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Despite the current social distancing circumstances, summer is still very much on (as far as the weather is concerned, anyway). Which means one major thing: It’s grilling season, baby. And let’s be honest, even if there wasn’t a pandemic happening, we’d probably still pick a backyard barbeque over going out to eat on a balmy, 80-degree night anyway.

We tapped LongHorn Steakhouse Executive Chef Michael Senich for his expert grill recommendations, just in time for outdoor dining season. Whether you’re looking for gas or charcoal, heavy-duty or budget-friendly, chef Senich has you covered. Read on for his top four picks.

RELATED: 14 Chic Backyard Ideas to Prep Your Space for Summer

Gas Grills

Gas grills provide great temperature control and heat up quickly when you need to use it. At LongHorn Steakhouse, we use two types of gas grills to cook our signature, fresh steaks: a charbroil grill and a flattop grill,” says chef Senich. “The open flame charbroiler is similar to a grill that you would have in your backyard, while the flattop grill is best for searing fresh, boneless steaks, fresh chicken and fish.”

He recommends looking for a model with burners that can provide at least 12,000 BTUs to get a great sear on meat. “You also want cooking grates that are heavy-duty rolled stainless steel or cast-iron. Stainless steel will last longer and cast-iron will retain heat better,” Senich says.

Chef Senich’s gas grill picks:

Home Depot

1. Weber Genesis II E-315 Propane

This charbroil grill is high quality but still very easy to use. Chef Senich explains, “The open flame helps render the rich marbling in steak and create a slightly smoky flavor, and this grill includes three powerful burners to help do so. Its porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates provide great heat retention, and it has 669 square inches of cooking space to handle all of your grilling needs. Plus, it carries a 10-year warranty.”

Buy It ($799)

Home Depot

2. Nexgrill Model 720 Series Propane

If you’re looking for something more affordable, this Nexgrill model is a great choice. “It features four stainless steel burners with 12,000 BTUs each,” says chef Senich, adding that the massive stainless steel grates give you a whopping 462 square inches of cook space—so you can cook the whole fam’s burgers at once. “Plus, it provides a five-year burner warranty.”

Buy It ($299)

Charcoal Grills

If you prefer charcoal grills, chef Senich has some sound advice. “Charcoal grills take a little more finesse to prepare for cooking, and they take longer to heat up and cool down. However, you can get great flavors when cooking with a charcoal grill.” They’re also typically much smaller than gas grills, making them more appropriate for smaller outdoor spaces.

Chef Senich’s charcoal grill picks:

Home Depot

1. Vision Grills Kamado Pro Model S-4C1D1

“This grill is one of the best values for its size,” says chef Senich. “With 604 square inches of cooking space, it has a port to insert an electric charcoal starter and multiple vents to help you adjust your cooking temperature from slow and low cooking to high-heat searing. It’s very well built and carries a five-year warranty. I personally own this grill and love it!”

Buy It ($799)

Home Depot

2. Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill

Another of chef Senich’s favorites? This reasonably priced classic charcoal grill.This is a quality charcoal grill with a large enough cooking surface (363 square inches) to set up an indirect cooking area,” explains chef Senich. “It also has a unique one-touch cleaning system for easy clean-up and comes with a 10-year warranty.”

Buy It ($165)

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