7 great grills to make summer cookouts even easier — starting at under $100

·11-min read

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Time to upgrade: Nothing motivates healthy cooking like a great grill. (Photo: Getty Images)
Time to upgrade: Nothing motivates healthy cooking like a great grill. (Photo: Getty Images)

With warm weather officially in effect, our thoughts turn to easy outdoor meals with friends and family. There's nothing as relaxing as time in the yard casually tending burgers and veggies while loved ones talk, laugh and hang.

What makes things even easier, and more enjoyable? The right grill. If your grill has seen better days but you're not sure where to begin choosing a new one, we're here for you, with great advice and smart selects from industry pros.

Before you get lost in the imagined sizzle and aroma of a steak, take a minute to assess your needs: “Think about how you’ll use a grill—are you cooking mainly burgers, steaks and hot dogs, or do you want more versatility?" says world BBQ champion Melissa Cookston, owner of Memphis BBQ Company. "Would you prefer gas or charcoal? Are you cooking just for the immediate family? There are so many choices in grills today, it's easy to get drawn in by some fancy feature that you'll never need.”

It's important to be realistic. Says Jonathan Fox of Atlanta’s Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: “What is your skillset on a grill: novice, hold-your-own or the next great meat influencer? These are some great questions to ask.”

If you're planning to use your grill for regular, weeknight cooking, go for a gas grill that can fire up and be ready to go in five to 10 minutes, says Fox. If a grill that doubles as a smoker is a dream, a ceramic grill is a great option—but know that it’ll take 45 minutes to an hour to heat up (not great on a weeknight). Charcoal grills fall somewhere in the middle, for heat-up time, and can add a nice smoky flavor, says Fox.

You don’t need to buy the priciest grill out there, says Fox, but more expensive grills do tend to last longer. Here are seven smart picks to choose from. Find your favorite, and spring into this beautiful weather with easy, breezy meals — and no mess in the kitchen.

Weber Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Propane Gas Grill

Save nearly $100 on this basic Weber with big skills. (Photo: Amazon)
Save nearly $100 on this basic Weber with big skills. (Photo: Amazon)

Weber’s Spirit II is a no-frills gas grill that gets the job done. With two stainless steel burners, it can carve out hot and cold zones and cook up a delicious meal in a jiffy. We like the easy-to-read gauge next to the gas tank that tells him how much fuel is left. This grill comes with a10-year warranty on all parts.

"Weber has always been my favorite grill maker but this is the best Weber grill I have ever purchased," raved one buyer. "I am very impressed with the quality and performance of this grill. I live alone and and grill a lot, I will seldom use both burners, but I believe this grill would easily suffice for a family of 5 or 6. Offset oven cooking or smoking is a breeze. The grill holds temperature extremely well. I love the quality, simplicity, and efficiency of design. It is not difficult but takes a while to construct. The parts are so well packaged it seemed like it took longer to unpack all the parts than it did to put together. I am 74 years old and have owned many a grill but finally found a grill that I love."

$459 $551 at Amazon

Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill

A griller's dream, this beauty imparts excellent flavor using wood pellets.
A griller's dream, this beauty imparts excellent flavor using wood pellets.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Traeger grills, and for good reason—these dynamos aren’t messing around. The Traeger Pro Series 34 infuses food with wood-fired flavor, with the help of wood pellets. The machine is surprisingly versatile: It can grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and BBQ. Thanks to all-terrain wheels, its easy to move (and to put away at the end of the season).

"We’ve had the grill only a few weeks, but we’ve cooked delicious ribs, brisket, pork shoulder and a whole chicken," reports one fan. "We love this grill, and all the meals have been delicious. We love experimenting with different rubs. We bought this one instead of the next generation model that was several hundred dollars more.... Very happy with the whole experience so far. Thank you, Traeger."

$750 at Amazon

Dyna-Glo 2 Burner Propane Gas Grill

Dyna-Glo 2 Burner Propane Gas Grill
A great compact grill for only $169? You bet.

At $169, the Dyna-Glo two-burner gas grill is a great budget option. It features two stainless steel main burners and one side burner, so you can have a whole meal cooking at once. The porcelain-coated cooking grates are a cinch to clean.

"This was the perfect grill for me," wrote a thrilled customer. "The price was right and I liked the side burner feature. It's just me, so I don't need 5 burners and all the extras. It's perfect for a quick meal or for cooking for a smaller group. Plenty of room for multiple items. I really like this grill."

$169 at The Home Depot

Weber Genesis II Propane Gas Grill

Weber Genesis II Propane Gas Grill
Deluxe, roomy, and a joy to use: You won't cook inside all summer. (Photo: The Home Depot)

The three-burner Weber Genesis II is big enough for a crowd, and it has all kinds of cool features, including an extra burner to simmer sauce, a sear station and an app-connected thermometer that monitors food from beginning to end and sends readings to your phone. Plus, a 10-year warranty on all parts.

"I bought this grill to replace a similar 12-year-old Weber Genesis 3 burner grill. The new grill has all of the features that I liked on my old grill and a few new tricks," wrote a satisfied customer. "The Weber Crafted grate system is pretty slick - I have already added the searing grate. When the searing grate is installed, there are hooks on the right side of the grill cabinet to hold the stainless grate. Other improvements over my old grill include an accessory storage cabinet on the left side of the main cabinet, a shelf inside the main cabinet, and an exterior fuel tank volume indicator gauge. Grilling performance is as good as my old grill."

$1,429 at The Home Depot

Char-Broil Patio Bistro Electric Grill

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
Can't use gas or charcoal where you live? You need this electric grill.

If you have minimal outdoor space, this electric cutie is just right. Just plug it in, and it's good to go. The porcelain-coated cooking grates are rust-resistant and easy to clean. Perfect for a small patio.

"I love this electric grill," said one Amazon shopper. "Great for cooking on a deck. Soak some smoked wood chips and you'll never think about a charcoal grill again. So easy to clean and maintain."

$296 at Amazon

Outdoor Gourmet Bandit Charcoal Grill

Basic, brilliant — and less than $100! (Photo: Academy Sports + Outdoors)
Basic, brilliant — and less than $100! (Photo: Academy Sports + Outdoors)

If your grill plans stop at burgers and brats, this might be the best option. This expanded-steel model is all about simplicity and surface area. It features an under-unit storage rack and warming rack, and has plastic wheels that make it easy to transport.

Wrote one five-star fan: "This grill is small enough to fit in the back of an SUV. It is large enough to cook 20 hamburgers at a time. Also was very easy to clean and get ready to travel again."

$90 at Academy Sports + Outdoors

Weber Original Kettle Charcoal Grill

A classic for a reason. (Photo: Amazon)
A classic for a reason. (Photo: Amazon)

This is the No. 1 bestselling grill on Amazon, and it's on sale! The porcelain-enameled lid and bowl help retain heat and the dampers easily adjust to your preferred temperature. There's also a lid hook so you don't have to place the lid on the ground while cooking. With 6,700+ five-star ratings, you know this Weber is a winner.

Reports one avid griller: "Weber Kettle Grill is easy to assemble, easy to use, and easy to clean. Lightweight and portable. Great way to grill either directly or indirectly. I use indirect heat to smoke chicken and direct heat to grill burgers. When I’m in a hurry and do not want to wait for the coals to burn down, I use another grate and elevate it with a couple of bricks so that the meat doesn’t burn. Been a great purchase so far!"

$139 $159 at Amazon

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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