There’s hardly anything better than spending some quality time among family and friends at a backyard barbecue with some beers. But then again, finding the best outdoor grills is harder than it looks if you don’t establish clear expectations.
Do you prefer charcoal grills or gas-fueled ones? Where do you plan to set up the grill? How many people will you host? These are just a few questions you have to clarify before making up your mind.
Don’t worry— our buying guide and reviews can help you find the appropriate grill for all your upcoming parties.
Why Should You Get an Outdoor Grill?
An outdoor grill gives you the opportunity to gather with family, friends, or neighbors over the weekends. It’s also an enjoyable cooking option for a pregame tailgate party or a fishing trip by the lake.
In a way, an outdoor grill can feel quite liberating. You get to dial up the fire and smoke— something you wouldn’t try when cooking indoors. Plus, there’s no need to worry about bad odors and fumes: they’ll soon dissipate instead of lingering.
Finally, an outdoor grill is much more versatile than most indoor cooking appliances. Besides the all-time classics like burgers and hotdogs, the grill can further diversify your menu with other choices. Think out of the box with pizza and slow-roasted chicken on a spit or even popcorn.
Charcoal Vs. Propane: Which is Better?
For this part, we’ll examine two different types of fuels used in outdoor grilling: charcoal and propane. Of course, there are electric units as well, but they aren’t exactly ideal for outdoor grilling.
Charcoal grills allow you to build the fire however you like— the more briquettes you add, the hotter it gets. Many grillers also swear by the signature smoky flavor from wood chips that add a distinct kick.
Moreover, charcoal’s heating intensity is just enough to cook thick-skinned items evenly without drying them. If the main course involves low-and-slow specialties like stews, ribs, or briskets, they are best cooked over a charcoal fire.
The thing is, these grills aren’t easy to adjust for grillers who lack experience and patience. The fire may extinguish itself or grow out of control if you don’t monitor it.
With a backyard and some practice, a charcoal grill is likely to be your first choice for barbecuing at home.
Thanks to its reliable fine-tuning valves, a propane grill can provide strong, stable flames while keeping the heat in check. If you need to whip up a quick meal with minimal effort, these grills can preheat in minutes.
Unfortunately, their time-consuming cleaning process is a major downside. If left unserviced long enough, the grill may underperform or even stop working altogether.
When it comes to beachside camping or picnic trips to the park, small propane grills are typically preferable to charcoal-fed ones. Their usual heating output of between 15,000 and 60,000 BTUs can handle anything from chicken to steaks.
How We Picked the Best Outdoor Grill
Here are the qualities we expect from a good outdoor grill.
1. Cooking Surface
When determining the appropriate grill size, start with the cooking grate. Try to visualize how many people you’re entertaining and what is on the menu.
For example, a portable model makes a great choice for small groups of four or less. Although 200 to 300 square inches seems modest, it should be enough for simple items like sausages, bacon, and kebabs.
Meanwhile, a family with five or six people should aim for 400 to 550 square inches of cooking surface. Other than your classic burgers and hotdogs, there are lots of other options like fish, chicken, and veggies.
Now let’s say you want to take the party up a notch and invite more people. In that case, 600 to 950 square inches should be enough for a family reunion or neighborhood feast. With all that space, you won’t have trouble even if you want to smoke a whole turkey or hog.
2. Ease of Use
Hassle-free ignition: The propane grills we selected have easy-start sparkers to save time. On the other hand, lighting charcoal can be a struggle that may take a while to learn. It’d be a good idea to have a charcoal starter ready for your own convenience.
Flame adjustment: The temperature dials on a gas grill let you quickly tweak the fire with pinpoint precision. Conversely, calibrating the charcoal grill’s air vents is a delicate task that, again, takes practice to master.
Safety measures: The grills we picked are safe to use. From safety gas valves to insulated handles, multiple measures are taken to protect grillers from dangerous fire hazards, including flare-ups.
Easy cleaning: We’ve selected charcoal grills that have handy ash drawers to keep things relatively mess-free during disposal. As for the propane grills, they incorporate some sort of grease drainage system underneath the grate.
3. Weatherproofing & Rust Resistance
When exposed to heat and moisture for an extended period, the metal parts are the first to succumb to oxidation. Since these grills are meant for outdoor use, it’s important to keep them in good shape.
The grills we’ve chosen are either stainless steel or coated steel. Stainless steel remains impervious to rust even after years of exposure, showing little signs of wear and tear. The only downside is it’s more expensive, which is why this material is often reserved for the grates and burners.
Meanwhile, coated steel is less effective against the elements and may flake or peel off after a few years. To further reinforce the grill, a layer of porcelain enamel is applied to the body and the cast iron grate.
If possible, cover your grill with a breathable tarp or put it away in the garage for the winter.
4. Brand & Warranty Policy
Sticking with established and trustworthy brands like Weber is always a safe bet. Over the years, the brand has maintained great overall craftsmanship and quality and rarely disappoints. To further sweeten the deal, Weber places all of its products under an extensive warranty.
Other well-known brands among the BBQ community include Royal Gourmet and Char-Grillers. Not exactly household names in the same way, but the positive feedback from the customers is an indicator of their rising popularity.
5. Extra Accessories
You may not need these little conveniences to cook well, but sometimes it’s nice to have them at your disposal. Some grills come with features such as:
- Side tables with tool hooks
- Cabinets or shelves
- Wheels or casters
- Pizza stone & warming rack
- Rotisserie spit & skewer
- Night light
Reviews of the Best Outdoor Grill
In a hurry? Here are our picks for the best outdoor grills.
- Weber Original Kettle Premium - Best for Backyard BBQ
- Royal Gourmet CC1830C - Best for Large Parties
- Char-Griller Patio Pro E1515 - Best for Small Families
- Coleman RoadTrip 285 - Best for Camping & Tailgate Parties
- Flame King YSNHT500 - Best for RVs
Read on for the specific review of each grill.
Best Charcoal Outdoor Grills for Home Barbecuing
Grilling with charcoal is all about timing. Certain delicacies like spare ribs and briskets take several hours or even an entire day to cook properly. But if you don’t mind the wait and hard work, you’ll find these grills worth the effort.
1. Weber Original Kettle Premium — Best for Backyard BBQ
Retains heat well
Durable weatherproof exterior
Foldable cooking grate
Scatter-proof ash pan
Long warranty period (10 years limited)
Plenty of accessories
No warming rack
No bottom air vent
We find that the Weber Original Kettle Premium is a solid starting point for any budding pitmaster. It’s a kettle-type charcoal grill with a timeless design that has never gone out of style. And it’s likely that you might have spotted it at least once or twice at a barbecue party.
The grill’s diameter measures 22 inches, translating to 363 square inches of cooking surface. Weber claims the grate can fit up to 13 burger patties, but that number varies depending on who you ask. It’s too bad that the grill doesn’t feature a warming rack, though for most of us this isn’t a deal-breaker.
The only stainless steel is in the grate, but that’s not surprising, given the price. Instead of paint, the grill’s exterior has a porcelain enamel finish to prevent rust. Porcelain won’t crack or peel in contact with heat and moisture the way many paints will. It also helps the grill retain heat better.
On the lid there’s an aluminum damper that allows air to circulate throughout the grill and keep the coal burning. That said, having an additional bottom air vent would let you calibrate the flame more quickly and with more precision.
Sometimes while grilling, you may have to stop cooking and stoke the coal when the fire starts to weaken. But thanks to the foldable hinged grate, you can add and tend to the coal without interrupting anything.
The One-Touch cleaning system is a nice feature that traps ash and burnt bits, keeping things neat and safe. Considered an improvement from the previous design, this ash pan prevents pieces of cinder from scattering in the wind.
And as some finishing touches, the grill has several little conveniences like wheels, heat guard, and handles. You’ll also find a series of tool hooks to keep the lid and utensils within arm’s reach.
Meanwhile, the thermometer on the lid can only give a general reading of the grill’s inner temperature. If you want to check a specific item, especially a thick one, a separate grill thermometer will be more accurate.
There’s a reason the classic Weber Original Kettle Premium has remained so popular over the years. This grill is a great choice if you’re barbecuing for as many as six or seven people.Check Latest Price on Amazon
2. Royal Gourmet CC1830SC — Best for Large Parties
Inexpensive for its features
Large cooking area with warming rack
Height-adjustable charcoal pan
Offset smoker and smokestack included
Multiple add-on features
Rain covered included (Amazon only)
Takes time to assemble
Requires a lot of space
If you want to throw an all-out grill fest with lots of people and food, pick the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC. It might be exactly what you need if you also plan to cook huge slabs of meat and poultry.
Let’s talk numbers and specifics. The primary cooking chamber provides an ample 443 square inches of grill space, plus another 184 square inches on the warming rack. It should fit as many as three whole chickens with plenty of room to spare for veggies too.
And just for good measure, there’s an offset smoker box on the left that gives you another 184 square inches. Its heating range hovers around 160°F to 180°F, the sweet spot to cure cheese blocks and hams without overcooking.
What about cooking directly above the flames? The height-adjustable charcoal pan lets you raise the fire up right beneath the grate for searing steaks or sauteing onions. It can hold up to four and a half pounds of briquettes at a time.
With lots of small parts, it took us over an hour to put everything together. That’s fine if you can afford the time, though many people prefer the expert assembly option for an extra $99.
And to make matters worse, we realized that moving this bulky grill around isn't as easy as we expected.
For one, the entire assembly rests on a frame with only two wheels, so you have to tilt it. Moreover, the smoker box can tip the whole balance, resulting in more difficult and awkward incidents. It’s best to either ask for a helping hand or find a permanent spot for the grill and keep it there.
Other conveniences include front/side shelves with hooks, thermometer, and bottom rack.
We recommend the Royal Gourmet CC1830SC for parties of as many as 15 people. While this grill could use some improvement in certain areas, it should be able to keep the festivities going strong.Check Latest Price on Amazon
3. Char-Griller Patio Pro E1515 — Best for Small Families
Compact and lightweight
Good air circulation
Prone to rust
Few accessory features
It doesn’t make much sense to purchase a massive grill when there aren’t many people to serve. If you don’t plan on doing anything big, the Char-Griller Patio Pro E1515 will suffice for small families of four or five.
Admittedly, 250 square inches of cooking surface isn’t much to work with. A couple pork or lamb chops could fill up the modest grate, leaving no room for anything else. But assuming you keep the menu simple with small items like bratwurst or skewers, this grill should be fine.
With two side air vents, the temperature is easier to control on this grill than it does for the Weber. Plus, the drawer-like charcoal pan can slide in and out, letting you stoke the fire or dump the ash easily.
However, we found that the metal parts are rather prone to oxidation despite all their weatherproofing. The powder-coating finish tends to flake off after a few years of use. Meanwhile, the cast iron grate also builds up rust if not properly treated with oil.
It does have some conveniences such as a small side table with utensil hooks and a bottom cart with two wheels.
There’s no need to spend a fortune on the Char-Griller Patio Pro E1515 if you’re not hosting big parties. Rather than huge gatherings, this barrel-shaped grill is more appropriate for small family meals every once in a while. It’s also a budget-saving option if you don’t intend to grill often.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Best Propane Outdoor Grills for Picnic Trips
If charcoal grills are meant for home cooking, then propane-fueled ones are ideal for the road. These versatile grills require little effort to get going and still provide reliable heating when you need it.
4. Coleman RoadTrip 285 — Best for Camping & Tailgate Parties
Collapsible and space-saving design
Preheats quickly and thoroughly
Interchangeable surfaces (sold separately)
Lightweight and maneuverable
Expensive for its size
Prone to flare-ups
Flimsy side tables
The Coleman RoadTrip 285 makes for a steady and versatile outdoor cooking appliance. With its unique design and reliable heating, campers will love having this grill along for their next trip.
With 285 square inches of surface, the grates can handle as many as five or six chicken breasts. Maybe you can attempt to cram in another corn on the cob or two, but they might overcrowd things.
Unlike most grills, the grates are interchangeable with other cooktops such as griddles or stoves. These swappable cooking surfaces allow you to cook runny items like egg yolks and pancake batter, further diversifying the menu. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay extra because they aren’t part of the standard package.
To save space, the whole grill can fold down on itself. You can pack it in the car trunk and pull it along like a traveling suitcase. And when you arrive at the campground, just pop everything into place and ready the grill for action.
As for heating prowess, the triple burners combine for 20,000 BTUs per hour on the highest setting. We were also able to set up three distinct heat zones for different purposes: warming, grilling, and searing. All three preheated thoroughly and were ready for action in under 10 minutes.
The trouble is, without heat shields, this grill tends to give off violent bursts of flame when grease droplets fall into the burner orifices. For your own safety, trim off any fat and fill the cooling pan with water before cooking.
While the two retractable side tables are well-intentioned, they’re rather flimsy and may snap off under too much weight. We felt that these two tables are more decorative than actually practical.
Other conveniences include a thermometer and lid lock.
Before setting out on the next family outing to the campground or beachside party, the Coleman RoadTrip 285 is worth considering.Check Latest Price on Amazon
5. Flame King YSNHT500 — Best for RVs and Motorhomes
Inexpensive for its size
Strong heating potency
Works with disposable cans and RV fuel tanks
Warming rack and heat shield included
Many recreational vehicles (RVs) and motorhomes are equipped with built-in kitchens, but that isn’t always the case. Either way, there’s no need to overspend. With a little installation effort, the Flame King YSNHT500 can pass as a quick and inexpensive solution for all your cooking needs.
214 square inches of cooking area is rather modest, and the additional warming rack can only do so much. It only takes a single chicken to fill up the entire grate. So, our advice is to stick with skewers and small options such as drumsticks and shrimp kebabs.
Despite having only one burner, this grill manages to put out 12,000 BTUs per hour. That’s not exactly impressive compared to larger grills, but the heating intensity should suffice for high-temperature searing. And thanks to the integrated heat shield, grillers can rest easy that they won’t get many flare-ups.
This briefcase-shaped grill has two configurations: freestanding and hooked to the side of the trailer. In the latter case, a sturdy frame supports and secures the 22-pound grill in a fixed position using retainer pins. And despite our attempt to shake and wiggle it, the whole thing didn’t budge.
Be advised that this grill is compatible with both disposable cylinders and onboard fuel tanks. Make sure to choose the appropriate high-pressure connecting hose by consulting the manual or the company.
Traveling in an RV gives you ample opportunity to grill up a feast. We’re happy to say you’ll never be hungry when the Flame King YSNHT500 is part of the journey.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Top-Rated Outdoor Grills Comparison
|Model||Total Cooking Area (square inches)||Highlight Features||Warranty Length|
|Weber Original Kettle Premium||363||Limited|
|Royal Gourmet CC1830||811||1 year|
|Char-Griller Patio Pro E1515||250||1 year|
|Coleman RoadTrip 285||285||3 years limited|
|Flame King YSNHT500||214||1 year limited|
The search for the best outdoor grills should be easier now that you are better informed. Hopefully, our buying guide and reviews have been helpful. If there’s anything you want to share or discuss, leave us a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.