Whether you want a grill in your backyard, need one that's safe to use in the kitchen or one that can travel with you, grills undoubtedly make life a little more delicious. Choosing a grill can be overwhelming, though. Charcoal requires extra materials and cleaning up, but you also need to remember to fill the gas canister if you go with propane. There are also electric options.
Space may be a limiting factor for what kind of grill you purchase; so might the frequency with which you grill. Will it stay in one spot, or does your grill need to be portable? Do you want to smoke meat, too, sometimes? If you plan to feed the neighborhood regularly, you'll need an appropriately sized grill. And then there's the fun part—special features and accessories. Don’t worry! We break it all down for you to help you make your decision.
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
What We Love: Ample cooking space, built-in thermometer, affordable price
What We Don't Love: No place for storage, doesn't come with a chimney starter
Weber reigns supreme when it comes to charcoal grills, and its tripod grill shape is iconic. With its black porcelain exterior, the Weber Original Kettle Premium Grill is still the best charcoal grill to have.
With 363 square inches of cooking space, the Weber Original can cook up to 13 juicy burgers at once, and there's enough clearance for a large turkey or beer can chicken. There's a hook on the inside of the lid for when it’s time to turn the hot dogs, and the lid’s handle has a heat shield to prevent burns. The steel grates inside are hinged for easy access when adding charcoal.
People like that this affordable model has a built-in lid thermometer to help monitor the grill’s heat, and that Weber’s dampers are now resistant to rust. There’s a removable ash catcher on the bottom, which helps with cleanup. Many users suggest getting a chimney starter to expedite the process of heating up the charcoal; it doesn't come with the grill. This isn't a grill with a lot of storage or prep space, so just keep that in mind when you're setting it up.
Price at time of publish: $233
Dimensions (LxWxH): 27 x 22.5 x 39.5 inches | Cooking Area: 363 square inches | Weight: 37 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Best Charcoal, Runner Up
Royal Gourmet CD1824E 24-inch Charcoal Grill
What We Love: Lots of cooking space, helpful built-in storage, mobile design
What We Don't Love: Assembly is time-consuming
If you want an economical charcoal grill option that also has the added benefit of being a cart then look no further than the Royal Gourmet 24-inch Charcoal BBQ Grill. It is spread over a 382-square-inch main cooking area and a 110-square-inch stainless-steel warming rack.
The grill's porcelain-enameled grates offer enough room to cook for up to ten people, with two folding side tables as well as a bottom shelf in case you need a place to store things like trays or containers. Despite its affordability, there are plenty of treats. Take, for example, the lump charcoal access door in the front, which makes it easy to replenish the coal supply, and the adjustable charcoal pan, which allows you to control the heat. It also has a built-in thermometer and ash catcher. A minor but helpful thing: this grill is on wheels, which makes it easy to move.
The main downside with this grill is the assembly, which takes some time, but once you put it together, it should be happy grilling.
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions (LxWxH): 58.7 x 27.6 x 50.4 inches | Cooking Area: 474 square inches | Weight: 45.6 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Weber Genesis II E-335 3-Burner Gas Grill
What We Love: Easy to ignite, gets super hot, huge cooking space
What We Don't Love: High price tag
Four burners? Check. How about 669 square inches of cooking area? Check. Grill cabinet for storage? Check. At every turn, the Weber Genesis II packs a big punch for those looking to grill with propane and master cooking on the grill.
This gas grill is easy to light, thanks to Weber's Infinity Ignition. Its main burners deliver a consistent 39,000 BTUs per hour, and its side burner gives another 12,000 BTUs. Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates make up the sizable main 513-square-inch cooking space, while the warming rack adds 156 square inches. Weber designed a grease management system to prevent flare-ups, and a removable catch pan makes cleanup easy. There’s also a thermometer that connects to a smartphone app so you can focus on other things.
Users love that it holds an even cooking temperature and appreciate the “sear station,” a 9,000 BTU/hour burner that intensifies heat and allows you to add sear marks to your food. All of this excellence comes at a cost, though: This gas grill isn't cheap!
Price at time of publish: $1,399
Dimensions (LxWxH): 59 x 29 x 47 inches | Cooking Area: 669 square inches | Weight: 210 pounds | BTUs/hour: 39,000 | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Related: The Best Propane Grills
Best Budget Gas
Char-Broil 463773717 Classic Series 3-Burner Gas Grill
What We Love: Affordable, plenty of BTUs, solid construction
What We Don't Love: Wire grates instead of cast iron
If you're on a budget, or maybe you're new to grilling and don't really want to drop a whole lot of money on a grill, you need something that's built well, performs great, and isn't going to cost the proverbial arm and a leg.
But with this American Gourmet Char-Broil gas grill, you don't have to completely forgo nice features to get a grill that's going to go the extra mile with you without setting back your bank account. Don't let the budget-minded price fool you, though; the construction is solid, and this grill is built to perform. With 360 square inches of cooking space, it's big enough to accommodate the cooking needs of a family or a small gathering, powered by three burners and 30,000 BTUs of heat.
Many grills come with cast iron grates, which tend to be more durable with proper maintenance, but this one has porcelain-coated wire grates instead to help reduce stickiness. Some users found these grates to be less durable.
Price at time of publish: $230
Dimensions (LxWxH): 24 x 44 x 51 inches | Cooking Area: 360 square inches | Weight: 48 pounds | BTUs/hour: 30,000 | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Related: The Best Grill Thermometers
Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill
What We Love: Auto-refills the pellets, Wi-Fi connection, plenty of cooking space
What We Don't Love: High price
If you're looking for a grilling experience that's a bit more hands-off, this pellet grill is it. Traeger is the gold standard of pellet grills, which are powered by electricity and use wood pellets to fuel the fire.
To use the Traeger Pro 575, you set your desired temperature, and the grill's computer regulates it for you. It automatically adds wood pellets when necessary, keeping the 575 square inches of cooking space smoky and hot. Plus, this grill connects to Wi-Fi, which means you can monitor it from anywhere in your house. This is the pellet grill to buy if you want more of a hands-off, set-it-and-forget-it approach and less puttering around with the equipment.
The grill, which has two interior racks, can cook up to 24 burgers at once, and the porcelain nonstick grates are a cinch to clean. This is truly the best of the best for a pellet grill, so it's not cheap.
Price at time of publish: $900
Dimensions (LxWxH): 41 x 27 x 53 inches | Cooking Area: 575 square inches | Weight: 149 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: 18 pounds
Related: The Best Pellet Smokers
Oklahoma Joe's Highland Reverse Flow Offset Smoker
What We Love: Affordable, superior heat retention, can hold tools while you cook
What We Don't Love: Very heavy, cleaning is a little tricky
You can't beat the dependability of an Oklahoma Joe’s Highland smoker. It's affordable, easy to set up, and produces delicious smoked chicken (or grilled fruit and veggies).
The grill's interior 33.75 x 17.25-inch grate gives you 619 square inches of cooking space, plus there's an additional 281 square inches of secondary cooking space. The firebox’s door makes it easy to stoke the fire safely, and since it’s fully constructed from heavy-gauge steel, this smoker can create the heat you need. It has porcelain grates, and there's a front shelf to hold tools while you cook.
This grill gets bonus points for its heavy wheels, which make it a bit easier to transport across the yard, but it's still 180 pounds worth of a smoker to lug, so keep that in mind. Users report that cleaning it can be a bit tricky (a good grill brush can help a lot with that), but not enough to outweigh the benefit of using the grill.
Price at time of publish: $500
Dimensions (LxWxH): 57 x 33.5 x 53 inches | Cooking Area: 900 square inches | Weight: 180 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: 20 pounds
Related: The Best Charcoal Grills
George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
What We Love: Very lightweight, easy to set up, adjustable temperature
What We Don't Love: A bit on the smaller side, hard to clean
An electric grill will never produce the smoky flavor beloved by charcoal grilling enthusiasts. But if you live in an apartment or want a grill that you can throw in your car and tailgate with, an electric grill is your friend. More specifically? The George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill is your best friend.
This electric grill has nonstick grates, a removable stand, and a removable grill plate. Although it can cook up to a dozen burgers or so, it's on the smaller side, with only 240 square inches of cooking space. However, as far as grills go, it's also lighter in weight—21 pounds once assembled, which is helpful. The five heat settings let you adjust to the temperature you want.
Users love that it comes with a stand, so you don’t have to keep it on the floor. They also love that it's easy to assemble, although some users report that cleaning the grill can be difficult.
Price at time of publish: $100
Dimensions (LxWxH): 22.5 x 20.5 x 13 inches | Cooking Area: 240 square inches | Weight: 21 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Related: The Best Electric Smokers
Big Green Egg Large Kamado Grill
What We Love: Excellent heat retention, incredibly versatile, takes lump charcoal
What We Don't Love: Expensive, a little smaller than others in this price point
Though they originated in Japan, Big Green Egg popularized kamado grills in the United States, and this brand now has a huge following. Many competitors have come along since its inception, but the fact of the matter is that Big Green Egg is great at what it does.
Made of thick ceramic that retains heat and moisture, it uses lump charcoal, which lights quickly and burns hotter than charcoal briquettes. People use it as a grill, but that’s not all it can do. Cook meat on it low and slow to use it as a smoker, or grill a pizza or a pie in there to use it as an oven.
With only 262 square inches of space, this grill can accommodate larger cuts of meat, but that 20-pound turkey or seven racks of ribs need to be hung vertically. It's a bit smaller than what you might want if you're spending a grand on a grill, but if those aren't deal breakers, it's a great grill.
Price at time of publish: $999
Dimensions (LxWxH): 21 x 18.25 x 30 inches | Cooking Area: 262 square inches | Weight: 162 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Related: The Best Grill Pans
Weber 18-Inch Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill
What We Love: Lightweight, simple design, affordable
What We Don't Love: Assembly is a little challenging, instructions are in a video
Just as Weber’s kettle grill dominates the charcoal grill options, its portable grill is the best, too. At only 18 pounds, this baby is ready to get packed up in the car and go with you to the cabin rental, stadium parking lot, or park. It has a simple design and an affordable price tag.
The lid and bowl are enameled with porcelain, which helps with heat retention. There are 18 inches of cooking space on the steel grates, which lets you cook several burgers or amazing grilled bacon-wrapped stuffed hot dogs at once. The coated handle prevents burns, and an aluminum ash catcher should help with post-BBQ cleanup. Some users have reported, however, that assembly can be a little challenging, and Weber directs you to a video for instructions instead of including a manual, which might be an issue for some.
Price at time of publish: $98
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.5 x 19.7 x 19.7 inches | Cooking Area: 240 square inches | Weight: 18 pounds | BTUs/hour: N/A | Hopper Capacity: N/A
Related: The Best Portable Grills
Whether you're new to grilling or it's all old hat, it doesn't get any better than the affordable classic Weber 22-Inch Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. If you're looking for a great gas grill, the Weber Genesis II E-335 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill won't disappoint.
What to Look for in a Grill
There are two main fuel types for grills: gas and charcoal. Gas typically means propane, which you can regularly refill at hardware stores, but it sometimes means natural gas, which requires a hook-up near your grill. Charcoal uses charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal, both of which are sold in bags at places like grocery and hardware stores.
If that smoky flavor is synonymous with grilling for you, then you'll want to choose a charcoal grill. Charcoal takes longer to heat up, and it can be messy (hello, ashes), but it is the choice of barbecue purists. People who like gas grills like them because they get hot quickly and are cleaner.
If you’re looking to smoke your own meats, then it’s helpful to know that smokers use wood. Most woods free of resin will work; it depends on what flavor profile you're going for.
Keep your cooking goals in mind when choosing your grill. If you have a large family and need a grill that can handle a lot of food at once and maybe even multi-task with burners, you should look for a grill with at least 550 square inches of space. If you're a couple who just want to quickly grill some hot dogs at the park, you can get away with a much smaller surface area for cooking.
Similar to the cooking area, it's important to keep in mind the size of your space. If you’re working with a small backyard, you might want to think twice before getting the biggest grill on the market. If you're an apartment dweller with a balcony, you’ll want to put safety first and make sure you're allowed to use a grill on it (and if so, what kind). Lastly, if you live somewhere with bad winter weather, consider whether you'll need to store it (and if so, where) during the cooler months.
Some people want all the bells and whistles on their grill—Wi-Fi, side burners, and sliding drawers—while others just want a straightforward piece of equipment that will fire up their steak. Of course, how many features you get correlates with how much you will spend.
Possibly the most important feature to consider is the material of the grill grate because it comes into direct contact with your food. Grill grates are typically made of cast iron, stainless steel, or an enameled version of either. Cast iron is believed to be the best for heat retention and even temperatures, but it does require a lot of maintenance. Stainless steel heats up quickly and is lighter for portability but doesn't have great heat retention.
Of course, grilling isn’t as simple as just buying the grill itself. You’ll likely need to purchase some tools to help you achieve grilling greatness. Among the list of must-haves are a grilling spatula, tongs, an internal thermometer, a lighter, and a grill brush for cleaning. Other accessories that are fun, but not necessary, include grilling baskets (to help keep veggies separate) and a pizza stone. Some grills might include accessories, but most will have brand-specific accessories you can add on.
How do you light a charcoal grill?
The process for lighting a charcoal grill is fairly simple. "Pile the charcoal, stick in a piece of paper or cardboard, and light it up," says Chef Adrian de Leon of Tarbell's in Phoenix. "Blow air into it to let oxygen get into the fire."
Why are BTUs important for gas grills?
BTUs (British Thermal Units) help you figure out how powerful your grill is and to ensure that everything works properly. De Leon says that they are "important to measure the quality and quantity of how the grill is burning the gas." Keep in mind that if a gas grill has a high BTU number, that could translate to it burning through a lot of gas. Make sure the burners can be individually controlled, or you'll be wasting gas just for a small dinner of cheeseburgers.
How many years should a grill last?
Ideally, a grill would last as long as five to 15 years with proper care and maintenance; you might have to replace a part here and there. The reality is that many people replace their grills every few years for various reasons that have nothing to do with durability or performance. You might move, or your grilling interests might change, or you might want to add a portable grill or a smoker to your repertoire.
Can I leave my grill out all winter?
More people grill throughout the winter than you might think! If you want to use it all year round, you can leave your grill out. There's no reason to bring your grill into the garage or somewhere else (or maybe you don't have a suitable indoor storage space). As long as it's shielded from the elements with a heavy-duty protective cover, which most manufacturers sell, it's ok. If you have a place to keep it on your deck or porch that offers protection from bad weather, that's great, too.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
In addition to reviewing products for Simply Recipes, Lia Picard has written about food and design for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, SELF, and Wine Enthusiast. She’s also the proud owner of two grills and wants people to enjoy their summer cookouts as much as she does.
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