New barbecue features that have grill masters' mouths watering

Americans love to grill: 75 percent of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker, and 63 percent use it year-round. Some grill lovers even fire theirs up for breakfast.

It doesn’t matter where you live or what you’re grilling — South Carolina hogs with a mustard-based sauce, smoked salmon in the Pacific Northwest, a seafood bake on Cape Cod, or the classic burgers and dogs on a weekday night — we all love to spend time around the grill and enjoy a meal cooked over an open flame.

If you’re firing up your barbecue for Memorial Day, you’re certainly not alone: It’s the second most popular holiday for grilling out, eclipsed only by the 4th of July. And it should be no surprise that May is also National Barbecue Month — the chilly weather has turned into sunny and warm days in much of the U.S., and we can almost taste summer.

45 percent of U.S. adults will purchase a new grill or smoker this year. So what’s hot in grills and outdoor kitchens now? After attending the annual HPBExpo in March, we think we know the secrets to perfecting the BBQ and outdoor experience. Here’s what we learned about the new features grill makers are packing into your favorite outdoor appliance and how new designs are reshaping the outdoor space.

Fired up designs in grills, outdoor kitchens

Awesome features are heating up high-end grills: The market’s top-of-the-line grills are packed with goodies and features that make the grill a true all-in-one cooking appliance. Some grills now feature built-in motorized rotisserie spits and LED lighting inside and out. Some lights lie inside the grill lid to illuminate the surface while you cook, and others serve as accent lights around the dials.

But one of the most visible additions to high-end grills is a glass-ceramic window. Grill masters seem to love a grill lid with a glass window that lets them peer into the grill to see cooking steaks and spot flare ups charring the meat; in fact, more than half of the serious grill masters we polled said this window helps monitor their food and many said it improves the overall BBQ experience. The glass ceramic can stand up to the scorching temperatures of any burner, and it’s another inviting component that attracts your guests to come stand around the grill.

The advances continue past glass-ceramic windows. Other grills have glass-ceramic panels that front rotisserie burners. Glass-ceramic can be used in emitter plates to achieve a great sear on a steak – a burner heats the glass to emit scorching temperatures. Still others feature tray inserts that allow backyard chefs to use both gas and charcoal at the same time on one grill. Warming racks, side burners, pizza stones, broiling baskets, cooking planks, and searing burners are rounding the grill into a more complete appliance, too.

Outdoor kitchens designed to be beautiful and functional: The patio has been replaced with a true living space: an outdoor kitchen. These spaces feature appliances ranging from stoves and grills to wood-fired pizza ovens and wine fridges. Designers can make these appliances statement pieces with bold colors, too.

Because people want to congregate in the kitchen, designers are ensuring the outdoor kitchen is comfortable with plenty of seating and side tables. These designers are building outdoor fireplaces into the blueprint, giving a functional outdoor kitchen room to relax. In some designs, IR heaters can warm up any spot without taking up too much room. Once again, glass ceramics can play a role, as the material distributes heat evenly when they’re used in IR heaters and closed-system fireplaces.

It’s time to get outside and grill

For many backyard barbecuers, the grill is a special appliance and grill designers and manufacturers have noticed. They’re packing new designs with awesome new features, helping these chefs cook the best meal possible.

Following closely behind, the outdoor kitchen has transformed entertaining with outdoor fireplaces and wood stoves that elevate outdoor living to another level of relaxation and fun.

As backyard chefs adopt these new designs and features, we only have one question for you: What’s your favorite food to grill?

May 24, 2016


Kim Kennell
Home Tech
SCHOTT North America, Inc.