The Best Grills for Every Outdoor Setup, According to Our Tests

Our favorites are the key to better burgers and way beyond.

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Best Outdoor Grills

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Few aromas are more enticing than those that carry over from a hot grill. Those juicy burgers, seared steaks, and beautifully charred vegetables hold such promise of flavor; it’s no wonder grilling enthusiasts start snapping their tongs as soon as the weather shifts from wintry drab to hopeful springtime. There are several inevitable questions for folks considering a grill purchase. Gas or charcoal? Portable tabletop or standing with wheels? Smoking capabilities for big brisket projects or straightforward propane for weeknight meals? Luckily, we have an answer for every grilling preference, thanks to getting our hands dirty (and clothes smoky) to find the very best.

Over the past year, we've tested almost every variety of grill there is to offer — charcoal, pellet, gas, and more —  and we've identified our favorites in eight key categories. Our picks scored top marks for performance, reliability, and relative value. Ultimately the best grill for your backyard (or campsite) will be a personal choice. We've included all the details on our testing and factors to keep in mind to help you choose your next grill, no matter your needs, skill level, and commitment to those perfectly charred chicken wings and rib eyes.

Best Charcoal Grill

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill 22-Inch

Person grilling meat on Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill 22-Inch

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

  • This grill is beginner-friendly and a top performer, thanks to superior searing and heat retention.

  • Assembly can be tedious, so plan to spend a little time putting this grill together.

The Weber Performer Deluxe is our top pick for charcoal grills thanks to its ease of use and convenient mobility. We love how easy it is to roll this grill around thanks to its four wheels, and the sturdy design inspired plenty of confidence in its safety and heat retention.

The stainless steel grates yielded nicely defined grill marks on our test steaks — with no troublesome sticking when it was time to flip the meat. Cleanup is a breeze with this Weber, too; just use the control rod to sweep ashes into the ash catcher with the damper blades, then wipe down surfaces as you would with any other cooking appliance. The auto-start option makes this a great grill for beginners, but its performance and convenience will appease professionals and avid grillers alike. For accessibility, the right price, and everyday use, this Weber is the overall best option.

Price at time of publish: $549

  • Fuel Type: Charcoal
  • Cooking surface: 363 square inches
  • Dimensions: 8 x 48 x 43.5 inches
  • Grate material: Stainless steel

Best Gas Grill

Weber Genesis E-325s 3-Burner Gas Grill

Person grilling onions on Weber Genesis E-325s 3-Burner Gas Grill

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

  • It's an intuitive grill with a generous cooking capacity, and given the gas ignition it's a cinch to start up.

  • Initial assembly may take the better part of an hour, but once it's set you're good to go.

Weber grills of all types are great buys, and the Weber Genesis three-burner E-325S (our favorite gas grill) got rave reviews from our tests, with its ability to cook anything and its large capacity that leaves space for grilling multiple ingredients at once. During hours of grilling, heat levels remained nice and even with the lid closed, while the center stayed the hottest with the lid open — creating useful “cool” zones for lower-temperature cooking needs.

The porcelain-enameled cast iron grates in this Weber help minimize sticking while creating those coveted grill marks — it even caramelizes onions better than other grills we tried. Overall, this grill earned high marks for how intuitive and user-friendly it is, along with its expansive 994 square-inch cooking surface. Some home cooks might feel sticker shock at the price, but we feel it's a great investment for anyone planning on grilling at home for years to come.

Price at time of publish: $999

  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Cooking surface: 994 square inches
  • Dimensions: 35.5 x 30.75 x 31 inches
  • Grate material: Enameled cast iron

Best Combo Grill and Smoker

PK Grills Original PK300 Grill and Smoker

  • You just can’t beat the versatility of a combo grill, and this model can do it all. 

  • This one isn’t ideal for beginners and takes some setup time to get going.

For ultimate heat retention and versatility, we found that the PK Grills PK300 is the ideal grill. We felt confident we could sear, bake, smoke, and roast with this heavy-duty vessel. Use it as a regular charcoal grill, or set it up low and slow to smoke a pork butt to shreddable perfection. While the cooking surface area isn’t the most generous on our list at just 300 square inches, once you’ve worked through the learning curve of establishing temperature with dampers, you’re pretty much free to do as you please over the coals. While we wouldn't recommend this one for grilling newbies, experienced grillmasters will be delighted by the capable PK300.

Price at time of publish: $525

  • Fuel Type: Charcoal
  • Cooking surface: 300 square inches
  • Dimensions: 16.21 x 42.75 x 37.35 inches
  • Grate material: Stainless steel

Best Splurge

Traeger Timberline Wood Pellet Grill

  • This is a futuristic, do-it-all grill from the leading brand in the pellet game.

  • It comes with a price tag to match its bells and whistles.

The Traeger Timberline — with its touchscreen controls, app assistant connectivity, and Bluetooth probes — is certainly one of the most high-tech pellet grills on the market. The Timberline clocks in at the highest price on our list (we didn’t name it “best splurge” for nothing!), but its vast 880 square inches of cooking surface can handle nine chickens, eight rib racks, or six pork butts, and the induction cooktop means you’ll essentially have an outdoor kitchen. Sear, sautée, simmer, fry — you name it. And yes, you can use it for smoking as well. Do so with confidence thanks to the Timberline’s ability to monitor the temperature of both itself and the food, and it’ll even let you know when the pellet level is low.

This grill may be an investment piece, but it’s a real gem for anyone who loves to cook outdoors and entertain. 

Price at time of publish: $3,500

  • Fuel Type: Wood pellets
  • Cooking surface: 880 square inches
  • Dimensions: 51 x 59 x 25 inches
  • Grate material: Stainless steel

Best Pellet Grill

Weber Smokefire EX4 (2nd Gen) Wood Fired Pellet Grill

  • We appreciate the easy setup, great heat control, and large capacity.

  • It proved more tricky to achieve a sear, so might not be ideal for quick proteins like flank steak. 

We fully endorse this pellet grill after days of testing, which doubles as a smoker and has a generous temperature range from 200 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The large cooking area offers plenty of space for burgers, briskets, or anything else you can think of to throw on the grill — then you can monitor it all with the convenience of app connectivity. This is the right pick for grillers who appreciate smart apps for step-by-step instructions and even notifications when it's time to flip and take things off the heat to serve.

We also like the handy grease and ash collection systems — anything to make cleanup easier earns high marks in our book — and the LCD control panel helps eliminate guesswork when it comes to making adjustments. 

Price at time of publish: $1,099

  • Fuel Type: Wood pellets
  • Cooking surface: 672 square inches
  • Dimensions: 33 x 43 x 47 inches
  • Grate material: Stainless steel

Best Electric Grill

Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill

Weber Q 1400 Electric

Food & Wine / Greg Dupree

  • It's a convenient, easy-to-clean grill that yields great results.

  • The heavy lid can cause some balance issues, so pay attention as you pull it open.

Old-school grill-heads may be quick to shun electric grills, but for small spaces or less-frequent users, an electric option can offer the compact size and easy clean-up that might otherwise be a grilling deterrent. Weber takes the cake in this category, too, with the user-friendly Q 1400. This grill can get up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s fully electric — no messy charcoal, no pesky propane tanks. 

The Weber Q 1400 passed our tests easily, turning out nicely seared foods with minimal smoke and mess. Clean-up is a quick task thanks to the enameled grates and removable drip tray, and a six-foot cord offers flexibility as you’re setting up. This electric grill is an especially great choice if you’re working with a balcony or small terrace. 

Price at time of publish: $299

  • Fuel Type: Electricity
  • Cooking surface: 189 square inches
  • Dimensions: 23.5 x 27 x 14.5 inches
  • Grate material: Enameled cast iron
A person grilling meat on the Weber Q1400 Electric

Food & Wine / Greg DuPree

Best Portable Grill

Cuisinart CGG-750 Venture Gas Grill

Cuisinart Venture Portable Gas Grill displayed on a wooden table

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

  • Quick set-up and effective heat distribution make this grill a convenient go-to.

  • It's not ideal for large cuts of meat due to the small grate surface area.

We can't get enough of the small but mighty Cuisinart Venture portable grill. Despite its size and limited features, the Venture aced our tests, turning out nicely charred onions, burgers, and buns alike — grill marks included. It's also a nice supplement to your current grilling setup, when your classic Weber Kettle doesn't have the capacity for a crowd.

This grill is so easy to set up and use (and clean!) that it’s perfect for camping, tailgating, or bringing to the park alongside your picnic basket. Given the limited cooking space and open-air grilling, the Venture isn’t ideal for large cuts of meat or anything that might benefit from steaming or smoking, but it’s perfect for a small group to grill while on the go. 

Price at time of publish: $156

  • Fuel Type: Gas
  • Cooking surface: 154 square inches
  • Dimensions: 13 x 16.25 x 10.75 inches
  • Grate material: Enameled cast iron

Best Kamado Grill

Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill

Kamado Joe Classic Joe III Charcoal Grill


  • This grill has multi-zone cooking, convection-like airflow, and stellar heat retention. 

  • It’s extremely heavy, and this type of grill takes some practice.

Kamado grills are a special variety of charcoal grill, originating in Japan and utilizing an egg-like design to maximize heat distribution. The Kamado Joe Classic Joe III is our top pick for this category because of its excellent heat and ash management and the quality of its construction. There's a reason these grills are coveted just as much as the famous Big Green Egg, they're multifunctional, above and beyond other gas and charcoal grills for heat retention, and offer a host of accessories for everything from baking to pizza.

Moreover, the Classic Joe III, as shown here, includes a rolling cart, handy side shelves, a three-tier cooking rack, and a smoking insert. Basically, you’ve got everything you need right out of the box — all with incredible build quality. A brisket made inside of a Kamado Joe will rival your favorite BBQ spot, without a doubt.

Price at time of publish: $1,999

  • Fuel Type: Charcoal
  • Cooking surface: 250 square inches
  • Dimensions: 18 x 18.11 x 50.5 inches
  • Grate material: Stainless steel

Our Grill Tests

Much like the onions we attempted to caramelize on dozens of grill grates, our testing required layers. We found ourselves smoking mountains of chicken wings on pellet grills in the peak summer heat and searing steaks to warm ourselves in the chilly hours early spring. Our team dug deep for science (read: delicious science) and developed hundreds of insights for the usual brands we've always loved (Weber and Traeger) to newcomers that have innovated and made a space for themselves in our hearts and our own backyards.

To find the best grills available today, our team researched and selected nearly 100 grills of varying quality, price, and design. We put every product through multiple days of testing, considering everything from setup and performance to cleanup. Electric grills were first, testing both indoor and outdoor implications for top models with toast, chicken breasts, steaks, and zucchini. Next up came the pellet grills, with the aforementioned wings (testing smoking), steaks (searing), and pizza (baking). We then put the best pellet performers through a long smoke with a mighty pork shoulder to find the cream of the crop. We continued with searing steaks and smoking ribs on full-size charcoal grills, spent weeks slinging burgers, hot dogs, and corn cobs on dozens of portable grills (gas and charcoal), and finally tried fish filets and — you guessed it — steaks on full-size gas grills.

All of our grills have since landed in the homes of our editors and writers, and we're always following up with the winners to see how our favorites have stood the test of time and repeated use. This list will ebb and flow with new products we test as we confirm they're viable long-term (we can't wait to find out how the new Konnected Joe holds up).

What We Consider When Choosing a Grill

Fuel Source

When it comes to grills, you’ve got lots of options. Perhaps the first thing to determine is which type of grill you want, and in this case, type refers to fuel source.

“Electric grills are generally the most convenient,” says Melanie Marcus RD, a chef and dietician from the greater Charlotte area. “They’re great for their easy-to-use plug-in capability, steady temperature control, and minimal clean-up. But electric grills aren’t as powerful as other types of grills, and don’t offer the same smoky flavor that gas or charcoal grills are known for.” 

Marcus recommends a charcoal grill for those who prefer traditional grilling methods and love the rich smokiness that just can’t be replicated by other fuel sources. “Charcoal grills take more effort to light and maintain while cooking, but result in an unmatched, delicious char,” she says.

Gas grills, on the other hand, are great for fast grilling sessions since they heat quickly and are easy to control. “Perhaps they’re not as flavorful as charcoal, but gas grills are fuss-free and efficient,” says Marcus.

Finally, there’s the option of a pellet grill, which uses wood pellets instead of charcoal or gas. “They’re quite versatile,” says Marcus. “I think of pellet grills as smokers that can grill, bake, and roast. The key difference is that they often have a lower maximum temperature, which makes getting that traditional sear more difficult.”

Size and Number of Burners

The size of your grill may be determined by the available space you have. If you’re flexible there, choose a grill with a capacity that best matches your intended use. Love to entertain a crowd? Go with a grill with a large cooking space that can better accommodate foods cooking at different temperatures. Only need enough room for a couple of burgers? A smaller grill will keep everything nice and tidy.

Cooking Grate Material

Grill grates are generally either stainless steel or enameled cast iron. The latter tends to have more non-stick properties, but remember that food typically sticks when the surface isn’t hot enough. Grate material is not a defining factor for us when choosing a grill.


BTUs really only come into play when talking about gas grills and reference how much heat the grill generates when it’s cranked up to the highest setting. But BTUs are more of an efficiency rating rather than a gauge of how hot a grill will actually get — it’s more important to consider how evenly a grill is capable of maintaining heat rather than analyzing BTU stats.


“If you’re grilling, at a minimum, you’ll need high-quality tongs and a meat thermometer,” says Marcus. She recommends looking for tongs with long handles and a sturdy grip and opting for a digital thermometer for accurate measurements. Other accessories Marcus suggests are cooking trays to help keep things separated, a grill basket to help with delicate foods like fish or vegetables, and a grill brush for thorough cleaning. A pair of grill gloves are also great to have on hand.

Best Outdoor Grills detail shot

Food & Wine / Russell Kilgore

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is it time to replace your grill?

    According to Marcus, “if you notice rust and corrosion, it’s likely time to replace your grill.” This is because “rust can cause damage to the structure of the grill and compromise its integrity, making it unsafe to use.”  

    It may also be time for an upgrade if your grill won’t light properly or struggles to stay lit.

  • How do you remove rust from a grill?

    Regular cleaning and storing it under a cover will help keep your grill in great shape, but rust can and does happen. To clean rust from your grill, use a mild dish soap and warm water to give it a good scrub — just be sure to use a soft cloth or sponge rather than an abrasive to avoid causing further damage. You can also try vinegar and baking soda, lemon juice, or even soda to remove early signs of rust. For more advanced rust cleaning, look for a dedicated rust remover product.

  • How do you clean an outdoor grill?

    Grills may require slightly different cleaning methods depending on the fuel source — gas, electric, charcoal, pellets — so you'll want to check the manual or look online for cleaning recommendations specific to your unit. Knowing some basic cleaning techniques, however, can be useful regardless of your specific model.

    "Make sure your grill is completely cool. Spray the grill grate and the inside of the chimney (if one is present) with an all-natural cleaner. Then, remove and clean both sides of the grill grates," says Julia Binns, Senior Quality Analyst at Traeger. "We recommend not using wire brushes but rather a cleaning cloth or heavy-duty paper towels. Next, dispose of old foil or drip tray liners if present, and remove the drip tray and the heat baffle. If your grill has a hopper for pellets, charcoal, or wood, empty it completely. Vacuum the inside of the grill thoroughly, making sure you collect as much residual sawdust and ash as possible. Scrub the inside of the grill and chimney. Again, we recommend not using wire brushes. Instead, use a cleaning cloth or heavy-duty paper towels. Spray the inside and outside of the grill with the all-natural cleaner and allow it to soak for several minutes before wiping it clean with a paper towel or cleaning cloth. Last, reinsert all components and the grill grates, and you are set!"

Other Grills We Tested

Strong Contenders

Char-Griller Classic Cart Style Charcoal Grill ($349 at Home Depot)

This grill performed well in our tests, with testers praising its ease of use and solid construction. That said, there’s a bit of a learning curve with the height of the charcoal and determining where that should be in order to reach your desired temperature.

SNS Grills Slow ‘N Sear Original Charcoal Kettle Grill ($335 at SNS Grills)

Testers like this grill for its affordability, ease of use, and great results. It was a pain to put together, though, taking one tester nearly 45 minutes of frustration with its “many pieces and small parts.”

Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Propane Grill ($569 on Amazon)

This gas grill distributes heat well and turned out nicely cooked burgers, but testers noted that the external lid thermometer was wildly inaccurate. Overall, it’s a nice value and suitable for both beginners and experienced grillers.

Weber Traveler Portable Gas Grill ($449 on Amazon)

The Weber Traveler is an excellent standing portable grill. It’s easy to put together and easy to use, and our testers were impressed with its functionality. The Cuisinart edged it out for value and portability.

What Didn’t Make The List

Some outdoor grills just didn’t wow our testers enough to warrant a recommendation. Some grills felt flimsy and unstable in their construction, others had poor heat retention or distribution, and some were just plain fussy to work with. Grills that didn’t make the cut include brands like Napoleon, Oklahoma Joe’s, Royal Gourmet, and portable gas grills from Char-Broil.

Our Expertise

This article was written by Summer Rylander, a food and travel journalist who has written about food, beverage, and cooking products for Food & Wine, Allrecipes, Serious Eats, and The Kitchn. She wrote this article with notes and data from Food & Wine product testers, in-depth research, and conversation with a chef and dietitian.

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