With warm weather still in effect, our thoughts turn to easy outdoor meals with friends and family. There's nothing as relaxing as time in the yard casually tending burgers and veggies while loved ones talk, laugh and hang. What makes things even easier, and more enjoyable? The best grill. If your grill has seen better days but you're not sure where to begin choosing a new one, we're here for you, with great advice and smart selects from industry pros.
Weber Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Liquid Propane Grill$499
Weber Genesis E-335 Liquid Propane Gas Grill$1,319
Char-Broil Performance Series 4-Burner Gas Grill$290
Traeger Pro Series 34 Electric Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, Bronze$600
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill$251
Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill$139
Char-Griller E6520 AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill Cart$340
Weber Performer Premium Charcoal Grill$499
BakerStone 9152403 Portable Gas Pizza Oven$300
Before you get lost in the imagined sizzle and aroma of a steak, take a minute to assess your needs: “Think about how you’ll use a grill — are you cooking mainly burgers, steaks and hot dogs, or do you want more versatility?" says world BBQ champion Melissa Cookston, owner of Memphis BBQ Company. "Would you prefer gas or charcoal? Are you cooking just for the immediate family? There are so many choices in grills today, it's easy to get drawn in by some fancy feature that you'll never need.”
It's important to be realistic. Says Jonathan Fox of Atlanta’s Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “What is your skillset on a grill: novice, hold-your-own or the next great meat influencer? These are some great questions to ask.”
If you're planning to use your grill for regular, weeknight cooking, go for a gas grill that can fire up and be ready to go in five to 10 minutes, says Fox. If a grill that doubles as a smoker is a dream, a ceramic grill is a great option—but know that it’ll take 45 minutes to an hour to heat up (not great on a weeknight). Charcoal grills fall somewhere in the middle, for heat-up time, and can add a nice smoky flavor, says Fox.
You don’t need to buy the priciest grill out there, says Fox, but more expensive grills do tend to last longer. Here are some smart picks to choose from. Find your favorite, and spring into this beautiful weather with easy, breezy meals — and no mess in the kitchen.
Best Propane Grills
The two side tables offer enough room to prep, plus the grill works with a 20 lb. propane tank. It's the perfect grill for small spaces. "Weber has always been my favorite grill maker but this is the best Weber grill I have ever purchased," raved one buyer. "I am very impressed with the quality and performance of this grill. I live alone and grill a lot, I will seldom use both burners, but I believe this grill would easily suffice for a family of 5 or 6. Offset oven cooking or smoking is a breeze. The grill holds the temperature extremely well. I love the quality, simplicity, and efficiency of design... I am 74 years old and have owned many a grill but finally found a grill that I love."
The extra-large grill has enough cooking surface space for a party — there's even a second layer for roasts and more, as well as side burners for sauces and sides. The sear zone is perfect for getting those mouth-watering sear marks on steaks and burgers, too. Says a diehard fan: "We've used nothing but Weber grills in our lives and when it came time to replace my grill, I looked to no one else but Weber. I have to say that after a few days of using it, I'm in love. It heats up quickly and I made everything from grilled green beans to burgers to steaks and hot dogs for my family. The heat was evenly spread out and I could follow directions on the internet on ideal timings for each and every type of food..."
"I bought this as a Christmas present for my husband. He said it was easy to assemble. So far, this grill works great for the price. Would definitely recommend," wrote a satisfied customer.
Best Pellet Grill
The Traeger Pro Series 34 infuses food with wood-fired flavor. The best part, of course, is the ultra-precise temperature control. The controller allows for 15 degrees Fahrenheit adjustments, so your meats come out exactly how you like them. "We’ve had the grill only a few weeks, but we’ve cooked delicious ribs, brisket, pork shoulder and a whole chicken," reports a shopper. "We love this grill, and all the meals have been delicious. We love experimenting with different rubs. We bought this one instead of the next-generation model that was several hundred dollars more...Very happy with the whole experience so far. Thank you, Traeger."
Best Electric Grill
This small-but-mighty grill has enough cooking surface space for up to 12 burgers, plus the electric TRU-infrared system offers even heat distribution (read: fewer flare-ups). "I love this electric grill," said one Amazon shopper. "Great for cooking on a deck. Soak some smoked wood chips and you'll never think about a charcoal grill again. So easy to clean and maintain."
Best Charcoal Grill
Reports one avid griller: "Easy to assemble, easy to use, and easy to clean. Lightweight and portable. Great way to grill either directly or indirectly. I use indirect heat to smoke chicken and direct heat to grill burgers. When I’m in a hurry and do not want to wait for the coals to burn down, I use another grate and elevate it with a couple of bricks so that the meat doesn’t burn. Been a great purchase so far!"
"Best BBQ meats I've ever had!" raves a fan. "I've been BBQing for several decades and always used firewood or propane for grilling. My son told me to get one of these Kamado charcoal grills and I will say that it makes THE BEST STEAK I've ever had in my life! Love the way you can BBQ in a hot 700 degree cooker or a slow 200 degree level. So flexible and so far I have loved everything I have cooked on it. I love the fact that it has one big side shelf instead of two smaller ones on each side."
"This is my second Performer. Had the first one for 15 years and will be handing it down. I can't imagine owning a charcoal grill without the Weber name on it. We grill on average 3 to 4 days a week, year round. Built to last!" wrote a Weber devotee.
Best Pizza Oven
Wrote a super fan: "By far the best bang for the buck...Friends of mine have considerably more expensive pizza ovens and this one cooks as well as any of them. The single greatest purchase we have ever made!!!"
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.