Best grill 2021: Pellet, gas and charcoal grills for backyard barbecues

We've rounded up the best grills of 2021, with pellet, gas, charcoal and kamodo models from Weber Char-Broil, Traeger and more

Best grill 2021
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(Image credit: Weber)

It's grill season once more, and the best gas grills are here to give you a  smoking hot summer. Whether it's a simple and compact grill you want, or a no-holds-barred mighty grill for entertaining a crowd, we've found the very best gas grills, charcoal grills and even kamodo grills to get the party started.

Many of these grills come on lockable wheels, meaning it's just a case of wheeling them out whenever you want an outdoor meal. Others are large and powerful, but what they lack in portability they make up for in sheer grilling capacity. 

Our guide features brands like Weber, Char-Broil, Z Grills, Traeger Grills, Lynx and Kamodo Joe, and there's something for every budget out there too. For more summer essentials, check out the best fire pits. For the best grills of 2021, keep reading. 

Weber 44010001 Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Liquid Propane Grill

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Weber 44010001 Spirit II E-210

Best grill overall: grill quickly and efficiently with this all-around grill

Specifications
Fuel type: Propane
Grilling capacity: 360 sq. in.
Burners: 2
Smart features? : No
Reasons to buy
+Affordable grill that does a good job+Foldable tray table and hooks offer prep space and organization+Easy to ignite a fire
Reasons to avoid
-Must fold down tables to get the cover over this grill 

Weber is a solid brand in the grilling scene and it’s not hard to see why. Not only is it pretty affordable, but this Weber is equipped with all the accessories and features you need to cook for big and small parties.

This Weber Spirit II runs on liquid propane and is equipped with two burners and a warming rack. Shrimp, fish, and vegetables are best cooked on the thin side of the reversible porcelain-enameled cooking grate, while red meats and other heavy foods are better prepared on the thicker side. Thanks to the integrated hooks, you can have your grilling tools by your side, and if you like prep space near the grill, the foldable table comes in handy. 

Char-Broil grill

(Image credit: Char-Broil)

2. Char-Broil Bistro Tru-Infrared Electric Grill

Best electric grill: a budget-friendly option that runs clean

Specifications
Fuel type: Electricity
Grilling capacity: 320 sq. in.
Burners: 1
Smart features?: No
Reasons to buy
+Easy to store+Runs clean+Simple to set up+Cleans easily
Reasons to avoid
-Needs access to an electrical socket

Not everyone can use a gas or charcoal grill. If you have a compact outdoor space or don't want to kick up any smoke, opting for an electric grill is a smart choice. The Char-Broil Bistro Tru-Infrared Electric Grill can simply be plugged in to start, making it easy to ignite and small enough to fit on a terrace or balcony (landlord permitting). 

This grill has a warming rack and a burner that can fit enough grilled meat for the while family. It's also got lockable wheels and a wipe-clean frame. 

Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker with 2020 Newest Digital Controls

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker with 2020 Newest Digital Controls

Best smoker grill: A wood pellet grill that can cook your food in eight different ways

Specifications
Fuel type: Wood pellet
Grilling capacity: 513 sq. in main rack, 187 sq. in warm rack
Burners: N/A
Smart features? : Yes
Reasons to buy
+Grill, barbecue, bake, roast, sear -- you name it, it can do it+Temperature remains constant+Large grilling capacity
Reasons to avoid
-Can't be controlled by an app

You’ll need a spacious backyard or patio to use the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker. Trust us when we say that this grill is well worth the space it takes up. It has a grilling surface area of 700 square inches, allowing you to cook a lot at one time. This 8-in-1 piece of cooking technology doesn’t just grill – it smokes, bakes, roasts, sears, braises, and barbecues with the help of 100% hardwood pellets that add a touch of wood-fire flavoring to your foods.

The grill has a built-in Smart Digital Controller. What this means is that once you set the grill temperature between 180 and 450 degrees, the grill will remain within a 20-degree difference of your chosen setting. Effectively, you could burn 20 lb. pellets for 15 hours. An innovative grease bucket holder lets you drain grease via an integrated spigot, which makes a post-grill cleaning routine much simpler.

Chefman Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Chefman Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill

Best grill for indoors: Cook year-round in the convenience of your home with this Chefman grill

Specifications
Fuel Type: Electric
Grilling capacity: 150 sq. in.
Burners: N/A
Smart features? : No
Reasons to buy
+People with apartments, small houses, or limited outdoor spaces+Dishwasher-safe+Creates less smoke with water tray
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best grill for large parties

Apartment dwellers and those who don’t want to brave the cold to grill: the Chefman Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill is perfect for you. As the name implies, you can use this inside the house. The grill has a water tray that when filled between the minimum and maximum line, cools grease and prevents a lot of smoke from occurring, so there is no need to worry about the smoke alarm going off.

There is 150-square-inches of grilling space which is enough to cook a bundle of asparagus and three chicken breasts at the same time (with room to spare). This grill plugs into the wall so you don't have to put aside money for fuel. For those who hate washing dishes, check this: the grill plate and water tray are both dishwasher safe!

Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker

Best wood pellet grill: cook meat and vegetables precisely and from the comfort of your home with this grill's impressive Smart features

Specifications
Fuel type: Wood pellets
Grilling capacity: 780 sq. in.
Burners: N/A
Smart features? : Yes
Reasons to buy
+Those who want to grill, smoke, barbecue, sear, braise, and roast+Smart features regulate temperature and allow you to control the grilling through an app or Alexa+Can cook a lot at one time 
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

For the best wood pellet grill, you’re going to want to invest in the Traeger Grill Pro Series 780. Not only will you enjoy a wood fire-infused taste to your food, but you can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise, and barbecue on 780-square-inches. That’s large enough to cook six rib racks or 34 burgers at one time.

If you’ve never used a wood pellet grill, Traeger makes it simple, allowing you to set the temperature of the grill as you would an oven. With Smart features, you can use the Traeger app and WiFIRE controller to adjust temperatures and set timers. This particular model makes it even easier with Alexa voice controls. A simple command and Alexa can monitor your food, create alerts, and change the temperature to cook your food just like you like it.

Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill

Best charcoal grill: this ceramic grill has a multi-level system that lets you cook food at different temperatures

Specifications
Fuel type: charcoal
Grilling capacity: 254 sq. in.
Burner: N/A
Smart fetaures? : No
Reasons to buy
+Designed to provide a tasty smoky flavor with an innovative smoke chamber+Cook different foods at different temperatures with the multi-level design+Ceramic construction keeps heat in better
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Limited grilling space

Some people swear by charcoal grilling because they like the smoky flavor it adds to meats and vegetables. If you’re in the market for a charcoal grill, you can’t go wrong with this Kamado Joe Classic II Charcoal Grill. It’s made of ceramic to hold in high heat temperatures. Inside you’ll find multiple tiers that allow you to cook different foods at different levels and temperatures, resulting in a much better grilling experience.

Those who love smoky flavors will be won over by the Kamado SlōRoller smoke chamber, designed to distribute smoke and heat in even waves around the food. This technology reduces heat spots and helps the food to cook evenly. Bonus – you can also enjoy rotisserie with the Kamado Joe as it has a rack powered by a motor that can hold 50 lbs of meat. 

Lynx 30" Smart 2-Burner Gas Grill with Rotisserie

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Lynx 30" Smart 2-Burner Gas Grill with Rotisserie

Best high-end grill: a grill that can do everything but fly to the moon

Specifications
Fuel type: propane
Grilling capacity: 840 sq. in.
Burners: 2 Trident infrared burners
Smart features: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Lots of space for grilling+Controlled via an app+Trident infrared burners provide instantaneous heat 
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

If you can overlook the hefty price tag for the Lynx 30-inch Smart 2-burner Gas Grill with Rotisserie, you’ll be able to see that it’s the future of grilling. This baby runs on liquid propane or natural gas and it’s less of a grill and more like a spaceship. Open it up and you’ll find two Trident infrared burners which is a fancy way of saying that the burners offer instantaneous temperature control between 300 and 1000 degrees. The burners actually heat the grates directly beneath your food rather which most grills don't have the capability to do. 

In addition to a rotisserie feature and a smokebox, the chef in your life will have a blast playing with this grill's technological features.  The crowning achievement of the Lynx is that it can be controlled by the SmartGrill by Lynx app. You can adjust the temperature or the flame level, turn it off or on, or time the cooking of a dish. The Recipe feature teaches you how to cook a dish per easy-to-follow instructions and calibrates the temperature and timing needed to complete the recipe with the grill. 

Which type of grill should you use?

When buying a grill, there is a lot to consider -- the price, how much space it takes, its capacity to hold food -- but there is one aspect that buyers tend to get hung up on: what's the best power source? Charcoal, liquid propane, electric, and wood pellets are the main power sources for grills and each offers a little something different. 

Learn more below: 

Electric
Electric grills are usually small in size and used inside, though there are a few outdoor electric grills. They can be much easier to clean than other types of grills, however, don't expect to be able to grill a lot on electric grills as they don't tend to have large surface areas. 

Charcoal 
A lot of barbecuers love charcoal. It offers a smoky, delicious taste to food and they don't tend to take up a lot of space. Though we've included a top-notch charcoal grill in this guide, there are a ton of cheap and affordable options like the Weber 441. Keep in mind that charcoal grills take much longer to heat up and the temperature is much harder to control. Plus, when you're done using a charcoal grill, you have a bit of a mess to clean up. 

Liquid Propane or Gas
Propane grills are convenient. You don't have to wait for anything to heat up and you can begin cooking right away. The drawback is that you never know how much propane is left in a tank and they don't generally offer smoky or woodsy flavoring that's associated with charcoal or wood pellet grills. Some even claim you can taste the propane, but that might be a bit of a stretch. If you're looking for ease and convenience or even the ability to adjust your temperature quickly, then a propane grill is the way to go. 

Wood Pellets 
Most people don't cook over open wood fires anymore because it takes too long for the fire and heat to built. The grilling gods have found a way to create the same effect with wood pellet grills. If you can afford them, wood pellet grills are phenomenal because they grill, roast, sear, smoke, and much more in one grill. Like an oven, you can set your temperature with wood pellet grills and don't have to worry about it getting too hot or burning too low. Many, though not all, wood pellet grills have Wi-Fi connections and apps that can control the grilling features on your phone. 

What is the best grill?

If you asked us to choose our favorite, we’d vote for the Z Grills Wood Pellet Grill Smoker because it can do it all – grill, smoke, braise, you name it – and at a pretty affordable price. On the other hand, if you can chuck out the cash, you won’t be disappointed by the Lynx 30" Smart 2-Burner Gas Grill with Rotisserie or Traeger Grills Pro Series 780 Wood Pellet Grill and Smoker, both of which have Smart features that are, in basic terms, super fun. 

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is a Mixed Latinx award-winning author and freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. Her work in the home space has appeared in outlets like Real Homes, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Culture Trip, Neighborhoods.com, among many others. You can learn more about Alex at AlexTemblador.com.