A backyard BBQ is the perfect way to spend a relaxing weekend with friends and family. Today, we’ll be looking at how you can find the best grills that meet your budget, preference, and space requirements.
The culture and tradition of BBQ have existed for centuries. People would dig holes in the ground back in the day, fill them with dried twigs, and light them up to cook whole animals or animal parts. Fishers would (and still do to this day) cook by rotating fish over the fire, which is almost the same as charing these days. So to say that BBQ is relatively new is not justified.
Today, we can find propane and gas grills that have changed the way we grill meat. It’s become more accessible, with a plethora of grill options available to choose from. Below is a quick overview of the best grills you can find on the market, which we’ll cover in detail later in this article.
|Model||Fuel Type||Power Outlet Required||Price|
|Spirit II E-310 Propane Grill||Propane or Gas||No||Check for latest price|
|Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill||Food grade wood pellets||Yes||Check for latest price|
|Napoleon Travel Q Portable Propane Grill||Propane or Gas||No||Check for latest price|
|Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill||Charcoal||Yes (It can also operate without electricity)||Check for latest price|
|Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler||Charcoal||No||Check for latest price|
Types of Grills
There are different types of grills with different heating and fuel sources with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. All of them do have an impact on the taste of the food and cooking times. The major difference between grills is mostly the fuel type they use.
Charcoal grills have been a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts for a long time. A charcoal grill is easy to operate and the smoky flavor it infuses into the food gives your BBQ a unique flavor and texture.
All charcoal grills operate with the same basic principles. It has an air intake which is located at the bottom of the grill that can be adjusted manually. The air comes in from the bottom of the grill and goes through the charcoal into the grill area. The more air passing through the charcoal, the hotter the grill gets.
The main benefit of charcoal is that once the cooking temperature or the desired temperature is reached, it can remain constant throughout the cooking process. Just make sure you have enough charcoal in the grill. This type of grill is great when cooking meat for an extended period, especially ribs. The slow cooking process allows the protein to break down, giving you a juicy steak full of flavor.
The downside of a grill is the amount of smoke it produces. The burning charcoal can get your eyes wet, which can make grilling difficult. It can also be a little tricky to light up the charcoal on windy days.
Kettle grills are a lightweight range of charcoal grills made for the average backyard user. They operate on a very simple principle and are shaped like a kettle. They are made of a rounded bottom, a removable lid, a stand, and grill gates.
The charcoal is placed in the bottom of the grill, which is elevated on a grate to avoid any mishaps. This design makes sure the ash and debris fall away from the heat sources to maintain an even airflow.
The main benefit of the kettle grill is that it is portable. They are lightweight and made of metal which adds to the durability. They also use less charcoal for cooking purposes as compared to standard charcoal grills.
The only downside of kettle grills is that they are small and can only cook a certain amount of food. So while they’re ideal for 2 to 3 people, if you’re having a BBQ party, you won’t be doing yourself any favors with a kettle grill.
Kamado grills, also known as egg grills, are ceramic smokers. They have become quite popular in the last 10 years. A kamado grill also runs on charcoal and works more or less on the same principles as a kettle grill.
A Kamado grill has a more bulged shape to it, resembling a sort of an egg. The top of the grill is made of ceramic, making it very heavy. An average kamado grill can weigh between 150-500 pounds easily, depending on the size.
The temperature and airflow are regulated by the bottom and the top of the grill, just as a charcoal grill. A small or minor adjustment in the airflow of a kamado grill can go a long way, thanks to the engineered design and thermal mass.
The obvious drawback is that the weight and thickness of the kamado grill make it a non-portable grill. The lid is not removable because of its weight, and moving it around frequently is not possible.
Wood Pellet Grills
Pellet grills have made their mark in the past 5 years, despite being readily available for almost 30 years. One of the major advantages of pellet grills is that they can act both as smokers and grills at the same time. The burning pellets have a smell that gets infused with the meat to add a whole new flavor profile that many people love.
Food-quality Wood pellets are loaded into the hopper and passed on to the burning area known as the burn pot. On your temperature specification, the thermostat and the burn pot work together to achieve that temperature electronically.
The pellet grill is the most convenient grilling option to cook large roasts and items which need to be slow-cooked for an extended period. What’s better is that you practically don’t need to monitor it as the grill automatically adjusts the temperature and the burning power. Once connected to a power source, the pellet grill will do its job wonderfully.
The biggest advantage of the pellet grill is that it acts both as a smoker and grill and makes your work done with minimum monitoring. The downside of the grill is that it cannot be operated without a power source. So make sure you have an electrical connection or a long extension cord.
Gas and Propane Grills
The most popular grills are the gas and propane grills, as they are the easiest to operate and used by the majority of bbq enthusiasts. Gas and propane grills work on the same principle. They have about 3 to 4 burners which give out a substantial amount of heat (close to 40,000 BTU) from under and above to cook your protein to your needs.
The best part of these grills is that they are the easiest to operate. They can be lighted up in a matter of seconds as compared to the other options available. They heat up faster and come with a range of accessories to improve the BBQ experience.
One thing about gas grills is that they do not infuse any kind of smell in the meat since they operate on gas. It might be a plus point, but for others, it takes away from the whole BBQ experience.
What to Look for in a Grill?
As the most popular grills used by BBQ enthusiasts are either charcoal or gas, we will give you some factors to look for when choosing the best gas and charcoal grill.
Charcoal grills rely heavily on airflow to regulate the temperature. More air results in higher temperatures, while limiting airflow just keeps the charcoal on. So make sure your model has the option to adjust the airflow vent. Go for models having a tight and secure lid so that the heat does not escape in the cooking process.
Accessible Coal Bed
While cooking, there is always a need to add more coals to the grill. I would recommend looking for a grill that has a dedicated door to access the coal bed for adding coal or rearranging it when needed.
Grill Size and Shape
Charcoal burns at the same temperature, so the shape and size of your grill will determine the preheat and cooking times. The most popular kind of grill is the barrel-shaped grill that cooks over a thin bed of charcoal. It is best for burgers and chicken bbq as the temperature and cooking times are often lower.
If you wish to cook for extended periods, a kamado or kettle grill can do the job as the surface area is usually lower, and they burn coal for a longer time.
Adjustable Coals or Cooking Grates
Adjustable coal beds allow you to adjust the height of your coal beds which is another feature I recommend you get in your grill. Adjusting the coal bed near or far from the grill is important, as the food which gets cooked for longer needs constant heat. However, if the food is too close to the coal, it can get burnt before being cooked thoroughly. So an adjustable coal bed will come in handy in such situations.
A basic gas grill is fine for cooking burgers, thin steaks, and chicken breasts. But if you enjoy cooking brisket, roast, ribs, or some other proteins which require a longer cooking time, make sure you check the temperature rating out. Also, keep an eye on the heat exchange of the grill and if the grill lid closes without letting any heat escape.
The only thing which needs to be changed or maintained in a grill is the burners. Burners usually last from 2 to 10 years, depending on the grill’s use and quality. Grills often come with a warranty on the burner so make sure you get the one with the most coverage.
Safety while BBQing is of utmost importance as you are dealing with fire or gas, which is also flammable. Here are some safety recommendations you should follow:
- While setting up your grill, make sure it is close to a water source.
- If you don’t have one already, get a fire extinguisher and store it near your backyard/lawn in case of an emergency.
- The flooring under the grill should be made of concrete, stone, or any other non-flammable material, as wooden sheds tend to catch fire when exposed to open flame.
- If you get a charcoal grill, make sure the area where the coal is burning is covered so that the ashes don’t fly out and cause a fire hazard.
- Kids should not be in the vicinity of a live grill. Ideally, keep them at a distance of 10 feet or more for their safety.
- Check if the thermometer is working properly when flaming up your grill. You don’t want to be in a situation where the temperature gets too high on the grill.
5 Best Grills Recommendations in 2021
1. Spirit II E-310 Propane Grill – The Lightweight Grill for Everyday Use
One of the best propane grills available today is the Spirit II E-310 Propane grill. It’s a three-burner stainless steel grill that you can use daily for almost all your BBQ needs.
The grill comes with a porcelain-enameled cast-iron gate that can hold up to 26 burgers at once. It also has a stainless steel side table for prepping and a gas gauge to let you know when you’re running out of fuel.
It heats up very evenly, and I got a nice char on my steaks and burgers. I would call this a classic BBQ grill that you can use to have a good meal with your friends and family over the weekend. They are great at cooking a classy backyard bbq meal for your friends and family.
The downside of the grill is that it has to be assembled and takes the most time in all the processes. Other than that, it’s one of the favorite grills to use.
- Minimum flare-ups
- Even heat distribution
- Long time to assemble
2. Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill – The Slow Cooker Champion
The Traeger Pro Series 575 Grill is an excellent option from the renowned brand that lets you grill or smoke a large amount of meat at once. This is a pellet grill which means that it doesn’t use charcoal so there’s practically no waiting time for the fire to lit up.
The Traeger Pro can be started by plugging the grill into a power outlet and stacking the hopper with pellets. After starting it, the hopper moves the pellets in the firepot, where the pellets are heated. A fan placed near the firepot moves the smoke and heat into the grill area for grilling and smoking.
It operates in the temperature ranges of 150-500 F, which means it can cook almost anything and everything you are thinking of. Slow-cooked ribs are my favorite to cook using this bad boy.
If you’re running out of ideas, you get access to the recipe app with the purchase. The temperature of the grill and the timings can be conveniently monitored from the app as well.
The Traeger Pro features a grilling space of 575 sq inches that can easily accommodate up to 24 burgers, 5 rib racks, or 4 chickens. It also features a built-in temperature probe to make sure you cook your proteins perfectly.
Traeger is basically the Apple of grills, so their grills are generally expensive. Also, you’ll be needing a power source to hook this up if you don’t have one in your backyard.
- Massive temperature range
- Perfect for slow cooking
- Sensors to monitor cooking time and temperature
- Built-in meat probe for checking the temperature
- Needs an electrical connection
3. Napoleon Travel Q Portable Propane Grill – The Perfect Grill On the Go!
The Napoleon Travel Q Portable Propane Grill is one of the best portable grills on the market today. It’s lightweight and very easy to start. All you have to do is connect it to a propane gas cylinder or a full-sized tank securely, turn the burners on, and light them up.
The temperature and heat ratings on the Napoleon Travel Q grill are pretty impressive. The lid was able to retain most of the heat required for even cooking. It also produced great char marks on cow and chicken meat.
The Napoleon Travel Q is a compact grill that can easily be folded. It merely weighs 45 pounds which allows you to take it anywhere and everywhere.
It can fit up to 16 burgers, and the dome-shaped lid allows for thicker cuts of meat to be cooked with minimal flare-ups.
The problem with the Napoleon Travel Q grill is that sometimes it’s a little tricky to attach the fuel tank. A lot of precautions must be taken while doing so as it can lead to major accidents.
- Portable and small in size
- Produces great char marks
- Attaching it to a fuel tank can be tricky at times.
4. Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill – The Most Efficient Charcoal Grill
The Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill is one of the best charcoal grills available on the market today. It has a massive temperature range from 150 F to 700 F and can be used as a multi-purpose backyard grill.
It operates on a unique and innovative design that uses gravity to feed charcoal into the burning area, and the charcoal is burned from the bottom. The charcoal is stored in a vertical hopper.
The flames and the heat are drawn horizontally into the grill, where they are then diffused towards the grill via the heat diffuser. The temperature is regulated in the grill using a digital thermometer, and it operates by regulating the fan feeding the air into the grill.
Masterbuilt Gravity Grill can also be paired with an app that helps to monitor the grill remotely. You can install up to 4 temperature probes to check your protein, and one is provided along with the grill.
Cleaning a grill is often a hassle, but now, with the Masterbuilt Gravity Grill. Due to the vertical feeding of the charcoal, the ash directly falls in the bucket at the bottom of the grill, where a gate is attached for you to clean it out very easily.
This is another grill that will require a power source, so make sure you place your grill in the backyard accordingly. Moving it around will be a hassle as the grill is quite heavy.
- Effective charcoal burning for even cook
- Easy cleaning of charcoal ash
- Requires an electrical connection to operate
- Very heavy
5. Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler – The Best Heavy-duty Portable Grill
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty grill that you can take on your camping trips, the Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler is probably the best grill out there. It uses charcoal as its primary fuel source, and the way it cooks over direct and indirect heat is very impressive.
Like a barrel-type grill, it has an adjustable coal bed option. It can easily be lowered to placed higher depending on your use.
The heat in the grill can be managed through a damper installed on the top of the grill and monitored through a built-in thermometer.
The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler features thick gauge steel and has welded corners that add to its durability. The grill plates are also formed with cast iron and coated on top to make them non-stick.
This is a grill that’s made for the outdoors and will serve you well in the long term. That said, the downside of the grill is that despite being portable, it is a little heavy, weighing around 50 pounds. Also, it does not break down into components so you’ll need to have some space in your trunk to carry it around.
- Heavy-duty and durable build
- Compact size for portability
- Height adjustable charcoal tray
- Removable ash pan
- Does not break down into components for traveling
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which grill is better, charcoal or propane/gas?
Answer: Charcoal is the essence of BBQ and gives a classic smoky flavor. On the other hand, using propane gas is like cooking inside your home on your stove. It does not give that BBQ touch to the food.
If you know your way around a grill, go for the charcoal option. However, if you want to make it easy for you to BBQ outdoors, then go for a propane grill as it is very easy to operate and takes less time to preheat compared to charcoal.
Question: Can you add charcoal to a gas-fueled grill?
Answer: No, it is not advised to use charcoal in a gas grill. The grills are made to the specifications of the fuel. The charcoal will destroy the components of the gas grill and can also be dangerous as it is connected to a gas cylinder.
Question: Which type of grill is the safest?
Answer: A gas grill is safer than the rest of the grills as propane/gas burns more efficiently and does not give out smoke.
Question: Is grilling food healthier than fried food?
Yes, grilled food is always better than fried food. The main reason behind this is that grilled foods release their fats while getting cooked, whereas fried proteins tend to absorb more fats while cooking.
Conclusion – Which Grill Is the Best?
The grill you choose will depend on your specific needs, budget, and other requirements.
My pick for the best BBQ grill would be the Spirit II E 310 grill. Offering power up to 30,000 BTUs and a massive heat range of 300 F, it sure comes at the top when it comes to grilling regularly. Since it’s gas-powered, the grill is also very easy to use and maintain.
But if you want to enjoy the old-school way of grilling, I would say you should go for the Masterbuilt Gravity Series. It uses technology to help you cook the perfect steaks and ribs while giving your favorite proteins that deep smoky flavor you crave.
Be it charcoal, gas, or pellet, at the end of the day. You are going to enjoy a well-cooked steak when you have a good grill. I hope this article has helped you make a decision on which grill you should go for.