How Do I Choose the Best Hooded Barbecue?

Melanie Greenwood

During the warm weather months, outdoor cooking is a popular method of meal preparation, as it allows cooks to avoid heating up the kitchen and imparts a pleasant flavor to foods. One of the most versatile types of barbecue grill is a hooded barbecue grill. This type can be used to cook a large variety of foods, from hamburgers to a long-smoked rack of ribs. The best hooded barbecue grill has a sturdy steel construction, a well-designed hood, fits your cooking style, and is the right size for you.

Hooded barbecues can help lock in a meat's natural flavors.
Hooded barbecues can help lock in a meat's natural flavors.

A quality hooded barbecue grill has a sturdy, solid steel construction. Legs, hinges and all extraneous parts should be attached via welds or sturdy rivets, not by screws that can work loose. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted by low-cost, flimsy grills. Their thin metal conducts heat too easily and puts you at risk for burns. Grills that tip over easily are fire hazards.

A hooded barbecue may be used to cook racks of ribs.
A hooded barbecue may be used to cook racks of ribs.

Another thing to look for in a quality hooded barbecue grill is a well-designed hood. The best hoods have no air gaps other than the one for the grill’s vent, which allows them to maintain proper cooking temperature even in chilly or windy conditions. Hinges should move freely, with the mechanism well away from the handle, so you don't pinch your fingers. Also, avoid built-in grill thermometers. These tend to be spring-based and are often inaccurate.

Next, the best hooded barbecue should fit your cooking style. One of the most important considerations is whether your style is best suited to gas or charcoal. If you don’t have convenient access to propane or a gas line, tend to prepare a lot of smoked dishes, or don’t mind waiting a while for the grill to be ready, a charcoal barbecues may be best for you. Conversely, if your primary concern is convenience, or you tend to cook mostly steaks or burgers, you may be better served by a gas-fired grill.

Finally, the best hooded barbecue grill will be the right size for you. If you don’t have much space to use your grill in, you generally feed small groups, or you tend to cook small things like burgers, steaks or grilled vegetables, you’ll probably want a small grill. Those who have a large family, enjoy entertaining, or tend to work with large pieces of meat like whole rib racks or whole turkeys will probably want a larger grill. Be careful about miniature grills, however, as these sometimes have shoddy construction.

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