How to choose the right barbecue grill

Grilling & Outdoor Cooking

Gas grills are the most popular, followed by charcoal and electric.

The best barbecue grill for you

Nothing says summertime like a backyard barbecue, which is incomplete without the centerpiece — a beautiful new barbecue grill. Before you can start cooking, you have to find the right grill to suit your needs, tastes and preferences. 

Charcoal grills are a classic staple of American barbecues, but gas grills have been more popular for a long time. Also, some circumstances might require the use of an electric grill, especially if you need to avoid a potential fire hazard. 

Any number of factors could determine your decision, including size and space, cooking time, convenience, budget and desired flavor. With a bit of insight, finding the right grill is as easy as flipping a couple of hamburgers. Here’s a guide to help you choose the best barbecue grill for your summertime cookout.

What to consider when choosing a barbecue grill

Size and layout of your grilling area

When it comes to grilling, the first and most essential consideration is your outdoor cooking space’s size and layout. If you have a large yard with a concrete patio and plenty of room for your guests and your equipment, a propane gas grill might be the best fit. They are typically larger and can accommodate cooking for a bigger crowd. 

If your space is limited but safe for open flames, a charcoal grill might be your best bet. For others, like renters and apartment dwellers, fire hazard concerns could limit your options to an electric grill that cooks food without an open flame. Whatever your space, fire safety is always the top priority.

Cooking time and convenience

Different types of grills have benefits and drawbacks when it comes to ease of use, convenience and cooking time. A gas grill, which is ignited quickly and easily, tends to start cooking right away and has total temperature control, making it highly convenient and easier to use for grilling newbies. 

On the other hand, a charcoal grill requires more time and patience as the coals ignite and slowly produce heat, making the grill surface a bit more inconsistent and the cooking time longer. Electric grills are the most convenient option for those who have the least cooking experience, as they are easy to operate and control, making it easy to “set it and forget it.” 

Budget

The price of barbecue grills can vary based on fuel type, size and extra options. Typically, gas grills are more expensive, larger and available with more special features, whereas charcoal grills are cheaper, smaller, more portable and straightforward. 

Also, gas grills require a propane tank, which is sold separately and requires refilling after between 10-20 hours of cooking, so the added expense and hassle can be a turn-off. Electric grills are also inexpensive, making them a helpful alternative on a smaller budget.

Desired flavor

Where taste is concerned, many prefer the traditional, naturally smoky flavor that charcoal produces. On the other hand, some might favor the neutral cooking taste produced by a gas grill, leaving the flavor enhancement in the chef’s hands. Electric grills are similarly neutral in adding flavor, so they also rely heavily on the preparation of the food to elicit the desired taste.

Best gas barbecue grills

Best overall gas barbecue grill

Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill

Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill

Weber is the first name in grills for a reason, and this gas grill is both high quality and affordable. Its three burners produce ample heat for over 500 square inches of cooking surface area, and the unit is compatible with Weber’s iGrill 3 — a separately sold attachment that turns your grill into an app-enabled smart cooker.

Sold by Home Depot and Amazon

Best gas barbecue grill on a budget

Huntington 24025 Liquid Propane Gas Grill

Huntington 24025 Liquid Propane Gas Grill

For beginners, this cheap alternative to larger, more enhanced gas grills is perfect for learning the craft of grilling without breaking the bank. Although it is smaller and has fewer extras, this grill comes highly rated by verified customers.

Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Blackstone 28 inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill

Blackstone 28 inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill

If you’re looking to cook (and flip) a large number of burger patties, hot dogs and other griddle-friendly foods, this flat top grill is big and versatile. Easily prepare breakfast and other non-traditional barbecue meals with ease, while a rear grease management system handles the mess.

Sold by Amazon

Best charcoal barbecue grills

Best overall charcoal barbecue grill

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

As far as charcoal is concerned, there’s no beating this classic kettle-style grill. While Weber offers several advanced models, the original 22-inch is the gold standard for a more traditional barbecue.

Available at Amazon and Home Depot

Best charcoal barbecue grill on a budget

Weber Smokey Joe Portable 14-inch Charcoal Grill

Weber Smokey Joe Portable 14-inch Charcoal Grill

This portable darling is a more compact version of the classic Weber charcoal grill, small enough to quickly move and store, yet large enough to cook for a small group. It’s also a fraction of the price of the full-size model.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado

This combination grill and smoker uses an insulated design to reduce the amount of needed charcoal, creating juicy meats and smoky vegetables in the process.

Sold by Amazon

Weber 22-inch Performer Premium Charcoal Grill

Weber 22-inch Performer Premium Charcoal Grill

If you like the classic Weber kettle but want an upgrade, this model adds tool space as well as a charcoal storage bin that keeps your briquets dry and conveniently close. Additional features include a temperature gauge and a cooking timer.

Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Best electric grills

Best overall electric barbecue grill

George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

The hit of the 1990s is now an indoor/outdoor grilling machine, and this signature electric grill has a non-stick surface with enough capacity to feed the whole crew, just as long as you have access to a standard 120-volt outlet.

Sold by Amazon

Best electric barbecue grill on a budget

George Foreman 12-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

George Foreman 12-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill

This smaller version of the ‘90s sensation lets you enjoy all the benefits of electric grilling, whether cooking indoors or in the backyard. Both portable and easy to store, this grill is a solid choice for travel.

Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Char-Broil Patio Bistro TRU-Infrared Electric Grill

Char-Broil Patio Bistro TRU-Infrared Electric Grill

If you want a bit more of the classic barbecue grill feel, this electric grill fits up to 12 average burger patties (and other foods) while still being portable and easy to store.

Sold by Amazon

 

Matt Fleming is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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