September 19, 2020
Best grills for 2020: Gas, charcoal and kamado grills compared

Best grills for 2020: Gas, charcoal and kamado grills compared


We’ve tested dozens of grills, including gas grillsclassic charcoal optionskamado grills, and pellet models to bring you this collection of our best grills for 2020. If you’re looking to cooke at home more or upgrade your outdoor kitchen with a barbecue grill, these models are our favorites.

No matter what type of outdoor grill you choose, be sure to brush up on how to clean it and the best accessories for grilling. Having the right cooking techniques and tools of the trade will make your spring and summer cookouts a breeze.

Not sure what type of grill is right for you? Check out our guide: Pellet vs. charcoal vs. gas: Grill types, explained.

Read more:  The best gas grill in 2020: Weber, Char-Broil and more

Chris Monroe/CNET

If burgers are the mainstay of your cookouts and backyard barbecues, this Weber grill is a great choice. In fact, it’s a great choice for cooking all around. Weber’s 10-year warranty applies to all its grill parts, so you’ll be set for years to come, even with heavy use (like, if you let no weekend go by without having a chance to charbroil some burgers). Its consistent performance in our testing delivered burgers with a good char and a slightly pink center.

The Spirit II E-210 is also one of Weber’s iGrill compatible models, an additional accessory line that includes Bluetooth temperature probes you can monitor via a companion app. If you’ll be preparing dishes that require more time on the grill, the iGrill system will help you keep an eye on things from a distance.

At $379, this grill sits in the middle of the affordability spectrum. The cons are you that you won’t get a side burner or a cabinet to hide your propane tank, though there is a rack to hang it on with a sliding gauge mechanism. Still, I was pleased with the searing and even cooking across this Weber model, and I’d recommend it to anyone who dreams of the perfect Saturday spent grilling dishes like grilled salmon, grilled chicken, grilled corn and more.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Weber’s $109 original kettle-style grill continues to stand the test of time as the best grill for cooking with charcoal. In our high-heat searing tests, Weber delivered the best balance of seared exterior and medium rare interior steak. The Weber gave us great, crispy chicken skin and flavorful ribs, too. 

Simple construction means there aren’t too many parts to assemble or too many features to handle while cooking. A vent on the lid controls air flow and a well-designed ash tray beneath the grill facilitates easy cleanup. 

We tested the 22-inch model in black, but Weber also offers an 18-inch version of their original kettle design. There are certainly fancier and more expensive grills, but for a balance of affordability and quality, you can’t go wrong if you start cooking with this classic charcoal grill. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Kamado cookers, egg-shaped, ceramic, wood-burning grills that you may have seen or at least heard of, impart a delicious smoky flavor to everything they cook, and this is the best grill in the bunch. They can run low and slow for hours at smoker temperatures and sear at high heat levels that go well beyond the capabilities of gas grills. That’s hot enough to create true steakhouse steaks and real wood-fired pizza like a pro griller.

At $1,600, the Kamado Joe Classic III may have a steep luxury grill price tag, but it delivers plenty of cooking power for the money. That means lots of grilling accessories that don’t come standard with other grills, including the Big Green Egg. This kamado performs well, too. On our slow and low BBQ grill test, we adjust grills to 225 degrees F (107 C) and let go of the controls to see what happens. In this trial, the Joe demonstrated excellent temperature stability. 

Our testing

We test different types of grills differently, but for most we include a high heat test like searing steak or grilling burgers, a medium indirect heat test like grilling a whole chicken for more than an hour and a low and slow test with racks of ribs.

To determine what should be included as a best outdoor barbecue grill, we collect data like total cooking time, temperatures inside the grill and temperature inside separate pieces of meat. All that information helps us spot where grills might have hot spots or thermometer inconsistencies.

We use baskets to contain our burger patties during gas grill testing. 


Chris Monroe/CNET

Of course, there’s also a fair amount of (read: so much) blind taste testing, lively debate and voting among our editors in addition to the data we gather about temperatures and cooking times.

If you’re interested in any particular method of testing, we’ve got that plus our full list of recommendations for cooking with kamado grills, gas grills, portable grills and charcoal grills ready for your perusal. Happy grilling!

This list originally included only gas grills. It has been updated to include the best charcoal and kamado grills too.

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