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How to Update Your Backyard BBQ Setup

Like any other industry, the world of BBQ grills grows and changes. There are, of course, plenty of pitmasters who’ve been cooking with the same barrel smoker since the ’90s, and they’re damn proud of it. But we all need a little change once in a while, and maybe you’ve been thinking lately that your outdoor cooking space could use some updating.

Often, a spruced-up setup is just what you need to get your inspiration fired up to jump back behind the grill. Or you might be feeling the limitations of your current setup and are ready to move on. Maybe you’re just curious about popular newer options like cooking with wood pellets. Whatever you’re looking for, here are six awesome ways to upgrade and update your backyard BBQ setup.

1. Think about whether it might be time to upgrade your grill.

First, take a look at your grill (whatever type you use) and ask yourself whether it’s time to upgrade. Mechanical problems like burners that don’t light or dampers that don’t close all the way are a clear sign to consider an upgrade. However, there are more subtle indicators to look for, too. Give the grill a good cleaning, and in the process, look for signs of wear and tear like a cracked firebox, damaged grates or general rust throughout.

Even if your grill is still in good shape, so many styles of grills are available today that it’s always worth taking a look at what’s out there. Technological innovations like WiFi pellet grills can open up new possibilities for cooking delicious BBQ pellet grill recipes with minimal hassle. Popular styles like kamado grills can also add powerful new cooking options to your arsenal. So, even if you prefer the trusty grill you’ve had for years, there’s no harm in browsing to learn what’s new.

2. Add accessories to your grill.

Nothing makes an old grill feel new like some sweet accessories. However you’d like to modify your grill, there’s most likely a way to do it.

Need extra cooking space for big crowds (or big food)? Add a rack extension for an easy way to increase capacity. Want more precise control over your heat? A ceramic or metal diffuser might be the way to go. Or, for the ultimate burgers, fajitas and so much more, try adding a flat-top griddle to your gas grill.

The options are pretty much endless, but do note that you might have trouble finding the right accessories for an older grill if it’s been discontinued. When possible, it’s always best to go with the manufacturer’s accessories specifically fitted for your grill model. Many so-called “universal” accessories you’ll find online aren’t quite as versatile as they claim to be.

3. Use a conversion kit to connect your gas grill to a natural gas line.

Tired of refilling propane tanks? Many grillmasters now go straight to the source with a grill that’s connected to their home’s natural gas supply via a natural gas conversion kit. The process is surprisingly straightforward, and it can be a big upgrade in terms of convenience. Your gas grill now turns on much like a gas stove — no tank, no problem!

Switching from propane to natural gas does involve some sacrifices and extra steps. For one thing, your grill will no longer be mobile, so make sure your outdoor kitchen is set up the way you like it first. You also might need to have a gas hookup installed on your patio, and you’ll definitely need the services of a gas line professional to correctly install and leak test your conversion kit.

4. Add some counter space.

A lot of today’s BBQ chefs need a kitchen space that’s capable of handling some serious cooking. Counter space in your outdoor kitchen will give you room to apply a spice rub, chop veggies, prepare sauces and do all of the other necessary tasks for working your magic on more complex recipes.

The simplest way to do it is to look for a prep space attachment for your grill. These shelves are designed by the manufacturer to snap directly onto your grill and make it an all-in-one BBQ workshop. Alternatively, with a little DIY know-how, you can install permanent counter space in your grilling area, or go for the convenience of an all-in-one outdoor kitchen set.

5. Spice up your selection of rubs, sauces and marinades.

Many grillers have their standby condiments, and that’s great — by all means, keep using your signature rib rub or wing sauce! But it can be tons of fun to explore new spices and sauces, so think about adding some new elements to play with in your repertoire. Grab a few new rubs, sauces and/or marinades or get in the lab and start whipping up your own.

Looking for a starting point? Try out some flavors from a cuisine you’ve always been curious about, like Asian cooking or Carolina BBQ. Or pick your favorite recipe and come up with a new take to wow the guests at your next cookout. Spend a little time getting creative in the kitchen, and you might just discover your next big hit.

6. Make your grill part of a complete outdoor dining and entertaining area.

Finally, remember that serving and enjoying the food is just as much of a part of the grilling experience as the actual cooking process. Thus, you want to be sure that you’ve got a great place for your guests (and you) to savor the deliciousness you’ve just cooked up.

If you’ve been hosting cookouts with a mish-mash of patio furniture, one great upgrade to start with is purchasing a matching patio set with plenty of dining space. A pergola or canopy can also be a clutch addition to give your guests shade and comfort in a variety of weather conditions. Want to get the vibe just right? Add one or more Bluetooth speakers for a party with great sounds to match the savory flavors.

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