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Home > Ideas & Tips > BBQ Buying Guide - BBQ FAQ

BBQ Buying Guide - BBQ FAQ

Start The Sizzle! BBQs, Grills, & Outdoor Cooking

Outdoor cooking doesn't have to be a seasonal sport—did you know that you can grill year-round with the right BBQ equipment and accessories? Yes, even in Canada! Explore Lowe's great selection of BBQs, grills, outdoor ovens, and smokers below. Whether electric, gas, or charcoal, we've got the right outdoor cooking system to make sure you and your guests enjoy a delicious meal in the fresh outdoor air. And we're even recommending a few of our favourite recipes!

Cast iron or stainless steel? Lava rocks or ceramic briquettes? And what are BTUs anyway? Here's everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision about your outdoor cooking equipment.

What on Earth are BTUs?

What on Earth are BTUs?

The level of heat generated by a BBQ is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). As a general rule, it's best to look for a BBQ with a rating of 80-100 BTUs per square inch to ensure enough heat is generated for the size of your grill. Before using BTUs as your sole deciding factor, remember that BTUs are a measure of heat produced by the burners over the course of an hour and not a measure of the temperature a BBQ can reach. The ability of a BBQ to reach and maintain various cooking temperatures is more important than how much heat it can produce.

Gas? Charcoal? Smoke?

Gas? Charcoal? Smoke?

Your cooking preferences and the frequency with which you will be using your BBQ should be the main deciding factors when selecting a model and size of BBQ. Gas BBQs are the most commonly used as they produce more heat than charcoal and can cook food faster. However, charcoal grilling is thought to be superior in the flavour it creates. When smoking, food isn't cooked by direct heat created by a flame, but rather by the smoke produced. All methods of cooking produce a different end result.

What on Earth are BTUs?

How Many are you Cooking for?

When deciding which BBQ to buy, consider the size of the meals you'll be preparing and the number of people you'll be feeding. For example, the average 8 ounce steak is roughly 5 x 3.5 inches depending on its thickness, resulting in a 17.5 square inch surface. If a grill has 555 square inches of grilling space, you could probably grill almost 30 of these steaks at a time on it. Often, BBQs come with heating shelves, side burners and rotisserie heaters to provided added heating and cooking space. Look for these features if you'll be grilling a lot.

Grill Grates: Materials and Maintenance

BBQ grates are the surface on which your food directly sits. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep this surface clean and maintained to ensure continuously even and safe cooking. There are four different types of cooking grates available:

Cast Iron Grates are the most basic and widely used grilling surface. They are heavy grates that do not rust or corrode for a long time. This type of grate wears in well. As
long as it does not get not cracked or damaged, can last a long time.

Try The Heavy Duty BBQ Parts
Gloss Cast Iron Cooking Grid

Stainless Steel Grates are often rust-resistant, long-lasting, and easy to clean. But, without a secondary coating such as Teflon or porcelain, food can sometimes stick to
the steel surface during grilling.

Try The Char-Broil Replacement
Cooking Grate In Stainless Steel

Porcelain-Coated Steel Grates reduce the chance of food sticking to the grate. However, if improperly maintained, the material can chip and wear away over time. Make sure you keep hard metal scrapers away from porcelain coated grills. To ensure longevity, brush away built-up food particles while the grill is still warm. This will soften the residue that builds up over time, and it will eventually require less effort to remove.

Try The Char-Broil Adjustable Rectangle
Porcelain-Coated Steel Cooking Grate

Porcelain-Coated, Cast Iron Grates are the most sought-after because of how well
cast iron distributes heat and how the porcelain coating reduces food sticking. These grates provide the best value as they perform well and last the longest out of all four
grate types.

Try The Char-Broil Adjustable
Porcelain-Coated Cast Iron Cooking Grate

Grill Rocks, Stones, and Plates

Lava Rock: This type of briquette is used to mimic the effect of charcoal cooking. Its porous surface traps grease and drippings from the grate above and as a result decreases flare-ups that are signature to charcoal. They also evenly distribute heat throughout the grill which lessens the instance of hot spots (sections of your grill that are hotter than others).

Ceramic Briquettes: These briquettes stay clean in the same manner as a self-cleaning oven; any residue is baked off through the grilling process. Ceramic briquettes are more expensive than rock but last much longer. Ceramic briquettes are thought to add flavour to the food being cooked without the harmful effect of added carcinogens from burning charcoal.

Heat Plates: These plates eliminate the occurrence of flare-ups and drastically minimize hot spots throughout the grill. They provide uniform heat for even and thorough cooking. Any juices that drip from the above grates dissipate once they hit the hot metal. The hot metal plate acts as a basin for food drippings to land and evaporate on, and this contributes to the wonderful flavours of your food.

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