Yeah, we know we’re a tool website, but we’ve gotta eat and we do our fair share of grill reviews. So who makes the best grill and smoker? We got our team together, including our top cooks and those who love to eat what we cook, to offer our picks for the top charcoal, gas, and smoker grills of the year.
Table of contents
- Best Charcoal Grill Overall
- Best Charcoal Grill for the Money
- Best Gas Grill Overall
- Best Gas Grill for the Money
- Best Pellet Smoker Grill Overall
- Best Pellet Smoker Grill for the Money
- Best Smoker
- Best Smoker Grill Combo
- Best Portable Grill
- Best Grill and Smoker Accessories
- Best Grill and Smoker Brands – More Recommendations
- Best Grill Buying Guide – What We Look For
- Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews
Best Charcoal Grill Overall
Big Green Egg has ceramic kamado grills that run from a Mini to Extra Large. For our crew, the Large is the best size balance to go for. Even though the grill’s shape can make it a challenge to find places to set things, BGE has a package that includes an acacia table with the Large model and makes for an outstanding outdoor cooking station.
The downside is that there are no digital controls to make it a true “set it and forget it” grill. Considering that along with the price and limited cooking area, it’s something to keep in mind. However, if you prefer charcoal cooking to gas or pellets and want even heating with efficient fuel use, Big Green Egg gets our vote as the best charcoal grill. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Price: $1959 ($999 grill only)
Best Charcoal Grill for the Money
Oklahoma Joe’s Blackjack Kettle Grill
There’s nothing in the world of grills as iconic as the classic kettle grill and Oklahoma Joe’s Blackjack is our favorite as the best charcoal grill for the money. It has a 21.5-inch diameter that’s big enough for 18 burgers or 1/2 a dozen good-size steaks.
There are plenty of solid features that make this model worth your consideration. An adjustable tray height gives you cooking style options, lower air intake and a top smokestack help manage consistent cooking temps, and you have bottom and side storage to make your experience more convenient.
Best Gas Grill Overall
Weber Summit Series
Weber’s Summit Series earns our pick as the best overall gas grill thanks to the quality of its construction and performance. In fact, Weber guarantees all parts on its Summit grills for 10 years.
The line itself has a wide variety to choose from. The E-470 represents the entry into the line with 4 burners, a side searing station, a rotisserie, and an integrated smoke box. Flipping to the top of the range, the Weber Grill Center is available with liquid propane or natural gas fuel sources and turns the Summit into an outdoor cooking station with oodles of storage.
Price: $2749 – $4499
Best Gas Grill for the Money
Weber Spirit Series
The fact that Weber takes the top spot in both best gas grill categories tells you just how dominant the brand is in this category. If the Summit series isn’t in your price range (and for most of us, it isn’t), the Spirit series offers an excellent alternative.
Starting with the 2-burner Spirit II E-210 at $449, the sweet spot is the 3-burner Spirit II E-310 at $569. With 30,000 BTUs of heat, the 424 square inch main cooking surface and 105 square inch warming rack are a good fit for most families. Side tables (one that folds down), half a dozen hang hooks, under-grill storage, and hanging propane tank storage with a fuel gauge pack a lot into a package that’s compact enough to store on nearly any back porch.
Price: $569 – $619
Best Pellet Smoker Grill Overall
While Traeger’s top-of-the-line is the Timberline series, not everyone needs that level. For most outdoor cooks, the Ironwood series is the best pellet smoker grill. Its ability to maintain a consistent temperature is better than other brands we’ve tested and recent improvements to the line make them even more convenient from cook to clean up.
The quality of the construction is evident, but it’s the Wi-Fire feature that seals the deal for busy people like us. When you’re cooking low and slow, you can monitor and adjust the temp from Traeger’s app anywhere you have a cell signal.
Price: $1799 – $1999
Best Pellet Smoker Grill for the Money
Pit Boss Pro Series 850
Earning our pick as the best pellet smoker grill for the money, the Pit Boss Pro Series 850 packs an impressive number of features into a $599 package. With 850 square inches of cooking space, it has plenty of room to cook for a large family or a weekend get-together with friends. Thanks to a slide plate system, it has access to direct flame searing at temperatures up to 1000° F. Wrap in Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity and it’s a fantastic value for what you get.
Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro Drum Smoker
Having a pellet grill is great, but for those who appreciate the time-honored tradition of non-computerized smoking, Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Pro is our top choice as the best smoker. Using charcoal as fuel with more than 15 hours of cook time, it has a remarkable ability to maintain consistent temperatures. With a 21.5-inch grate for smaller items plus 9 meat hooks and 3 meat hangers for vertical smoking, this well-built drum smoker can achieve competition-quality results.
If you want to dip your feet in with a little lower investment, there’s an 18-inch version for $449.
Best Smoker Grill Combo
Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 Smoker Grill
There are a lot of smoker/grill combos on the market and most of them do a pretty good job. But when you’re after fantastic results with both methods, the Masterbuilt Gravity Series 800 is what we recommend as the best smoker grill combo. Combining some of the best technologies we see in pellet smokers, this Masterbuilt uses charcoal instead.
The gravity-feed hopper and digital, app-adjustable controls maintain precise temperature control. Unlike most pellet grills, Masterbuilt has a max temperature of 700° F, giving you a better high-temp grilling experience. There’s one more nice addition—a griddle insert. As a true 3-in-1 smoker grill combo, it’s tough to beat!
Best Outdoor Griddle
Blackstone 36-Inch Griddle
Around these parts, Blackstone is the only griddle people mention by name, and Blackstone’s 36-inch model is our pick for the best outdoor griddle. It’s a 4-burner propane-fueled cooking beast with up to 60,000 BTUs of heat production and 769 square inches of cooking space. Whether it’s bacon and eggs for the family or burgers and brats for the big game, you can feed a crowd.
There are several varieties of the 36-inch griddle built around a similar foundation. In our opinion, the base model is the way to go with its $399 price tag.
Best Portable Grill
Traeger Tailgater Portable Pellet Smoker Grill
Portable grills are known for widely fluctuating temperature control and an abundance of flare-ups (not to mention a highly-publicized vehicle fire). Why not get things under control with Traeger’s Ranger portable pellet smoker grill?
As our first choice for the best portable grill, the Tailgater sports a generous 300 inches of cooking area and can hold up to 8 pounds of pellets. Plus, it has fold-out legs so you can set it up anywhere. Most importantly, it’s a Traeger, and that means cooking burgers and hot dogs at 450° F or making some gameday low and slow 3-2-1 ribs at 225° F.
Best Grill and Smoker Accessories
When you’re grilling, you need a set of tongs, a spatula, and plenty of paper towels. However, there are some products you might not know of that can make the experience even better.
GrillGrates are aluminum grates that go over the top of your existing ones. They heat up quickly and have a surface temp up to 200° F hotter than standard grates. Whether you’re trying to get better searing qualities from your pellet grill or cook with less fuel consumption, they produce outstanding results and clean up easily.
Meater+ Wireless Meat Probe
Meater is the top wireless meat probe in our opinion. Its easy-to-use design makes pulling meat at just the right temp as easy as selecting a few options in the app on your phone. The meat comes out perfect and you look like you’ve been smoking meat for decades. It’s good for cooking temperatures up to 500° F and it’s just as happy in the oven as it is on the grill.
Grab the Meater+ model that includes a repeater to extend your connection range up to 165 feet. A single probe is $100 and a 4-pack block is $350.
Best Grill and Smoker Brands – More Recommendations
There are a lot of grill brands to choose from and you can do a good job with most of them. Some are better than others, though, and earn our hearty recommendation no matter which model you’re looking at. Others may not earn our recommendation from top to bottom but still have some quality options worth considering.
Around here, when you mention outdoor griddles, Blackstone is the name at the tip of everyone’s tongue. They have a wide range of options from ultra-portable to models with range tops and even an air fryer. Many are propane with some electric models available as well.
Need a recommendation other than the one above? Try the base model 28-inch griddle. It’s a great starter model at $299.
Camp Chef has a broad range of outdoor cooking solutions from entry-level to serious pitmasters. In addition to grills, pellet grills, smokers, and flat tops (griddles), they also have outdoor ovens and stoves.
Need a recommendation? Check out the XT 24 pellet smoker—it’s perfect for families and smaller gatherings with an affordable price tag of $549.
You can find Charbroil grills at several major retailers and the quality tends to be decent once you move into the mid and high ends of their range. The entry-level models are designed to hit a competitively low price point, and we’d avoid those if your budget has some room to move up.
Need a recommendation? Give the Performance Series 6-Burner a look. This propane gas grill doubles as a griddle and comes in at a reachable $490.
Big Green Egg
Big Green Egg made a name for itself as a high-quality ceramic kamado cooker that uses lump charcoal for heat. The concept is the same from the Mini to the Extra Large model and the folks on our crew that have them swear by them. Big Green Egg stands by its quality with a lifetime warranty.
Need a recommendation other than the one above? Large is the most popular, but if you have less space to work with, check out the Medium model that starts at $799.
Masterbuilt has a nice range of electric, propane, and charcoal grills and smokers. It’s most known in our circles for its gravity-fed lump charcoal grills, though. Using digital controls, a large-capacity hopper, and even Wi-Fi connection, these smoker grills are viable alternatives to pellet smoker grills.
Need a recommendation other than the one above? Give the Gravity Series 560 a look. It misses a few features such as the folding shelf and griddle insert, but you still get digital temperature control and Wi-fi connectivity on a smaller smoker grill that’s $500.
Oklahoma Joe’s as a brand is a quality upgrade from entry-level brands. In the line, you’ll find a wide range of charcoal grills, pellet grills, smokers, and combos. There’s no propane to be found here!
Wait, you want another Oklahoma Joe’s recommendation? If you’re going to twist our arm… check out the Rider 900 DLX pellet grill. You get excellent temperature control for low and slow cooking with a built-in searing feature to take you to 650° F.
Pit Boss covers the entire range with grills, smokers, and griddles. It’s the pellet grills we’ve had the most experience with, and we’ve been able to achieve excellent results. If you’re looking for a high-value alternative to premium pellet grills, give Pit Boss a look.
Looking for a Pit Boss other than the one above? They also make propane griddles. Check out the 4-burner Ultimate Lift-Off Griddle. It’s a 46,000 BTU unit with a removable cooking surface to make cleaning easier and is perfectly happy to go on the road with you. Grab one for $699.
Traeger is the original pellet grill and is still number one in our book. The entry-level grills are excellent and it only gets better as you add Wi-Fire and starts moving up the line. Of all the grills our crew uses, it’s the Traeger Ironwood 885 that feeds them and my family most often.
Need another recommendation? Try the Pro Series 780 with Wi-Fire. You get the foundation of Traeger’s excellent design with app-based controls and a price tag under $1000.
Weber is a long-standing brand that’s a natural upgrade for folks moving away from cheap grills. They’re massively popular for both propane and charcoal grills with the charcoal kettle grill being its signature product. They also have griddles and electric grills. Recently, Weber added pellet grills to the mix, rounding out its competencies well.
Need another recommendation? Go for Weber’s Premium Kettle Grill. This 22-inch charcoal grill runs $219 and has better cooking control and build quality than basic kettle grill options.
Best Grill Buying Guide – What We Look For
The materials a grill uses have two major effects on your experience as an owner. The first is obvious—durability. Thicker steel, powder coating, castor selection, and other elements help determine how long your grill can stand up to the rigors of the environment.
The other piece of the puzzle is temperature control. Especially when you’re cooking at low and/or constant temperatures, thicker steel helps maintain a more stable temperature with less fuel use.
In general, look for a grill that uses the highest quality materials—especially thicker steel—that fits in your budget. Try the handle—it should feel rigid with no wobble.
We already mentioned how the materials can affect your temperature control. The user interface comes into play as well. These vary widely depending on what type of grill you’re buying. There are basic dials and ones with backlighting, various types of computer controls, and even multiple temperature probe options.
When you’re looking at floor models at your favorite retailer, try the controls. Avoid models that have a lot of play in them or feel like they’ll be the first thing to break. Dials should turn smoothly with enough tension that you won’t accidentally turn them if you touch them. Quality vents should be similar, with smooth sliding and little play. Buttons should be easy to push with no play.
Nearly any grill can reach temperatures up to 450°, but for a perfect sear on your New York Strip, higher is better. The bigger the grill, the harder it is to reach and maintain those high temps. Sometimes, a smaller grill is in order, or one that has 5 burners instead of 4.
Side burners can be helpful, too. On high with a cast iron skillet, you can get a quality sear without overcooking the center. Some grills even have a dedicated searing burner you can set your meat on directly.
Not every grill has to be super-portable. I only have to move mine a few feet to its cooking location. Other folks might move from the back porch into the backyard and others from the garage to the driveway. Keep in mind the seasons as well—you might have your grill out from April to October but need to store it during the cold months.
When you’re shopping, the best grill for you is going to be one that you can move specifically based on the way you cook.
I’m big on value, so I want the best grill that fits the budget I have. Our selections keep that in mind. If you can get a grill that’s 98% of what the best of the best offers and save hundreds of dollars or more, that’s a lot of steak and lobster dinners you can enjoy.
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