Grilling on the weekend is something of a national pastime in the US. Because so many people do it, there is a crowded field of products to choose from.
The best grill will always be the one that suits your cooking style and the budget that you’ve set for it, so we’ve spent a lot of time cooking on as many grills as we can to bring you some of the best options.
To help you find the grill that works best for you and your budget, we’ve rounded up some of the best models available right now. You can also check out our guide to pellet, charcoal and gas grill variants. After all, there are tons of different grill types to compare and consider, including gas grills, traditional charcoal grills, heat-loving kamado grills, infrared grills, portable grills and more.
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Even if you have specific requirements, there’s a perfect grill out there for you. When shopping, there are some factors to keep in mind, such as how much of an outdoor cooking area you have and whether you’ll want to buy a particular kind of cooking grate, a rotisserie kit, sear burner or other specialized equipment.
No matter what type of outdoor grill you choose, whether it’s an electric grill, charcoal grill, natural gas grill, pellet grill, infrared grill or one of the many other types, you should absolutely brush up on how to clean it (keeping that grilling surface clean with a grill brush and grill cleaner is essential in outdoor cooking) and the best accessories for grilling. Having the right techniques and tools of the trade will complement your perfect grill, turn you into a grill master extraordinaire and make your cookouts a breeze.
Best grills Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Weber’s $139 original kettle grill continues to stand the test of time as the best grill for cooking with charcoal. In our high-heat searing tests, Weber delivered the best balance of seared exterior and medium rare interior steak. The Weber gave us great, crispy grilled chicken skin and flavorful ribs, too.
Simple construction means there aren’t too many parts to assemble or too many features to handle while outdoor cooking. A vent on the lid controls air flow and a well-designed ash tray beneath the grill facilitates easy cleanup.
We tested the 22-inch model in black, but Weber also offers an 18-inch version of its original kettle design. There are certainly fancier and more expensive grills, but for a balance of affordability and quality, you can’t go wrong if you start cooking with this classic charcoal grill.
When I first moved out to the High Desert in California, I knew I wanted a grill that could handle enough food for a party. I also knew that moving is expensive, so it had to be affordable. I picked this heavy-duty grill up at Walmart and was instantly impressed with how well it was constructed. After putting it all together it had heft to all the materials that made me think it would stand the test of time, and it did.The easily removable ashtray made keeping the grill clean a breeze, and the thermometer on the top is very helpful for smoking meats, especially if you don’t want to keep lifting the lid and losing the smoke! Little touches like the bottle opener and the hooks under the shelf made it even more helpful, and I used this grill for nearly 6 years before I moved again. Even when I left, the new owners took it to use with their families.I have used a lot of really expensive grills, but this budget-friendly, sturdy workhorse is still one of my favorites.
James Bricknell / CNET
While the Flatrock is pricey for a flat-top griddle, its quality and usefulness can’t be overstated. Some foods just can’t be cooked on a standard grill — like tacos and smash burgers, and a flat-top griddle makes those foods a breeze. By the way, if you’ve never had a smash burger, you need one in your life. They’re amazing.
The Flatrock uses Traeger’s Pop and Lock system for accessories, so if you already have one of its grills, you can mix and match what you need. You will need to cure the Flatrock’s surface, but I found it an enjoyable experience to create just the right surface for my needs. I use the Flatrock more than any other grill right now, and it is my go-to for burgers and tacos.
Kamado grilling cookers, egg-shaped, ceramic, wood-burning grills that you may have seen or at least heard of, impart a delicious smoky flavor to everything they cook, and this is the best grill in the bunch. They can run low and slow for hours at smoker temperatures and sear at high heat levels that go well beyond the capabilities of gas grills. That’s hot enough to create true steakhouse steaks and real wood-fired pizza like a pro griller.
With a list price of $1,999 (if you can find it in stock), the Kamado Joe Classic III may have a steep luxury grill price tag, but this high end grill delivers plenty of cooking power for the money. That means lots of grilling accessories that don’t come standard with other grills, including the Big Green Egg. This kamado performs well, too. On our slow and low BBQ grill test, we adjust grills to 225 degrees F (107 C) and let go of the controls to see what happens. In this trial, the Joe demonstrated excellent temperature stability.
This Weber grill is pricey. There’s no denying that. However, if you’re serious about grilling and ready to invest in your outdoor kitchen, this liquid propane gas grill is absolutely a top choice for outdoor grilling.
With 513 square inches of primary cooking grate space powered by 39,000 BTUs, plus a fold-down warming rack and a 12,000 BTU side burner, you’ll never want for cooking space. Two cabinet doors hide a two-shelf storage area below the grill for utensils and supplies. And a fuel gauge lets you know how much fuel is left in your propane tank. The cast-iron grates retain even heat while cooking and are easy to clean.
The free standing Genesis II E-335 propane grill is also one of Weber’s iGrill 3 compatible models, along with other Genesis II models and the Spirit II line. This $121 accessory plugs into the front of the grill and houses up to four Bluetooth temperature probes. You can monitor what’s happening on this gas grill via the companion app for iOS and Android. And right now it’s included for free with the purchase of this grill.
In our testing, the Genesis II E-335 turned out seared burgers with a slightly pink center, crispy chicken skin with juicy meat and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Combine that great performance with Weber’s 10-year warranty on all grill parts, and your investment on this propane gas grill will have you set for years to come, even with heavy use.
We test different types of grills differently, but for most, we include a high heat test like searing steak or grilling burgers, a medium indirect heat test like grilling a whole chicken for more than an hour and a low and slow test with racks of ribs.
To determine what should be regarded as the best outdoor barbecue grill, we collect data like total cooking time, temperatures inside the grill and temperature inside separate pieces of meat. All that information helps us spot where grills might have hot spots or thermometer inconsistencies.
We use baskets to contain our burger patties during gas grill testing.
There’s also a fair amount of (read: so much) blind taste testing, lively debate and voting among our editors in addition to the data we gather about grilling temperatures and cooking times. You might think it would be more fun than work to eat delicious food while discussing the merits of a grill, and you’d be right.
If you’re interested in any particular method of testing, we’ve got that plus our full list of recommendations for cooking with kamado grills, portable grills and charcoal grills ready for your perusal. Happy grilling!
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