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James BricknellSenior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
Expertise3D printers, maker tools such as Cricut style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, traditional paper printersCredentials
6 years working professionally in the 3D printing space / 4 years testing consumer electronics for large websites.
The summer has finally started to wind down but the weather is still warm enough to keep the grilling season alive and well. There are a lot of great choices of grilling machines out there, and we spent a lot of hours testing them all.
What's the best grill of 2023?
After spending countless hours grilling smoking, burning and eating hamburgers, chicken, corn and kebob skewers we've managed to narrow down the best grill overall to the Denali smart grill from Monument. It's a gas grill and is large enough to feed a huge family -- or the entire block if you're having a cookout. It's smart too so you can keep an eye on the food even from the kitchen.
We've rounded up some of the best models available to help you find the grill that works for you and your budget. If you're considering what type of grill to get, check out our guide to pellet, charcoal and gas grill variants. After all, there are tons of different grill types to compare and consider, including gas grills, traditional charcoal grills, heat-loving kamado grills, infrared grills, portable grills and more.
While "the perfect grill" may not exist for everyone, many grills tick a lot of boxes. It will depend on what type of food you want to grill, so bear that in mind. Here are some ideas of the types of grills you might use.
Charcoal grill: Good for high heat and getting that perfect char.
Gas grill: Great for large grills and for spur-of-the-moment outdoor cooking.
Flat top grills: Perfect for smash burgers and tacos.
Pellet grill: Perfect for long, slow cooks that smoke your food.
Kamado grill: Great for extreme heat or heat retention.
Pizza oven: Wonderful for pizza, sure, but great for other bread too.
No matter what type of outdoor grill you choose, you should absolutely 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 get 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 cookouts a breeze.
While a giant six-burner grill may not be for everyone, the Monument Denali is the perfect balance of modern thinking, a good price point and quality that I would expect from our top pick. Like any smart modern grill, the Denali has temperature probes to accurately keep watch on your food and uses an app to connect those probes to your phone. You can set the app to alert you when your food reaches the correct temperature or after a certain time limit.
The size of the Denali is impressive, giving you room to easily cook for an entire party of guests. I especially like the little slots for hanging your drumsticks so that they cook evenly. All the food I tested was tender, and the probes did a good job of pinpointing the right temperature. My medium-rare steaks were perfectly cooked, and the burger patties were browned evenly across the entire range. The addition of the burner to the side meant I could cook up some delicious barbecue beans at the same time as the meat, and I didn't need to bounce from inside to out to keep everything cooking.
My only complaint with the Denali 605 is the time it took to build. It comes disassembled for easy shipping, but putting it together was tedious, with a lot of guesswork when the instructions weren't clear. Once it was built, it worked great, but it was a pain to get it together.
When I first moved out to the High Desert in California, I knew I wanted a grill that could handle enough food for a party. I also knew that moving is expensive, so it had to be affordable. I picked this heavy-duty grill up at Walmart and was instantly impressed with how well it was constructed. After putting it all together it had heft to all the materials that made me think it would stand the test of time, and it did.
The easily removable ashtray made keeping the grill clean a breeze, and the thermometer on the top is very helpful for smoking meats, especially if you don't want to keep lifting the lid and losing the smoke! Little touches like the bottle opener and the hooks under the shelf made it even more helpful, and I used this grill for nearly six years before I moved again. Even when I left, the new owners took it to use with their families.
I have used a lot of really expensive grills, but this budget-friendly, sturdy workhorse is still one of my favorites.
The Ninja Woodfire has all the convenience of an indoor electric grill and air fryer with the addition of a small smoking hopper that lets you burn pellets. These pellets add a distinctive smoky taste to anything you are cooking without the need for an entire smoker to do it.
I've cooked chicken, salmon and beef on the grill setting using just a cup of pellets, saving a lot of time and money compared to a full-size smoker. It even works with the air fryer, so making crispy wings with an applewood smoke taste is easy.
While the Flatrock is pricey for a flat-top griddle, its quality and usefulness can't be overstated. Some foods just can't be cooked on a standard grill -- like tacos and smash burgers, and a flat-top griddle makes those foods a breeze. By the way, if you've never had a smash burger, you need one in your life. They're amazing.
The Flatrock uses Traeger's Pop and Lock system for accessories, so if you already have one of its grills, you can mix and match what you need. You will need to cure the Flatrock's surface, but I found it an enjoyable experience to create just the right surface for my needs. I use the Flatrock more than any other grill right now, and it is my go-to for burgers and tacos.
While the Traeger is a fantastic flat-top grill, it is big and heavy and sometimes you don't need to cook tacos for 10 people. The Nexgrill griddle is much smaller, perfect for a small family of four, and is collapsable so it can be easily stored under your deck, or even thrown in the back of your truck to take camping.
I did find the instructions a little hard to follow though, so make sure you have some time to put it together right.
Like the Ninja Woodsmoke grill above this outdoor oven uses a small pellet smoker on the side to infuse the food with a smokey flavor. The difference with this oven is it can cook at very high temperatures to cook pizzas, make burnt ends, or you can drop the temp and slow cook meat to perfection. If you have a built-in outdoor kitchen this will look fantastic in that setting.
When space is limited, finding the right grill to give you the taste you want can be hard. This gas grill from Monument is compact on the outside but surprisingly large on the inside. It's big enough to cook a spatchcocked turkey or several large steaks and, because it's a gas grill, it's ready as soon as you want to use it. If you only have a small outdoor space or a little balcony in your condo, this would be a great addition to make your grilling dreams come true.
Kamado grilling 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.
With a list price of $1,999 (if you can find it in stock), the Kamado Joe Classic III may have a steep luxury grill price tag, but this high end grill 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.
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How we test grills
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 regarded as the 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.
I use the InfiRay P2 Pro to test how fast the grills heat up and if the heat is even. It only works as the grills heat up because the top temperature is too high, but it gives me a good idea of how well each grill spreads the needed heat.
There's also a fair amount of (read: so much) blind taste testing, lively debate and voting among our editors and families, in addition to the data we gather about grilling temperatures and cooking times. You might think it would be more fun than work to eat delicious food while discussing the merits of a grill, and you'd be right.