Nothing says summer like grilling up easy summer recipes with a perfect char. Of course, you'll need the right grill to make the job quick, easy and low-mess. In the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab, we've tested more than 50 grills over the years to determine which are the best you can buy, including gas, charcoal, kamado, pellet and portable options. We've cooked 56 steaks and 220 pieces of chicken to determine how well each grill sears, while keeping an eye on smoking and flare-ups. We've also toasted almost 1,000 pieces of bread on the gas grills to see how evenly they heat. In addition to performance, we assessed helpful extras like side tables, tool storage, concealed gas tanks and wheels for portability. These are the best grills you can buy in 2021:
What type of grill is best?
When buying a new outdoor grill, the two biggest players are gas and charcoal, but electric and wood pellet grills are also fair game. When selecting what type of grill to buy, consider how often you'll be grilling, the amount of space you have for storage, what flavor you prefer, and the amount of time and attention you'll want to spend cooking. Here are the basics on each:
- Gas grills are the most common type. Gas grills are great because they offer excellent control over cooking temp (the ability to adjust the burner knobs makes it less likely that you'll end up with burnt brisket!), plus they ignite with the push of a button, heat up quickly, and are easy to clean. It's the go-to option for no-fuss grillers who plan to barbecue frequently. Just keep in mind that you'll need fuel from a propane tank or natural gas line on your property.
- Charcoal grills require briquettes or lump charcoal to ignite. Charcoal is more hands-on and takes time to heat up and cool down but imparts a better, more barbecue-y flavor than gas because it often gets hotter. For grilling purists willing to work for it.
- Kamado grills use charcoal to heat but have thicker walls than charcoal grills that are often made of ceramic. They can reach very hot temperatures, like a pizza oven and they retain heat well for low and slow smokes.
- Electric grills plug in and can't be beat for ease-of-use or convenience — especially the grills that can be used indoors or at apartment complexes that don't allow grills —just don't expect steaks or burgers "browned" on an electric grill to taste like the ones from a real BBQ.
- Pellet grills are a growing category that use hardwood pellets made out of wood scraps to heat. Pellets provide a delicious, authentic hardwood flavor to food but are costly and may be hard to track down.
Best Tabletop Grill
Rambler Portable Charcoal Grill
Oklahoma Joe's Rambler is a great option if you're short on space but still crave a smoky, charcoal flavor. It's small, but sturdy and durable enough to be used at high temps or as a slow-cooking smoker, too. Large handles deck either side so you can move it around easily, plus one on the front for smooth operating. The included grate is made of cast iron and is divided in two, which allows coals to effortlessly be added to the tray mid-cook as well as create different cooking areas (very hot with more coals, or not as hot with less coals or none at all). The coal tray is adjustable to three different heights, which we found easy to use to adjust the cooking temperature, and the ash pan spans across the entire length of the grill for simple cleanup. In our tests, the grill proved easy to use while set up in our yards or taken to the park.