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Best Grills

By: Kelly Burgess on April 26, 2017

Editor's note:
Weber grills dominate in both the gas and charcoal grill categories in this update. We recommend the Weber Spirit series, but are keeping an eye on the newly revamped Genesis II series. If you need more versatility, look no further than the wildly popular Big Green Egg, which functions as a grill, smoker and oven.

Weber Spirit E-310 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 529 sq. in. Number of burners - 3 Heat source - Propane, natural gas

Best gas grill

Although it seems pricey at first glance, when it comes to quality for the price, experts and owners agree that the Weber Spirit E-310 is a great value. It's large enough to cook for about four people, and is easy to use and clean. It's also backed by a long warranty, good customer service and replacement parts are widely available. In other words: it will live to cook for years. It comes in both propane and natural gas version. See our full review »

Buy for $449.00
Nexgrill 720-0830H Gas Grill Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 627 sq. in. Number of burners - 3 Heat source - Propane

Best value gas grill

If you need a bigger grill, but don't want it to take too big of a bite out of your wallet, experts say you'll love the 627 square inch (total cooking surface) Nexgrill 720-0830H Gas Grill. It's both Recommended and a Best Buy at ConsumerReports.org, Good Housekeeping calls is "a steal for its price" and it gets good ratings from hundreds of owners as well. Features include four interior burners, a side burner and an attractive, stainless steel housing.

Weber Original Kettle Premium Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 363 sq. in. Fuel type - Charcoal Weight - 32 lbs.

Best charcoal grill

Experts agree: it's worth the $50 price bump to trade up to the Weber Original Kettle Premium from the Weber Original 22-inch Kettle (Est. $100) [B00004RALU] for the improved ease of use. And it's still a terrific value since Weber grills last for decades. It performs equally well at direct or indirect grilling, and is also a great smoker. The 22-inch Kettle's 363 square inch cooking space can handle a large quantity of food, and it's reported as easy to assemble, use and clean. See our full review »

Buy for $149.00
Big Green Egg
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 262 sq. in. Fuel type - Charcoal Weight - 162 lbs.

Best smoker

Reviewers say the Big Green Egg is one of the best -- and easiest -- smokers they've ever used, but it's not just a one-trick pony; this versatile oval oven also grills and cooks things like pizza to perfection. It's so popular with owners that its fandom call themselves "EGGheads." Experts say its extremely solid construction and excellent heat retention mean that you can maintain a consistent temperature for many hours, making it ideal even for challenging foods like pulled pork. The Egg comes in seven sizes. See our full review »

Camp Chef PG24 Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 570 sq. in. Fuel type - Pellets Weight - 113 lbs.

Best pellet grill/smoker

Some think pellet grills are the grill of the future, and one that's both affordable and gets great reviews from experts and owners is the Camp Chef PG24. Experts say it's simple and straightforward to use, and is a great value compared to other pellet cookers in its class. Best of all is the ingenious design that makes it easy to remove the ash from the fire pot. There's also a stainless steel meat probe included -- eliminating the hassle of using a separate thermometer.

Weber Smokey Joe 14" Charcoal Grill Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Cooking area - 140 sq. in. Fuel type - Charcoal Weight - 9.8 lbs.

Best portable grill

The Smokey Joe 14" Charcoal Grill is a scaled-down version of the iconic Weber Original Kettle Series, and reviewers say it works just as well as its big brother. Its light weight and small size make it highly portable, and it's equally popular with tailgaters, campers and those who live in homes or apartments with limited outdoor space. Many say they've had their Smokey Joe for many years and it cooks as well as it did on day one. Owners also say it's easy to use and clean. See our full review »

Buy for $29.99

Types of Grills

Gas Grills

Gas grills are the most convenient type because they heat so quickly and are easy to use: they feature knobs just like an oven's. Many gas grills also have temperature gauges so you know when it's at the optimal temperature (although they get terrible reviews for accuracy, so you might want to invest in a dedicated meat thermometer, which we cover in a separate report). Gas grills are versatile and can be used for both direct and indirect cooking, just like a charcoal grill -- except instead of fiddling with moving charcoal around, you just have to turn off the heat on one side for indirect. You can also buy smoker boxes that hold wood chips and can be set on the flames to impart a more traditional barbecue flavor to your food.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal takes longer to light than a gas grill and controlling a charcoal grill's heat isn't as simple as turning a gas grill's temperature dial. But enthusiasts say the extra trouble is worth it for the flavor that cooking over charcoal imparts. Most charcoal grills are versatile too, and can be used as smokers. Many charcoal grills are built to last for years or even decades.

Smokers

While charcoal grills can often be used as smokers, a dedicated smoker will maintain a low, slow temperature better than a grill. Most people think of smokers as strictly for large, tough cuts of meats like ribs or brisket, but, in fact, smokers are quite versatile -- you can even make pizza in a smoker. Many grilling aficionados say they never knew what they were missing until they added a smoker to their backyard.

Pellet Grills/Smokers

Although this type of grill is usually referred to as a pellet grill, experts say these actually are more appropriate for use as smokers, although manufacturers are tweaking the technology to make them more versatile. Pellets are an all-natural fuel source made from the byproduct of wood -- basically compressed sawdust, which is a more environmentally-friendly fuel source than charcoal. Some pellets are even flavored to further infuse flavor into the meat. Pellets heat up more quickly than charcoal and it's easier to clean up afterwards because pellets leave very little ash. However, pellets aren't as readily available as charcoal, cost more, and you need to be sure you get food-grade pellets. The pellets used in pellet stoves, which we cover in a separate report, are not suitable to use in pellet grills.

Portable Grills

These are available in both charcoal and gas models and are great for camping, tailgating or picnics -- or if you just have a limited outdoor space and need a small grill. In spite of their smaller size, portable grills should offer a relatively large cooking surface so you don't have to grill too many batches to produce a family meal.

Be safe when grilling

Because grills use fire or gas, it's not surprising that some models would end up on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's list of recalled products. If you're planning to buy a used model or shop at an outlet rather than a conventional retailer, it pays to check the CPSC list before buying. Also, it goes without saying that grills get hot on the outside when they're being used for cooking. Keep children and pets away from them and take basic safety precautions like wearing oven mitts and being careful not to touch hot surfaces.

Finding The Best Grills
Our Sources
"Gas Grills"
"The Best Charcoal Grill"
"Charcoal Grills"

Grilling is a popular activity year 'round and there is no shortage of professional testing and expert roundups of grills -- more for gas than charcoal models, though. ConsumerReports.org is a great resource in our search for the best gas grill because they have an exhaustive roundup of dozens of models of grills in every size, while Cooks Illustrated and TheSweethome.com test and compare charcoal grills. We also turned to expert reviews by barbecue professionals and enthusiasts in articles and on sites dedicated to grills and grilling, such as AmazingRibs.com and BBQGuys.com.

To get a feel for how each grill operates in real-world, long-term use, we also consulted thousands of owner reviews from users at retail sites, such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com. The result is our picks for the top grills and smokers for any lifestyle or budget.

Elsewhere In This Report
Recently Updated
Grills buying guide

What every best Grills has:

  • Provides easy access to the cooking space.
  • Resists rust.
  • Retains heat.

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