Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill
Best basic charcoal grill
Weber Premium Kettle Charcoal Grill
Best charcoal grill
We’re just a few weeks away from warm summer nights, which means it’s time to pull the cover off your grill and fire up some burgers, steaks and hot dogs. But if your grill is looking like it won’t make it through another season of ball games and backyard bonfires, then right now is a great time to shop for a replacement. Whether you’re looking for a basic charcoal grill, or you’re finally ready to upgrade to a fancy kamado grill, you’ll find tons of options that are a great value below, including some that you can snag for hundreds off the usual price.
Not sure which type of grill would suit you best? Before you check out our picks for the best deals on outdoor grills, take a spin through our grill buying guide. I’m firmly in the charcoal grill camp, but if you have yet to take a side in the great grill debate, here’s a useful primer on which is better, a gas or charcoal grill.
There’s no beating the original in terms of getting the best performance and the simplest design for the lowest cost. For a fraction of the price of a kamado or a gas grill, Weber’s basic 22-inch kettle is the standard-bearer of charcoal grills. It’s easy to assemble and will last for years and years. Surprisingly versatile, this Weber kettle can be used for high-heat grilling to get a good sear on burgers and crispy skin on chicken, and you can also set it up for a longer cooking session to smoke bigger cuts of meat like a brisket or pork butt. You can get it for $139 at Lowe’s or Amazon.
Weber’s 22-inch Premium Charcoal Grill is also a great deal for $80 more than the basic kettle above. Compared with the Original model, the Premium provides a better ash catcher (for less mess on your patio), a built-in thermometer in the lid (for help keeping a constant temperature when cooking low and slow) and a hinged cooking grate (for adding more coals without needing to remove the entire grate). The Premium model is also available in colors other than black.
Char-Broil’s three-burner stainless-steel gas grill offers the best balance of features and performance among the models CNET has tested. At 25,500 Btu over 420 square inches, it provides a good amount of grilling power and space. It also has a side burner and tank storage behind two cabinet doors, and it comes with a 10-year warranty. Char-Broil uses what it calls Tru-Infrared, a set of perforated emitter plates that separate food from flame to evenly distribute heat and reduce flare-ups. You can currently pick it up for $150 off the usual price when you shop at Char-Broil directly.
Kamado grills are usually made from ceramics and boast amazing heat retention that lets you maintain a constant temperature for low-and-slow cooking. They can also reach high temps for grilling burgers and even pizza. Big Green Egg started the kamado craze and is still the leader in making the best-performing and best-looking kamados.
I bought a Big Green Egg last year and have smoked ribs, pork butts, whole chickens, chicken wings and my masterpiece to date, a 10-pound brisket. The brisket took all day — roughly 10 hours — and the Big Green Egg required very little on my part to maintain a constant temperature around 250 degrees. I tried cooking a brisket on a Weber previously and had to be much more involved in adding coals and adjusting the vents to maintain the temperature of the grill.
I visited the Big Green Eggs on display in my local Ace Hardware for years before finally trading in my trusted Weber for one. The cost is high, and goes even higher when you start adding accessories, including the stand (that is, a nest for your egg) and a ceramic heat deflector for long cooking times over indirect heat. After finally taking the Big Green Egg plunge, I have no regrets. The build quality is so outstanding that I plan to have my Egg for a very long time.
Just note that availability may vary depending on where you’re located.
Kamado Joe is the biggest kamado competitor to Big Green Egg, and the Classic II costs less than the large Big Green Egg when you consider that it comes complete with a cast-iron cart and side shelves. It’s not the newest model in Kamado Joe’s lineup but should perform similarly to the newer Classic III for a fraction of the cost. The Classic III has three cooking zones to the Classic II’s two, but two ought to be enough for most backyard pitmasters.
At its current $400 discount, this Victory model is one of the most affordable ways to make the move to a kamado grill. A big reason it’s so inexpensive is it’s made from steel instead of ceramic. A ceramic kamado is better at retaining heat and more durable, but it comes at a much higher cost. This Victory kamado includes the whole kit — cart with casters, two built-in shelves, a grill cover, ash scraper and grate lifter.
A pellet grill combines the smoky goodness you get from cooking over charcoal with the ease of gas. This model from Victory is $200 off from the BBQ Guys right now and lets you maintain a steady temperature between 180 degrees for a low-and-slow cook and 500 degrees for high-heat grilling. The 29-pound hopper will let you cook all day, and it has a digital controller with two temperature probes so you can keep a close, accurate watch on whatever you’ve got cooking.
As much as I prefer a charcoal grill, using a gas grill for tailgating or camping makes a lot of sense because you don’t need to deal with the mess of transporting a dirty, ash-filled grill in your car. Of all the portable grills CNET has tested, this sleek gas grill from Weber was the clear winner.
It’s easy to assemble and feels sturdy. The igniter works well, and the grill quickly climbs to temperature, reaching its advertised 500 degrees Fahrenheit in only 15 minutes. The flame is easy to control and keeps a consistent temperature throughout cooking, even when grilling with the flame turned low. It’s big enough to cook for a group of six people and features flare-out trays to hold your plates and grilling tools. And it comes in a bunch of fun colors.