is supported by our Pitmaster Club. Also, when you buy with links on our site we may earn a finder’s fee. Click to see how we test and review products.

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

smokers and grills

Our searchable database has over 600 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 reviews also have useful comments from owners.

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

Pick a fuel

There are six heat sources for cooking outdoors: gas, charcoal, hardwood pellets, hardwood logs, and electric. Below we’ll discuss their strengths and weaknesses, but first, click here to answer the most frequently asked question: Which is Better, Gas or Charcoal? Let’s settle this once and for all.


Gas comes in two forms, bottles of liquid propane (“LP”), and piped in natural gas (“NG”). The flavor is identical. These grills and smokers are extremely easy to use and produce good flavor when combined with hardwood chips, chunks, or pellets. Grills fueled by LP or NG 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.

Charcoal briquets and lump

Charcoal is made by an ancient process of partially burning hardwood until it carbonizes forming char, which is a highly efficient fuel source. When fully lit, charcoal can burn practically smokeless, 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.

Charcoal is especially good 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 differences and the production process, 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.

Hardwood pellets

Hardwood pellets are about the easiest method going. The newfangled cookers that use them are modern marvels with digital thermostat controllers and smartphone apps. 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. They work like your indoor oven, they are best at indirect heat smoking since most do not do direct heat grilling well. You wouldn’t try to sear a steak in your oven, would you?

At this time, only one can generate enough infrared to properly sear a steak. Click here to read more about the thermodynamics of cooking. 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. Click here for more about pellet grills and smokers as well as a buyer’s guide.

Hardwood logs

Cooking with logs is tricky and requires the right kind of cooker, the right kind of wood, and practice. Controlling temperature is tricky. Most “stick burners” 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. You never want to burn softwood or resinous wood like pine because the sap burns very hot and the flavors are not very tasty. If you are thinking of going this route, read these: How to Grill With Wood and Master Campfire Cooking and What You Need to Know About Wood, Smoke, And Combustion.


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. Here’s What To Look For When Buying Electric 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 the perfect smoker or grill for your needs:


  • Charcoal grills vs. gas grills. Let’s settle this once and for all.
  • How to buy a grill. A checklist of things to look for before you buy. Take it shopping.
  • Charcoal and wood burning grills. Still the best way to sear a steak. There are some designs that work better than others. Here’s what you want.
  • Gas grills. Nothing beats gas for convenience and versatility. And yes, you can smoke on them. Here’s what to look for.
  • Electric grills. Really just glorified electric frying pans, better than nothing if you have a small condo balcony and they won’t let you have a charcoal or gas grill.



Gas Grills: Buying Guide, Reviews, And Ratings



Here's how gas grills work and what to look for when you go shopping.

Charcoal Grills And Wood Burning Grills: Buying Guide, Reviews, And Ratings



A comprehensive review and buyer's guide of almost all the wood burning and charcoal grills available from experts, with ratings.

What To Look For When Buying Electric Grills



In the market for an electric grill? This comprehensive guide provides you with the tools for selecting the right one, including hands-on reviews and ratings.
race car converted into a smoker

Portable Grills For Camping And Tailgating, Reviewed And Rated



Find the perfect portable grill for your needs with our extensive reviews and ratings These cookers are perfect for balconies, tailgating, camping, and more.
Gas Smoker

Gas Smokers: Buying Guide, Reviews, Ratings, and Recommendations



Ratings, reviews, and recommendations on how to shop for gas fired barbecue smokers. These are simple smokers that produce good flavor, on a modest budget.
charcoal and wood burning smokers

Charcoal And Wood Burning Smoker Reviews And Ratings



Ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for charcoal or wood fired barbecue smokers.
komodo kamado

Buying Guide To Kamado, Ceramic, Egg Smokers And Grills



The kamado, ceramic, egg grill, smoker, and oven is a fast growing category with more and more choices every year. Here are reviews and ratings of them all.

Pellet Smokers And Grills: Buying Guide, Ratings, And Reviews



Ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for pellet barbecue smokers and grills.

Electric Smokers: Buying Guide, Reviews, Ratings, And Recommendations



Ratings, reviews, recommendations, and tips on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for electric barbecue smokers.

Large Capacity Smokers For Restaurants, Whole Hog Cooks, And More



Ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for large capacity smoker or grill for catering, a restaurant, or competitions. These are also great for cooking large cuts of meat like a whole hog.

Grill-Smoker Combos Such As Kamados And Pellet Burners



The dream machine is the one that can do it all, high temperature searing and low and slow smoke roasting. The fact is that you can pretty easily adapt any grill for smoking and many smokers can grill and sear, but sadly few do both as well as the monotaskers.

Outdoor Kitchens: The Ultimate Playground For Any Backyard Cook



Want more than a barbecue or smoker on your patio or deck? How about a fully equipped outdoor kitchen? Here are some great ideas you may want to consider, or at least dream about.
this item is for members only

Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen, Q&A With An Expert



The outdoor kitchen and dining room are great ways to increase the size of your house. Here are things to conder when designing and planning an outdoor kitchen.

Guide To Pizza Ovens

For the best Italian style pizzas or rustic breads, nothing beats a wood-burning oven/forno. Built for use indoor or out, built-in or portable for caterers.
Cameron's Original Stovetop Smoker

Best Stovetop Smokers



Ratings, reviews, and recommendations on what to look for and what to buy when shopping for stovetop smokers.

What Fuel Is Right For You?



There are six heat sources for cooking outdoors. Each produces a different flavor, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Charcoal Grill vs. Gas Grill Throwdown: Let’s Settle This Once And For All



Meathead settles the argument of Charcoal Grills vs. Gas Grills once and for all.

How To Buy A Grill



Grills are not created equally. Before you sink any money into a grill check out this article. It could save you from buying a lemon and make sure your grill meets your needs.

How To Buy A Smoker: Take This When You Shop



A good dedicated smoker will make ribs, brisket and pulled pork that rivals most restaurants. There are many choices: gas, charcoal, wood and wood pellets. Before you go shopping click here and print out our article on How To Buy a Smoker.

Best New BBQ & Grilling Products Of 2020


Dave Joachim

Looking for the best new BBQ and grilling equipment? At the end of every year, we pick the top new gas and charcoal grills, smokers, thermometers, and tools that we have tested, rated and reviewed the previous year. Our BBQ experts know their stuff, so it's an honor to be chosen. Here's the best new stuff for 2020!

7 Amazing Grills and Smokers Under $500


Dave Joachim

Ready for a new rig? A brand new, good quality gas grill, smoker, or pellet grill doesn't have to break the bank. For many folks, the sweet spot is about 500 bucks. These 7 grills and smokers all cost less than $500, and they are all winners of our highest honor, the Platinum Medal for Best Value.

10 Best Grills & Smokers Under $300


Dave Joachim

Looking for grill or smoker that won't break the bank? Here are 10 great options among gas grills, charcoal grills, smokers, portable grills, and combo cookers. These cookers have all won Platinum Medals for Best Value. They have been tested, reviewed and rated, and you can read our full reviews.

Charcoal Grillin’ Starter Kit


Dave Joachim

New to charcoal grilling? Here's everything you need from the best grill and charcoal to tongs and a reliable thermometer.
stainless steel grill

Understanding Stainless Steel


Max Good

Here is what you need to know about stainless steel when buying a grill or smoker, including terms like austenitic, ferritic, 304 steel, and 430 steel. Find out why thickness matters, what is heavy gauge, and how to interpret gauge numbers. Find info on powder coated and enameled steel and how to clean stainless steel.
gasket for ceramic grills

Parts To Repair, Modify, And Upgrade Your Grill Or Smoker



It may be cheap to modify, patch up or upgrade your current smoker. Sometimes you just need to toss it and get a new one. Here are some tools to help you.

Convert A Smoker To Propane With These Simple Kits



Just because you live in a building that doesn't allow charcoal smokers and grills doesn't mean that you can't enjoy cooking on the popular Weber Smokey Mountain smoker thanks to this simple kit from for converting it and other smokers to propane.
temperature testing the red box smoker

How We Test Grills And Smokers


Max Good

Max Good is the Director of Equipment Reviews and Keeper of the Flame. He is the only person in the world who tests and reviews grills and smoker full time. Click now to discover how he evaluates the hundreds of gas and charcoal grills and smokers crowding the aisles at stores coast to coast.
taxi grill

Grills Gone Wild



Here are some great grills you won't find at the hardware store.

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Published On: 12/28/2017 Last Modified: 12/23/2021

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These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys:

Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

Fireboard Labs Product Photo Shoot. Kansas City Commercial Portrait and Wedding Photographers ©Kevin Ashley Photography

With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.
Click here to read our detailed review

Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5″ x 29.5″ footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.
Click here for our review on this unique smoker

Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

This is the first propane smoker with a thermostat, making this baby foolproof. Set ThermoTemp’s dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin’.

Click here to read our detailed review

The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

Napoleon’s 22″ Pro Cart Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It’s hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the 22″ Pro Cart a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special

The Efficiency Of A Kamado Plus The Flexibility Of The Slow ‘N Sear Insert

kamado grill
Built around SnS Grill’s patented Slow ‘N Sear charcoal kettle accessory, this 22-inch kamado is a premium ceramic grill that brings true 2-zone cooking to a kamado.

Click here for our article on this exciting cooker

The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One

The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review

Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it’s easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is beautifully designed, completely portable, and much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado.

Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

Click here to order directly and get an exclusive deal

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