Firing up the grill has become synonymous with welcoming the summer, and let’s be honest, we usually don’t wait until summer to embark on the outdoor cooking season. When you decide it’s time to break out the grill, you want to find the best way to cook your burgers or bratwursts. But with all the options out there for outdoor cooking, how do you know what’s the optimal solution for your open-air culinary needs?

“The grill you choose should be versatile, so it meets all your cooking needs,” says Leslie Segrete, home expert and former designer on “Trading Spaces” and “While You Were Out.” There are so many styles and models available these days that you’re sure to find something that will make your weekend meals – and even weekday dinners – everyday special.'”

Here Segrete cooks up some tips to help everyone find their perfect grill.

1. Think about the size of your space.
It’s an obvious factor in purchasing a grill, and should be a primary consideration. If you have a small deck or backyard, it would not only be inconvenient to bring home a massive grill – it could be dangerous. On the other hand, if you have plenty of space, it would be a shame to buy a grill with a cooking capacity of two burgers when you would prefer 40.

2. Consider how you are going to use the grill.
For those who love the smokiness and real outdoorsy feel of cooking with charcoal, there are multiple models from which to choose. If convenience and ease of use are your primary goals, then a gas grill will surely be your best bet. And for those who want the best of both worlds, there are combo grills, which are becoming more popular and are like two grills for the price of one. For example, if you are making mesquite-rubbed ribs, you can contain the woodsy smoke on the charcoal side and make lamb kebabs or roasted corn on the cob at the same time with the gas section. Or, if you host large barbecues and like to entertain, think about getting a grill with a large cooking surface and multiple burners.

3. Don’t forget added features.
An invaluable feature to consider is a side burner. Side burners are great because they turn your backyard into a variable kitchen. Rather than running back and forth from kitchen to grill and risk burning your food, you can use the side burners like a regular stovetop. They are ideal for preparing side dishes, from simple options like baked beans or boiled potatoes to more gourmet options like sesame soy green beans or pesto pasta salad. You can also keep side dishes warm on very low heat. If you want ultimate versatility, look for a grill with a steamer for quick and convenient preparation of a whole garden full of fresh veggies.

4. Think beyond black or stainless steel.
Many department stores, like Sears for example, have unique options in colors like copper and red, which can add a brilliant splash of color to your outdoor space. And red and orange tones are spot-on for summer’s hottest hues.

5. Don’t forget the accessories.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money at fancy cooking stores to get the accessories you need. Stores like Sears carry everything from cedar grilling planks and pizza stones to great quality grilling tools fit for any chef.

If you use these tips, you’re sure to find just the right grill so that when you “fire it up” you’ll have everything you need to prepare whole party menus, full family dinners or just a light snack for two.



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