The Best Grill of Every Type, for Every Occasion

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Top Picks at a Glance

As more and more people flock to parks and their own backyards, outdoor barbecues are becoming all the rage again. So, what is the centerpiece of any barbecue? The grill. Nowadays there are countless variations of the outdoor grill and cater to everyone from novices to professionals. The sizes, heat sources, and extra features have gone through the roof in recent years, making the prospect of buying a new grill very daunting. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know before you make your next purchase.

Type of Grill

Grills are usually separated by the type of fuel used to generate the heat to cook the food. To this end there are gas and charcoal grills. However, a few other categories have arisen that merit their own consideration. We will be looking at gas, charcoal, Kamado, pellet, and portable grills.

Gas: Gas grills rely on liquid propane or natural gas to light under the vents to heat up the food. This is done by sparking an ignitor to light the gas and using dials to control the temperature during cooking. Take note that we mentioned two different types of fuel. A liquid propane model will take a portable propane tank that screws into the grill, but a natural gas model will require a natural gas connection piped out to the area the grill will sit, usually the backyard. Make sure you know which type of fuel you need before making your purchase. As you might expect, gas grills are very easy to control and very easy to clean. This not only makes them very convenient, but also makes them a smart choice for cooking both large quantities of food as well as thicker cuts of meat and poultry that will require long cook times.

Charcoal: Charcoal grills rely on lumps or briquettes of charcoal to ignite and cook the food. Unlike gas grills, you are relying on air flow to regulate the heat; the more air flowing over the coals the hotter the fire. To properly regulate the heat, you need to control vents and dampeners while cooking. When using a charcoal grill you are building and maintaining a fire, rather than letting gas flow for as long as necessary. During testing, charcoal is shown to reach its peak temperature in about 20 minutes after being lit. This means that you will have to add more charcoal while cooking if the meal takes longer than 20 minutes to prepare. All of this being said, charcoal is definitely more hands-on and messier to clean up afterwards. While it may sound like a big downside, grilling enthusiasts generally agree that charcoal gives a better flavor than gas, making charcoal grills popular with anyone looking to get the most authentic barbecue taste in their meals.

Kamado: Kamado grills also rely on charcoal to ignite but have a specific design that are generally a lot deeper and narrower than classic charcoal grills. They also have thick walls often made of ceramic material. These burn hotter due to more air flowing over the coals and limit this air flow to keep coals lit at a lower temperature for cooking meals slowly. This design has made Kamado grills very popular in recent years for slow-cooking meats evenly with less fear of charring.

Pellet: Pellet grills use pellets made of condensed sawdust as their main fuel source. This works by adding in pellets made up of flavorful woods such as hickory and mesquite into a metal bin called a hopper and igniting them with an electric ignitor. This creates heat and smoke to give a distinct flavor to your food. The pellet grill gets a lot of praise for combining the convenience of a gas grill with the flexibility of a charcoal grill to make a very easy-to-use grill/smoker. You can expect up to 12 hours of steady temperature, and most models use computers in the grill to maintain whichever temperature you dial in. This not only makes pellet grills a great choice for smoking foods over a long period of time, but also an easy choice for anyone that wants to plop food on the grill and then set it and forget it. The biggest potential downside to this style of grill is that most high-testing models will be expensive.

Portable: This category obviously has no distinct characteristics when it comes to design or fuel source but allow for grilling up delicious meals just about anywhere. We think portable grills deserve their own consideration and made our selection based on both effectiveness and ease of use.

Temperature Range

Grills can cook a huge variety of food, and different food requires different temperatures to cook through safely and evenly. For gas grills, the BTU (British Thermal Unit) per hour tells how much gas a grill uses as well as the amount of heat it can generate. You will want to consider models that have a high enough BTU per hour to handle certain foods that require higher heat. However, higher BTUs do not always equate to faster preheating or even cooking. There are many other factors to consider such as surface area, type of material, and quality of construction. Some models also feature infrared burners, which claim to burn hotter at lower BTUs for easier searing, but tests have shown that these do not always live up to their claims.

While a higher temperature is an important consideration, a low enough temperature is also necessary if you want to slow cook specific foods. This is especially important when looking at pellet or Kamado models.

Charcoal grills will mostly rely on size and depth to determine the temperature range. There will usually be an upper range to the number of coals that fit into the grill, and shallower models such as the barrel design will have a lower maximum temperature.

Evenness of Cooking

This is especially important to consider when cooking larger quantities of food but plays a factor in every scenario. Certain grills will have areas that burn hotter than others, which will of course change the way you cook your food. Look for models that test well on evenness of cooking, so that you’re not blindsided if you get a lower quality grill that chars your burgers to a crisp on one side while the others are ice cold.

Certain models will also advertise sear zones that will purposefully burn hotter to help you sear food when you first add it in.

There are also recipes that will call for indirect cooking, meaning they should be placed next to the flame instead of on top of it. This is easy to achieve with pellet and Kamado grills of course, but also easy with traditional charcoal grills since you can simply place the coals strategically to leave an area of the grill empty. For gas models you will have to place the food away from the burners or operate the knobs to leave one side unlit.

Size

Grills come in a large variety of sizes, which will impact the amount of food that can be cooked at once, as well as determine the price, fuel requirements, and overall space taken up. This is important to keep in mind if you’re planning on grilling large meals, as a grill too small will not be able to produce enough cooked food to feed a large party at the same time.

Ease of Use

While quality tests are important and fancy features might look enticing, your grill needs to be easy to understand and easy to operate. For these reasons we’ve given the most weight to user reviews when making our selections. So much of grilling comes down to getting the feel for your grill and enjoying yourself. If there is a grill that everyone loves to use but might be a few points behind the highest-rated model in testing, the fan favorite will still take the top spot.

Top Gas Grill: Weber Genesis II S-335

The easiest pick on our list, the Weber Genesis II S-335 takes the top spot for best gas grill you can buy in 2022. This model was at the top of almost every list we consulted. It performed great during quality testing and great with experts and reviewers. It has a respectable grill size with most tests claiming it can fit up to 20 burgers at once. The grill also includes many additional features that put this over the top: Multiple controlled burners including a 12,000 BTU side burner, utensil hooks, fuel gauge and built-in thermometer, fold-down warming rack, utensil hooks and storage cabinet.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Useful side burner
  • Useful features and accessories

Cons

  • Expensive

Runner-Up: Weber Spirit E-310

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Weber Spirit II E-310. With a far more affordable price-tag than the Genesis model, the Spirit also made the favorites list for many of the grilling experts and reviewers that considered it. Frequently cited as the best value gas grill, this model still boasts a respectable grill area and reviewers loved the easy and effective ignition system. If you’re looking for a solid gas grill without shelling out $1,000 then this is the model for you.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Great ignition system
  • More affordable

Cons

  • Not a lot of extra features
  • Still a little pricey

Top Charcoal Grill: Weber Original Kettle Premium 22”

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Weber has been making charcoal kettle grills since 1952, and their charcoal grills have stood the test of time for good reason. Charcoal models have added more and more bells and whistles throughout the years, and the Weber Original has added a few of its own. However, the real reason this gets the number one pick on our list is simply due to its fantastic performance. This model scored well across the board for cooking evenness, cleaning, and convenience.

The cooking grate is both easy to clean and has hinges on either side to easily add more coals; the new One-Touch cleaning system provides easy cleanup of ash and debris by sweeping everything into a high capacity, removable ash catcher; Temperature is a breeze to control without lifting the lid thanks to the easily adjustable dampers; The lid comes with an angled hook inside, allowing you to hang it off the side without placing it on the ground; And finally the hooks on the handle allow for easy access to your grilling tools.

For expert charcoal purists and newbies alike, the Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” is a no brainer.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Easy to use
  • Useful features
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Smaller cook area

Runner-Up: Dyna-Glo Heavy-Duty Extra-Large Charcoal

It was quite frankly very difficult to determine a widely agreed upon alternative to the Weber Original charcoal grill. There are simply so many models available that every list had completely different takes on their preferred grill. To this end we had to go with the Dyna-Glo Heavy Duty Extra-Large.

In contrast to the kettle style, this is a barrel style grill with a very large cook space of 535 square inches. The model uses cast iron grates and has a shelf space for storage at the bottom. Best of all this model had excellent test results across the board for everything from cooking evenness, indirect heating, cleaning, and convenience.

If you want to grill with charcoal for a large audience, the Dyna-Glo is a must have.

Pros

  • Excellent cook performance
  • Easy to clean
  • Accurate thermometer
  • Works well with indirect cooking and as a smoker

Cons

  • Small ash tray
  • Uses a lot of charcoal
  • Certain reports of rusting over time

Top Kamado Grill: Kamado Joe Classic II

Kamado grills have really risen in popularity since the Big Green Egg made its debut, and now the top brands have been consistently pumping out new models. Fortunately, most of the well-established models test great when it comes to cooking performance. Therefore, we once again turn to the reviews from experts and enthusiasts.

The answer is clear, the top Kamado grill is the Kamado Joe Classic II. This model was constantly praised for its ease-of-use, solid ceramic construction, and its large variety of useful features and accessories: It boasts a multi-level grate system for creating different temperature zones, an air lift hinge allowing easy opening and closing, two split-heat deflectors for direct or indirect cooking, and integrated thermometer for easy temperature checking. Best of all it received high marks for how easy it was for beginners.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Beginner friendly
  • Great craftsmanship
  • Useful features and accessories

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Long assembly time

Runner-Up: Char-Griller Akorn

Coming in an incredibly close second place is the Char-Griller Akorn. Frequently trading off the number one spot with the Kamado Joe Classic II, this model received much of the same praise for its ease-of-use and excellent performance. Take note that this is the non-ceramic model, making it lighter and far more budget friendly.

If you’re looking to dip your toes in the water with a Kamado grill without the big price tag, this is the model for you.

Pros

  • Great cooking performance
  • Beginner friendly
  • Relatively cheap model

Cons

  • Non-ceramic
  • Certain reports of rusting over time

Top Pellet Grill: Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill

Traeger popularized the pellet grill and they boast most of the top models on the market. Many of the top models had solid performance with indirect cooking and cooking evenness, so we once again relied heavily on user reviews.

We chose the Traeger Pro 575 simply due to its inclusion on the most expert grillers’ lists. In addition to the praise it received for its cooking ability, the model was singled out for its solid temperature control. The temperature range goes from 180 degrees up to 500 degrees, and can be controlled wirelessly through the Traeger smartphone app. While the temperature was easy to control, the 500 degree top end is a little low for searing.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Very simple to operate
  • Solid control over temperature

Cons

  • Not as good at searing

Runner-Up: Traeger Ironwood 885

The runner-up category was once again a very difficult selection, as the sheer amount of models on the market created a very wide range of opinions.

We decided to pick a model that yet again made an appearance on multiple recommendation lists but had some different features than the top pick. Our pick for the runner-up is the Traeger Ironwood 885.

This model comes with a much higher price-tag, but also includes a larger cook space and updated features such as a hopper door to easily switch out pellets as well as a control panel with a Super Smoke and Keep Warm setting. The grill can also be controlled through the Traeger smartphone app and comes with a meat probe.

Pros

  • Excellent cooking performance
  • Useful control panel
  • Larger cooking area

Cons

  • Expensive

Top Portable Grill: Weber Q 1200 Liquid Propane

When making our selection for best portable grill, our main consideration besides testing and performance was how portable the model actually was.

We found charcoal to hinder performance since you needed to bring charcoal alongside the grill and dispose of it afterwards, whereas a small container of liquid propane is far more portable. Additionally, certain “portable” models come with legs to stand up to waist height or larger, but these legs take up far more space than a model you can plop on the ground or in the back of a car.

With all of this in mind, the Weber Q 1200 Liquid Propane grill gets our pick for top portable grill. This model received solid marks for cooking performance, and many reviewers loved how lightweight it was while still having a decent sized cooking area.

Pros

  • Lightweight, very portable
  • Solid cooking performance
  • Larger cooking area

Cons

  • Slightly more difficult to clean than other models

Runner-Up: Coleman Classic Two Burner

The runner-up on our list goes to the Coleman Classic Two Burner. Making an appearance on multiple lists with the “best for camping” accolade, this model has 2 adjustable burners with built in wind panels on the sides, and is very light for packing away on a hike. On top of that, the model is far more affordable than many of the competitors, running around $50 to $80 at most retailers.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Cheap
  • Very light

Cons

  • Reports of handle being difficult to hold
  • Reports of burners sometimes only working on full power

Why Should You Listen to Us?

We don’t have state-of-the-art labs for testing or a fancy algorithm that can crunch mountains of data. Instead, we simply turn to the people that do! Our method is to look at every method, and we do this by researching the researchers and reviewing the reviewers. Did an expert rate something highly for its ease of use, but the user reviews say it was difficult? Did something get a low score on one site, but is at the top of the list on three more? The amount of options to choose from can be overwhelming, but the amount of reviews has become overwhelming too. We compare and contrast the data from the major reviewers and come up with our own take on what is right for you.

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