As spring sets in and summer approaches, you may be wondering if its time to upgrade or replace the grill that’s been sitting in your garage for the past two seasons. You may be one of the daredevils that grill in the thick of winter, but for the most part, grills are most commonly seen when it’s sunny out.
Here, we’ll discuss the best gas, propane, electrical, charcoal, smoker and portable grills on the market. Their prices range from the hundreds to thousands of dollars due to the technology used in higher-end grills.
Afterward, we’ll look at some factors you should consider before buying any of these grills.
Intro to Grills
Grills seem easy enough to understand. Turn them on, wait for them to heat up, and then place your meats until their cooked to your liking. This process is more relevant for gas and electric grills, which are the most user-friendly. Charcoal grills and smokers require more care and understanding of temperatures to get the finished product.
You’ve no doubt heard it many times before, but practice makes perfect!
If you’re not looking to pay big bucks for a high-quality Weber or Char-Broil Grill, the Spirit E310 is your best bet for an overall grill. It may not be able to leave the confines of your front or backyard, but its perfect for any size family or party.
Three separate burners will produce a total of 32,000 BTU over 529 sq in of grilling area (105 sq in for warming). As you’ll see with the other Weber products on our list, the Spirit E310 has unique flavorizer bars.
- These bars catch drippings from food and simmer them, allowing them to smoke back into the grilling rack. Any drops that aren’t caught or directed away from the burners into the drip management system.
The Spirit E310 sits right in the middle ground of affordability. If you’re on a tight budget, I can understand if its a bit of a stretch. However, increased cooking area and heating power only result in higher prices from here.
The Performance 300 is one of the smallest grills in Char-Broil’s arsenal, but certainly packs the punch to grill some delicious foods. This is a two-burner grill and produces 24,000 BTU (British Thermal Unit) (f you’re unfamiliar with BTUs, see our guide below).
- A 300 sq in grilling rack and 100 sq in warming rack combine for about 400 sq in of cooking space. It’s not the most in the grill world but the superior heating abilities of the Performance 300 will have you churning out foods in no time.
For the price, the Performance 300 is almost unbeatable. Though its small size might prove to be a drawback if you regularly host large amounts of people from time to time. For this reason, it’s probably best for a small family or household. While I’m sure it would be nice to bring camping, its size and weight make that a little difficult. It does have wheels on the bottom, so you can roll it wherever you’re able to.
The DGB390SNP-D is a lot like the Performance 300, but sports one extra burner for improved cooking space. This brings its total cooking surface area to about 507 sq inches. The extra burner raises the BTU level to about 36,000 which gives it the edge in flavoring capability.
The temperature gauge on top of the cover will surely help out too. I can’t be the only one who’s just barely missed burning his food thanks to that gauge. The side tables are also collapsible, which doesn’t seem all too fantastic until things start to get too crowded around your home.
- You can add a complete cover to your purchase for a small price increase.
Like the Performance 300, the DGB390SNP-D isn’t all too expensive if you think about it. For the slight upgrades and advantages over the Performance 300, the DGB390SNP-D has proved to be a popular grill among those who have bought it.
While grills with attached covers are certainly the most popular outdoor grills, the Blackstone flat top trades looks for simplicity. You can purchase a polyester weather cover that covers the entire grill, but otherwise, you’ll be grilling out in the open. For some people, cooking in the open is preferable because they simply forget to open up their metal covers again!
- The flat design of the grill also allows you to cook eggs, pancakes, and other thin foods that wouldn’t really work on a normal rack.
The Flat top is actually more expensive than the Performance 300 listed above, but boasts more overall space cooking space (720 sq in) and is a little easier to move around. It also has four burners that allow it to cook foods over that 720 sq in space in the first place.
Weber is one of the premier gas and propane grill producers, and the E-410 is one of the few that’s price below a grand. For that price, you get four burners and specialized flavor bars (under the cooking grates) to rebound that irresistible flavor back into the food.
The primary cooking rack has about 646 sq in of space and the tuck in warming rack has about 198, bringing the total close to 844 sq in. This grill also has an efficient drip system that ultimately catches grease in the trays directly below it. How’s that for user-friendly?
- The E-410 doesn’t come in one big package, so you’ll have to assemble it yourself.
As if the E-410 couldn’t be advanced enough, you can download the Weber iGrill app to monitor the temperature of the grill while it’s closed. It would be cool if you could change the temperature from your phone, but that would cause some issues with the settings you have on the dials.
- I think this is a huge advancement and really gives people the freedom to walk away from the grill without forgetting that they have food on the grill.
The Classic 405 combines a lot aspects of full-sized grills and smaller, portable grills. By full-sized, I mean grills like the Genesis II or Performance series. Nevertheless, it still boasts four burners capable of producing 32,000 BTU over 595 sq in of total cooking space (190 sq in are squared away warming).
- While the Classic 405 has wheels on one side and lighter than full-sized grills, it’s not exactly the most portable appliance. Perfect for back or front yards!
This grill has a popular following because of its size and relative ease of use. Despite its size, it still covers a lot of grill space, and has extra shelves for finished foods. If that has reeled you in yet, its pretty cheap compared to larger smokers and gas grills.
Leave it to Coleman to develop one of the more interesting portable grills. The Road Trip LXE folds up almost to the point of being a wagon, but that means you’ll be able to take it beyond the confines of your front or backyard.
The LXE may only have 285 sq in of cooking space, but that’s what makes it so easy to transport in the back of a vehicle. Twin burners produce up to 20,000 BTU and can be controlled individually. Altogether, you can cook food efficiently for up to three or four people at a time.
You also have the option of purchasing separate griddles and stove grates to diversify your cooking experience. That’ll add to your total amount spent on this grill, but diversity means you won’t have to eat the same things every time you go camping.
The Weber Q1200’s lack of wheels or legs of any sort actually make it one of the most portable grills on the market. That saves you some space in vehicle or trailer to transport other things on your way to the outdoors. Nevertheless, this propane grill has a popular reputation and its 189 sq in total cooking area provides enough space for a small party.
- You can purchase a separate cart to place the grill on if you like working while standing up.
A single burner producing 8500 BTU is enough to cover the entire 189 sq in. If you ask me, this is preferable to grills with more burners because you won’t have to worry about the differences in temperatures between the two burners. Everything will be cooked at around the same time and at the same temperature.
- The rounded shape of the grill allows for superior heat circulation compared to other portable grills.
The Smokey Joe is a classic portable grill. It may have the smallest surface area of the grills on our list, but its dirt cheap and weighs less than ten pounds. Its 14.5in grill plate will fit about five burger patties or anything similar to that size.
This grill runs on charcoal, but that shouldn’t be a huge addition to your budget if you decide on this grill. Its a perfect introduction into the world of grilling too. You’ll learn how much charcoal to use and remember to open the lid constantly without knowing an accurate temperature.
- Like all grills, it comes with a drip tray directly underneath the bulbous grilling compartment.
To see a George Foreman grill of this design was a bit of a head-scratcher at first. I’m used to my own press that fits square on a countertop. On closer inspection, you’ll see that the GGR50B sports similar grill plate design to smaller presses. The plate covers 240 square inches, enough for about 15 servings depending on the foods you’re grilling.
You don’t actually need the pedestal and stand in order to operate the grill. This is just in case you are using the grill outside and need the traditional method of standing up and flipping meats.
What makes the GGR50B so popular? Its very simple to use and retains features that make George Foreman presses so popular like the drip tray and nonstick coating. It also has a five setting temperature gauge so you can adjust the heat (something not usually seen on Foreman presses). Its electric power source makes it perfect for indoor and outdoor grilling. If you plan on using it outdoors, its best to carry a heavy duty extension cord.
It may not seem like much at first glance, but the Char-Broil Bistro’s 320 sq in of cooking space can fit up to 12 burger patties at once. Think of all the foods around the size of a patty and see how many you can substitute to fill up the grilling rack. Combine that with an encompassing TRU-Infrared heating system-you’ll have your foods cooked in no time.
- You’ll spend less money on gas and propane tanks and more time grilling.
Like the George Forman grill above, the Bistro is portable and perfect for any location (indoor and outdoor) near a power outlet.
Z Grills smoker is actually a multi-functioning device that has eight different functions. They include grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, searing, braising, BBQ or char-grilling. All of these cooking options are available through the grill’s electronic controls. It even tells you which temperatures ranges are right for which meats.
It has two wide grilling racks. The warming rack is 187 sq in and the cooking rack around 513 sq in—totalling to about 700 sq in of cooking space. Below the grill is a large storage area for wood pellets or frozen foods.
Wood pellets are a common fuel source for smokers and produce a noticeable taste difference when compare to electric or gas grills. The amount of options you get with this particular grill is staggering. It seems like even more of a steal when it’s about half the price of the shiny electric ones you may think that everyone has.
Like the Z Grills Smoker, the Camp Chef Smokepro’s cooking is powered by wood pellets. It also has an electronic interface on the outside of the pellet holder so you can monitor the temperature at will.
- The Smokepro has 429 sq in of total grilling space, though you can purchase additional warming racks separately. The Smokepro’s temperature range is from 160° -500° F.
One notable addition to your purchase of the Smokepro is a meat-probe. With the meat-probe, you can check the status of your food without opening up the cover and letting all the smoke out.
The Smokepro is noticeably cheaper than the Z Grills smoker and the presence of a temperature dial really sets it apart from other smokers. It may not have the largest grilling area but your food is going to emerge tasty and tender regardless.
There’s nothing explicitly fancy about the Char-Broil charcoal grill. In fact, its simplicity is probably what makes it so popular. Traditional charcoal grills are prone to producing plumes of flame that are difficult to deal with regardless of experience level. Char-Broil’s grill utilizes unique airflow pans the likelihood of sprouting flames and use less overall charcoal.
- It has 580 sq in of total grilling space, 180 sq in being a warming rack.
There are four air dampeners (two on each side) on the grill. These crank operated dials lessen or increase the temperature inside the grill by letting heat and smoke in or out. The top of the cover has a temperature gauge, so you can adjust dials accurately.
We like this grill because it’ll teach beginners how to use charcoal and how to pay attention to temperature without the use of electronics or regulated burners. Its also pretty cheap for a full-sized grill. Buying charcoal every now and then might be an inconvenience to some, but Char-Broil’s charcoal grill makes the cooking process as simple as possible for you.
What to look for in Outdoor Grills
We realize that you have a multitude of grills to choose from and an equally overwhelming number of companies itching for your attention. Before you go adding that grill to your cart, let’s go over a couple of things just to make sure you’ve got the right one.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, the standard unit of measure to describe the heat required to raise one pound of water by one degrees Fahrenheit. Some of these grills are able to produce BTU’s in the tens of thousands of units.
If you’re largely unfamiliar with BTU’s, there’s no need to worry. Think of BTU’s as the sort of power that the grill can dish out. Regardless, most of these grills are going to accomplish your cooking needs if you’re looking to grill patties, hot dogs, etc.
However, if you’re looking to get some of the best tasting and tender foods out there, you might want to take a closer look at the smokers.
As you can see, there are many types of grills, perfect for any type of situation. We all wish we could take our couple thousand dollar premier Weber grill to the campground, but it’s just not possible. Nevertheless, the portable grills we’ve listed here are sure to satisfy
We also listed electric grills. These ones are preferable for those who can’t or don’t have access to a lawn where they can store a larger grill or smoker. These electric grills are ones you can fit into tight spots either indoors or outdoors. There are the indoor presses that are also popular grills, but we’ll get to those in a later article.
Overall, you should choose a grill according to your needs, and not just what you’re able to do. Smaller grills may have less grilling space, but they’re better than spending a thousand dollars on a grill or smoker you only use a couple of times out of the year.
Personally, my eyes are set on the grills with flavorizer bars. Your grill may cook a piece of meat or basket of vegetables, but does it help return the flavor? Many higher-end grills and smokers contain flavorizer bars or other mechanisms to retain the smoke and drippings that come with grilling.
Most grills these days do much more than cook your food, flavoring and tenderizing it before you even add seasoning.