Having friends and family gather around your patio table for dinner is one of the greatest parts of summer and fall. Cool nights and outdoor grilling make some of the best memories, and choosing the right outdoor hibachi grill can take those moments to the next level.
Outdoor Hibachi Grill Vs. Teppanyaki Grill
To choose the right hibachi grill, we have to distinguish it from another popular Japanese cooking method that it’s often confused with — the teppanyaki grill.
While outdoor hibachi grills and teppanyaki grills have become somewhat interchangeable over time, they’re still two very different products.
The main difference between the two is that a teppanyaki grill has a flat iron griddle, while a hibachi grill is smaller and traditionally cylindrical, although today they can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Teppanyaki grills can be commonly spotted at a Benihana restaurant. The long, flat surface area of these grills makes them ideal for entertaining big groups with impressive culinary tricks.
The term “hibachi” is the Japanese word for “fire bowl” and has an open-grate design for cooking food fast, usually for just a few guests at a time. Outdoor hibachi grills stand apart from the usual outdoor grill for a few reasons.
Best Features Of An Outdoor Hibachi Grill
Traditional outdoor hibachi grills come in small sizes that make it a convenient cooking method without taking up too much space. Once you’re done, these grills are easily stored.
The smaller size of a hibachi grill also makes it perfect for those looking for something more portable. Whether it’s a camping trip or a baseball tailgate, it’s simple to transport these grills and cook up some delicious food for all your friends.
Unlike most grills, outdoor hibachi grills cook food using direct heat for a short time. This method entails smoke-free grilling that will make for the ultimate backyard party rather than ruining your food with an overly charred flavor.
For even more ventilation, many outdoor hibachi grills even come with bottom vents to eliminate the smallest signs of smoke and better control the heat of the charcoal. It truly is a sleek and smoke-free way to cook all your favorites.
Smaller Portions And A Quicker Cook
Since outdoor hibachi grills cook food using direct heat, it’s not an ideal option for those looking to smoke a rack of ribs or grill entire cuts of tenderloins. In fact, any exceptionally thick cut of meat should be avoided when using a hibachi grill, and here’s why.
The smaller portions of food over direct heat are intentional for hibachi grilling, especially since the grill is not covered. Small servings and thin slices are ideal for that deep and developed umami flavor enhanced by the rich bed of charcoal.
Overcooking could mean giving your guests burnt food, and overdoing the size of your food will almost certainly result in an undercooked meal. Keep it small and thin to get the right caramelization and wow your guests every time.
An Inexpensive Option
An outdoor hibachi grill not only looks amazing, but it won’t break the bank either. Prices vary depending on the size and added features of the grill, but stunning and simple hibachi grills can be found for around $100 or less to complete your outdoor furniture collection.
What To Look For In An Outdoor Hibachi Grill
Not all outdoor hibachi grills are built the same. Certain features are not necessarily guaranteed, but there are a few things to look for when searching for the best option.
Here’s how to know whether you’re getting the best grill for your backyard.
Cast Iron Material
One of the most important things to look for in an outdoor hibachi grill is the material it’s made with. Some grills will be built using cast aluminum which corrodes over time, especially if not cared for properly.
Cast iron hibachi grills, on the other hand, offer durability and long-lasting use. Although cast iron options cost a bit more than aluminum, it’s the better choice for anyone wanting to keep their hibachi grill cooking for as long as possible.
Some outdoor hibachi grills include adjustable racks. This feature adds to the ease of use by letting you move the grate up or down and allows for better control over the distance between the food and the coals.
Essentially, adjustable racks are a way of fine-tuning the hibachi process to avoid raw or overcooked food and expand what food can be cooked when. Although this feature isn’t necessary, it can be a fun and efficient way to add versatility to your cooking.
Some hibachi grills come with a bottom vent for circulation. Just like adjustable racks, this feature is more of a perk than a necessity. Outdoor hibachi grills are not meant to be covered and are well-circulated by design.
The main benefit of having a bottom vent is to increase the flame’s heat in a more controlled way. If control and adjustability are some of the main selling points for the perfect outdoor hibachi grill, then the racks and vent are going to be a must-have.
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Gas Vs. Charcoal
You might be thinking “Wait, don’t outdoor hibachi grills use charcoal?” Well, you’d be right. Although traditional hibachi grills use charcoal by definition, there are hibachi-style grills on the market that use gas instead to get the grill going.
While gas is a quicker way to ignite your flame, it also takes away from the authenticity and flavor offered by a hibachi grill. If you’re looking for the full hibachi experience, always look for a grill that uses charcoal as a heat source.
Two Levels Of Heat
Outdoor hibachi grills are incredible at cooking everything from thinly sliced meats to seasoned vegetables. Cooking both at the same heat, however, might not be the greatest way to prepare a variety of food for your guests.
The solution is to find a hibachi grill that has enough space to burn a double fire. Two distinct layers of charcoal allow you to have one side that is hotter than the other so you can get a slow char on hibachi-style steaks and a quick broil on green peppers and grilled tomatoes.
Even if having two different levels of heat isn’t crucial to your culinary needs, it’s a great way to keep one round of food warm while the other round cooks, letting everyone enjoy the cuisine at the same time.
The final feature to look for in an outdoor hibachi grill is surface size. The number of people you’re looking to feed will give a good idea as to what size hibachi is right for you.
The smallest grills are great for travel and portability, but they can usually only serve about 2 people at a time. This is a good fit for grilling out with a loved one, a couple of family members, or a few close friends.
Larger hibachi grills don’t make for easy solo transportation, but longer and more expensive models will likely come with handles and be able to serve double—sometimes triple—the number of people.
If you’re interested in really maximizing the number of guests you can serve beyond this, a teppanyaki grill might be more suitable for you. These grills can even be purchased as a Benihana-style table for those looking to impress and entertain.
Completing Your Outdoor Space
No matter your preference, cooking with an outdoor hibachi grill is an efficient and enjoyable way to bring together family and friends to share everyone’s favorites.
And, of course, no outdoor hibachi grill is complete without the perfect outdoor furniture for all of your guests to feel right at home. Outer’s many outdoor furniture options come in several styles and sizes for the right fit at any home.
Whether it’s a few comfortable outdoor chairs for the family or a full sectional to accommodate everyone, we have the perfect outdoor furniture for every occasion. Find sustainable products for living better outside today.