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Best grills in 2021: Gas, charcoal, and pellet compared

Man Grilling
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Who can resist that unique smoky flavor which only the best grills can produce? Whether gas, charcoal or electric, these outdoor cookers will sear meat with ease and produce crisp, soft vegetables. They should be easy to set up, quick to cook, not to mention fun to use as well!

However, with so many to choose from on the market, it's difficult to tell which are worth considering. Luckily, we've done the research for you. We've found the best of every fuel type to suit every budget. Here are the winners. 

Apart from their ability to cook your food, useful features on the best grills include hooks to hold tools, side tables to place dishes, and side burners so you can cook extras such as sauces if need be. Some have removable ash catchers and drip pans to help with cleaning up as well. These will all help when cooking outdoors and should be considered when you're looking to buy a grill. 

What are the best grills?

After extensive research, we've found the best gas grill to be the Weber Genesis II S-335. Whatever you want to cook, be it hotdogs, burgers or steaks, this grill will produce perfectly-seared results. It's app connected and features both a sear burner and side burner. Unfortunately, the best does come at a price however. 

If you're a fan of charcoal, then the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22 is worth your consideration. The design features vents and a hinged grate to improve your control when you grill. 

If you're looking for versatility, then the Kamado Joe Classic II 18 KJ23RHC might be the one for you. Unlike other grills, it's made from ceramic and can be used for unconventional recipes, such as pizza or even desserts. 

The best grills you can buy today

Weber Genesis II S-335

Weber Genesis II S-335 Gas Grill (Image credit: Weber)

1. Weber Genesis II S-335 Smart Grill

Best gas grill

Specifications
Fuel: LP or Natural Gas
BTUs: 49,000
Burners: 3
Grates: Stainless steel
Cooking Area: 513 square inches
Finishes: Stainless steel
Features: Sear burner, Built-in lid thermometer, Fuel gauge, Warming rack, 6 tool hooks, Side burner, 2 side tables, Meat probe, Lighted knobs and handle, Wifi compatible, Removable grease tray
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Sear burner+Side burner+App connected
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

For a thick juicy pork chop with criss-cross grill marks, you can’t beat the Weber Genesis II S-335 Gas Grill. Want to smoke a turkey? Turn the heat down and you’ll get a moist flavorful bird with a burnished skin. This grill evenly cooks with minimal flare ups, whether you cook on high or low. 

It also has a sear burner for branding on those grill marks, and the grates can cook 25 hamburgers at once. While the Genesis won’t flip your burgers for you, it does connect with WiFi so you can get a beep on your phone when they’re fully cooked to a safe temp.

The Weber also includes a full array of convenient features, including a cabinet where you can stash things like mitts and paper towels, tool hooks, two side tables (one of which has a burner for sautéing onions or warming barbecue sauce), a thermometer in the hood, and a gauge to show you how much gas is left in the tank. 

And if you ever feel the need to grill outside in the dark, lighted knobs and an LED in the handle that illuminates the grates, make it easier than ever. The grease pan offers easy access from the front as well, for a pain-free clean up. The only negative? This grill needs a bit of time to preheat before you start cooking.

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22-inch (Image credit: Weber)

2. Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22-inch

Best charcoal grill

Specifications
Fuel: Charcoal briquets
Grate: Stainless steel
Cooking Area: 363 square inches
Finishes: Black, Blue, Green, Copper
Features: Hinged grate, Built-in lid thermometer, 2 tool hooks, Ash catcher
Reasons to buy
+Vents for controlling the heat+Hinged grate makes it easy to add coals+Ash catcher 
Reasons to avoid
-No side table

The Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22-inch  has a grate that’s big enough for a whole mess of hamburger patties. However, because it’s easy to adjust the heat by opening and closing the vents in the bottom and in the lid, this grill is remarkably versatile and can definitely go beyond burgers and brats. It can turn out a perfectly seared medium-rare porterhouse or thoroughly-cooked chicken with a crispy golden-brown skin. The grate is hinged on both sides so it’s easy to add more briquets if you’re having a party and turning out hot dogs throughout the evening. 

Extras include a thermometer in the lid and hooks for hanging up your tools. A heat shield underneath the lid handle makes it easy to lift without singeing your hand, and the lid rests on the side of the grill while you flip the steaks or baste the ribs. Underneath the kettle, there’s a big bucket called an ash catcher; you use a lever to sweep the ashes into it and then it’s easy to remove and empty without leaving a trail of ashes along the way. The only thing missing are side tables for holding a platter.

Nexgrill 720-0830H (Image credit: Nexgrill)

3. Nexgrill 720-0830H

Best budget gas grill

Specifications
Fuel: LP Gas
BTUs: 60,000
Burners: 4
Grates: Stainless steel
Cooking Area: 626 square inches
Finish: Stainless steel
Features: Sear burner, Built-in lid thermometer, Warming rack, Side burner, 2 side tables, Removable grease cup
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Stainless steel housing+Large grilling surface
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to keep the outside shiny

Without going for broke, you can have a large handsome grill. With its stainless steel housing, the Nexgrill 720-0830H looks like a professional model and cooks like one too.  Its grates can accommodate 25 burgers (or more, depending on size) and cooks them evenly so you don’t have to keep rearranging them. It’s a great grill in general for high heat searing but has a bit of trouble maintaining low temperatures for cooking chicken without charring the skin.

The Nexgrill is loaded with features including a side burner, a warming rack, and a thermometer in the hood. It doesn’t have tool hooks but has room under the grill to stash your gear. While the grease pan is easy to access, it can only be removed from the rear of the grill and you may find it takes a bit of elbow grease to keep the stainless steel looking spiffy. But for the money, you can’t beat the Nexgrill. 

Weber Spirit II E-310 Gas Grill (Image credit: Weber)

4. Weber Spirit II E-310 Gas Grill

A great gas grill at a moderate price

Specifications
Fuel: LP or Natural Gas
BTUs: 30,000
Burners: 3
Grates: Porcelain enamel on cast iron
Cooking Area: 424 square inches
Finish: Black
Features: Built-in lid thermometer, Warming rack, Fuel gauge, 6 tool hooks, 2 side tables, iGrill3 (app-connected thermometer) compatible, Removable grease pan
Reasons to buy
+Nice price+Excellent performance
Reasons to avoid
-No side burner

If you want a Weber but don’t have big bucks to shell out, the Weber Spirit II E-310 Gas Grill  will give you the brand’s great cooking performance and a whole host of features for a lot less. It’s smaller than the Genesis but still has room for about 20 patties so unless you entertain hordes it should be plenty big enough for the family and some guests. Whether you’re grilling skirt steaks for fajitas, salmon, or ribs, you can control the heat to get food that’s browned and cooked to your ideal degree of doneness.

You won’t find a burner here, but it does have side tables, a warming rack, tool hooks, a thermometer in the hood, a gas gauge, and a storage shelf under the grill. The grease pan is easy to access and empty. If you like, you can  hook it up to an iGrill thermometer to get an alert on your mobile device when your steak is perfectly medium rare. 

Kamado Joe Classic II 18-inch KJ23RHC (Image credit: Kamado Joe)

5. Kamado Joe Classic 18-inch KJ23RH

Best Kamado grill

Specifications
Fuel: Lump charcoal
Grate: Stainless steel
Cooking Area : 245 square inches
Finish: Red
Features: Features: Stand, Built-in lid thermometer, Warming rack, Tool hooks, 2 side tables, Slide out ash drawer, Ash tool
Reasons to buy
+Excellent cooking performance+Versatile+Easy to clean
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

Cooks who love to try new things, and want to expand their repertoire beyond the basics, will love a kamado grill. The best of the bunch is the Kamado Joe Classic 18-inch KJ23RHC. This ceramic baby is heavy and will set you back a big chunk of change, but it will reward you with unparalleled control over the heat. 

That way you can cook an artisanal pizza in mere minutes, smoke a pork butt for hours, as well as grill everything in between. What you don’t get is a lot of room to load on the burgers– so you should expect to cook about 8 to 10 at once.

Instead of briquettes, you’ll need to stock up on lump hardwood charcoal. It can be hard to find, but it lights easily and burns slowly. Plus unlike other models, this kamado comes with a wheeled stand and has side tables for resting your basting sauce and a cold one. When it’s time to clean up, all you have to do is slide out the ash drawer and dispose of the ashes. Safely of course.

Best grills: Cuisinart Deluxe Four Burner Gas Grill (GAS9456AS)

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

6. Cuisinart Deluxe Four Burner Gas Grill (GAS9456AS)

A grill with a view

Specifications
Fuel: LP
BTUs: 42,000
Burners: 4
Grates: Stainless
Cooking Area: 455 suqare inches
Finishes: Stainless
Features: Built-in lid thermometer, Warming rack, Tool hooks, Side burner, 2 side tables, Viewing window, Removable grease tray
Reasons to buy
+Even heating+Viewing window+Side burner
Reasons to avoid
-Difficult to assemble

The Cuisinart Deluxe Four Burner Gas Grill is a great looking grill that offers even heating whether you cook directly over the burners or indirectly with only some of the burners lit. On this model, there’s a very unique feature: a glass window that lets you check on your food without lifting the hood and losing precious heat.

Sturdily built, this model has casters that lock into place to keep it from rolling  and durable stainless steel grates that are large enough to accommodate about 20 hamburger patties. There’s a warming rack to heat up the buns; you can flip it up out of the way when you’re cooking a large item like a pork butt or turkey breast. Tool hooks to hang your spatula and basting brush and a side burner to heat up sauce add to the convenience of using the Cuisinart.  If you can’t have this grill delivered fully assembled, be sure to set aside a whole afternoon to put it together.

Char-Griller Traditional Charcoal Grill  (Image credit: Royal Gourmet)

7. Royal Gourmet CD1824E 23-inch Charcoal BBQ Grill

Best barrel charcoal grill

Specifications
Fuel: Charcoal briquets
Grate: Porcelain enamal
Cooking Area: 720 square inches
Finish: Black
Features: Built-in lid thermometer, Tool hooks, Warming rack, 2 side tables, Removable ash pan
Reasons to buy
+Can adjust distance of charcoal from grates+Easy to add charcoal+Convenient to clean
Reasons to avoid
-Uses a lot of briquets

If you want to do more than sling hot dogs and burgers on your charcoal grill, the Royal Gourmet is ideal. It has a crank that lets you raise and lower the charcoal pan to help control the heat. When you want to quickly grill brats, move the coals right below them. To slowly smoke a side of salmon without flare-ups, lower them. 

There’s even a door underneath the grates that makes it easy to keep adding charcoal as the hungry crowd thickens. Plus you’ll find you need a lot of charcoal to keep the Royal Gourmet burning, so make sure you stock up before the party starts. 

Unlike on a kettle-style grill, this model has side tables to hold your tongs and trays and platters. You’ll also find a thermometer in the lid to give you a rough idea as to how hot it is under the grill, a warming rack that’s helpful for heating buns, and an easy to remove ash tray. Below the grill there’s a bottom shelf to keep extra charcoal or a roll of paper towels.  

Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill (Image credit: Traeger)

8. Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill

Best pellet grill

Specifications
Fuel: Wood pellets
Grates: Porcelain enamel
Cooking Area: 575 square inches
Finishes: Black, Bronze
Features: Electronic temperature control, Meat probe, Built-in timer, Keep warm setting, Warming rack, WIFIRE app, Removable grease tray
Reasons to buy
+Excellent at smoking+Excellent temperature control+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Needs outdoor electrical outlet-Mediocre at searing

Traeger Pro 575 Pellet Grill makes the process of smoking pretty much stress free. You add hardwood pellets to a hopper, set a target temperature, and the grill does the rest. It has an electronically-controlled thermostat that works like the one in your indoor oven. The only caveat is that if the temp you want is super-hot to get a steak browned and crusty on the outside and rosy on the inside, you won’t be getting it from this grill which tops out at 500°F.   

If you want to go about your yard work, or even just loll in a hammock while your ribs are smoking, you can connect the Traeger to an app which will let you know when it’s time to baste, raise the temp to finish them off, or alert you that they’re ready to serve.

best grills: Blackstone grill

(Image credit: Blackstone)

9. Blackstone 36" Griddle Cooking Station with Accessory Side Shelf

The best flat top grill

Specifications
Fuel: LP
BTUs: 40,000
Burners: 4
Grates: Carbon steel
Cooking Area: 732 square inches
Finishes: Stainless, Black
Features: 2 side tables, Built-in cutting board, Garbage bag hooks, Paper towel holder, Removable grease tray
Reasons to buy
+Even heating+Large surface+Side tables+Easy to assemble
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t produce grill marks-Can’t be used for smoking

Instead of grates, the Blackstone 36" Griddle Cooking Station has the kind of large flat cooking surface you see in diners. That gives you room for 28 burgers at once, and means your hot dogs and shrimp won’t fall through the slats. 

Underneath are four burners that you can set to different temperatures, so you can keep garlic bread warm on low while simultaneously searing some steaks. Just keep in mind that you won’t get grill marks, and won’t be able to smoke ribs or brisket. 

On one of the side tables, there’s a built-in cutting board that can be removed for cleaning. There’s also a place to hang a roll of paper towels and hooks to hang a trash bag. On the bottom, there’s even a shelf to give you some storage space. The Blackstone is easy to assemble, but remember that you will have to clean the griddle top and season it before you fire it up for the first time.

Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill (Image credit: Weber)

10. Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill

Best portable grill

Specifications
Fuel: LP Gas
Burners: 1
BTUs: 8,500
Grate: Porcelain enamel over cast ion
Cooking Area: 189 square inches
Finishes: Titanium, Black, Blue, Green, Orange, Red
Features: Built-in lid thermometer, 2 side tables, Removable drip pan
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Nice design+Side tables
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1 burner

If you want to grill away from home, the Weber Q 1200 Gas Grill is the best portable grill. You can depend on it for the same great cooking results you get from all Weber grills. Rather than a big tank of LP gas, it uses 14- or 16-ounce propane cylinders, which last about a couple of hours. Most likely you’ll be taking it to a park or beach, and using it for quick-cooking items like steaks or chicken breasts (or a couple of lobsters you pick up at the shore) but not for smoking a turkey or a shoulder of pork, so a single cylinder should do per outing.

It has side tables that are just as handy on the road as when you’re grilling in the backyard, but they fold up for travel so the grill is easy to transport. Other conveniences include a lid thermometer and an easy to remove and clean drip pan.  

Char-Broil Patio Bistro Tru-Infrared Electric Grill (Image credit: Char-Broil)

11. Char-Broil Patio Bistro Tru-Infrared Electric Grill

Best electric grill

Specifications
Fuel: Electricity
Grates: Porcelain
Cooking Area: 320 square inches
Finishes: Black, Gray, Red
Features: Thermometer in lid, Warming rack, Removable grease tray
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Good results for an electric grill
Reasons to avoid
-Needs outdoor electrical outlet

If you live in a community where gas and charcoal grills aren’t  allowed but have access to an outdoor electrical socket, the Char-Broil Bistro Tru-Infrared Electric Grill is your best bet for results that come close to those from a charcoal or gas grill. The Bistro is small enough to easily fit on a terrace or patio but has a grate that’s big enough to hold about a dozen burgers. It has a rack to keep food warm or heat the buns.

On the bottom there’s a shelf to hold supplies and in the lid, a thermometer. Two wheels make it easy to roll the Char-Broil inside or into the garage if you don’t want it to “live” on your limited outdoor area. The Bistro will produce minimal smoke to annoy the neighbors and has a grease pan that slides out to be easily cleaned in the kitchen. 

How to choose the best grill for you

Before you decide which grill is right for you, there are several factors you need to consider. First, you need to decide which fuel-type is best for you. You should also think about which style of grill you want. Once you've made up your mind, you can narrow down your options based on the best features and overall design. Here are some guidelines to help get you started. 

Grill fuel types

Propane Gas: A popular option because it's easy to light, quick to heat and simple to clean. Whether you're cooking on a high temperature or need a slow burner, propane gas will produce good results. If we're being picky, some say it doesn't produce as much of a barbequed flavor as charcoal grills, but it's the best for convenience. Generally, it's good to use for grilling all year around. 

Most gas grills will be hooked up to a tank of liquid propane gas. If you already use a tank to fuel your kitchen range, then that can also be connected to your grill, meaning you would never run out of gas! Some models can also be connected to the natural gas line in your home. 

Don’t be wowed by BTUs. While they tell you how much gas the grill uses, and in theory should tell you how powerful it is, more BTUs doesn’t necessarily mean higher heat or better cooking. 

Charcoal: These grills require effort to light, control, and clean up. But hands down,  they give the smokiest flavor. Charcoal grills may use standard briquettes or the more expensive hardwood lump charcoal, but both types have their advantages.

Charcoal grilling is also more time consuming than using gas, since charcoal requires 15 to 20 minutes of burning time before reaching cooking temperatures, and has more involved cleanup when you're done.

Pellet: Using hardwood pellets, this type of grill produces distinctive deep smoky flavor. You fill the hopper with pellets and the grill’s electronics do the rest, maintaining a very even temperature. They’re particularly good for slow cooking foods like a pork roast, brisket, or side of salmon.  However, pellet grills don’t sear as well as other types of grills so if your idea of a great meal is a crusty steak, this isn’t the type for you.   

Grill styles

There are also several styles of grill, which vary based on fuel type and design.

Kettle grills take up the least space and lets you build a deep bed of briquets to hold in heat. That makes it good for longer cooking items like chicken or ribs as well as for searing steaks and burgers.

Barrel grills are, you guessed it, like a barrel lying on its side. They use a large quantity of briquets and can cook a lot of food at once; but they tend to burn out sooner so they’re better for hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks than brisket or turkey breast. 

Kamado grills look a bit like traditional kettle models, but are made of heavy ceramic instead of lightweight sheet metal. The kamado design was popularized by the Big Green Egg brand, but similar ceramic designs are now offered by several companies.

While they’re not cheap, they hold in heat and give you lots of control for cooking all kinds of food, making them very popular with serious cooks who like to grill. The ceramic construction retains heat well, making them well suited to non-traditional grilling for dishes like pizza and deserts, but they’re heavy, use a lot of briquets, and don’t have a very big cooking surface.


Do you like pizza? Check out our Ooni Fyra 12 review, as well as our Breville Pizzaiolo review.


Regardless of what type of fuel you use or style of grill you prefer, there are other things to look for in any grill you might consider buying, from the overall quality of construction to convenience features that make grilling safer and cleaning up easier.

Construction: A grill that’s built of thick metal or stainless won’t rust. A thicker material will also hold in heat better. It should sit firmly on the ground so it can’t be easily knocked over or even blown over. Look for stainless steel or bronze burners which are durable and won’t rust.

Wheels or Casters: At least two wheels on a grill make it easy to move it from place to place.

Lid: A tight fitting lid holds heat in.

Removable grease pan or ash catcher: Under a gas grill you want a pan for the grease to drip down into and under a charcoal one, a bin or a tray to collect the ashes. Either should be easy to remove for cleanup. 

Other Features: On charcoal grills, be sure there’s a vent for increasing and decreasing the heat and a way to easily add more briquets. When it comes to gas grills, check how easy it is to hook up the tank. Decide whether you need a side burner to heat up side dishes.

On either type of grill, tool hooks give you a place to hang your tongs and spatula when you’re not using them. Thermometers in the lid and fuel gauges on gas models are helpful but not precise.

When to replace your grill

Most grills come with two different kinds of warranty. One for labor, which can range anywhere from zero coverage to two years, and another much longer warranty for parts. That coverage often lasts for the entire lifetime of the product, and includes all the essential pieces like burner, cooking grids, and exterior housing. But how long your grill lasts also depends on how well you take care of it. 

By keeping it clean, covering it when you’re not using it, and sheltering it from the elements, you can extend your grill’s life. A grill made of durable materials like cast iron and stainless can stay in good working order for as long as 20 years. So we don't recommend the extended warranties because, on average, the cost of repairs within the grill‘s lifetime will be less than the cost of the warranty itself.  

If the cost of repairs are more than 50 percent of the price of a new grill, it’s time to consider buying a replacement. Rust or cracks in the firebox are an indication that your grill is not worth keeping. If you find cracks in the gas hose and regulator then you will have a gas leak, so you should at least replace those parts, if not the entire grill.

When shopping for a new grill you may be surprised at how many lower-priced models come in stainless steel, giving your patio a more upscale and trendy look. On top of this investing in one of the newest models means you can enjoy some of the latest features. 

Grills now come with built in boxes to hold wood chips, and sometimes even a smoke chamber. Sear stations, rotisseries, side burners and built in thermometers are also commonly included, regardless of the cost of the grill. Plus, like many products, some grills now offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity which send you notifications when it’s time to flip, baste or serve, as well as alerts when your gas tank is running low.

Check out more of our appliance coverage:

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Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieMortram.