The number of outdoor cooking devices that come out each year is staggering!
I have taken a stab at organizing many of these cookers by type (Gas Grills, Charcoal Grills Griddles, etc) to make it easy for you to find information about the style of cooker you are looking for.
I have put my hands on almost all of the products below and cooked on many of them. For other products I have relied upon and summarized the best reviews I could find on the Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes Walmart and BBQGuys websites as well as in depth Youtube reviews.
Gas Grill Reviews
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular budget friendly propane grills from the Big Box stores like Dyna Glo as well as some higher end beauties like Weber, Napoleon and Broil King. Like most things in life, with gas grills you really do get what you pay for.
Best Built In Gas Grills If you are designing an outdoor kitchen then finding a great grill to use as a built-in is critical. The biggest name in gas grills, Weber, has two built in options but they really are not the best choice. For a serious outdoor kitchen I suggest you look at the offerings from the Bull and Lion brands.
Best Infrared Grill Infrared grills work by using a propane flame to heat an emitter plate to high temperatures. Once a critical temperature is reached the plate emits infrared radiation that is perfect for searing steaks. Infrared grills are a mixed blessing. These grills are great for high heat usage and, because the emitter plate is between the meat and the flames, have almost no flare ups. On the down side these grills are not easy to use for low heat application and do not produce the typical flavor profiles that come with grilling over charcoal.
Dyna Glo vs NexGrill: Review of Value Grills Home Depot is one of the largest sellers of grills in the country and two brands that they feature are Dyna Glo and NexGrill. These brands are value priced alternatives to the Weber Genesis and Spirit grills that they also sell. This article is a close look at the differences between these value priced brands.
Napoleon Grills vs Weber Napoleon is a brand similar to Broil King. Napoleon manufactures high end gas grills that are on equal footing with Weber grills. Napoleon grills have some unique features like a wave formed cooking grid and infrared burners. Before you spend $1,000 bucks on a Weber Genesis make some time to check out Napoleon.
Best Grill for Steak: Charcoal, Gas and Pellet Fueled Options I love steaks! Give me a great grill and a ribeye steak and I will be the happiest man alive. This article takes a look at which grills are the best for cooking steaks. I know that different folks have different preferences for grill types so this guide has options for charcoal, propane and pellet fueled options.
Char Broil Gas 2 Coal Grill Review: Take a Hard Pass This is an interesting combination grill that is going to disappoint a lot of people. The Gas 2 Coal is a standard gas grill that comes with an charcoal burning insert you can place between the burners and the cooking grate. The problem is that the insert is very flimsy and is way too close to the cooking grate. Please do not buy this grill.
Smoke Hollow Stainless Steel Portable Gas Grill Review I got the chance to both restore and cook on a Smoke Hollow tabletop grill and was seriously impressed. The grill had survived serious abuse and proved to be a decent cooker. The grill is significantly hotter on one side but by using a GrillGrate panel and rotating the food it was more than capable of handling a pile of brats.
KitchenAid Grills vs Weber and NexGrill KitchenAid has entered the gas grill wars and have positioned themselves as better quality than the budget friendly NexGrill offerings and the high end grills from Weber. The funny thing is that the KitchenAid grills appear to be made by NexGrill are are simply rebranded.
Electric Smoker Reviews
Electric smokers are the most common pieces of equipment that people buy when they get into the art of learning how to smoke meat and barbecue. The heavyweights in the world of electric smokers have traditionally been the Masterbuilt and Bradley brands but newcomers like Pit Boss and Smoke Hollow are nipping at their heels.
Although electric smokers are popular starting smokers they tend to get poor reviews and many people quickly switch to charcoal grills or pellet smokers. Feel free to explore these smokers but realize you will probably want something different in a year or two.
Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Reviews: Which Ones Are Best? Masterbuilt is the largest manufacturer of electric smokers and, as far as electric smokers go, they make some pretty nice equipment. Figuring out the Masterbuilt product line is confusing because they make different models for the different Big Box stores. The have a line of smokers that are exclusive to Lowes, they have another line that is exclusive to Home Depot, another line exclusive to Walmart, etc. The main thing you need to know is that you want a 40 inch model instead of the 30 incher.
Pros and Cons of Electric Smokers: Which Are the Best? Should you buy an electric smoker? Theses products are incredibly popular and can make some decent barbecue. Let’s take a look at why you should, or should not, buy an electric smoker.
How to Clean a Masterbuilt Smoker Here is a topic that a lot of beginners ignore, how to keep their electric smoker clean. Some people fool themselves and call their filthy equipment “well seasoned” but in reality they are begging for a grease fire to break out. Keeping your electric smoker clean is not that hard and this article shows you how to do it.
Pit Boss Electric Smokers Pit Boss has two lines of electric smokers and they get similar customer reviews as the Masterbuilt products. The blue Pit Boss electric smokers have analog controls while the silver models are digital.
Masterbuilt vs Bradley Smokers Bradley makes a series of electric smokers that are unique in how they produce smoke flavor. Bradley smokers utilize an automated system to smolder “hockey pucks” of compressed sawdust throughout a cook. The automated “hockey puck” system employed on a masterbuilt where you have to refill a tray with wood chips every hour or so.
Master Forge Electric Smoker Master Forge makes very nice electric smokers that are on par with Masterbuilt. I sent one of these smokers to a friend and he was kind enough to write up a working review.
Masterbuilt MES 130P John McLemore Signature Series I spotted this smoker at Lowes and thought it was pretty interesting. The MES 130P is the only electric smoker that I have seen which includes a top mounted broiler heating element. In theory you should be able to smoke some chicken thighs for a couple hours until done and then stick them under the broiler to crisp up the skin.
Masterbuilt MES 400 Series Electric Rotisserie Smoker This is another unique electric smoker from masterbuilt as it is the first time I have seen an electric smoker equipped with a rotisserie! I have no idea if using a rotisserie at the low temperatures produced by electric smokers has any practical benefits but it sounds like fun.
Propane Smoker Reviews
Propane smokers are a step up in performance from an electric smoker. There are only a few companies that make propane smokers for outdoor use so your choices are rather limited.
Propane vs Electric Smokers There are significant differences between electric and propane smokers. Personally I like propane smokers better and this article explains why.
Red Rock Propane Smokers by Pit Boss: Great for Jerky? Pit Boss propane smokers have a dual burner design that lets them run at lower temperatures than you can with other brands. This feature would come in great for dehydrating jerky and would be a step up from drying jerky in an electric smoker.
This section will cover drum smokers, offset smokers, grill and smoker combination units as well as a few lists and one off smoker designs that don’t fit neatly in other categories.
Ten Best Smokers Under $1,000 Here is a handy guide to help you figure out which smoker would be the best for your backyard. There is not a one size fits all answer because some people want to cook with charcoal, other folks want to burn pellets and some want the ease of an electric smoker.
Oklahoma Joe’s Highland and Longhorn Reviews The OKJ Highland and Longhorn smokers have the classic look of a traditional offset smoker and are available in standard and Reverse Flow configurations. These smokers get very good reviews but do require a few modifications to get the best performance.
Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco Drum Smoker I LOVE the Oklahoma Joe’s Bronco drum smoker. The Bronco is easy to use, holds a ton of food and is extremely well built. I have had a lot of different grills and smokers on my deck and the Bronco is one of my favorites.
Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Combo Review: The Oklahoma Joe’s Longhorn Combo is a multifunctional cooker with one side dedicated for use as a small offset smoker and the other dedicated for use as a three burner propane grill. I think the Combo looks stunning but the customer reviews are quite mixed and I think there might be better ways to spend your money.
Char Griller Smokin Outlaw Offset Smoker If you go into this with reasonable expectations the Char Griller offset is any interesting piece of equipment. Do not expect this smoker to be as good as a Jambo Pit or even an Oklahoma Joe’s Highland. Instead, realize that this is an inexpensive cooker that you can have some fun with after doing quite a few modifications. I think just figuring out and performing all of the mods would be half the fun!
Memphis Ultimate 4 in 1 Combination Smoker by Pit Boss The Memphis looks amazing but does not deliver as it should. There is an inherent problems when any product tries to be four different things at once…it is automatically sub optimized for everything.
Old Country BBQ Pits: Pecos, Wrangler, Over-Under, Vertical and Cantina XXL If you live near an Academy Sports store then you owe it to yourself to check out the beautiful smokers from Old Country. The design and build quality on these smokers is outstanding.
Triton 3 in 1 Combination Grill and Smoker by Outdoor Gourmet The Triton is another grill that tries to do everything and as a result does everything in a dismal manner. This grill gets horrible customer reviews and should be avoided.
Horizon Smokers: A Closer Look at the 16 inch Classic and Ranger Offsets The Horizon smokers are good looking, have quality build construction and come with a seriously high price tag. The price tag would not bother me except for the fact that the smokers do not come with the tuning plate they need to make them heat evenly.
Masterbuilt Pro Series MDS Pro Series Dual Fuel Smoker The Masterbuilt Dual fuel can be used as either a propane or charcoal smoker. I like the idea of starting off a brisket with charcoal and wood to lay down some serious smoke flavor and then finishing the cook with propane so I don’t have to deal with fire management.
Charcoal Grill Reviews
When it comes to charcoal grills I am a sucker for Weber kettles. There is a tab at the top of this page that will take you to all of my reviews for Weber grills and smokers so this section if for other brands.
If you are looking for a Weber alternative then the Napoleon and PK Grills are seriously worthy of consideration.
PK Grill Review: The Original vs 360 PK grills are solid alternatives to Weber charcoal grills and, when properly used, will last a lifetime. PK grills are made of cast aluminum so they will never rust. The only way these grills get damaged is when the charcoal is placed directly against the grill body and then burn throughs can occur. This article details the differences between the two models of PK grills that are available.
Vintage Presidential PK Grill I was fortunate to find an antique PK grill for sale. The model I found was called The Presidential and hasn’t been made for at least 40 years. Despite the age on this grill it was still an amazing cooker and I had fun putting it through its paces.
Heavy Duty Park Style Grills I was thinking about installing one of those heavy duty open style grills like you see at parks in my backyard. I finally came to my senses and realized it was a bad idea but I did end up writing an article based on what I learned while researching this style of grill.
Kamado Grill Reviews
Are you stuck trying to find out the difference between a Big Green Egg and a Kamado Joe? Do you want to find out how much a Big Green Egg really costs without having to drive to the store? What about that Pit Boss kamado that they have at Costco…is it any good? If any of those questions sound familiar then this section has you covered.
Big Green Egg Prices Including Accessories Big Green Egg will not allow its dealers to post any prices online. I believe that it is because they are afraid of the competition and do not want people to do a price comparison against Kamado Joe. However, I am not a BGE dealer so I went ahead and posted the actual prices from my local grill store. This price list includes the Egg as well as accessories such as the nest and side tables.
Pit Boss Kamado Grill at Costco The Pit Boss kamado grill that is being sold at Costco is a beauty! The grill looks beautiful, has a ton of features, nice construction and is much less expensive than a Big Green Egg.
Louisiana Grills 24 inch Kamado Grill at Costco vs Kamado Joe: The parent company of Pit Boss, Dansons, has started selling a new ceramic cooker at Costco under its other brand, Louisiana Grills. This grill looks almost identical to the 24 inch Kamado Joe Big Joe grill but costs $500 less.
Miscellaneous Equipment Selection
There are thousands of grilling accessories, books and random cool products out there and I have been fortunate enough to play with many of them. Here is a small collection of products that I really enjoy.
- Kettle Zone Cooking System
- Best Meat Slicer for Jerky
- Best Knife for Slicing Brisket
- Best Brisket Rub
- Best Rib Rub to Buy
- GrillGrate Review: These are AWESOME!
- Cool stuff from Cajun Bandit
- Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue
Reviews of Barbecue Sauces and Dry Rubs
Here are some of my favorite barbecue sauces and commercial dry rubs. I think that you will like them as well!