Almost any food tastes better when it’s grilled. The smoky flavor and high-temperature-sear that a charcoal grill can kiss choice cuts of meat with are the stuff culinary dreams are made of. Grilled chicken, veggies or salmon with a convenient, easy-to-use gas grill? Perfection. No matter whether you’re buying your first grill or looking to upgrade your outdoor cooking your barbecue and grilling experience, our extensive research and testing have uncovered the best grills to suit your needs.
For those that adore the ease and consistency that comes from cooking with propane, Weber’s Spirit II E-310 offers the perfect balance of build quality and features, at a reasonable price. Looking to grill on the go? Weber's Q 1200 portable gas grill or Weber Jumbo Joe charcoal grill could be just the thing. If you prefer the rich, smoky flavor that results from cooking over charcoal, the Napoleon NK22L-LEG-2 Charcoal Kettle Grill or Smokey Joe Premium our pick for full-sized and portable charcoal grills, will make you happy. Looking to enjoy the incredible versatility that comes from cooking over a kamado-style grill? You'll want to check out Big Green Egg's Large Egg Kamado Cooker. Finally, if you live in a place where cooking over an open flame is frowned upon, we’ve got you covered: The George Foreman GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Grill is compact, runs off of electricity and sized to fit smaller outdoor areas or even in the corner of your kitchen.
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The Weber Spirit II E-310 may be the brand’s entry-level grill, but it didn’t act like a lesser product when it came to performance. It was our favorite grill to use on every test, producing 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—we created indirect heat by turning a single burner on high heat, then heating the grill to 300 degrees; and when we turned all the burners on low, it hit an impressive 400° F (which was 25 to 50 degrees hotter than some of the higher BTU grills we tested).
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 was also one of the few grills that had hooks on the side for hanging your grilling tools, and the Weber lids were 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 of the other grills, the Weber was 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 was our favorite charcoal grill in our test group. It aced our cooking tests 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 we figured it out it stayed 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 came to cooking on the Napoleon, we had no complaints. It proved capable of holding 12 to 13 burgers at a time and created a gorgeous overall char when we cooked over direct heat. Raking the coals for indirect heat was nearly effortless; its wire cooking grate had hinges on each side that allowed us access to the briquettes underneath. Additionally, the vents on the top and bottom of the grill were easy to open and close. All of this worked 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 we finished our tests, the Egg had more charcoal left than any of the other grills, ready to relight the next time we wanted to use it.
The Large Egg we tested had an 18-inch grill space that could fit about a dozen burgers. It excelled 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 loved cooking on the Egg, and its vent system had the best temperature control of any charcoal grill we tested. It is large and heavy, but the wheels make it easy to move around and it locks firmly in place. Unfortunately, we weren’t stoked about the lack of an ash bucket. Cleaning out the spent ashes from the bottom of the grill was a bit of a chore and required a proprietary tool. It also took significantly longer to cool down than the rest of grills and the body of the grill stayed 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 $850).
During testing, the Weber Q 1200 immediately pulled away from rest of the portable grills we cooked with. It has cast-iron grilling grates, giving us beautiful, well-defined grill marks on the burgers we cooked on it. Although it only has one burner, it was 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 proved 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 (we easily fit six burgers on its surface,) and packs up compact enough to disappear once your meal is done.
When it comes to features, the Q 1200 was one of the few portable grills we tested that had side tables that were 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! That light weight came in handy when it came to carrying the grill, and its handles were 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 was the small features that made the Weber Jumbo Joe stand out from the competition. Most of the charcoal grills we tested had no problem cooking delicious, smoke-infused burgers and chicken drumsticks, but the quantity of food they could handle was minimal. The Jumbo Joe, with its 240-square-inch cooking surface, allowed us to cook in quantities that rival a full-sized grill. It could easily fit ten burgers, a few racks of ribs, or a whole chicken, and it offered 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 put it over the top, giving us 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 were easy to clean, as was the large ash catcher bucket clipped in underneath the grill. The grill’s vents were 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 have made it bulky and hard to transport, Weber’s round, kettle design kept 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.
By now, George Foreman is more famous for his eponymous line of indoor grills than his boxing record. Not content with conquering countertops, Foreman also makes an indoor/outdoor model that’s perfect for a patio or small balcony.
It’s not as robust as other electric models, and it doesn’t heat up as quickly—but for $85, this easy-to-store grill with an included stand is perfect if you can’t cook with gas or charcoal where you live. You can even bring it inside in the wintertime for grilled flavor no matter what the weather is like outside.
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. 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.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.