Ratings & Reviews Of Hundreds Of Grills, Smokers, Hog Roasters, And More

"The most respected and comprehensive reviewers of grills and smokers in the world"Larry Olmsted, Senior Contributor, Forbes

Our searchable database has over 500 cookers reviewed and rated by the world's leading authority on the subject, the world's only full time grill and smoker tester, Max Good. Many have comments from owners. You can find the search functions in the left column and below on mobile devices.

Pay attention to our Best Value Awards. We think these are the best of the best on the market in a wide range of prices. Don't see what you want? Use the search box on the left on large and medium screens, and below on smartphones.

You should also read the articles linked below for shopping tips.

Here is how Max reviews and rates grills and smokers.

Pick a fuel

There are six heat sources for cooking outdoors: Hardwood logs, hardwood pellets, hardwood lump charcoal, charcoal briquets, gas, and electric. Each produces a different flavor, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

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1) Hardwood logs are the way it all started. Cooking with logs is tricky and requires the right kind of cooker, the right kind of wood, and lots of practice. Controlling temperature is tricky. For grilling logs are especially problematic since wood flares up a lot and burns very hot. Most stick burners, as they like to call themselves, start the wood burning outside the cooker, let it burn down to glowing embers, and then they cook with the embers. Above is a classic "burn box" made from a 55 gallon drum for preparing embers. If you don't get it right, you'll waste a lot of food. It is easy to burn your meal and easier to make it taste like an ashtray full of cigarette butts. Most backyard cooking devices cannot burn logs. But there are some big rigs that do. You never want to burn softwood or resinous wood like pine because the sap burns very hot and the flavors are not very tasty. Some are hazardous. I do not recommend burning logs unless you are an experienced pitmaster. How to Grill With Wood and Master Campfire Cooking. Here is an article on the What You Need to Know About Wood, Smoke, And Combustion and the different kinds of smoke.

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2) Hardwood pellets, on the other hand hardwood pellets are about the easiest method going. The newfangled cookers that use them are modern marvels with digital thermostat controllers. Pellets are sawdust that is compressed into little rabbit pellet sized chunks no thicker than a pencil each less than 1/2" long. The pellets are fed into a burn pot and ignited. The number of pellets and the oxygen supply are regulated by a digital controller. Some of the better controllers are accurate to within 5°F, and that's more accurate than most indoor ovens. The better pellet burners are literally "set it and forget it". They are best at indirect heat smoking since most do not do direct heat grilling at all, and the few that do, don't do it well. I have never seen one that gives a proper sear to a steak. Almost all of them are designed so there is a metal plate between the burn box and the food, so they are indirect cookers out the door of the factory, like an indoor oven. But when it comes to smoking, they are superlative. And the food tastes beautiful, although some owners complain that it is not as smoky as they like it. On the down side, they give everything a smoke flavor, and sometimes you just don't want it. As counterintuitive as this seems, the subtle smoke flavor is because the wood combusts so thoroughly and efficiently. Click here for more about pellet grills and smokers as well as a buyer's guide.

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3) Lump charcoal or (4) charcoal briquets. Charcoal is made by an ancient process of partially burning hardwood until it carbonizes forming char, which is a highly efficient fuel source. Charcoal can burn practically smokeless, but it usually produces flavorful smoke, and it is capable of very high searing temps. It is especially good for steaks. It takes longer to get up to cooking temp than gas or pellets, and there is ash to be disposed of so setup and cleanup are slightly more labor intensive than other fuels. I highly recommend charcoal, especially in combination with smoke producing hardwood chips, chunks, and pellets. There are two basic types of charcoal, lump or briquets. To learn more about the production process of both briquets and lump, read my article on the Science of Charcoal. Click here for a buyers guide to charcoal grills, and here for a buyer's guide to charcoal smokers. Click here for an article on setting up a charcoal grill.

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5) Gas comes in two forms, bottles of liquid propane, and piped in natural gas. The flavor is identical. Gas grills and smokers are extremely easy to use and produce good flavor, especially when combined with hardwood chips, chunks, or pellets. Gas grills are the most popular because they fire right up and require little cleanup. For more about how gas grills work, their strengths and weaknesses, read my article on gas grill setup. Click here for our overview of gas grills, and here for our take on gas smokers.

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6) Electric grills and smokers use a heating element that glows as electricity passes through it, sort of like a giant light bulb. The glowing element generates heat that cooks the meat. Because there is no burning, there is no cellulose, lignin, char, or even oxygen combusted, there are no combustion gases. There is no smoke, and so there is no smoke flavor. The great advantage is that electric heat is very easy to control, and because there is no fire, it is allowed on most apartment balconies that forbid other grills. You can use sawdust and wood chips with some electric grills, and get a nice smoke flavor, but it is different from other smoke flavors because the wood smolders at a low temp. Electric smokers can make smoke from wood, but the burn temp is so low that the flavor is very different than gas or charcoal smokers, and in my mind, inferior for most foods. Nor do electric grills get hot enough to properly sear a steak without overcooking the interior, and most cannot be configured in a 2-zone setup. I recommend electric grills and smokers only for people in buildings where gas and charcoal are not allowed.

How to shop

Here is a video on how to buy a gas grill.

Here is a video on how to buy a charcoal grill

Here is a video on how to buy a smoker.

Here are links to other articles that will help you select

You need more than a grill and a smoker

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Are you in the market for a new outdoor cooker? Watch our video buying guides to avoid buyers' remorse. We show you all the pros and cons of gas grills, charcoal grills, and various smokers so you can make smart buying decisions. read more
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The Pit Boss 5-Series Vertical Cabinet Smoker is a good unit for this price point. It's easy to use and maintain, produces great results on a variety of meats and has a small footprint coupled with a large cooking capacity. We give the Pit Boss 5-Series our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Medal. read more
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The Slow 'N Sear Kettle Grill is mighty nice, but very similar to the Weber Performer, which is not a bad thing. If you're in the market for a new charcoal kettle grill, this one may be for you. It's definitely worth consideration. We award the Slow 'N Sear Kettle Grill our AmazingRibs.com Best Value Gold Medal. read more
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When the previous iteration of Bullseye rolled out, we were among the many who were disappointed. It was quickly discontinued. This new model appears to address some of our complaints. They are currently out of stock. We will order one when available and get to work as soon as it is delivered. Stay tuned. read more
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The Judge is an all around solid grill that is built to last with some nice features that make for an easy grilling experience. Although we love the large, rectangular cook surface which is perfect for 2-zone set-ups, Judge comes up just a briquet or two shy of winning our Gold Medal, but earns a solid Silver. read more
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Cuisinart has once again won us over with their bounty of useful extras that make Woodcreek an appealing package deal. The charcoal insert provides sear power, and if you haven't used a griddle outdoors, you will after trying theirs. Both items expand Woodcreek's versatility and merit our AmazingRibs.com Gold Medal. read more
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If you are in the market for a great high-end gas grill, the Landmann Professional Series Ardor 5-Burner Gas Grill delivers across the board – from assembly to heat control to clean-up and more. The grill is constructed almost entirely of 304 grade stainless steel, meaning it not only looks good. It is built to last. read more
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The Delta by Ñuke is an Argentinian grill that burns wood or charcoal and comes with an adjustable height grill grate. This affordable and stylish entry into the gaucho grill market also comes with a warming drawer, a lid, a fire poker, shovel, carbon steel griddle, and a rain cover. It earned our Gold Medal. read more
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Here's tips and links to help the do it yourself build a grill or smoker. read more

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Max Good

As AmazingRibs.com's Vice President of Product Reviews & Keeper of the Flame, Max Good is the man in charge of finding the best products for the AmazingRibs.com Equipment Reviews section. Max loves barbecue so much that he took his barbecue sauce recipes, had them bottled, and now sells them around the country.

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*Based on 4" raw burger with 1/2" space on all sides

“The most respected and comprehensive reviewers of grills and smokers in the world”

- Larry Olmsted,
Senior Contributor (Forbes)


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1) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

2) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

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