They say nothing can be better than the smell of grilled meat. And they are deeply wrong! It’s time to admit that grills are made not only for meat-eaters.
Vegetarians, people on the fiber diet, and simply those with good taste use grills for cooking vegetables as well. Grilled fruit and vegetables are an excellent, tasty, and healthy way to balance your diet. Moreover, if you have a proper grill, you can complement your meaty picnic or backyard party with grilled vegetables.
However, though we have lots of nice barbeque recipes and tips on choosing food, few people pay attention to grills themselves. And the choice of a proper device is half of success, believe me. That’s why today, we’re going to discuss the five most important nuances for grill customers.
1. Temperature Control
Vegetables differ very much from common meat dishes. Most of all, they require lower cooking temperatures that will allow us to save vitamins and get that famous sugar crust all over the vegetable. That’s why the more accurate temperature adjustment your grill has, the better taste you’ll reach.
Smart grills with digital temperature control are the best options for vegetables and fruit. These devices allow you to set the exact degrees you need and support it during the whole cooking. The process is easy and fast, like with the oven.
Simpler grills (for example, most charcoal and wood models) do not provide such accurate temperature control. You cannot program F˚/C˚ degrees. But you can still adjust the heat with side vents. When you open and close them, you increase and decrease the airflow inside. Changes in oxygen level lead to temperature changes. Vents are not the best option for vegetable grilling, but it’s more budget and better than nothing.
Please Pay Attention: I also recommend choosing a grill with a built-in thermometer and food probes (sensors that directly monitor the temperature of the food). Thus, you’ll get maximum control over vegetable cooking.
2. The Number and Location of Cooking Grates
The majority of grills come with one-two grates set on one level regarding the source of heat (charcoal, gas tubes, or electrical plate). It’s ok for standard cooking. However, when you deal with vegetables and other delicate food, grate’s location can greatly influence the results.
I’d recommend choosing grills with several grates and the opportunity of their rearrangement inside the grill. There are several models on the market where users can lift or low cooking grates to set them farther or closer to the fire. The option is especially vital for grills with inaccurate temperature control.
If you can arrange several grates on different levels, you’ll be able to cook various dishes (even meat and vegetables) under one lid simultaneously.
3. Grate Material and Design
Fruit and vegetables feature a waterier and tenderer structure, and grilling requires certain conditions. First of all, experienced chefs look at the grates. Since they will have to contact with food, we need only the most non-toxic, non-sticking, and evenly heated materials.
Ceramic is considered to be the best option for vegetables. It heats fast, spreads heat evenly, and provides the optimal temperature. Food is never overheated and burnt, which may happen with metal grates.
Porcelain-enameled grates come next on my own list. Heating speed and distribution are the same as with ceramic. Besides, users note improved non-sticking characteristics and large cooking space. And I can confirm it as a user of Weber Q1000 and Q1200.
Cast iron closes the top three grate materials for vegetable grilling. It’s more affordable and comes close to the previous two types.
Apart from materials, I highly recommend looking at the grate design, gaps between the grill rods mainly. Typically, recipes require vegetables to be cut into small pieces/slices. But with such configuration, too wide gaps mean food pieces will constantly fall. Thus, please check this moment beforehand and try to get an optimal grate for you.
4. Gap Between the Grates and Fire
No matter whether your grates offer multi-level cooking or they are fixed, there always should be enough space between charcoal or gas tubes and the cooking surfaces. The gap provides proper heating without burning, sticking, or danger of something like a chimney fire. Also, you will avoid the unpleasant bitter taste of your food and fuel smell. Safe distance varies depending on the grill’s size, shape, and type. I would say it’s something about 5-10 inches.
5. Presence of Cooking Zones
If a grill has additional cooking and storage zones like side tables, cart shelves, etc., it’s an excellent purchase for every eager grill chef. Extra tables mean you can prepare food and store it right next to the cooking area with minimal taste and heat loss. Besides, you can store cooking accessories here like spices, tongs, spatulas, mittens, and so on.
Cooking and storage zones do not directly influence the process, but they make it much more convenient for you.
Best Grills for Vegetables
I’ve decided to take one grill of each fuel type and make my own top 3 best models for fruit and vegetables. Here they are:
- As we mentioned, electric grills are the best when it comes to non-meat cooking. Welcome the Amazon customers’ choice – Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill. The unit is very affordable and smart with its accurate temperature control and looking window. This is an excellent compact kitchen option that can be washed in a dishwasher.
- Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II 18 inch is my leader among charcoal grills. Despite the fuel type, it features a ceramic body and that unique leveled cooking grates for simultaneous cooking of different dishes I told you about above.
- My acquaintance with grills started from Weber Q1000. Later, I replaced it with the Q1200 model, so I highly recommend them both as great gas grills. Devices deal perfectly both with meat and vegetables. I love their grates, wide cooking area, portable design, and thermometer (in the Q1200 only). For me, they offer the best price-quality balance.
Here we are, folks. I hope these little tips will help you find the best grill both for meat and vegetables. Cook easy, eat tastily, and stay healthy!