2018 Grill Buying Guide, Part 2 of 2: Detailed Reviews of 20+ Amazing Grills

Welcome to Part 2 of GRILLGUIDE.net’s big ol’ two-part Grill Buying Guide! Click here if you missed Part 1 and need some help navigating the different types of grills that are available. Otherwise, let’s get right to it and look at some grills!

Grill Buying Guide Part 1

Grill Buying Guide Part 2

Charcoal Grill Buying Guide

Weber Smokey Joe 14-inch Portable Grill

The first grill featured in this grill buying guide is the classic Weber Smokey Joe, and for good reason. You just can’t beat it for the money. The lid and the bowl are coated with porcelain enamel to prevent rust, and Weber backs this product with a 10 year warranty on the big metal parts. As of this writing, the Smokey Joe has been reviewed 1,142 times on Amazon, and 1,046 of those reviews are 4 or 5 star ratings. That alone is hard for any product to achieve, but also consider that many of the reviews are from people who have owned their Smokey Joe for several years. This isn’t a fancy grill, but it gets the job done and is as portable as a grill can be.

grill buying guide grill review weber smokey joe
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer AA loves his Weber Smokey Joe!

gas grill reviews

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill

The Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is very similar to the Smokey Joe above. It’s a portable charcoal grill with porcelain-enameled bowl and lid which makes it rust-resistant, and it comes with the same 10 year limited warranty that Weber offers on all of their charcoal grills. The big difference, of course, is the form factor. Where the Smokey Joe is a baby version of the Weber Original Kettle (below), the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill is rectangular. So what, you say? Look, we all love the round Weber, but throwing in some angles and corners might be a good thing here, depending on your needs. Small grills are designed to be portable, and the rectangular shape of this grill makes it easy to pack up and move. The rounded wire “legs” on the Go-Anywhere flip up over the sides to grip the bowl and lid, and this allows you to carry the whole thing by the handle as a single unit. The design may not be revolutionary, but it’s sufficiently clever and really does make this model a bit more convenient than its spherical cousin.

Amazon ratings on this portable Weber grill are at about the same high level as the Smokey Joe, with 746 out of 803 Amazon reviewers giving it 4 or 5 star ratings as of this writing. The few who gave it less-than-stellar ratings mostly complained that it’s smaller than expected and that the handles get too hot. Many also feel that the coals are too close to the cooking grate. True, that is something to consider … what the Smokey Joe lacks in modular design, it makes up for in bowl depth, which certainly can affect the cooking experience.

So do you go for the round Smokey Joe or the rectangular Go-Anywhere? I think that’s probably a matter of how important it is to have a grill that’s convenient to move from place to place. You’ll be sacrificing a bit in the size of the grill, and you may have to adjust the way you cook on it due to the relatively shallow bowl. But if you find yourself juggling too many things and just need a small grill that’s easy to pack up, the Weber Go-Anywhere might be what you want.

weber grill review grill buying guide go-anywhere charcoal grill
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Misty also felt the coals were too close to the cooking grate, so she did away with the grate at the bottom of the bowl! I don’t know what long-term effect that’ll have on the metal, but she seems happy with her solution.

gas grill reviews

Weber Original Kettle 22-inch Charcoal Grill

I swear, this grill buying guide will NOT be wall-to-wall Weber! But there’s no denying it … Weber is synonymous with charcoal grills, kind of like Xerox is synonymous with photocopiers. There will be a number of Weber grills featured here because they make some great products. Of course, the Weber Original Kettle Grill is what put them on the map in the first place. According to Weber, their first kettle grill was invented by George Stephen in 1952. In 1956, it got a makeover that is more or less the same basic design they sell today (see the photo below). The Weber Kettle was, and still is, a grill that’s simple, affordable, and high quality. Just like the Smokey Joe above, this grill is porcelain enameled to protect it from rust, and the same 10 year warranty applies. Also, much like the Smokey Joe, the overwhelming majority of reviews on this grill are positive. As of this writing, 799 out of 874 Amazon reviewers have given it 4 or 5 star ratings.

If you’re looking for a charcoal grill that you can enjoy for years without spending a lot of cash, the Weber Original Kettle Grill is it. There are also fancier versions of the Kettle if your budget has some wiggle room. The Weber Original Kettle Premium (pictured down below, on the right) has an ash-catching thing underneath it for easy ash removal. It also has a hinged cooking grate so you can just lift up part of the grate and add more coals. The Weber Performer Deluxe comes with a bunch of extras including the ash catcher and a gas ignition system (it lights the charcoal), and that will be discussed below.

weber grill review grill buying guide
[click to enlarge] I shamelessly stole this image from the Weber history page on their website! I’m guessing they won’t mind.
weber kettle grill review grill buying guide
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Steven foster (sic) is one with his Weber Kettle.

weber original kettle premium review
The Weber Original Kettle Premium comes with a “One-Touch cleaning system” instead of the basic ash pan! The hinged cooking grate is also a pretty nice feature.

gas grill reviews

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill

As far as I know, this is the only infrared grill on the market that uses charcoal! The Char-Boil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is round like the Weber Kettle that everyone already knows and loves, but it comes equipped with Char-Broil’s proprietary infrared cooking grate. The reason this matters, and the reason it’s called “infrared,” is that the design captures heat and radiates it upward at the food you’re cooking. This means even cooking across the whole grate, and your food will retain more juices. Char-Broil’s infrared grate design also prevents flareups and doesn’t let bits of food fall onto the coals. Click here for a full explanation of what infrared grills are all about if you’re new to this type of grill.

I will be doing a much more detailed writeup on the Kettleman sometime soon. For now, suffice it to say that Char-Broil’s Kettleman is one of the few charcoal grills out there that rivals Weber’s Kettle. Even its “approval rating” rivals Weber’s typically high ratings on Amazon. As of this writing, 163 out of 182 Amazon reviewers have given it 4 or 5 star ratings. That’s a solid 90% who say it’s awesome. Oh, and P.S., the Kettleman’s lid has a hinge! Just flip it up and do your thing. That convenience alone might make some Weber Kettle fans convert to this Char-Broil.

charcoal grill review grill buying guide infrared charcoal grill
[click to enlarge] The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman‘s grill grate covers a lot more of the grill than the Weber Original Kettle’s default wire grill grate.
char-broil tru-Infrared kettleman grill review
[click to enlarge] Oh, and did I mention that the Kettleman uses less charcoal than “regular” charcoal grills? Amazon reviewer g light noticed, and (s)he seems really happy with it.

gas grill reviews

Char-Broil Charcoal Grill, 580 Square Inch

I’ll just say this right now to save everyone some time: If you’re not good at assembling fairly complex things, either buy this grill with Amazon’s “Expert Assembly” (at an extra cost) or don’t buy it at all! Click here to see the user manual (file size: 3 mb) and check out the assembly diagrams. That should give you an idea of what your grill assembly adventure will look like.

If you’re still reading, I’ll take that to mean you’re totally OK with putting this grill together! This is important because, as of this writing, 38 out of 129 Amazon reviewers have given this Char-Broil Charcoal Grill a rating of 3 stars or less. Why? Mainly because it was hard to put together, and I’m guessing that a number of those people didn’t do an awesome job of it. A grill that isn’t well-assembled is going to leak a lot of heat, or it’ll be wobbly, or certain moving parts won’t work right. You don’t want that. Numerous unhappy customers also reported getting a grill that was damaged in one way or another. It’s unclear if that’s the fault of Char-Broil, Amazon, the shipper, or all three. Regardless, if you get a grill with a dented hood or something, call Amazon and/or Char-Broil immediately.

Now let’s move on to what’s GOOD about this Char-Broil grill: everything else! It’s thoughtfully designed to provide easy access to the coals during cooking. There’s a separate ash pan for easy cleanup. And the big feature that makes this charcoal grill unique? The charcoal pan height is adjustable! Not many grills do this, and it’s potentially huge if you like to do different things with your grill. Move it up, closer to the cooking grate, to sear. Move it down if things are getting too hot. Temperature control is the one thing that makes charcoal grills a challenge, and being able to raise or lower the coals really helps in that department. If you can assemble this grill and assemble it well, there’s a great chance you’ll love it.

char-broil charcoal grill review grill buying guide
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer shahedalla busted his butt putting his Char-Broil Charcoal Grill together, and look how happy he is! I already like this guy, and I don’t even know him. And it looks like he knows how to do a backyard BBQ right.

gas grill reviews

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 22-inch Charcoal Smoker

Truth be told, a lot of smoked meat evangelists would probably tell you to go with a ceramic grill (skip down to see those) or a wood pellet grill (skip down) if you want to smoke a big butt (haha) or anything else that might take a long time to cook. Ceramic and wood pellet grills, after all, are usually what come to mind when the goal is to do long, low-and-slow smokes that don’t require a lot of supervision. They’re great options, no doubt about it, but they’re also pretty expensive options.

The Weber Smokey Mountain is waaaayy more affordable, and you can still cook low-and-slow like the pros do. The two cooking grates, which sit one above the other, provide a total of 726 sq. in. of cooking area if you buy the large 22 inch model. I’ll concede that having one cooking grate sit below the other isn’t super convenient, but Weber was kind enough to provide a nice little trap door on the side of the grill. That door gives you access to both the bottom grate and coals at the bottom in case you need to add more charcoal, but the access to the bottom grate is a bit limited. Like, if you’re going to roast a turkey on that bottom grate, you’ll have to take it out by removing the top grate. Pulling a rack of ribs out through the trap door shouldn’t be a problem, though.

If you’re unsure of whether the Weber Smokey Mountain can really get the job done, look no further than the Amazon reviews. As of this moment, this Weber charcoal smoker has been reviewed 1,896 times, and 1,826 of those reviews are 4 or 5 star ratings. That’s 97% of buyers who love it, and a lot of them are doing smokes that run 10-12 hours or more. This Weber smoker may not have the same insulation as a Kamado Joe, but it holds its temperature just fine nonetheless. The 3% of buyers who didn’t love it complained about receiving bent or damaged parts, the grill’s 3-piece design making it hard to move, or they had issues with the trap door on the side.

If you’re interested in buying a smoker without surrendering a small fortune, you should definitely take a good look at the Weber Smokey Mountain. It’s certainly done right by the guy in the photo below, Harry Soo, who is a competitive BBQ pit master. He routinely wins competitions with his Weber Smokey Mountain, and apparently he goes up against some very serious competitors who are cooking with some very expensive gear. It just goes to show that cooking deliciousness doesn’t have to cost a truckload of money. If you have a great tool like this Weber, the rest is up to you and your recipe.

charcoal grill buying guide weber smokey mountain review
[click to enlarge] Meet Amazon reviewer and competitive BBQ pit master Harry Soo. He’s all about smoking, and the Weber Smokey Mountain wins him championships! There really is no greater testimonial than that (the “WSM-18” he refers to is the Weber Smokey Mountain 18-inch smoker).

gas grill reviews

Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Out of all of the charcoal grills featured in this section, this is the third Weber kettle! I think it’s safe to say that Weber’s on to something. The other two Weber kettle grills we’ve already covered are the Smokey Joe and the Original Kettle itself. Take a good look at the photo below and you’ll see that the Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill is basically the same as the Weber Original Kettle Premium, but it has a big fancy base instead of a simple wheel rack. Like the Original Kettle Premium, it has the One-Touch ash catcher down below, and it also has the hinged cooking grate inside. The “deluxe” additions include the very handy steel cart frame, a thermometer built into the grill lid, and a “CharBin” storage container, presumably for your charcoal.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! The coolest feature of this grill is, without a doubt, the gas ignition system. This IS a charcoal grill, so don’t let the word “gas” confuse you. A small, disposable propane (LP) canister (sold separately, of course) powers the built-in gas igniter. This means you don’t have to fool with a chimney starter or starter cubes or (gasp!) lighter fluid. The Weber Performer Deluxe doesn’t come cheap, but it is certainly designed to make your charcoal grilling adventures easier and more fun.

Like the other Weber products covered in this grill buying guide, this grill is very highly rated. As of this writing, 161 out of 180 Amazon reviewers have given it 4 or 5 star ratings. The 19 people who weren’t impressed mostly had issues with damaged or missing parts. One of them actually said that the gas ignition caused a “fire and explosion” that resulted in physical injury and damage to her house. I don’t know what happened there, but the fact that nobody else has reported similar incidents suggests a high chance of user error. Still, it’s a good reminder that flammable gas always needs to be handled carefully! This grill may be pricey compared to Weber’s other charcoal grills, but it’s classy and has some cool features. If that’s what you want, this grill is a solid buy.

weber grill review weber performer deluxe charcoal grill review grill buying guide
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer 2gun loves this grill so much that (s)he came back four months later to sing its praises again! That’s a nice vote of confidence.

gas grill reviews

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

This is not a grill! But if you’re using charcoal briquets in any grill (including ceramic grills), you should get a chimney starter. The lone exception is if you’re buying a charcoal grill like the Weber Performer Deluxe, which has built-in gas ignition. The Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter holds about 100 charcoal briquets and provides a nice, easy way to get your charcoal going quickly. And it’s cheap! There are more expensive chimney starters out there, but this one will do.

Chimney starters are very easy to use. Just shove some newspaper in the bottom, fill it with charcoal, and light up the newspaper. When the charcoal is lit, put on an oven mitt (safety first!) and gently dump it into your grill. Weber also sells a smaller chimney starter if you’re using a small grill like a Smokey Joe. If you don’t usually have any newspaper nearby, you should probably also pick up some lighter cubes.

Why do you need a chimney starter? Because lighter fluid will ruin your food! Honestly, I don’t even know why they sell that stuff. Pouring a flammable chemical on your charcoal is great if you love the taste of gasoline, but it’s a bad idea if you want to enjoy your food. NEVER, EVER USE LIGHTER FLUID! A chimney starter like this one is the way to go. This public service announcement has been brought to you by Buy/Don’t Buy.

grill buying guide don't use lighter fluid

Grill Buying Guide Part 1

Grill Buying Guide Part 2

Ceramic Grill Buying Guide

Beacon Ceramic Grill

There isn’t a lot of information out there on the Beacon Ceramic Grill. Maybe it’s made by a little mom-and-pop shop that doesn’t have an advertising budget, who knows. But a few things stand out here:

1. It looks a lot like the Kamado Joe, featured down below.
2. It is, indeed, made of ceramic.
3. Buyers say it’s heavy, and that’s good.
4. The price!

The price is considerably lower than other ceramic grills because this one is small. Whereas the Pit Boss and the Kamado Joe are both 22 inch grills, the Beacon is just 13 inches. Depending on your needs, this might be great or it might be a deal breaker. The Beacon Ceramic Grill is available in both red and black, and as of this writing, the black one is priced almost $100 higher than the red. Not sure why, since they appear to be the same grill but in different colors. Anyway, what little has been said about these ceramic grills is mostly positive. Happy buyers say that the performance is a lot like they would expect from a much more expensive kamado grill. To quote one Amazon reviewer, “Big green what?” It should be noted, however, that this grill’s “basket,” or the rack that it sits in, does not have wheels. Those can be bought separately here. If you’re looking for a low-cost ceramic grill, this one might be worth a shot.

ceramic grill review beacon ceramic grill
Looking for a small ceramic grill that won’t bankrupt you? You found it!

gas grill reviews

Pit Boss Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker, 22″

If you want a true, full-size ceramic kamado grill that’s under $1,000, the 22-inch Pit Boss Kamado BBQ Ceramic Grill Cooker is where your attention should be focused. As of this writing, 45 out of 51 Amazon reviewers have given it 4 or 5 star ratings, and for the most part, it seems like the only common gripe is that the bottom air vent doesn’t seal as tightly as one would expect. To paraphrase one reviewer, you can pay $100s or even $1,000 more for a ceramic grill with better overall quality, but the Pit Boss remains the best value.

This ceramic grill is legit where it matters. You can use it to do a low-and-slow smoke, you can cook a pizza on it, you can do your steaks and burgers on it. Anything you can do with a more expensive ceramic grill can be done on the Pit Boss. The few Amazon reviewers who gave it low ratings received either a damaged grill or damaged parts. Amazon is famous for their great customer service, so if this happens to you just let them know immediately. What you should expect to receive, though, is a heavy-duty ceramic grill that will perform with the best of them.

ceramic grill review pit boss kamado
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer kim johnson doesn’t love the lower air vent door, but otherwise she’s pleased as heck with her Pit Boss!

gas grill reviews

Kamado Joe Classic II, Blaze Red

Forget everything you’ve heard about the Big Green Egg. The Big Red Egg is better! The Kamado Joe Classic II is one of the few products I’ve ever seen on Amazon that has a bunch of positive reviews but not a single truly negative review. The only reviewer who gave it less than 4 or 5 stars complained about the price, and that person also doesn’t appear to have even bought it (no “verified purchase” stamp on the review). Granted, there are only 37 Amazon reviews of this Kamado Joe as of this writing, but that’s still impressive. Buyers of other ceramic grills have complained about receiving a grill that was damaged or incomplete or otherwise flawed, but those complaints are absent here. I’m going to tell you why the Kamado Joe is better than the Big Green Egg in a moment, but first, here are some words from an anonymous reviewer who does, indeed, have “Verified Purchase” stamped on his or her review:

Let me start by saying I also own a Big Green Egg large. … I have nothing against the Egg, it has dominated the market for a long time and has made kamado grilling what it is today. But (the Kamado Joe Classic II) is just far better thought out, I really can’t find a place (where) the Egg outshines it. The dimensions are the same, warranties the same, but the Red is deep and to me has a better appeal than green too, not that it matters much.
Amazon Customer, June 19, 2017

That’s coming from a buyer who owns a Big Green Egg and bought the Kamado Joe Classic II as a father’s day gift (lucky dad!). Both grills are big ceramic cookers. Both perform their duties admirably. So what makes the Kamado Joe better? There are numerous differences, but two things stand out. For starters, the chimney on the Big Green Egg is hinged with a single screw, and this allows it to fall out of place when you open the lid of the grill. The Kamado Joe’s chimney is designed in such a way that it will stay in position when you lift up the lid. This may not seem like a huge deal, but when you have the chimney set to maintain a certain temperature, you don’t want to have to set it again.

ceramic grill review kamado joe ii classic
A kamado chimney can be replaced, but it’s probably better to just get a ceramic grill that already has an intelligently designed chimney.

The other feature of the Kamado Joe that makes it better than the BGE is the “air lift” hinge. This is a very, very big deal. Ceramic grills are heavy, and that means the lid is also heavy. With the Kamado Joe, you can lift the lid with one finger, and it will stay wherever you put it. There is no chance of it accidentally slamming down and potentially damaging your grill or crushing a finger. This is  a major convenience that other ceramic grills don’t have.

I’ll be doing a full writeup on the Kamado Joe Classic II at a later date. For now, if you’re in the market for this kind of grill, you truly can’t go wrong with the Kamado Joe. And if you want a bigger one than in the photo below, they also sell the Big Joe II.

[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Brandon H. almost bought a Big Green Egg, but he's glad he went with the Kamado Joe.
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Brandon H. almost bought a Big Green Egg, but he’s glad he went with the Kamado Joe.

gas grill reviews

PLEASE NOTE: The “kamado” grills discussed below are NOT made of ceramic! They are made of steel. They are excellent grills in their own right and you can even smoke low-and-slow, but don’t mistake them for true kamado grills. Ceramic and steel have very different properties when it comes to heat retention, so you should not expect a steel “kamado” to perform exactly the same way a ceramic grill would. Perhaps more importantly, these steel “kamados” certainly won’t last a lifetime like a ceramic grill could. Notice how I keep on putting the word “kamado” in “quotes.”

  gas grill reviews

Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill

If you’re a kamado purist, move along! Nothing to see here. But if you like the idea of owning a kamado grill and wish there were a less-expensive alternative, this is for you. The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker (no, I did not misspell that) may be made of steel, but its triple-walled insulated design holds heat like a champ. As of this writing, about 75% of the 600+ Amazon reviews of the Char-Griller Akorn are 4 or 5 star ratings. It’s unclear whether the Akorn can hold steady smoking temperatures for as long as a ceramic grill, but it should do just fine for 8-12 hour smoke times, and maybe even longer. Fans of the Char-Griller Akorn LOVE it to death, and they’re quite pleased with having spent a fraction of what a ceramic grill would have cost them. One Amazon reviewer has this to say:

This is the perfect multi function grill. I’ve cooked low and slow, at traditional grill temps 350-400, and I’ve gotten it up to 600 to seer steaks. You can not beat the price when compared to BGE or Kamado Joe. I also got rid of my Nexgrill gas grill, this is just as easy to operate.
Amazon Customer, January 24, 2018

The 25% of customers who didn’t love their Akorn have reported that the cooking grate is easily broken, or they had problems with the lid hinge breaking. A handful of people have posted pictures of dented grill lids that apparently were damaged during shipping. Some buyers actually thought the Akorn was made of ceramic, which it clearly is not. Two people have reported a potential fire hazard in the bottom of the grill, and that may be the result of cooking at temperatures above 700° F, which the owner’s manual warns you not to do.

Despite the unhappy customers who seem to have run into some bad luck with their dented grills, the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker is a very safe roll of the dice. In the unlikely event that yours is dented, call Amazon and they’ll fix it. Otherwise, you’ll be loving your Char-Griller Akorn. And you’ll have plenty of cash leftover to spend on a summer’s worth of steaks, ribs, and briskets.

egg smoker review char-griller akorn kamado kooker
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer EJC loves the Char-Griller Akorn so much that he (or she?) spend Valentine’s Day writing a review of it! That’s love.

gas grill reviews

Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill

The Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill is built somewhat like the Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker (above). It has an insulated steel design and is therefore built to retain heat really well. As for whether the Kamander and the Akorn are similar in performance … well, it looks pretty close. As of this writing, there are only 18 reviews of the Kamander on Amazon, but one Amazon reviewer says that the Kamander held its smoking temperature for 6-8 hours as needed. Another reviewer says that (s)he can smoke a brisket for 8-10 hours without adding additional charcoal, and another reviewer on Char-Broil’s website made a similar claim. Which steel “kamado” can smoke for longer? That’s not entirely clear, but for most people, a 10-hour smoke time is usually sufficient.

If you look at the negative reviews of the Kamander, you will notice that four out of the seven complained about poor air flow control, possibly because the air vent dampers were made of plastic. That’s right, plastic parts on a steel grill. Not too bright. No wonder there were complaints! I read somewhere that Char-Broil had changed the grill design to include metal dampers instead of plastic, so I checked with Char-Broil directly. Their customer service rep told me that that was, indeed, true. That change was made as of December 2017. If you already have a Char-Broil Kamander with plastic dampers, just contact Char-Broil at 1-866-239-6777 or chat up one of their reps at charbroil.com. They will send you metal replacement parts for free!

kamado grill review char-broil kamander plastic parts
[click to enlarge] Straight from the horse’s mouth: The Kamander is now made with metal air dampers, not plastic! And that includes the air intake tube.
I think the Char-Broil Kamander Charcoal Grill has gotten a bad rep due to the plastic air vent parts scaring potential buyers away. In addition to the 11 positive reviews on Amazon, there are several dozen reviews on the Char-Broil website that are overwhelmingly positive. I was prepared to recommend the Char-Griller Akorn over the Kamander without reservation, but I have much more confidence in the Kamander now. Confirming that they have fixed a major design flaw in the grill just might lay to rest the concerns voiced by those who had air flow problems. If you buy the Kamander and get the metal air dampers, please let me know in the comment section how things turned out!

kamado grill review char-broil kamander
[click to enlarge] The inner workings of the Char-Broil Kamander.

Grill Buying Guide Part 1

Grill Buying Guide Part 2

Gas Grill Buying Guide

Char-Broil Classic 280 2-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill

The Char-Broil Classic 2-Burner Grill isn’t the sexiest grill on the block. It’s simple. Basic. Spartan. Call it what you want. It’s a gas grill! It will cook your burgers and other meats with fire. Cavemen would have loved this thing. The Amazon ratings on this grill are pretty decent: There are 283 reviews as of this writing, and 186 of them gave it 4 or 5 stars! They paid a fairly small sum for the world’s most basic gas grill, and they were happy with the purchase.

And then there are the people who weren’t so thrilled with it, and most of them seemed to have issues with assembly. Some reported missing parts or burner/ignition malfunctions, but assembly was the biggest issue by far. Since the difficulty level of grill assembly is such a subjective thing, I think it’s probably best to disregard it in this case. If you have trouble putting this grill together, I can all but guarantee that buying a more expensive grill won’t be any easier (unless it comes with free expert assembly).

Just for fun, let’s take a look at some conflicting opinions on assembly difficulty. Here’s the owner’s manual (file size: 14 mb) so you can see what these people were up against:


  • “Many reviews were saying it was hard to put together. Not the case. Have patience and stay organized and it’s very straight forward.”
  • “It took me two and a half hours but as I said, the assembly was fun.”
  • “There weren’t any instructions on the manual but it was easy to follow the steps. Nothing complicated.”
  • “The assembly is easy if you take your time and follow the pictures exactly. “
  • “My 12 year old put it together this morning.”


  • “I now know why North Korea hates America so bad. They bought the Char-Broil 2-burner gas grill from Amazon and attempted to assemble it.”
  • “Biggest piece of $#IT ever it comes in 1000 pieces and took 3 hours to assemble.”
  • “You will spend the weekend putting it together not grilling!”
  • “When I need 4 arms, two hands and knee to hold all the parts together while I try to put one screw in place, something is f***ed… Just saying.”
  • “An unclear blow up picture is all you get. It took me 3 hours to put this together and 2 hours of that time was trying to figure it out.”

LOL. “My 12 year old put it together.” I’m sure that 12-year-old is a bright kid. Still, it just goes to show that not everyone has the same skillset. If you think assembling this grill is going to be a problem, either pay Amazon for their “expert assembly” (which, haha, costs almost as much as the grill itself) or recruit a Beautiful Mind-type genius to assist you. Maybe the neighbor’s 6th grader?

Oh, and BT-dubs, this Char-Broil 2-burner Grill is also available in 3-burner and 4-burner models! Assembly woes included. Or not.

P.S. The 3-burner model has an optional side burner! Gettin’ fancy. Not sure why the 4-burner model doesn’t offer it.

grill buying guide char-broil 2-burner gas grill review
[click to enlarge] That 12-year-old is going places!

gas grill reviews

Char-Broil Performance 300 2-Burner Gas Grill – Stainless

The Char-Broil Performance 300 2-Burner Gas Grill is a nice step up from the no-frills 2-burner model discussed above. It doesn’t have any “wow” features to speak of, but it does have features. The stainless steel looks classy as heck. The cabinet down below is a nice place to hide your propane tank. There’s a warming rack. The cooking grates are porcelain-coated cast iron, which hold a lot of heat. The burners produce 24,000 BTUs, which equates to a respectable 80 BTUs per square inch of cooking area (click here to learn about BTUs).

What’s really remarkable about this grill is how overwhelmingly positive the reviews are. Out of 88 reviews as of this writing, 84 of them are 4 or 5 star ratings, and one of the people who complained about it was actually complaining about the wrong grill! So really, only three people out of 88 didn’t like it. They’re dumb. I think Amazon reviewer J. Wright sums up this grill nicely:

“Great heat levels, perfect for a small urban patio because the side shelves fold down, easy to use, looks sharp.”

At this price, that’s really all you need.

grill buying guide char-broil performance 300 gas grill review
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Just Me loves this grill … and didn’t even complain about assembling it! Hey-o.

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Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill with ClearView Lid, LED Controls, Side & Sear

The Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill is a ridiculous amount of grill for the money. It comes with their ClearView lid which lets you check on your food without opening the lid and losing heat. The temperature control knobs light up blue for night grilling. And … drum roll please … it not only comes with a side burner on the right, there is also an infrared searing burner on the left! And that searing burner gets super, super hot. Wow.

There isn’t a ton of feedback on this grill on Amazon, probably because Monument Grills isn’t exactly a household name. The Amazon reviews that do exist, however, are extremely positive. As of this writing, there are only 11 reviews. One person wasn’t happy and returned it. The other 10 reviewers gave this grill solid 5 star ratings. Still, I felt the need to get more information before including this grill here, and I found a total of 103 reviews elsewhere that mostly ranged from “good” to “amazing.” That’s solid. That tells me that the handful of people raving about it on Amazon aren’t completely insane.

As for what you can expect in terms of assembly, you’ll probably encounter a few hiccups. Overall, the grill is reportedly easy to assemble, but certain parts might frustrate you. And the ClearView lid? Expect to be cleaning it often if you want it to remain transparent. A few of the reviews on this grill also cite issues with the LED lights, but Monument Grills customer service should be able to help you with that. This grill isn’t 100% perfect … but at this price? Buy it. It’s a steel. See what I did there? Pun. I made a pun.

gas grill buying guide monument grills gas grill review
These burners don’t belong to the same grill featured here, but this is how Monument Grills LED knobs look. Cool, amiright?
gas grill buying guide monument grills grill review
Possibly the pimpest grill you will ever get in this price range!

gas grill reviews

Weber Spirit II Series Liquid Propane Gas Grill

The Weber Spirit series is Weber’s “entry level” line of gas grills. It recently received a makeover and is now known as “Spirit II,” and there are some mixed opinions out there as to whether or not that’s a step in the right direction. I don’t have room here for a full writeup on all of the changes in this grill line (that will come at a later date), so let’s look at what buyers thought of the the first Spirit series. After that, we’ll do a quick rundown on the most obvious changes that buyers will see in the Spirit II.

As of this writing, out of 1,037 Amazon reviews of the original Weber Spirit E210 Gas Grill, 895 of them are 4 or 5 stars. That’s 86% positive, in case you’re keeping score! Complaints mostly center around dented/damaged/missing parts … and rust. If your grill comes with a part that’s not in brand-new condition right out of the box, that ain’t your fault and either Amazon or Weber will take care of it. Rust, however, is a big subject. Grill rust can be attributed to materials chosen by the manufacturer, as well as the buyer’s willingness to maintain a steel appliance that lives outdoors. In other words, if a Weber grill (or any grill) is rusting prematurely, it isn’t always clear who’s “at fault.” Manufacturers should be truthful about what they’re selling. Customers, meanwhile, have a responsibility to take care of their things. For now, suffice it to say that just about every grill ever made is going to elicit a certain number of complaints about rust, and Weber grills are not immune.

As for the biggest and most obvious changes that are reflected in the new Weber Spirit II line, check out this handy photo below!

weber gas grill review comparison of weber spirit e210 and weber spirit ii e210
[click to enlarge] Let’s play “Spot the Differences”! Spirit on the left, Spirit II on the right.

The most obvious change you’ll see here is the cart design. The “old” Weber Spirit E210 has a cabinet that hides the propane tank at the expense of storage space. The new Weber Spirit II E210 Gas Grill does away with the cabinet, leaving the propane tank exposed, but now there’s a whole bottom rack that you can use.

Here are other changes you should know about:

  • Folding side tables: Old Spirit E210 can fold down both of them. New Spirit II E210 only folds down the left one. The right side table is fixed in place.
  • Wheels: Old Spirit E210 has four wheels that lock. New Spirit II E210 has what Weber calls a “throwback” 2-wheel design.
  • Temperature control knobs: They look a little different now.
  • Colors: Old Spirit E210 models are only available in black. New Spirit II E210 grills are available in black, white, red, and green. Sorry, I mean Black, Ivory, Red, and Sapphire.
  • GS4 Grilling System: Old Spirit E210 has electronic ignition, burner tubes, Flavorizer bars, and a grease management system, but it’s not called “GS4.” New Spirit II E210 has “Inifinity” ignition and all of those other things, and they are now collectively named the “GS4 Grilling System.”
  • iGrill 3: Old Spirit E210 is not compatible with the Weber iGrill 3 Thermometer. New Spirit II E210 is compatible with it. The iGrill 3 is a bluetooth, smartphone-connected meat thermometer which is sold separately.
  • Weight: Old Spirit E210 weighs 114 lbs. New Spirit II E210 is slimmer at 100 lbs. Not sure, but the loss of the cabinet might account for at least part of this weight difference.
  • Warranty: Old Spirit E210 has different warranty periods (2, 5, or 10 years) for different parts. New Spirit II E210 has a 10 year warranty on everything.

The new Weber Spirit II E210 still has a warming rack, hood-mounted thermometer, weight-based fuel gauge, and porcelain-coated cast iron grates. Those things are also on the original Spirit grills.

There is general agreement that the old Weber Spirit E210 is solidly built. Buy it if you like it better than the new-fangled version. As for the new Weber Spirit II E210 Gas Grill, I guess time will tell whether it holds up as well as its predecessor. It’s more or less the same grill as before, so it’s up to you to decide if you like the changes Weber has made.

And don’t forget, Weber also offers the Spirit and Spirit II grills in 3-burner models. In fact, the original 3-burner Spirit grill comes with FREE expert assembly. Free assembly is also offered on all Spirit II grills.

grill buying guide weber spirit E210 review
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer JT is looking forward to years of happy grilling with the “old” Weber Spirit E210.

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Weber Genesis II Series Liquid Propane Gas Grill

The Weber Genesis II series of gas grills is a lot like the Spirit line discussed above. It has the open cart design (but with four wheels! not two), GS4 Grilling System with Infinity ignition, fuel gauge, iGrill 3 compatability, 10 year warranty, and everything else. So what’s the difference between Weber Spirit and Weber Genesis grills? Generally speaking the Genesis line is bigger, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a full rundown of the Weber Spirit vs. Genesis differences in size and features. Oh, and also, just like the Weber Spirit II grills:


Time is the most valuable thing ever, and you don’t have to spend yours on putting your Weber Genesis II together. But if the Genesis line doesn’t cut it, there’s the Weber Summit line of grills (again, free assembly included). Summit grills are super-premium level, packed with features, and cost a small fortune. Here, I made a handy chart to give you an idea of how Weber’s grill lines compare to each other in the most basic categories (click to enlarge):

weber grills comparison chart grill btus cooking area
[click to enlarge] You may be a Spirit today, but someday you’ll be a Summit, my friend.

You’ll notice that the progression from Spirit II to the 4-burner Weber Genesis II E410 provides progressively larger cooking areas and modest increases in overall cooking power. Strangely, the Weber Summit S470 has a primary cooking area that isn’t much bigger than the Spirit II’s. But with its various other burners and doodads, you could prepare quite a feast on the Summit. For a bigger primary cooking area, the Weber Summit S670 has 624 sq. in., similar to the Genesis II E410. Also, check out the power! The Spirit II and Genesis II grills are quite average in cooking power, but the Summit could probably burn a hole through the very fabric of space and time. Premium price gets you premium heat.

So that’s Weber Genesis II in a nutshell. Bigger than the Weber Spirit II line, a hair more powerful, and with all the same features. Also, free assembly. If you’re in the market for a grill with some bling, Weber also has a collection of Genesis II LX grills that come with lighted control knobs, a side burner, and lights that illuminate the cooking area. You can learn more about what Weber Genesis II LX grills include in my Weber Spirit vs. Genesis writeup.

Grill Buying Guide Part 1

Grill Buying Guide Part 2

Wood Pellet Grill Buying Guide

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill – WiFi Enabled

Considering how expensive wood pellet grills tend to be, Green Mountain Grills’ Davy Crockett wood pellet grill is a pretty amazing value. With a 219 sq. in. cooking area, it’s relatively small, but that’s on purpose. The Davy Crockett is built to be portable, which makes it one of just a handful of portable wood pellet grills in existence. It can also run on 110V or 12V power, which is something you might be needing if you take it out for some tailgating or maybe a camping trip. And in case you just breezed past the name of this grill … yes, it is WiFi enabled! That means you can monitor the grill temperature via an iPhone or Android smartphone app. A few detractors call it a gimmick, but most people love it. WiFi frees you up to go off and do other things while the meat is cooking because you can check and adjust the grill temperature on your phone.

As of this writing, 214 out of 256 Amazon reviewers have given the Davy Crockett 4 or 5 star ratings. They love it to death. They can’t believe how great their food turns out (to be fair, most owners of wood pellet grills say this). They don’t know how they ever lived without it. The 42 critics of this grill, however, have very different stories to tell. Some of them received damaged parts, some couldn’t get the WiFi to work, some have cited very uneven cooking. It’s hard to know what went wrong with the minority of buyers who had bad experiences, but the overwhelmingly positive reviews on this wood pellet grill are a vote of confidence that’s hard to ignore. It is also worth noting that Green Mountain Grills’ customer service is (mostly) reported to be very good, so you can count on getting some help if things don’t go your way.

Something to be aware of right off the bat, however, is that the Davy Crockett wood pellet grill isn’t as tall as a non-portable wood pellet grill would be. It stands on legs that fold up into handles, so if you’re planning to use it mostly at home, you might want to have a table to place it on.

[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Tracey B. has really been getting his money's worth out this Davy Crockett!
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Tracey B. has really been getting his money’s worth out this Davy Crockett!

gas grill reviews

Camp Chef SmokePro STX Pellet Grill

In a world where wood pellet grills often sell for $1,000 or more (scroll down to see what I mean), the Camp Chef SmokePro STX Pellet Grill is a great way to get into wood pellet smoking at a pretty reasonable price. Its cooking area of 429 sq. in. is nearly twice the size of the Davy Crockett above, and it’ll smoke your meats and it’ll smoke ’em right! As of this writing, 50 out of 58 Amazon reviewers have given it 4 or 5 star ratings (46 of those are 5 stars). As for the eight buyers who gave this Camp Chef wood pellet grill 3 stars or less … well, even they like it! A couple of them had issues with the temperature probe that’s included, a couple didn’t like the ash cleanout system, a couple others have complained about temperature fluctuations. Even despite all that, 6 of the 8 “negative” reviews were still 3 star ratings, which ain’t too shabby.

The Camp Chef SmokePro STX comes with an 18 lb. pellet hopper, and like all wood pellet grills, it has an electronic temperature control system. Despite this wood pellet grill’s small price tag, you’ll still be able to smoke with the best of them.

grill buying guide wood pellet grill review
[click to enlarge] Wingmaster and Amazon reviewer Randy Howard is really happy that he went with the Camp Chef SmokePro STX.

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Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker with Patio Cover

Z Grills isn’t a name that you’re likely to see at a BBQ competition or the county fair, but this Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker is an outstanding value. It has 513 sq. in. of cooking area, a 20 lb. hopper capacity, and 35 out of the 37 Amazon reviews so far are as positive as they can be. Compare this wood pellet grill to one of its main competitors, the Traeger Lil Tex Elite 22, and it’s pretty easy to see where the enthusiasm is coming from. Lil Tex has a cooking area of 418 sq. in., almost 100 sq. in. less than Z Grills, and its hopper capacity is also a bit smaller at 18 lbs. vs. Z Grills’ 20 lb. hopper. And the price? Lil Tex, as of today, will run you $699.99, plus another $50 if you want a grill cover. Not only does Z Grills throw in a good quality grill cover for free, they also built this wood pellet grill to sit on top of a really nice-looking cabinet which provides some nice storage space. Lil Tex doesn’t have that.

Price and features aside, owners of the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker love the food that comes off this grill. This really isn’t a surprise since pretty much everyone loves cooking on wood pellet grills. But it’s still worth pointing out that Z Grills customers are just as happy as anyone about how their food turns out. One customer does caution that the grill gets a bit top-heavy when the hopper is full, and a couple of others have mentioned temperature swings that were larger than expected. That could be attributed to weather conditions while cooking, but the food was still awesome. Otherwise, people are loving the Z! If you’re shopping around for a wood pellet grill that’s under $700, this one should definitely be on your short list. You probably won’t find a better deal in a mid-size wood pellet grill.

grill buying guide wood pellet grill review z grills
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer and gracious party host Anson is a big fan of Z Grills.

  gas grill reviews

REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill RT-680 – Featuring Smart Grill Technology™

In this wood pellet grill buying guide, I’ve shown you a few of the smaller wood pellet grills on the market. Now it’s time to get serious! Assuming you’re comfortable spending close to $1,000 on your wood pellet grill (and believe me, they can get a lot more expensive than that), this REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is the one you want. The cooking area is 702 sq. in., and the rear-mounted hopper has a capacity of 40 lbs. If you’re planning to do a long smoke that runs overnight, you can rest assured that your fire will not run out of fuel, and the temperature control unit will keep the heat right where you want it.

It is also built with a number of parts—including the fire pot—that are made from 304 stainless steel, which is a lot more rust-resistant than cheaper grades of steel that contain more iron. 304 stainless steel, incidentally, is also known as 18/8 stainless steel, which is what a lot of good silverware is made from. It’s high quality and it lasts a very long time. In fact, REC TEC is so confident in their quality that they sell this wood pellet grill with a six year warranty. Other manufacturers aren’t nearly as brave. Green Mountain Grills, for example, offers a two year warranty. Traeger, Camp Chef, and Z Grills all give three years.

There’s one other thing that’s extremely unique about this wood pellet grill, and surprisingly, I am not talking about the cool cattle-horn handles on the front. Nor am I talking about the smart “PID” computer in their temperature control unit (watch the video below to learn what that’s all about). What’s special about this grill is the customer service that comes with it. The co-founders of REC TEC, Ray and Ron, are very vocal about the fact that they are personally involved in customer support. They aren’t joking. Here’s a little anecdote from Amazon reviewer and REC TEC customer Cannon Peterson:

My name is Cannon Peterson and I am from Rothchild Wisconsin. Currently it is 1 AM, and I am absolutely impressed with the amazing quality of customer service. I am having family and friends over for barbecue twelve hours from now, and had put two 8 pound pork butts on my rec tec grill. I have had this grill for the past year and never had an issue ever! Tonight it started acting up and the actual temperature gage was showing 32°F which was impossible as the ambient temperature is 70°F. I called Ray and he answered the phone at 1:30 AM Georgia time. He talked me through the problem and I was able to continue my cook. Ray, you are an awesome person, and I greatly appreciate your assistance so that my party can go on as planned.

And Cannon isn’t the only one who is both shocked and delighted that REC TEC’s owners make themselves available to help customers. Those comments are peppered throughout the 377 Amazon reviews so far (90% of which are full 5 star ratings). The REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill is already a great piece of equipment that’s built to last, and their commitment to customer service is refreshing to say the least. REC TEC wants you to buy their grill, and they are determined to make sure you love it.

Watch co-founders Ray and Ron explain the awesomeness of their wood pellet grill! They talk about the hopper, the auger, the PID computer, the steel construction, and other important features of the grill. Basically, they explain why they designed it the way they did. Also, if you’re wondering who Ray (on the left) reminds you of, it’s Buddy Garrity from that legendary TV show Friday Night Lights.

wood pellet grill buying guide wood pellet grill review rec tec
[click to enlarge] Amazon reviewer Eduardo Katalbas has both a Traeger and a REC TEC. Guess which one he loves more? It’s no contest. REC TEC is the cool-looking red grill on the right.

gas grill reviews

Are you looking to buy the fanciest wood pellet grill ever made?

You probably want a nice stainless steel unit from Memphis Grills. You’ll spend anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, but you won’t be disappointed! Those guys don’t mess around.

Grill Buying Guide Part 1

Grill Buying Guide Part 2

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