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Best grill for 2021

Turn up the heat! Your steak nights just got a lot tastier, thanks to these top-rated gas, charcoal and kamado style grills.

Grilling season is here and you'll want to check out our picks for best grill if you're looking for a new unit to buy for the summer. There are a lot of types to consider, including gas grills, traditional charcoal grills, heat-loving kamado grills, infrared grills and more, and this guide should help you narrow your search, whether you're shopping for your first grill or upgrading your outdoor kitchen.

Still not sure which kind of grill is right for you? Check out our guide on pellet vs. charcoal vs. gas grill types. You should also consider factors like whether you need a large cooking area, a particular kind of cooking grate, a rotisserie kit or other specialized equipment. Even if you have really certain specifications, there's a grill out there for you.

No matter what type of outdoor grill you choose, brush up on how to clean it (keeping that grilling surface clean with a grill brush and grill cleaner is essential in outdoor cooking) and the best accessories for grilling. Having the right techniques and tools of the trade will complement your perfect grill, turn you into a grill master extraordinaire and make your summer cookouts a breeze.

Molly Price/CNET

This grill is pricey. There's no denying that. However, if you're serious about grilling and ready to invest in your outdoor kitchen, this liquid propane gas grill is absolutely a top choice.

With 513 square inches of primary cooking space powered by 39,000 BTUs, plus a fold-down warming rack and a 12,000 BTU side burner, you'll never want for cooking space. Two cabinet doors hide a two-shelf storage area below the grill for utensils and supplies. And a fuel gauge lets you know how much fuel is left in your propane tank.

The Genesis II E-335 is also one of Weber's iGrill 3 compatible models, along with other Genesis II models and the Spirit II line. This $100 accessory plugs into the front of the grill and houses up to four Bluetooth temperature probes. You can monitor what's happening on your grill via the companion app for iOS and Android.

In our testing, the Genesis II E-335 turned out seared burgers with a slightly pink center, crispy chicken skin with juicy meat and fall off the bone ribs. Combine that great performance with Weber's 10-year warranty on all grill parts, and your investment will have you set for years to come, even with heavy use. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Weber's $119 original kettle grill continues to stand the test of time as the best grill for cooking with charcoal. In our high-heat searing tests, Weber delivered the best balance of seared exterior and medium rare interior steak. The Weber gave us great, crispy grilled chicken skin and flavorful ribs, too. 

Simple construction means there aren't too many parts to assemble or too many features to handle while outdoor cooking. A vent on the lid controls air flow and a well-designed ash tray beneath the grill facilitates easy cleanup. 

We tested the 22-inch model in black, but Weber also offers an 18-inch version of its original kettle design. There are certainly fancier and more expensive grills, but for a balance of affordability and quality, you can't go wrong if you start cooking with this classic charcoal grill. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Kamado cookers, egg-shaped, ceramic, wood-burning grills that you may have seen or at least heard of, impart a delicious smoky flavor to everything they cook, and this is the best grill in the bunch. They can run low and slow for hours at smoker temperatures and sear at high heat levels that go well beyond the capabilities of gas grills. That's hot enough to create true steakhouse steaks and real wood-fired pizza like a pro griller.

At $1,678 (if you can find it in stock), the Kamado Joe Classic III may have a steep luxury grill price tag, but it delivers plenty of cooking power for the money. That means lots of grilling accessories that don't come standard with other grills, including the Big Green Egg. This kamado performs well, too. On our slow and low BBQ grill test, we adjust grills to 225 degrees F (107 C) and let go of the controls to see what happens. In this trial, the Joe demonstrated excellent temperature stability. 

Our testing

We test different types of grills differently, but for most we include a high heat test like searing steak or grilling burgers, a medium indirect heat test like grilling a whole chicken for more than an hour and a low and slow test with racks of ribs.

To determine what should be included as a best outdoor barbecue grill, we collect data like total cooking time, temperatures inside the grill and temperature inside separate pieces of meat. All that information helps us spot where grills might have hot spots or thermometer inconsistencies.

We use baskets to contain our burger patties during gas grill testing. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

There's also a fair amount of (read: so much) blind taste testing, lively debate and voting among our editors in addition to the data we gather about temperatures and cooking times.

If you're interested in any particular method of testing, we've got that plus our full list of recommendations for cooking with kamado grills, gas grills, portable grills and charcoal grills ready for your perusal. Happy grilling!

This list originally included only gas grills. It has been updated to include the best charcoal and kamado grills too.

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