Almost any food tastes better when it’s grilled. Whether you prefer the smoky flavors of a perfectly seared steak that can only come from a charcoal grill or love the convenience of grilling chicken, veggies, or salmon with an easy-to-use gas version—like our favorite the Weber Spirit II E-310(available at Amazon for $639.00).
If you're more serious about your outdoor grilling, we have recommendations and reviews of smokers and kamado grills, too.
And if you're apartment-bound and longing to grill outside, but can't, we've even found the best indoor grills.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
Best Gas Grill
Weber Spirit II E-310
The Weber Spirit II E-310 may be the brand’s entry-level grill, but it won't act like a lesser product when it comes to performance. It's our favorite grill to use, and produces perfect sear marks on burgers, evenly cooked chicken, and picture-perfect asparagus. It can’t hold quite as many burgers as our upgrade pick, the Weber Genesis II E-310, but the 18 or so burgers that do fit will be cooked evenly to perfection.
This grill is proof that BTUs are not the end-all-be-all in grill choice. Its 30,000 BTUs (or, 71 per square foot) cranks out an impressive amount of heat— it hits an impressive 400°F (which is 25 to 50 degrees hotter than some of the higher BTU grills we found).
We also loved some of the aesthetic features, and the grill itself felt well put together and built to last. They really thought of everything with this grill: a side-mounted propane tank with a gas meter, sturdy side tables, and grill grates that fit together perfectly. It's also one of the few grills that has hooks on the side for hanging your grilling tools, and the Weber lids are the only ones designed to vent smoke away from tunneling into your face. As a bonus, this grill is also iGrill3 (a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer that mounts permanently to the grill table and can send grilling alerts and data right to your smartphone) compatible. As compared to some other grills, the Weber is significantly easier to build, too. Although there were a lot of little parts to put together, the instruction manual was clear-cut and easy to understand.
The Weber Spirit II E-310 isn’t the cheapest grill on the market, but it’s absolutely worth the price. When you take all the factors into account—performance, ease of use, and aesthetic appearance—this grill was a no-brainer for our choice as Best Gas Grill.
The Napoleon Charcoal Kettle Grill is our favorite charcoal grill in our group. It aces cooking tasks and its design features set it apart from the competition. For starters, it sits on four legs instead of the standard three that most kettle grills come with; making it both sturdy and stable. Its ash bucket is larger than most and has a wide-grip handle that keeps your hands nice and clean as you remove the ashes. Clipping the ash bucket into place was a bit tricky at first, but once you figure it out it will stay put without problem. Finally, there’s the grill’s wide, round rim that rests in the middle of the coal bed while you’re cooking. Initially, we thought this rim was designed to keep the briquettes out of the center of the grill. However, we quickly realized that the rim’s metal heated up along with the coals, distributing the heat evenly throughout the grill.
When it comes to cooking on the Napoleon, we have no complaints. It proves capable of holding 12 to 13 burgers at a time and creates a gorgeous overall char when cooking over direct heat. Raking the coals for indirect heat is nearly effortless; its wire cooking grate has hinges on each side that allows access to the briquettes underneath. Additionally, the vents on the top and bottom of the grill are easy to open and close. All of this works together to create an ideal heat distribution for indirect heat cooking. Being able to control the airflow is important when cooking over charcoal; the bottom vents control the heat of the fire, while the top exhausts hot air and smoke out of the grill.
If you’re looking for a charcoal grill that can do it all—grill burgers and steaks, smoke ribs and pork shoulders, or bake bread and pizza—and budget isn’t a concern, you might want to consider the Big Green Egg. Kamado-style grills like the Egg use charcoal as their fuel, but they have thick, ceramic sides which store a ton of heat. Since most charcoal grills aren’t made from ceramic, this feature makes kamado grills stand out because they can radiate heat around the food as you cook. The ceramic sides also create an added efficiency with the coals themselves; after use, the Egg had more charcoal left than any of the other grills on our list, ready to relight the next time we wanted to use it.
The Large Egg has an 18-inch grill space that can fit about a dozen burgers. It excels at both high- and low-temperature tests, cooking up burgers with perfect grill marks and golden brown, crispy-skinned chicken drumsticks. The bonus with the Egg is you can also use it as an induction oven to cook bread or turned into a smoker with the purchase of the ConvEGGtor, a ceramic plate that facilitates indirect heat cooking.
Overall, we love the Egg, and its vent system has the best temperature control of any charcoal grill we've found. It is large and heavy, but the wheels make it easy to move around and it locks firmly in place. Unfortunately, we aren't stoked about the lack of an ash bucket. Cleaning out the spent ashes from the bottom of the grill is a bit of a chore and requires a proprietary tool. It also takes significantly longer to cool down than the rest of grills we chose and the body of the grill stays super hot to the touch, something you’d want to keep in mind as you’re planning your grilling sessions.
Unlike the other grills on this list, the Big Green Egg isn’t available at national chain stores. It’s available at most Ace Hardware stores, but they’re usually sold through individual dealers. The prices tend to vary by dealer as the Egg is often sold as part of a package deal or a special. Find a dealer near you to get the price of the Large (it was available at my local store for a price tag of $850).
The Masterbuilt Thermotemp XL Propane Smoker is—by far—our favorite smoker to use. It's the very definition of set-it-and-forget-it: Hook up the propane, turn the dial to the proposed temperature, hit the ignition switch, and away you go. An internal sensor adjusts the flame to maintain the target temp, all without any fiddling around to keep it there. Not only that, but the wood chip bin that infuses the smoke into your food is large enough to hold two hours of chips at a time. That means you don’t have to run outside to keep feeding the smoker every hour, freeing you up to hang with your guests at the party, stay inside and watch football, or do anything else your heart desires while your food cooks.
When it comes to overall construction and design, we're pretty impressed. The smoker has four removable racks, which can hold six turkeys, eight racks of ribs, or eight pork butts. It also looks gorgeous with a large viewing window, but not at the expense of functionality. The two doors latch firmly into place, and we love how the handles don't get hot to the touch during use. The top door gives you access to the food, and the bottom door opens to the water pan and wood chip bin, allowing you to refill the chips without releasing the heat in the smoking chamber. They really thought through the process while designing this smoker—the propane hookup even includes a tank fuel level gauge so you know how much propane is in the tank. Overall, this thing is solid and sturdy, and we have no reason to believe this smoker wouldn’t last five years or longer with proper care.
That’s not to say there aren't a few hiccups along the way. This smoker takes over an hour to build with a lot of frustrating, unclear steps. It's so complicated, we accidentally omitted an essential part of the ignition hookup. When we got ready to season the smoker (turning it to high heat for an hour to remove any odors and coatings from the production process), the smoker wouldn’t stay lit. Luckily, that provided the opportunity to test Masterbuilt’s customer service, which turned out to be top-notch. They walked us through the troubleshooting steps, and the smoker was up and running in no time at all.
In the end, the Masterbuilt created a smoke-flavored, super tender brisket that tasted better than the competition. Easy to use and it created a delicious product? Yup, that’s why the Masterbuilt Thermotemp XL Propane Smoker was an easy choice for our pick for Best Overall.
The Weber Q 1200 immediately pulls away from rest of the portable grills we found. It has cast-iron grilling grates, giving beautiful, well-defined grill marks on burgers. Although it only has one burner, it's able to deliver a surprising amount of heat and consistently at that: heat distribution across the Q 1200’s 189-square-inch cooking cast iron grilling grates proves even enough to allow for great grilling, cooking food evenly over its entire grilling surface. This is a grill that offers enough space to cook for a small crowd and packs up compact enough to disappear once your meal is done.
When it comes to features, the Q 1200 is one of the few portable grills we found that has side tables that are sturdy enough to hold a plate full of food. The grill’s plastic side tables fold in to keep the grill compact for portability, although you will want to let the grill cool down before stowing them away to keep them from melting. It’s a good idea to stow the tables when the grill isn’t in use; these grills are light enough that the wind can catch the tables and blow the whole thing over! This light weight comes in handy when it comes to carrying the grill, and its handles are cool enough to hold even after cooking over high heat.
Consistent heat distribution for even cooking
Side tables are sturdy enough to hold a full plate
It's the small features that make the Weber Jumbo Joe stand out from the competition. Most of the charcoal grills we found have no problem cooking delicious, smoke-infused burgers and chicken drumsticks, but the quantity of food they can handle is minimal. The Jumbo Joe, with its 240-square-inch cooking surface, allowed quantities that rival a full-sized grill. It can easily fit ten burgers, a few racks of ribs, or a whole chicken, and it offers enough room to arrange the coals into an indirect heat pattern. This allows for heat control which, as every great outdoor cook knows, makes for fabulous outdoor cooking. The locking lid really puts it over the top, giving the user an easy handle to transport the grill. We felt safe enough moving the grill while it was still hot, but you’ll want to close down the bottom vents to prevent coals from spilling out, just in case.
As with its larger Weber kettle grills siblings, the Jumbo Joe’s stainless steel grates are easy to clean, as is the large ash catcher bucket clipped in underneath the grill. The grill’s vents are well located and easy to open and close. Being able to control the airflow is important when cooking over charcoal; the bottom vents control the heat of the fire, while the top exhausts hot air and smoke out of the grill. And while it’s size may make it bulky and hard to transport, Weber’s round, kettle design keeps it from being intimidating.
For the price, you really can’t go wrong with this portable charcoal grill. It’s large enough to use as your primary grill if you have a small outdoor space and portable enough to bring with you to tailgating events or camping. Because of that, we have no hesitation in naming it our Best Portable Charcoal Grill.
Although large and pricey, the Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe offers a lot of cooking options for your money. In addition to being used as a closed grill, the two sides open up to form two separate surfaces for those times when you want to increase the number of burgers you can grill at once from six to 12. The plates are reversible with a grill pattern on one side and a flat surface on the other. With both sides open and the flat surface in place, the Griddler Deluxe turns into a griddle, although there is a gap between the two halves that limits the number of pancakes you can cook at once. But, all in all, this is a very versatile product.
The Griddler browns quickly and evenly. Longer cooking items like paninis and chicken breasts will come out crispy with beautiful grill marks. Using the high heat sear function, burgers are grilled perfectly.
In addition, this Cuisinart has lots of special features. You can select different temperatures for each plate, which is particularly helpful when it’s in the open position. You can cook the bacon on medium on one side and scramble the eggs on low on the other. During preheating, the knobs glow red, then change to green when the selected temperature is reached. An innovative lever on the side of the machine allows you to adjust the distance between the two plates so that you can avoid crushing your burgers as well as press down on a grilled cheese sandwich, but not so hard that all the cheese oozes out. The plates are particularly easy to snap in and out and they can be washed in the dishwasher. In the back of the grill, a drip tray slides into place. Not only is the manual thorough, it contains recipes that you actually want to prepare.
In the eternal debate over whether a gas grill or a charcoal grill is better for outdoor cooking, there is no wrong answer. If you’re cooking your food on the grill instead of inside the house, it will capture that beautiful charred essence and smoky flavor from cooking over open flames. You likely already have strong opinions on the topic of gas versus charcoal and we’re not here to change your mind. If you’re still on the fence on the subject, however, here are the pros and cons of using each type of grill to help you choose the right one for you. Let’s talk gas grills, first.
Gas grills are more convenient than charcoal grills. Some even include a side burner to let you cook a sauce or something separate from the direct grilling surface. That they don’t use charcoal as fuel not only makes a gas grill easier to clean (no ash!), but it also cuts down its initial heating time. That gas grills come equipped with electric starters or a spark wheel to ignite its gas burner helps to get you cooking faster than charcoal users can manage, as well. It’s easy to easier to control the heat while you’re grilling with gas than it is when using charcoal; to adjust the heat up and down, simply twist a knob instead of fiddling around with hot coals. It is a bummer when you run out of propane, though, so we love these newer grills that have a handy meter right on the side of the grill.
Charcoal grills, on the other hand, are significantly less expensive than their gas counterparts. Many people prefer the flavor of cooking over a charcoal grill, as the briquettes they use for fuel infuse smokey elements into the food. The coals created by burning those briquettes can burn hotter than propane or natural gas, which can be a pro or a con: you’ll get a serious sear on your food if that’s what you’re going for, but it’s also easy to burn your food over 700° F temperatures.
What About Electric Grills?
While these appliances are called “grills,” they heat your food using a coil instead of flames. That makes them closer to an electric griddle than a grill. However, if you want to grill indoors or live somewhere that cooking over an open flame is frowned upon, an indoor grill will do the trick. Pro tip: in order to use an electric grill, you need an accessible power outlet (a feature that not all decks or patios have), or a high-powered extension cord.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.