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Steven Raichlen

Professional Barbeque Expert

Best Barbecue Grill & Best Gas Grill

Buying a new grill or smoker is a bit like shopping for a sound system. You want something powerful enough to blast out the neighbors, but sufficiently delicate to do justice to Bach chamber music. You need to consider both form and function, aesthetics and engineering. Make the right choice and you’ll eat well and look even better when you entertain. Buy the wrong grill, and you’ll never know whether to blame the equipment, the recipe, or the cook for the burnt or undercooked food.

Like buying a new sound system, there are literally hundreds of grill options to choose from, ranging from modest hibachis to mid-priced kamado-style cookers to multi-thousand dollar “super grills.” (There’s even solid gold grill for those people who can never have enough bling.) I wish I could tell you that there’s one perfect grill out there, but the fact is that every grill has its strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, price doesn’t always reflect quality: there are a lot of really expensive grills that perform as though they were designed by engineers, not cooks.

Before you set foot in the showroom, you should think about how you like to grill. Are you a gas griller (more results oriented) or a charcoal griller (more into the process)? Do you tend to do fast and furious direct grilling (well suited to steak), or the low and slow smoking required to turn out fork-tender pork shoulders and brisket? Do you do most of your grilling in the Sunbelt, or are you the sort of person who grills all year round—even though you live in northern Minnesota?

Here are some of my favorites.

Choose the best barbecue grill based on function, aesthetics and engineering.These best gas grill and other recommendations for barbecuing in your backyard feature the most powerful grills for your money.

Best Grills by Steven Raichlen

The Best You Can Get

  • Kalamazoo Bread Breaker

    Steven says: The Kalamazoo Bread Breaker is built like a tank, and is nearly as heavy, though the stainless steel silhouette is decidedly sleeker. Talk about a centerpiece for your outdoor kitchen! It’s perfect for people who regularly entertain outdoors on a medium- to large-scale. This powerful hybrid — unique in the market — burns gas, charcoal, or wood through an ingenious system of interchangeable drawers. You can opt for one or more of four different grilling surfaces: meat, vegetables, fish, and solid/hibachi. This is the only gas grill I know of that can metamorphose into an effective smoker thanks to an adjustable damper on the lid. The side table, warming rack, rotisserie, and powerful side burner, not to mention a deep-well drip pan that is easy to clean (you’d be surprised how many aren’t), make this the sort of grill your friends will drool over the moment they see it.

    • Burns gas, charcoal, or wood
    • 864-square-inch primary grill surface
    • 154,000 total BTUs
    • Customized grilling surface with 4 grate options
    • Warming rack, rotisserie cradle, side burner
  • Weber Summit S-650

    Steven says: Not only is the “cool factor” high for the sleek Weber’s Summit S-650 — this is not your dad’s basic grill — but it’s a dependable warhorse, and up to almost any grilling challenge, including infrared rotisserie grilling. Individually-ignited burners make it simple to set up direct and indirect grilling zones — essential for perfectly-cooked ribs, roasts, whole fish, and chicken, not to mention thick steaks like porterhouses and filets. There’s also a smoker box with a dedicated burner, and a very nifty feature: dual lights built into the grill lid handle to help you see what you’re grilling when it’s dark.

    • 6 stainless steel burners with total output of 60,000 BTUs
    • 693-square-inch primary grill surface
    • Rotisserie, side burner, smoking burner, warming rack
    • Dual built-in handle lights for low-light grilling
    • Individual burner ignition system
  • Weber Ranch Kettle

    Steven says: The Weber Ranch has been described as a kettle grill on steroids. This brawny lidded grill is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, able to handle prodigious quantities of food on its 1104 inches of cooking area: 12 beer can chickens, 8 pork shoulders, 4 whole briskets, 60 bratwurst, or a 50-pound pig in a single grilling/barbecuing session. Heat is controlled with adjustable vents in the base and the lid, making it useful for direct grilling, indirect grilling, or smoking. Not only does the quarter-inch rod steel grill grate give you well-defined marks, but hinged panels on the sides enable you to replenish coals or wood chips or chunks with ease.

    • 1104 square inches of cooking area on a grate made from ¼ inch rod steel
    • Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid with attached lid holder
    • Heavy-duty steel cart and cooking grate
    • Removable ash catcher
    • Locking casters and crackproof all-weather wheels
  • Viking C4 Outdoor Cooker

    Steven says: You’ve heard of the Big Green Egg™, the ovoid-shaped device that gave kamado-style cooking to the masses? The C4 is for the Cartier set: Sexy, shiny, 18-gauge spun stainless steel sheaths a thick heat-retaining ceramic cooking capsule. (The capsule also traps moisture, making this cooker ideal for whole turkeys, pork loin roasts, and other inherently dry foods.) Responsive, precise temperature control, from 150 degrees to 750 degrees F, is accomplished through a clever system of adjustable dampers and monitored with a built-in thermometer. A porcelain-coated cooking grid keeps food from sticking. Carts for the C4 come in three widths: 20 inches, 30 inches, and 41 inches. The latter has dual gas side burners.

    • Charcoal-burning kamodo-style cooker
    • 18-gauge spun stainless steel construction, ceramic interior
    • 315 square inches of cooking area
    • Built-in lid thermometer and precise temperature control
    • Optional gas dual side burners
  • The Grillery 2007 Grillworks

    Steven says: The Grillery boasts that its sturdy, stainless steel grills — very European-looking — will last several times longer than the average marriage (and I might add, perhaps leave a better taste in your mouth). When it comes to flavor, there’s one fuel that’s even better than charcoal or propane: wood. Grill masters from Buenos Aires to Florence back up up on this. This front-loading unit even comes with a bundle of apple wood to get you started. The patented V-shaped grill grate bars not only deposit dripping meat juices in a trough, enabling you to use them as a baste or gravy, but discourage experience-ruining flare-ups. Heat adjustment is fun and easy: the grill grate has a sixteen-inch vertical range which is controlled by a solid-feeling fly wheel. Full payment is required in advance for the made-to-order Grillery 2007 Grillworks.

    • Wood-burning stainless steel grill
    • Twin hand-cranked rotisseries
    • Patented V-shaped angled bars for collecting and channeling juices
    • Flywheel-controlled grill grate
    • Stainless steel construction

You will be happy with any of these

  • Big Green Egg

    Steven says: If grills were rated on user loyalty alone, the Big Green Egg would trump all the polls. Its enthusiasts are everywhere and their ranks are growing. The Egg is the best-known member of a family of grills called kamados, whose thick ceramic walls and hyper efficient venting systems make them some of the most versatile grills on the market. Versatile? The Egg can go from 250 degrees (the ideal temperature for smoking) to 750 degrees (the perfect temperature for searing a steak) in a matter of minutes. The fuel efficient ceramic walls seal in heat and moistness. The Egg is not quite as shiny/sexy as the C04 Outdoor Cooker (see above), but it’s lovable in its own way.

    • Lights in 10 minutes without lighter fluid; “nest” optional
    • Withstands temperature extremes from 0 degrees F to 1800 degrees F
    • Weatherproof ceramics; useful year-round
    • Efficient user of charcoal
    • Huge fan club
  • Weber Genesis E-320 Gas Grill

    Steven says: When it comes to weeknight cookouts or small parties, this reliable gas grill (models available for both propane and natural gas) deserves a place on your patio or deck. It’s a looker, too, available black, dark blue, green, or copper with stainless steel accents. Three burners give you the option of direct or indirect grilling, and the warming rack comes in handy, too. Two side tables (one with a flush-mounted side burner) provide valuable workspace, and electronic ignition gets meals off to a fast start. A built-in thermometer is a plus, as are cast-iron cooking grates, which deliver handsome grill marks, and Flavorizer bars to redirect the essence of smoking fat and juices back to the meat.

    • 507 square inches of primary cooking area with warming rack
    • 3 stainless steel burners put out 42,000 BTUs per hour
    • 2 stainless steel side tables
    • 12,000 BTU side burner
    • Electronic ignition
  • Fiesta Pro XLT Gas Grill

    Steven says: Canadians do it better when it comes to cold-weather grilling. Otherwise, how can you explain this uncommonly powerful grill that steps up to the plate in warm or cold weather? It’s from the Fiesta Blue Ember Grill line. In fact, you should write this model number down: FG50069. The lid is tall enough to accommodate beer can chickens and turkeys and the 45,000 BTU burner system and heavy cast iron grates brand steaks and chops with professional grill marks. It includes a built-in grill light and electronic ignition system.

    • 500 square inches of primary cooking area
    • 45,000 BTU main burner; 12,000 BTU side burner and rear rotisserie burner
    • Smart bar funnels grease away from burner
    • Grease management system
    • Cast iron grill grates
  • Lodge Manufacturing Sportsman’s Grill

    Steven says: I’ve been singing this hibachi’s praises for years. (Hey, 128,000,000 Japanese can’t be wrong!) Curiously, the best hibachi I know is made not in Japan, but in Tennessee, by the venerable Lodge Company. Constructed from sturdy cast-iron, the Lodge Sportsman’s Grill has a bale for carrying (not unimportant as it weighs 34 pounds), feet to minimize heat transference to the surface beneath it, a damper for controlling temperature, and a charcoal chute for easy refueling. Buy several, put them on heatproof bases (such as pizza stones), and get guests involved in the festivities by grilling their own kebabs, sates, shrimp, etc.

    • Hibachi-style grill
    • Cast-iron construction
    • 155 square inches of primary cooking space
    • Vent for controlling temperature
    • Charcoal chute for easy refueling
  • Weber One Touch Gold Charcoal Grill

    Steven says: In 1952, a Chicago area metal worker had the idea to put legs on half a spherical nautical buoy. The result was one of the most perfectly designed and enduring grills: the Weber kettle. The genius of the grill lay in its ability to do indirect grilling (a technique wherein the food cooks next to, not directly over the fire), with a metal lid tall enough to accommodate whole turkeys and prime ribs. Thanks to its ingenious venting system, you can direct grill over high heat, indirect grill over medium heat, or smoke over low heat, and the grill is portable enough to pack into your car to take to a tailgating party or the beach.

    • 22-1/2-inch grill
    • Chromed grill grate with hinged side panels for adding charcoal and wood chips
    • Removable ash collector

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Finding the best barbecue grill with the best function, aesthetics and engineering is a snap with our help. First decide if you want a gas grill or a charcoal grill when you're cooking up that steak or burgers. We recommend the best Weber barbeque grills and other BBQ grill selections that are always the highest quality at the best price.