Best Value Grills & Smokers of 2014
As we awaken from the worst winter hangover in memory, our thoughts turn to flower blossoms, chirping birds, and replacing that rusty old grill and smoker.
To help you find your next pride and joy, AmazingRibs.com has named its Top 10 Best Value Charcoal Grills, Gas Grills, and Smokers. AmazingRibs.com is, according to all the rating services, the most popular barbecue and grilling website in the world, by far. The site's Equipment Reviews section contains more than 300 grill and smoker reviews and ratings from more than 140 manufacturers. There is nothing close anywhere.
This year, of the 40 selections, 21 were made substantially in the US, China produced 12, five hail from Canada, and one each come from Denmark and Indonesia.
Weber dominated the list as it usually does with nine selections because their machines are so well engineered, built to last, and carry reliable warranties. Several newcomers have cracked the lineup, among them the amazing Pit Barrel Cooker, a fine smoker for only $289 including delivery to your door from the plant in Colorado. Canadian manufacturer Napoleon scored a touchdown on our Tailgating List with their game changing TravelQ 285X Portable Gasser for $399.
Of the 40 selections, 21 are under $500, and several are under $300 but couldn't resist adding several high end units if "value" means "I don't care about price" to you.
Some categories, like kamados and pellet smokers are growing rapidly. Kamados are usually egg shaped and well insulated, with many made from ceramics. They excel at smoking and winter cooking. Pellet smokers are another hot item. They burn wood pellets made from compressed hardwood sawdust from saw mills and most have thermostat controls, just like your kitchen oven.
Each year the gas grill manufacturers up the ante with new features. More and more are adding special high heat sear burners in order to create the high temps needed to properly crisp steaks as well as side burners for cooking your side dishes or keeping sauces warm, and rotisserie burners in the rear.
Max Good, AmazingRibs.com's Director of Equipment Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, laments that most manufacturers continue to include cheap bimetal dial thermometers mounted in the top of the lid. "The temp in the lid is often much different from the temp on the cooking surface, so mounting temperature indicators there, I hesitate to call them thermometers, doesn't do you much good unless you plan to eat the lid. We think it is time for them to start installing digital thermometers on the cooking surface". He recommends that you budget for a good digital oven thermometer and a separate digital food thermometer. AmazingRibs.com also rates and reviews thermometers.
Good says "We rate and review as objectively as possible, measuring temperatures, slamming lids, turning dials, studying warranties, and kicking casters, but inevitably intangibles such as look and feel have to be considered. All the selections have won an AmazingRibs.com Best Value Award, and we consider them among the best of breed in their price category."
This page was revised on 9/3/2014
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