The Grill Master’s Guide to the Best Grills and Smokers

As the sun emerges from behind the clouds and the daily temperature begins to rise (to the point where you’re prepping to put away that winter coat once and for all), there’s no denying it: Grilling season is well on its way.

But before the barbecue season officially begins, do you have the most reliable, up-to-date tools? Which BBQ grills, smokers, meats, and recipes are right for you to enjoy all season long? Due to the combination of a huge number of options and different individual needs, it can feel like a daunting task to create the perfect backyard setup.

No worries, we’ve got you. These high-quality barbecue essentials will take the guesswork out of which items you’ll swear by this grilling season and help make it your very best yet.

Fire Up the Grill

You can’t be a grill master without the right grill, obviously. These seven BBQ grills all meet different needs and possess different functions, but they do share one thing in common: a dedication to quality.

1. PK Grill PK360 Grill and Smoker Combination

PK360 Grill and Smoker Combination

PK Grills


The PK360 is a fully-realized BBQ experience. You don’t just get a high-quality cast aluminum grill/smoker combo—the rig has sturdy detachable shelves with plenty of space for anything you’d want to stack on top, from plates of food to speaker systems. We’ve tested the PK360 and love the expansive 360 sq. inch (get it?) cooking surface, which the company claims is 40 percent larger than competitor Big Green Egg. A 4-Point vent system lets you control the heat, and its easy-to-read built-in thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking with charcoal. If you need to grill on the go, the rig is sturdy and more portable than it looks, while its Ash Hole (PK’s name, we promise) makes clean-up time quick, so you don’t make a mess.

2. Everdure by Heston Blumenthal’s Hub




There are those who are completely analog grillers. Those who’ve mastered the art of using a charcoal chimney to get their briquettes burning bright without resorting to using a gallon of lighter fluid (which taints your meat, by the way). If that’s not you, fret not. Meet the Hub, a hybrid charcoal grill that uses an electric fast flame ignition system. Not only does the Hub, from Everdure by Heston Blumenthal, look modern, chic, and sleek, but with one press of a button, the electric coils fire up your charcoal bed to red hot in less than ten minutes. Cool-touch handles mean you’re able to lift up the grates and move the charcoal around to create direct and indirect zones of heat. The best part? The freaking built-in rotisserie system. Feel like roasting a whole pig while you flame-kiss burgers and porterhouses? Pop up the rotisserie support poles, skewer your meat, start the motor and watch ’er spin.

3. Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill



Everyone’s got to start somewhere—and considering its name recognition and penchant for high-quality products, Weber is never a bad place to start. This easy-to-assemble, easy-to-clean BBQ grill ensures the best of your performance, even if you’ve never flipped a patty in your life. There’s plenty of workspace for cutting vegetables and prepping your food, whether you choose to be your own sous chef or enlist the skills of a trusted friend. The ignition system is simple, fast, and can get you on your way to becoming the grill master you’ve always wanted to be. Crown and scepter not included.

4. Traeger Lil’ Pig Electrical Pellet Grill and Smoker

Traeger Lil’ Pig Electrical Pellet Grill and Smoker

Don’t underestimate the power of this pig. She’s not just about looks, she’s also got the performance to back it up. Heated by pure wood pellets, this grill has the capability to cook hot and fast for some smoky char, or slow, low temperature to impart rich flavor. Don’t just grill this summer, the Traeger Lil’ Pig is all about versatility, letting you braise, smoke, bake and roast, meaning you could grill up a steak or bake a pie–whatever suits your fancy. A spacious surface gives you all the possibilities you need.

5. Char-Broil Classic 2-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner

Classic 2-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner



Let’s face it: BBQ grills are expensive. Like, really expensive. But they don’t always have to be. A nearly perfect entry-level gas grill, this two-burner option from Char-Broil is a great step up if you’re looking to dive into propane grilling for the first time but don’t want to make a huge financial investment. At sub-$175, it’s a great intersection of price and features (that side burner is a killer add-on) and is perfect for smaller grilling affairs or to work on elevating your existing technique.

6. Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane LED Gas Grill

4-Burner Propane LED Gas Grill

Monument Grills


With four burners, 60,000 BTUs of cooking power, and 513 sq. inches of cooking space, this grill from Monument is a perfect mid-size solution for those looking to grill for big gatherings. The side burner is pretty standard in most propane grills—but what’s not is the LED-backlit knobs, perfect for when grilling lasts longer than anticipated or if you wanna grill in the winter when the sun sets early.

7. Dyna-Glo Premier 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill

Premier 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill



If you’re like us, you take your grilling seriously. With durable, commercial-grade stainless steel burners, the Dyna-Glo 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill has everything the grilling connoisseur needs, and it’s built to last. A total of 60,000 BTUs mean you’ve got enough power to fire up a big meal with multiple dishes. The side burner with 12,000 BTUs is designed to accommodate smaller fares like grilled veggies. It’ll be just what you need if you plan on spending every free moment dining al fresco this spring and summer.

Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em

Some BBQ grills, but not all, can be used as smokers. But if you’re really looking for that fork-tender, fall-off-the-bone meat, you want to go low and slow and a BBQ smoker is your best option. These five BBQ smokers will be your go-to favorites this summer. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.

1. Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Grill and Smoker

Akorn Kamado Charcoal Grill



One reviewer said it best: This BBQ smoker “is simply the greatest thing you can do for your backyard.” The high marks are due in part to its superior level of insulation as well as its ability to kill two birds with one stone as a traditional grill and an innovative smoker. It also retails for a fraction of the price of competitors’ products while still delivering delicious results.

2. Cuisinart Vertical Propane Smoker

Vertical Propane Smoker



Fit all your protein into this vertical smoker courtesy of four spacious 14 sq. inch stainless steel racks that can be easily removed to make space or for cleaning. Powered by propane, firing up this smoker is as easy as turning a knob. An adjustable back vent increases or decreases the temperature to get your meat and vegetables cooked just how you like ‘em.

3. Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker

Smokey Mountain Cooker



$283.01 (25% off)

The Weber name guarantees reliability and this BBQ smoker is no exception. The built-in thermometer means that you can easily monitor the heat of your items and the integrated water pan keeps meats juicy, never dry, charred, or burnt. Multiple grates allow you to cook multiple items at once, from roast to ribs.

4. Masterbuilt 20071117 Digital Electric Smoker

20071117 Digital Electric Smoker



Stay connected with this digital electric smoker from Masterbuilt. Its digital panel controls the power buttons as well as the temperature and heat of the meat and cooking time. Beyond the simple press of a button, it also features a patented wood chip loading system that allows you to add wood without opening the smoker itself. If that’s not convincing enough, you can also use it to make the perfect pan of mac and cheese.

5. Camp Chef PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker

PG24DLX Deluxe Pellet Grill and Smoker

Camp Chef


If you’re the type who likes a two-for-one deal, the grill-and-smoker combo from Camp Chef will be your go-to this summer. It promises that you’ll no longer have to “babysit” your dishes, standing alongside the smoker with a watchful eye and missing the party. It has digital temperature control (which means that it’s programmable), automatic pellet feeding technology, and even better, it cleans itself with the pull of a lever. All of the work is done for you.

Go Full Ron Swanson With the Meats

To make the best meal, you’re going to need the best cuts of meat. You can’t always get those down the block. These mail-order services bring choice cuts to your door, ensuring that you’ll be able to stay right by the grill and get started.

1. Omaha Steaks

Grilling Extravaganza

Omaha Steaks


Omaha Steaks, the biggest name in meat delivery, promises has everything you could need with its collection of BBQ-ready meats and dishes for $159.99. That includes porter house steaks, pork chops, burgers, and boneless chicken breasts. If you weren’t hungry before, you officially are now.

2. Butcher Box

Butcher Box Sirloin Steak short ribs

Butcher Box


Butcher Box has the potential to be your favorite box subscription service yet. Why? The others won’t get your mouth watering quite like this one. As your own person butcher, Butcher Box lets you pick which meats you prefer, whether that’s chicken, beef, or pork. Prices vary depending on your tastes and choices.

3. Porter Road

Best of Porter Road Box



Porter Road pretty much gives you unlimited choices, no matter the occasion or taste. Grill master? They’ve got it. Bacon lover? Yep. Whether you need a single type of meat or prefer a bundle, there’s something for everyone at a reasonable, affordable price point.

Cook Better BBQ Food

We could use a little extra help when it comes to cooking. Leave it to the professionals, including Mark Bittman and Michael Symon, whose books are not only full of recipes perfect for the grill — they’re also bestsellers.

1. How to Grill Everything by Mark Bittman

How To Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The name pretty much says it all. An Amazon bestseller and an Editors’ Pick for barbecuing and grilling, Bittman’s book goes beyond the usual, run-of-the-mill recipes and shows readers how to throw anything and everything on the grill.

2. Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace by Michael Symon

Michael Symon’s Playing with Fire: BBQ and More from the Grill, Smoker, and Fireplace: A Cookbook

Clarkson Potter

Restauranteur, The Chew cohost, and Iron Chef Michael Symon’s book is focused on the mainstay of grilling: meat. Carnivores, beware. The main complaint about Symon’s recipes is that they don’t come with a scratch-and-sniff option.

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