The 10 Best Outdoor Grills for Aspiring and Expert Grill Masters Alike
Summer is *finally* here, which means one major thing: It’s grilling season, baby. We tapped our cookout-loving staff and LongHorn Steakhouse Executive Chef Michael Senich for their recommendations, just in time for outdoor dining. Whether you’re looking for gas or charcoal, heavy-duty or budget-friendly, here are the best outdoor grills to use summer after summer.
- Chef Senich's Top Gas Grill: Weber Genesis 11 E-315 Propane
- Chef Senich's Runner-Up Gas Grill: Nexgrill Model 720 Series Propane
- Best Gas Grill for Small Gatherings: Broil King Gem 320
- Best Gas Grill for Serving Crowds: Nexgrill 5-Burner Propane with Side Burner and Condiment Rack
- Chef Senich's Top Charcoal Grill: Vision Grills Kamado Pro Model S-4C1D1
- Chef Senich's Runner-Up Charcoal Grill: Weber Original Kettle Premium 22" Charcoal Grill
- Best Kamado Grill: XLarge Big Green Egg
- Best Charcoal Grill for Beginners: Char-Broil Kettleman Charcoal 26-Inch Grill
- Best Pellet Grill: Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill
- Best Electric Grill (and Best Budget Buy): George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
When to Choose a Gas Grill
“Gas grills provide great temperature control and heat up quickly when you need to use it. At LongHorn Steakhouse, we use two types of gas grills to cook our signature, fresh steaks: a charbroil grill and a flattop grill,” says chef Senich. “The open flame charbroiler is similar to a grill that you would have in your backyard, while the flattop grill is best for searing fresh, boneless steaks, fresh chicken and fish.”
He recommends looking for a model with burners that can provide at least 12,000 BTUs to get a great sear on meat. “You also want cooking grates that are heavy-duty rolled stainless steel or cast-iron. Stainless steel will last longer and cast-iron will retain heat better,” Senich says.
The Best Gas Grills:
1. Weber Genesis II E-315 Propane
Chef Senich's top pick
This charbroil grill is high quality but still very easy to use. Chef Senich explains, “The open flame helps render the rich marbling in steak and create a slightly smoky flavor, and this grill includes three powerful burners to help do so. Its porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates provide great heat retention, and it has 669 square inches of cooking space to handle all of your grilling needs. Plus, it carries a ten-year warranty.”
2. Nexgrill Model 720 Series Propane
Chef Senich's runner-up
If you’re looking for something more affordable, this Nexgrill model is a great choice. “It features four stainless steel burners with 12,000 BTUs each,” says chef Senich, adding that the massive stainless steel grates give you a whopping 462 square inches of cooking space. That means you can make the whole fam’s burgers in one shot. “Plus, it provides a five-year burner warranty.”
3. Broil King GEM 320
Best for small gatherings
If you typically only grill for you and your roommates or your small family, there's no need to wheel a behemoth into your backyard. Instead, opt for this durable Broil King grill that boasts a 295-square-inch cooking space, three stainless steel burners, porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grids and electronic ignition. The drop-down side shelves make it easy to keep tools and ingredients within reach while you grill. Despite its size, the main burner provides 24,000 BTUs, so you're guaranteed a killer sear on everything from chops to chicken.
4. Nexgrill 5-Burner Propane with Side Burner and Condiment Rack
Best for serving crowds
"If you're flipping burgers, chicken and hot dogs, or just looking for a backyard workhorse, then this is your grill," assures our senior podcast producer (and avid griller) Matt Bogart. It has 618 square inches of cooking space, so you can tackle multiple dishes at once without breaking a sweat. The porcelain-coated stainless steel burners, flame tamers and quality grates keep heat high and evenly distributed as you cook. We're also big fans of the handy front condiment tray (mustard! ketchup! steak sauce!), side shelves and prep area, so you can see every batch of cheeseburgers through from start to finish without ever leaving your post. Did we mention it includes a five-year warranty?
When to Choose a Charcoal Grill
If you prefer charcoal grills, chef Senich has some sound advice. “Charcoal grills take a little more finesse to prepare for cooking, and they take longer to heat up and cool down. However, you can get great flavors when cooking with a charcoal grill.” They’re also typically much smaller than gas grills, making them more appropriate for smaller outdoor spaces.
The Best Charcoal Grills:
1. Vision Grills Kamado Pro Model S-4C1D1
Chef Senich's top pick
“This grill is one of the best values for its size,” says chef Senich. “With 604 square inches of cooking space, it has a port to insert an electric charcoal starter and multiple vents to help you adjust your cooking temperature from slow-and-low cooking to high-heat searing. It’s very well built and carries a five-year warranty. I personally own this grill and love it!”
2. Weber Original Kettle Premium 22” Charcoal Grill
Chef Senich's runner-up
Another favorite of his? This reasonably priced, classic charcoal grill. “This is a quality charcoal grill with a large enough cooking surface (363 square inches) to set up an indirect cooking area,” explains chef Senich. “It also has a unique one-touch cleaning system for easy clean-up and comes with a ten-year warranty.” If you need more convincing, some of our staff members swear by this pick. Bogart is also a fan of this pick, and refers to it as "the Swiss army knife" of outdoor cooking, since it can grill, smoke, barbecue and bake.
3. XLarge Big Green Egg
Best kamado grill
Best known for their oval, or egg-like, shape, kamado grills are traditional Japanese-style ceramic grills. "When it comes to smoking and searing meats, it doesn't get any better," Bogart says. That's because ceramic is a great insulator, so your grill can reach super high temps and will stay hot for hours at a time without needing to adjust the vents. While kamado-style grills tend to be a bit on the pricey side, the Big Green Egg comes with a lifetime warranty that many other manufacturers don't offer. So, in Bogart's words, "pay once and cry once"—you'll be glad you did.
4. Char-Broil Kettleman Charcoal 26-Inch Grill
Best for beginners
If you're on the hunt for your first outdoor grill, there's no need to empty your savings account just to hone your skills. We like this pick from Char-Broil because it's compact, easy to transport and affordable. Grill, smoke, roast or bake your favorite summer dishes on porcelain-coated cooking grates. The grill also comes equipped with an oversized damper, which not only controls the cooking temperature and helps you save on charcoal, but it also prevents flare ups from happening while you cook.
When to Choose a Pellet or Electric Grill
Pellet grills or pellet smokers (aka outdoor cookers that use hardwood pellets as fuel) are like a hybrid between an oven, charcoal smoker and gas grill. They infuse food with a woody, smoky flavor that screams summer. They're also wonderful for cooking things low and slow for a loooong time.
Electric grills' perks are more about the environment. They don't use gas to run or release carcinogens into the air or your food. There are also plenty of electric grills that can be used indoors as well, so you can get your steak on any time of year.
The Best Pellet and Electric Grills
1. Traeger Pro 575 Wood Pellet Grill
Best pellet grill
Fueling your grill with wood may sound old-school and rustic, but this Traeger appliance is beyond high tech. WiFire technology allows you to monitor and operate your grill from anywhere using an app, so you can step away and enjoy the party without stressing over the food. It's great at maintaining exact temperatures for extended periods of time and is equipped with porcelain-coated grill grates and all-terrain wheels. We also love the included meat probe, which allows you to monitor the temperature of your food without lifting the lid and letting out all the heat.
2. George Forman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
Best for grilling on a budget
Instead of buying an expensive outdoor grill for the summer and an additional indoor grill for the off-season, settle for this gem that can do both. Just connect the removable stand to the bottom when you want to head to the yard, or pop the grill on your kitchen counter when weather gets in the way. The non-stick aluminum, 240-square-inch cooking surface is enough space to prepare 15 servings of food at once.