These Are the Best Grills, According to Grilling Experts
We asked grill masters and executive chefs to share their favorite models to fire up for summer.
When it comes to grills, everyone has a favorite — especially expert grill masters. Charcoal or gas? How about the style? And what about special features? With all these factors, choosing the right grill for you (an aspiring grill master, perhaps?) can be a challenge. That's why we went straight to the source and asked 10 grilling experts across the country share their go-to grills for this summer. Here's what they recommend.
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Fan: Charles Schlienger, Group Executive Chef at Sway
Beloved for its Electronic Touch-and-Go Gas Ignition System, which makes lighting the grill extremely easy and eliminates the need for lighter fluid/starter, this grill is just 22 inches, making it just the right size for a summer BBQ with friends. "It's not obnoxiously large and won’t need more coal than what’s needed for just a couple of burgers or steaks," Schlienger says. "Also, the attached work table makes grilling easy and contains enough space to put your tools and plates."
Fan: Jason Grasty, Concept Chef of Beehive Kitchen
Weber might be the first company you think about when it comes to home grills — the original round charcoal kettle hit the market in 1952 — and the newest incarnations, including the Weber Genesis II series that just came out, continue to inspire. "It’s gas-powered, but has so many other uses that can be tied into it," Grasty says. "These grills are unparalleled when it comes to quality and durability and the new series has even better heat distribution."
Fan: Christie Vanover, Owner and Pitmaster at GirlsCanGrill.com
If you regularly head to a tailgate or picnic, this grill, made of heavy-duty steel and featuring thick cast-iron grates, is for you. "I’ve fallen in love with this grill because it packs the power of a heavy-duty grill into a portable," Vanover says. "My favorite feature is the fact that you can raise and lower the charcoal, which provides more heat control than any portable grill I’ve used before."
Fan: Scott Washburn, a grill master, and Owner of Winestyr
Kamado-style grills have been growing in popularity so it’s no surprise that grill masters love them too. "The Big Green Egg is by far the most versatile grill I’ve come across," says Washburn. According to the website, an egg grill can grill, cook and smoke and it’s known for serious temperature control. "It can hold steady at a low temperature for 15+ hours to smoke meats like brisket or you can crank it up to 700+ degrees and turn it into a volcano to sear steaks in under five minutes," says Washburn.
Fan: Yankel Polak, Culinary Director and Head Chef at ButcherBox
The inventor of the original wood pellet grill over 30 years ago, Traeger has built upon that invention with regular innovations, like an easy start-up — it takes under five minutes for this grill to heat up. "This grill has truly inspired a new generation of wood pellet grills (and followers)," Polak says. "That’s because it functions not only as a wood-burning smoker but also doubles as a grill, giving users that gas grill char when needed."
Fan: Bryan Mroczka, Head Pitmaster, Sonny’s BBQ and a competitive pitmaster on the BBQ circuit
With its cast aluminum body, this charcoal grill holds the heat in and gives you a higher temperature to cook over. "You can cook low 'n slow for pork butt or hot 'n fast to grill steaks or chicken breasts," Mroczka says. "The key to successful backyard grilling is precise temperature management and PK has perfected its vent system. It’s also highly portable and a favorite of many competition steak barbecue teams!"
Fan: Mike Davis, Chef at Terra
Known for its versatility — you’ll cook on an elevated grate and cast iron platform over an open fire — this grill is a go-to for sauteeing, searing, frying, boiling, smoking and steaming (at the same time). "I love everything about this grill," Davis says. "The movable aspects of the grill allow for easy heat control and even cooking. It’s portable, versatile and the ease of use makes it the best grill for beginners as well as seasoned grill masters."
Fan: Abel Veulens, Chef de Cuisine at Byblos Miami
This wood pellet grill is an 8-in-1 which means you can grill, smoke, roast, sear, braise, barbecue and char-grill on it. Plus, it comes with an automated electric feed system, which maintains the heat for you. "This grill has a 20-pound wood pellet hopper that feeds your grill during the cooking process and imparts that delicious smoky flavor that’s synonymous with great American barbecue," Veulens says. "It has the ability to slow-cook tougher cuts of meat and also gets hot enough to quickly sear your more prime cuts. With its modern LED temperature read-out, it also takes the guesswork out of traditional smokers."
When something works, you stick with it, and such is the case with the design of the Legacy 131, which hasn’t changed since 1948. "You can sear your meat and then use the lift to lower the flame, throw some hickory chips on the coals and smoke roast," Fearing says of the grill which has 523 square inches of cooking space allowing you to smoke a ham and a turkey at the same time. "Everyone who comes to my house for a barbecue ends up buying one for themselves. We even shipped one to Steve Winwood, the musician, as a gift."
Fan: Patrick Ochs, Corporate Executive Chef of Pubblica Italiana and Dalia at The Celino Hotel
This industrial-looking grill is party-ready with enough grill surface to feed 10 and it’s easy to pack up (the legs come off and it can pop right into the back of an SUV). "Grillworks is one of the hottest grills on the market, pursued by chefs as well as by backyard grillers because it uses a combination of hard wood lump charcoal and wood to create an unparalleled flavor when cooking meats. When cooking on a grill, I always prefer to use charcoal and wood rather than gas," says Ochs.