Grill Features Part 1: Cooking Grates, BTU & Cooking Area
21 Jul, 2016
We’ve highlighted the features for refrigerators, dishwashers and the Samsung Dual Door™ Range in our “What’s the Feature?” series. In this edition, we turn our focus to grills in a two-part installment. Use part one of our expert guide below to learn more about essential grill features, including the primary cooking area, grate types and BTU, before you upgrade or purchase your next barbecue.
Expert answers provided by James Terry, hhgregg buyer for small kitchen appliances and grills.
Primary Cooking Area
The grill’s primary cooking area is the section of the grill that is the “main” grilling area, where the majority of cooking will be done.
The secondary cooking area includes the racks that sit above the main surface. This area is used for items that take less time to cook – such as hot dogs, vegetables or bread – while larger menu items cook on the grill below. The secondary cooking area can also serve as a warming rack while other items finish grilling.
Understanding what your needs are will help drive your purchase based on grill cooking area, which is measured in square inches. A smaller cooking area is best if you have a small family or only grill a few items at a time. Large families, or those who love grilling more than a few items at once, are much better suited for larger cooking areas. Grills with a larger surface area require more gas or charcoal when cooking. Huffington Post’s rule of thumb: Allow approximately 100 square inches (10” x 10”) per person.
The cooking grates are where you’ll place your food to cook. Your choice of grates is a matter of preference for cooking style, longevity and care. The three most common choices are cast iron, stainless steel and porcelain-coated steel.
Cast iron is by far the most durable grate material, but it can rust over time. According to Barbecue Tricks, its heavy mass absorbs and distributes heat evenly, providing well seared, quickly cooking food. Stainless steel has a shorter shelf life, but provides a different cooking surface and is easy to clean. Porcelain-coated grates are less durable, but they don’t rust as easily as long as the porcelain coating is intact. Ultimately, with proper care, you can make any grate last longer.
Working in tandem with grates are the burner shields or shrouds below them, which protect the burners from drippings. They also return the flavor of the drippings back to the meat as they burn, improving the overall taste of your meal!
The standard measuring unit for grills, a British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In other words, a grill BTU is the amount of energy that a fuel has as well as the amount of output of any heat-generating device. For example, if a gas grill has 35,000 BTU, it uses a little more than 2 pounds of propane an hour.
Selecting the right BTU size of your grill should be based on need and preference, as the larger the grill size, the larger the BTU. Essentially, BTU needs will go hand in hand with the size of the cooking area – the bigger the cooking area, the more BTUs are needed.
Read the second part of our guide, where we highlight grill casters and burners.
Want more? Check out our repository full of recipes, inspiration and more with these grilling tips!