Whether you're a weekend warrior, or the barbecue master of your block, a grill is an indispensable tool for outdoor cooking. Smoking a brisket, searing steaks, roasting veggie kabobs, or just flipping summertime burgers all require a sturdy, reliable grill, and one that meets the needs of you and your guests. Some of the most important features to keep in mind when shopping for a grill include the fuel type, safety, capacity, construction quality, ease of use, and ease of cleaning.
“I think you have to look for the features you want in it because you can get really great grills for not a lot of money now.” says Lorraine Jones owner of Smokey Divas and 92nd Sauce in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Jones is third generation in the business, the granddaughter of Dorothy Turner of Oakland’s famed Everett & Jones Barbecue. “They make some great grills that are under $200. They are durable, tough, and can make great barbecue.”
There's no shortage of brands out there offering their own take on the classic charcoal, wood pellet, or gas grill design. If you're planning to grill this summer and don't know where to start, read on. We've outlined some of the best grill brands out there to help you get started on your grilling journey.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Weber
Fuel Types: Gas, Charcoal, Electric | Price Range: $89-$4,499 | Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Durability, these are made to last
- Ease of use for all levels
- Even temperature control
- Additional assembly required
Why we chose it: Weber weighs in as the brand that features quality, durability, and performance, made from high-quality materials.
When it comes to the best grill brands, there may not be another name that holds as much weight as Weber, and it’s easy to see why. Their commitment to quality, performance, and durability has made them a top choice among home cooks who want to grill. ”A Weber Kettle can do it all,'' says Tony Callaway of Callaway BBQ, an award-winning home barbecuer. “Whether it's grilling hotdogs or hamburgers; you can even smoke a brisket on that thing,” says Callaway.
Beyond their classic charcoal models and more modern propane and electric grill offerings, they have a strong following among avid home cooks and professional chefs alike, our experts included. “You can't go wrong with a Weber,'' says Jones. “They come in just about every price range. They take a beating, they're functional. they're easy to use, and they last a really long time.”
The model that continued to come up in conversation is the Original Kettle Charcoal Grill. For Andrew Hill of Hill Barbecue in Lubbock, Texas, Weber stands out for its durability and easy use. “Growing up, we cooked with a lot of charcoal so the Weber is good for that, and ease of use and availability make you can get it anywhere and not have to bother with special ordering a grill.”
One consideration is that Weber, like many brands on the market, is not domestically made, and for some, that may be a dealbreaker. For some models, you may need assistance with assembly, so prepare to get an extra set of hands. That said, Weber’s offerings are extensive at price points and styles that allow home cooks to get grilling at any budget.
Best Value: Char Broil
Fuel Types: Gas, Charcoal, Electric, Hybrid | Price Range: $37.99-$849 | Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Wide variety of styles
- Features that get you grilling fast
- Great for beginners
- Limited features depending on style
Why we recommend it: With a wide range of grills to get you cooking fast, Char-Broil provides the essential features to keep it simple and affordable.
Char-Broil grills are great for beginners and experts alike, so they got our pick for the budget grill brand. The availability and distribution are wide. They offer grills in all styles, from gas, charcoal, and electric as well as combination (electric and charcoal) units, so there's something for everyone, whether grilling in your backyard or cooking for a large group of people at a picnic. For Callaway, there's value in getting what you can afford to get you going. “When I first started, I didn't have a lot of money and realized you don't need a lot of money to get started grilling. There are many options on the market,” says Callaway. “The whole point is just getting out there and cooking.”
One consideration is that these grills may not have the durability one might get with other grill brands, so if you’re just getting into the grilling game, Char-Broil is a brand perfect for the beginner. These budget-savvy grills get you cooking fast, are simple to operate, and deliver consistent results.
Best Pellet: Traeger
Fuel Types: Wood Pellets | Price Range: $449-$3,899 | Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Pellet grills are simple to use
- Easy to clean
- Built from high quality materials that last
- Needs a power source to use
Why we recommend it: A leader in the category, these pellet grills are simple to use, easy to clean, and built from high-quality materials that last.
Traeger is the name to know in pellet grills, and with good reason. They are known for their quality, dependability, and durability. But there are a few reasons so many people say the Traeger is the best pellet grill brand. In its products, like the Traeger Pro Series 22 Wood Pellet Grill, Traeger has included all the features that make for an awesome experience, including an advanced digital temperature controller meat probe.
We love WiFi connectivity and smartphone integration to provide a level of control and convenience that keeps us cooking and entertaining with ease. One consideration with this brand is that Traegers must be plugged into an external power source to function. Because the features like the digital control, pellet grills auger, and hot rod igniter operate on electricity, these powerful grills aren't portable.
Best Ceramic: Kamado Joe
Fuel Types: Wood, Charcoal | Price Range: $399-$2,799 | Additional Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Great at retaining heat
- Three-tier system offers flexibility
- Durable materials, these grills are made to last
- Heavy, and a challenge to move
- Steep learning curve for beginners
- Ceramic may crack if dropped
Why we recommend it: Made for a grilling experience that'll knock your socks off, this ceramic grill is a true testament to duality and quality.
Kamodo Joe is a ceramic grill brand with designs based on traditional Japanese kamado grills, which have been around for centuries. Because of this history and their unique shape, these grills are sometimes called egg cookers or egg smokers.
Kamado Joe is known for its innovative approach to outdoor cooking. The ceramic body of these grills provides even heat distribution, which means that you can cook various foods with ease. The ceramic body also makes it possible to cook food at low temperatures without drying them out.
The three-tier cooking system offers half-racks of grill grates that can be adjusted to different heights. This flexible system means you can cook a variety of food directly above or below the coals, giving you unlimited options for the way you want to grill. Sear, roast, and smoke all at once.
Like all ceramic charcoal grills, there is a learning curve. The ceramic shell and dome lid create an airless environment that makes it impossible for flames to jump out of the grill and burn you. This means that you won't get as much smoke flavor in your food as you would with other charcoal grills. Ceramic is fragile, so if you drop the grill or lid, it could crack. But, take care of it, and your Kamodo Joe will be a long-lasting purchase.
Best Smoker: Texas Original Pits
Fuel Sources Charcoal Price Range: $799-$6,949 | Additional Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Made from high-quality materials
- Consistent cooking experience
- American made
- Not easy to move
- Learning curve for beginners
- Best for more experienced grillers
Why we recommend it: Heavy-duty smokers hand-forged in Texas with American steel, this brand is a high-end purchase that's worth the wait.
The Texas Original Pits are great smokers. These offset smokers are made from premium-quality materials, hand-forged in the U.S., and packed with features. The offset makes directing heat away from the firebox easy, preventing an uneven cooking temperature. In addition, this smoker has a large firebox that makes it possible to have steady smoke and temperature throughout a long cook.
The Luling Loaded Offset Smoker 20-inch Offset Smoker is one of the most well-designed smokers today, an example of its durability and longevity. While some smoker brands are cheaper and require modifications for the aspiring pitmaster, This Luling offers what you need and is made to last.
Some considerations are that there is a learning curve with these smokers. Some models from this brand have an extended shipping time, and what you get in quality, you sacrifice in portability for the home cook, with the Luling coming in at over 550 pounds. But, if you want a smoker that will last a lifetime, then this is the brand for you. They're pricey, but experts agree that the value is worth it. You will want to practice a lot before using them, but you'll be grilling like a pro once you get it.
Best Stainless Steel: Napoleon
Best Propane Grill
Fuel Types: Gas, Charcoal, Electric | Price Range: $59- $4,549 | Additional Grilling Accessories Available : Yes
What We Like
- Durable materials
- Easy to clean porcelain grates
- Multiple burner areas
- Needs two people to assemble
Why we recommend it: These stainless steel grills are perfect for those who want high-end features without sacrificing the convenience of gas grilling.
Napoleon grills are an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their backyard cooking experience. The build quality on these is evident as soon as you lift the lid on the grill. The stainless steel burners and porcelain-coated cooking grates provide reliable heat conductivity, making for excellent cooking results.
Napoleon grills are designed to produce consistent heat, making them perfect for every type of food. In addition, the solid stainless steel burners last longer and are resistant to rust, so clean-up is a breeze. From the first time that you fire up the Napoleon Prestige P500 RSIB Propane gas grill you will be impressed by the outstanding grilling ability and superb heat distribution, including infrared heating in the rear and side burner areas.
We highly recommend taking advantage of complementary assembly options if offered. While it can be assembled at home, most Napoleon grills are quite heavy, requiring two people to put it together. superior design and construction, and a unit that lasts a lifetime, Napoleon is the one for you. Plus, these grills are backed by a lifetime warranty.
Best for Camping: Coleman
Best for Camping
Fuel Types: Propane, Charcoal | Price Range: $34.99- $349.99| Additional Grilling Accessories Available: Yes
What We Like
- Portability, easy set-up
- One-touch start gets you grilling fast
- Great for beginners
- Replacing parts may be a challenge
Why we recommend it Campers love this heritage grill brand because they offer grills that are portable, easy to use and very affordable.
Coleman has the legacy of being one of the most trusted brands in camping. Their reputation is one of the best, and they have earned it. Their products have been designed with the user in mind, so whether you're a rookie camper or an experienced outdoors person, they offer options for any user level.
The Roadtrip 225 Portable Stand Up Propane Grill features a large grilling area with two burners, easy setup and breakdown, and is excellent for campers looking to get cooking quickly. We love the push-button ignition that lights the grill in one try—even when it's windy or rainy outside.
While easy use, portability, and availability are wins for this brand, one consideration with Coleman grills is the level of durability and longevity, as some models do not have replacement parts available.
So if you are on the market for a camping grill that will last you many years, this is not your best option. However, if you plan to take it along on a few trips a year, it may be worth the investment.
How We Chose These Products
When looking for a new grill or even just researching what makes a good grill, there is so much information available that it can sometimes be overwhelming. But, there are some key points that can really make a grill great, depending on what you are looking for.
In order to better understand the category, we spoke with experts to determine exactly what to look for in a grill brand. We talked with Lorraine Jones of Smokey Divas, Tony Callaway, a veteran home barbecuer who competes locally in the Bay Area, and Andrew Hill, co-owner of Hill Barbecue in Lubbock, Texas to get their insights on what they look for in a good quality grill brand. The above options represent seven of the best grill brands to choose from, each with something unique that makes them a great choice.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Grills
Grills can be fueled by charcoal, propane, electric, or pellets; some models are hybrids combining fuel methods. Charcoal grills are popular because they're relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Propane grills are more convenient because they don't require soaking wood chips or lighting charcoal. When choosing a grill, consider what you want to use as your primary fuel source.
Where you live is also a key factor. Callaway shared that for folks who might not be able to have a charcoal grill, whether due to landlord rules or other requirements, there are still plenty of options out there, and looking into something like an electric grill may be a solid alternative.
Another important consideration is your lifestyle. While charcoal is a favorite of many grilling professionals and foodies, it takes a while to heat up and may not be for everyone. “That’s not something you want to do on a weeknight when you come home from work,” says Jones. “You may want to go towards gas because it's easy to go outside, turn it on, throw a couple of steaks on the grill, make it, and shut it off.”
Choosing a grill with safety features that protect against fire hazards and prevent accidents is essential. "Anything cooking on any sort of grill should take proper precautions," says Hill. "Especially if you're not used to it. Anything with grease, once it hits the fire, can be bad as well." For example, look for a model with an electronic ignition system instead of an open flame starter; this will help prevent accidental fires caused by hot embers falling onto flammable materials such as leaves or grasses.
It also helps look for models with locking lids and built-in thermometers to know how well your food is cooking without opening the lid. Finally, make sure that any gas connections are securely fastened, so there's less chance of leaks causing an explosion or fire hazard when using.
If you're living in an apartment or condo and don't have much space, you'll want to keep your cooking needs in mind when selecting a grill. "What's your family size and what are you going to do with this grill? If you know your household size is two people, you don't need the Big Green Egg to make 15 racks of ribs!" says Jones. "If you don't entertain, or it’s just two people, then a bigger grill is probably a waste."
If you're looking to cook lots of meat at once, consider purchasing a bigger model instead of multiple smaller ones. Andrew Hill of Hill Barbeque says for those looking to experiment with advanced grilling techniques a larger grill could give you more room to play. “You can put your coals or your wood chips to one side, slowly bring your steak to a certain temperature and then add more wood to get a higher flame to finish them off.”
The quality of construction is important because it dictates how long your grill will last, and looking at its sturdiness will let you know if the grill will last for more than a season. "When I'm shopping for a grill, and I can go in person, I like to see if it's seamless when I touch it," says Jones. "If you find that a grill is flimsy or if the seams themselves don't seem like they fit together very well, it will not last very long.”
Ease of Use and Cleaning
This feature refers to how easy it is to set up and cook on your new grill and how easy it is to clean up afterward. If you are new to grilling, Lorraine Jones suggests finding a grill that best matches your skill level. “If you're a novice, I tend to look for grills that are easy to use,” says Jones. “If it ignites the first time you don't have to go through a lot of trouble dealing with issues.”
Grill materials can vary greatly depending on the type of grill you're looking at. For example, charcoal grills will typically be made out of some type of metal while gas grills will be made out of porcelain-coated steel or stainless steel.
It also depends on how you will be using the grill. As with anything metal, heat can affect it over time. "Anything metal that's made as sturdy as possible, because once you're adding heat to it, has the potential to warp," says Hill. "If you cook at a low temperature and then turn up the heat, Then they obviously are going to warp." Stainless steel can stand up to those high temperatures but is more expensive than other materials such as aluminum, which is less sturdy but cheaper.
Ask the Experts
Q: What is the most popular type of grill?
Gas grills are the most popular type of grill. They are very easy to use, clean, and maintain. Gas grills come in all shapes and sizes, from small portable models to large built-in models that can fit an entire meal for a crowd.
Q: What is the most reliable grill?
A stainless steel grill. “Stainless steel racks do degrade over time, but those types of grills are durable and easy to maintain.” says Jones. Stainless steel grills can last for decades without rusting or fading in color. They're also easy to clean and maintain, which helps ensure they'll last as long as possible.
Q: How long should a gas grill last?
Depending on how well the grill is taken care of, it could last quite a while. “If you take care of it, it can easily last up to 10 years,” says Jones. ”meaning you're gonna clean it, you're gonna cover it up”.
Q: Do I need to clean my grill after each use?
Yes, cleaning your grill after each time you use it is necessary. Our experts all agreed that making an effort each time is key for the safety and longevity of your grill. “The food and deposits you can leave on your grate can harbor bacteria, so you want to make sure you get that off every time you use it.”
Jones suggests taking a wire brush, removing any loose bristles off the grate before using it, and scrubbing your grill. Most grills come with a removable drip pan that catches the drippings from meats and other foods. You can remove this pan and wash it in hot soapy water. Cleaning your grill before storing it is also helpful because it reduces the chance of mold or other unwanted growth forming on its surfaces.
Jones also suggests that you clean your grill at the start and the end of the grilling season. “When you pull it out of storage, getting it ready to start the summer: clean it. You might have cleaned it at the end of the winter before you put it away, but give it one more cleaning before you start using it.”
Q: Should I cover my stainless steel grill?
Yes, you should cover your stainless steel grill. “The weather is the main problem, '' says Callaway. “Whether it's hot, cold, or raining, it's just gonna hit your stainless steel grill. “As long as you keep it covered, you'll be fine and it will make it last as long as possible”
Covering a grill can be beneficial against rust, but it also protects the finish from being damaged by the elements, and not just rain. “I live in the woods and have to worry about pine needles, sap from trees, birds, those types of things,” says Jones. “So you want to protect it from not just moisture and rain.” If you are going to store a stainless steel grill for an extended time, we recommend that you cover it with a sheet or tarp to protect the surface from dirt, debris, and moisture.
When it comes to grills, there are many brands out there claiming that they are the best. But it comes down to what's most important to you: cost, quality, or durability? There is no wrong answer when you're standing in the aisle of a store. As far as we're concerned, however, Weber is a front-runner in all three aspects. And while they may not be the least expensive option around, they are worth every penny.