What Size Grill Do I Need

I have read the question of what size grill do I need many times and decided to add my two cents here with my BBQ size calculator.

One of the first things you have to realize before buying a grill is how big or small of a grill you really need.

We all suffer sometimes from the “shiny object syndrome” and picture ourselves in front of that big stainless steel grill cooking steaks, hamburgers, chicken, and hotdogs for our family and friends.

Let’s just forget that dream for a minute and come back to reality and try to answer the question of how big of a grill you really need.

My simple grill size calculator

The simplest way to calculate what grill size you need is this:

Number of people you cook for x 72 square inches = Grill Size You Need

If you keep in mind the rule of thumb that you need about 72 square inches per person you can basically not go wrong. To make it easier this is about the size of a dinner plate per person.

Wait there is more to tell.

This could be the answer and the end of my article here and you could start looking at all my outdoor grill reviews, but I like to add a little more to the equation.

There are a few more questions to ask before making your final decision on what size grill you need.

Too big or too small

I can only say “been there done that”. I have bought grills that were too big and grills that were too small.

A grill that is too big will need a lot more charcoal or propane to heat and keep it at the right temperature, and that adds up very quickly.

A grill that is too small will be cramped with food and this will not work. It also forces you to cook in multiple batches, which is not always a bad thing. You need room in between the food you cook.

What will you cook

If you are just using your grill to cook some hamburgers and hot dogs you do not need a big grill. In my opinion, it is always good to have the option to cook indirectly on a grill it is not a necessity.

If you are planning on cooking more than just meat, but also vegetables you need more room. The reason is that you need room in between the things you cook. The reason for that is that you have to have air flow in between the items.

For grilling you also need room to move your items around. Especially when you are cooking indirect you need to be able to move your meat from the hot the cooler site of the grill.

For how many people will you cook.

If you cook mainly for your family and not for family and friends to many times it is a waste of money and charcoal and or propane to heat up a big grill.

If you, however, are the neighborhood cook and like to have bbq parties in your backyard you will probably need a bigger grill.

Charcoal or propane

This is a never ending discussion and here is my two cents about this.

I personally use both. I have a larger charcoal grill that I use for food that needs more room and larger quantities. I also use it for my way of doing indirect cooking.

I have a small propane grill for if I just cook some burgers, hotdogs, or a pork chop. I even cook chicken breast on my portable gas grill.

Standard grill sizes

Although this is not an exact science the average size of grills can help you decide what grill to buy. Many people ask just how many burgers fit on a grill to decide what they need.

Kettle grills

kettle grill

I believe that a standard 22-inch kettle grill is in many cases all an average family of 4 needs and this is how I started my BBQ adventure a long time ago. Just buy one that has some good quality like the Weber 22 inch kettle grill.

This type of grill has a cooking area of about 360 square inches and with our rule of thumb you can cook for about 5 people on it. (5 x 72 = 360 square inches).

With the Weber charcoal basket, you can also use it for indirect cooking, and I think that is an advantage.

This will hold about 13 hamburgers to give you an idea on the size.

Rectangle grills

rectangle charcoal grill

A standard rectangle charcoal grill usually measures about 24 x 15 inches and this adds up to about the same 360 square inches. There are however many more sizes available and they can go up to 1200 square inches.

My recommendation would be around 450 square feet for a family and small get-togethers without burning a fortune in charcoal or propane.

Charcoal or Propane

Although this has nothing to do with the subject of this article about how to find the right grill size, here is my take on that subject.

 It is totally up to you what you buy. I

f you don’t like messing with charcoal go for propane. If you like a more authentic charcoal flavor go for charcoal.

Smoking or grilling?

If you like to smoke on your grill you must have a way to control your temperature. Although I have seen many videos on how to smoke on a kettle grill, I smoke on my rectangle charcoal grill and on my UDS (ugly drum smoker).

When should you buy a grill?

Finding the right size grill or BBQ for your type of cooking is one thing. Now you have to find it at the best price. I wrote an article called what is the best time to buy a grill or BBQ to help you find the answer to that question.

BBQ Grill Size Calculator – Summary

I hope this article about how to decide what size BBQ you need helped you with finding answers. It was not my plan to make it complicated so here is my easy answer again.

Number of people you cook for X 72 square inches = Your grill Size.

If you stick to this you will end up with a grill that will be able to cook what you like.

Eddie van Aken

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