and smoke—which you can’t do with a gas grill. The possibilities are endless: you can cook everything from ribs to pizza, even homemade apple pie.


Nothing beats a charcoal grill for that rich, unmistakable, authentic BBQ taste. It’s a nostalgic favourite and for good reason. The grill uses charcoal briquettes as the standard fuel source; they are easy to find and to use.

A charcoal barbecue is an inexpensive way to grill on-the-go. There are compact, tabletop models perfect for picnics, tailgate parties and camping trips. Lorraine suggests looking for a portable charcoal grill with a no-rust aluminum vent to ensure long-lasting durability, as well as ash catchers, which make cleaning up a breeze. All-weather wheels make it easy to move your grill. 


An electric barbecue is ideal if you live in an apartment or condo because all you need is an electrical outlet. There are many portable and space-saving tabletop models available.

These are ideal for patio or balcony grilling. They are easy to use, heat up quickly and cook food evenly. They’re also environmentally friendly.


If you’re a fan of that distinctive, smoky flavour, a BBQ smoker is a must. Smokers use both heat and smoke to cook food. 

They come in charcoal, gas, wood or electric models and usually have a basin where wood chips or pellets go. These come in a number of flavours, including cherry, maple, mesquite and charcoal. Meat can be slow cooked up to 12 hours.

Outdoor fryer

Outdoor fryers cook in less time than a traditional rotisserie grill. You can use them to cook turkey, chicken, fish or other meats and save precious oven space for side dishes. 

They’re ideal for those who like to use dry rubs and seasonings. Fryers often come with a meat thermometer, to help you achieve optimal cooking temperatures.

Once you’ve settled on a grill, you can outfit your BBQ with the right tools and accessories and look for a barbecue cover or an extra propane tank.

For more information, or to get Lorraine’s personalized advice, visit Heritage Home Hardware or call 705-759-5101.