By Patti Plummer

Today’s barbecues and grills are sophisticated tools that allow homeowners to prepare full course meals totally outdoors. From the urban griller who uses the compact efficiency of a hibachi to the master chef who uses the talents of high-tech equipment made of stainless steel, there are a variety of types that fit every kind of cooking style. Here are 6 main types:  

• Gas Grill: Popular with most outdoor chefs, these grills run on natural gas or propane and are excellent for all types of cooking. Many units feature side burners, woks, smoke boxes, rotisseries, and other accessories.

• Infrared Grill: Ignited by propane or natural gas, these grills utilize a superheated ceramic tile to cook. Reaching 900 degrees F, an infrared grill is perfect for searing food quickly. 

• Charcoal Grill: Purists choose charcoal because it allows them to cook low and slow.  Traditional briquettes or all-natural lump charcoal are the preferred sources of fuel.

• Pellet Grill: Fueled by compressed hardwood pellets made of hickory, oak, or mesquite to name a few, this type of grill is great for slow cooking meat. 

• Ceramic Cooker: Based on a design from 3,000 years ago but built using space-age materials, these cookers effectively retain heat and moisture and can grill, smoke, and barbecue.

• Hybrids: Combining the convenience of gas and the cooking techniques and flavor of charcoal, these grills offer the best of both worlds.

Ready to check out the latest grill models and compare brands? Visit our Outdoor Kitchens & Grills Buyers' Guide for a list of grill companies and where to buy.

Photo courtesy of RH Peterson Co.; Photograph by Steve Pollock Studios