Best Grills of 2018

A grill allows you to grill up your favorite dishes for casual gatherings or private dinners. Read our shopping guide to find out the best option for you.

Shopping Guide for the Best Grills

No backyard is complete without a grill for private picnics, casual get-togethers, and large gatherings. Whether you're into burgers with a side of freshly grilled potatoes or barbecued chicken garnished with crispy grilled asparagus, a grill isn't just a cooking nicety—it's a necessity.

At BestReviews, we concentrated our research on three of the most popular grill types: gas grills, charcoal grills, and electric grills. If you've got a question about grills, we've got an answer.

Our shopping guides incorporate in-depth investigation, expert advice, and the results of our own product testing. To maintain our objectivity, we never accept promotional products from manufacturers. If you'd like to know more about purchasing and using a backyard grill, read on.

Types of Grills

Gas Grills
The most popular type of outdoor grill is the gas grill. You need fuel from a gas line or propane tank to fire up a gas grill. These appliances require plenty of room and fresh air; many come with shelves, side burners, and other features that consume extra space. That said, you can get a gas grill going in less than 15 minutes. On the downside, some people say gas-grilled food doesn't have the flavorful zing of charcoal-fired fare.

Charcoal Grills
Die-hard fans of charcoal argue that you simply cannot beat the taste of a juicy steak or charred kebab off a charcoal grill. Notably, the cost of charcoal adds up over time, and if you invest in flavored wood chips (also compatible with gas grills), your expenses could be even higher. More elbow grease is required of the charcoal chef, too. It takes a good 30 minutes for the coals to get hot, and you'll find yourself spending more time scrubbing the grates of a charcoal grill than a gas grill. Still, if you want that authentic smoky taste and those telltale char marks on your Thai grilled chicken, a charcoal grill is right for you.

Electric Grills
Electric grills are handy for apartment dwellers who have limited patio or balcony space and travelers who want a portable outdoor grilling option. All you need is the grill and access to electricity—no charcoal briquets or fuel required. An electric grill may have a solid grill plate or a grate with a drip tray, but regardless of the cooking surface, most barbecue connoisseurs agree that an electric grill simply cannot impart a genuine BBQ flavor. Nevertheless, electric grills remain popular with people who love to cook alfresco but are pressed for space.

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Measure Before You Shop

Measure your backyard space to determine how many square feet you can dedicate to your cause, and remember that gas and charcoal grills need extra room for ventilation.


Key Considerations for Grills

If you're puzzling over which grill to purchase, it may help to answer the following questions.

How much do you want to spend on a grill?
You may be prepared to spend a lot, a little, or somewhere in between on a new grill. The amount you pay depends largely on size and the number of features.

  • Gas Grills: Tabletop propane grills start at the $50 mark. Larger, more feature-rich gas grills hover anywhere between $200 and $2,000, depending on how much luxury you're looking for.
  • Charcoal Grills: Small charcoal grills cost as little as $30, but you could also spend over $300 on a charcoal grill with a stand and firebox.
  • Electric Grills: You won't find many good electric grills for less than $50, but the best models cap at around $300.

Are you usually in a hurry at dinnertime?
If dinner is often a rushed affair, you may not want to wait around for a charcoal grill to come to temperature. Instead, consider a gas grill that heats up quickly or an electric grill that activates with the push of a button.

How much cooking space do you need?
The amount of space you need depends on how much food you want to be able to cook at once. A family of four can get by with between 400 and 500 square inches of cooking space. If you plan to entertain, you may want to invest in a grill with a minimum of 900 square inches of cooking space.

You can't control the temperature of your charcoal grill with the push of a button. However, you can open the vents on the bottom of the grill to let in air. More oxygen makes for a hotter fire.

FAQ

Q. I'm thinking of buying a gas grill. How many BTUs should it have?
A. The number of BTUs a grill has reflects how much heat the grill generates. The ideal rate for a gas grill is between 80 and 100 BTUs for every square inch of cooking space. But don't be fooled; a higher BTU rating doesn't necessarily mean a grill is better. You also want a grill with good fuel efficiency.

Q. Should I get a grill with a cooking surface made of cast iron or stainless steel?
A. Cast iron is an excellent conductor of heat, but it is more prone to corrosion than other materials. Stainless steel retains heat very well and cooks food evenly, but it doesn't get as hot as cast iron. It's easier to clean, however.

Q. Which grill extras are worth the splurge?
A. There are some items that might not be included with your new grill that you'll want to buy separately. One of the most important is a grill cover. If you don't cover your grill and it sits out in the elements, it will rust and degrade much sooner than it otherwise would. A grill set complete with a spatula, tongs, and fork is another nice accessory. A grill brush is an extremely handy tool for removing the tiny, sticky bits from your grill after a cooking session.

If you don't want to use lighter fluid to start your charcoal grill, consider investing in a charcoal chimney. A charcoal chimney uses crumpled newspaper or other tinder.