For backyard chefs the grill is the beating heart of the outdoor kitchen experience. Yet it’s not the only thing you need to make mouthwatering meats and other flame-kissed dishes. There are some grills that are just the grill with little in the way of a side table or a spot to even keep a platter. It can be a frustrating experience to try to juggle plates and tools while working the grill one-handed.
In a situation like this, many backyard chefs turn to some sort of grill table. Of course, some of the best ones are more than just a place to set down a serving or prep platter. The best outdoor grill tables can also have other features that take your grilling experience to the next level.
Popular Grill Table Features
They might seem like simple hooks, on the side of a shelf or edge of a table, but tool hooks certainly come in handy for keeping the tools you need close at hand, without taking up any sort of shelf space.
Folding Side Shelves
They are especially handy for homes that have limited square footage on the deck or patio. You can fold them out to get additional space for serving and prep platters. Then collapse them down when you aren’t using them. Ideally, you want to look for folding side tables that have some sort of locking mechanism.
A Waste Bin
There are times when you need to trim off a little fat and gristle, or simply throw away an empty marinade bag. Having some sort of small waste bin on your grill table spares you chasing plastic cheese slices in the wind, to let you stay right at the grill-side.
Most backyard chefs rely on special accessories to make some of their famous dishes. Some sort of cabinet or drawer space lets you conveniently store away things like cast iron griddles, pans, grill baskets, and seasoning blends. Not to mention easy access to food grade cutting boards and knives. If you are looking for a place to keep a bag of charcoal you might want a chamber that’s rated to be waterproof, or has enough space to hold a waterproof plastic tote bin.
Structural Features To Look For In A Grilling Table
Beyond basic features like shelves and hooks, there are structural and mobile features to consider when shopping for the right grill table for your backyard cooking space.
For people with limited space on the deck or patio, wheels and/or locking casters are a top priority. They let you move the grill table out when you need to fire things up and lock securely into place. When you are done, the grill table can be rolled to an out of the way space to preserve precious square footage. Ideally you want there to be some type of locking mechanism on at least two of the wheels or casters. Also take a moment to think about the surface you’ll be moving the grill table around on. If you have widely spaced deck boards or a cobbled patio, you want to prioritize larger wheels that move easier than tiny casters.
Legs And Feet
For some people the grill table is something that you set up in the spring and it stays in place all summer long. A few are even designed to hold a grill like a kamado grill. So, the last thing you want is a wobbly grill table that might move around on you.
If you are looking for an outdoor grill table to take with your portable grill to take with you camping, for trips to the beach or a tailgate party, then you might prioritize a collapsible cart base. Just make sure it locks firmly in place when you get to your destination. While you’re at it, double-check the weight rating.
Access For Gas Hoses And Wires
If you are going to be using the grill table to hold a drop-in gas grill head throughout the summer, or there is a propane side burner, then you want to make sure there is a convenient place to pass gas hoses to keep them out of harm’s way. The same holds true for a grill with hard-wired lights or perhaps an electric rotisserie.
A Shelf Or Face For Stability
Grill tables can be wobbly if there isn’t something tying the legs together. Ideally, you want to look for a central shelf, a frame, or a back wall that locks everything together solidly.
The Best Materials For A Grill Table
Most people let their grill table live outdoors through at least the summer months. This means it can be subject to all the elements like rain, wind, humidity, sun, dry air, and hail. So, you want something that can truly hold up to the caprices of weather year after year.
Ideally you want to look for 330 stainless steel, which is considered to be “Commercial Grade” and is relatively impervious to long-term rust and corrosion issues.
Powder Coated Steel
On its own steel is highly prone to rust and corrosion issues. To the point that if it’s not protected by something like heat-rated powder coat paint, it can become unsightly in just a single summer of weather exposure.
Woods like cedar, cypris, and even reclaimed redwood is known to be naturally weather and pest resistant, without the use of chemicals or pressure treating. If you do find a grilling table that uses some pressure treated wood, make sure that it is rated to be free of arsenic and other dangerous chemicals that should not be anywhere food.
Aluminum is increasingly popular for structural components in grill cart bases and other applications because it is very lightweight as well as corrosion-resistant. Ideally, you want to look for cast aluminum as it is very rigid, or that the manufacturer has reinforced the aluminum components somehow.
Glass Reinforced Nylon
This is another popular way to save weight without sacrificing strength. On their own glass and nylon don’t necessarily have the long-term durability to stand up to rigors of life in a backyard grill station. However, when they are engineered together, they do a great job of making up for each other’s weaknesses.