Grills and smokers: great options for barbecue beginners or grilling masters

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Young boy learning to use barbecue tongs with sausage

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It’s official: it’s grilling season. Now that the sun is cooperating in most parts of the country, it’s time to add the irreplaceable flavor of old-fashioned charcoal, smoke and good fire to your culinary creations. Whether it’s a smoked sausage feast you crave or a healthy chicken breast for a weeknight, there’s a grill or smokehouse with your name this year. And if an open flame intimidates you, know this: you have alternatives. These days, traditional charcoal stoves compete with electric grills that can fit on a countertop.

Here you’ll find an overview of the top-rated options for bringing that sizzle, and all from brands and retailers Americans trust, like Weber, Walmart, Cuisinart, George Foreman and Home deposit.

Smoker for Small Spaces: Smokey Mountain 14-inch Stove and Smoker

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Weber / Walmart


Need a great flavor for small groups? Consider this smoker, barely longer than a big hero sandwich. the 14 inch Smokey Mountain Smoker garnering praise from critics for its ease of use, simple cleaning, and effective smoking action. Like any good smoker, it can hold a temperature for as many hours as it takes to achieve the flavor barbecue enthusiasts crave. Perhaps best of all: it’s American made.


Smoker for beginners: Masterbuilt MES 130B digital electric smoker

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Masterbuilt via Lowes


No charcoal, no propane, no experience, no problem. Meet the Masterbuilt MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker, which promises competition-ready results, even for barbecue novices. A side-loading door makes it easy to add wood chips. And a spacious interior with four racks allows for six (!!!) chickens, two turkeys, four racks of ribs or four pork butts.


Reliable and versatile grill: Spirit E-210 gas grill

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Weber


You’ve probably seen this grill at a dozen backyard parties. Designed to fit on a small patio or balcony, the popular Weber Spirit E-210 gas barbecue nonetheless has two roomy burners that can easily handle half a dozen burgers at a time. Two sturdy side tables keep fixings or seasonings close at hand, and six hooks at the ends can store all the grilling implements you need. Propane refills are a snap, and a gas side burner even lets you make barbecue sauce while you’re grilling.


Gas grilling the easy way: the Weber Genesis TT SX-335 smart barbecue

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Weber


Imagine a gas grill that lets you move around. This Weber Genesis TT SX-335 Smart Barbecue includes smart wifi technology that alerts you when a grill reaches a certain temperature, and even when the meat inside does the same. A companion app offers a countdown feature, letting you know exactly how much time you have left to enjoy that cocktail from across the house. The grill even lets you know when a burger is ready to be flipped.


Kamado Cook’s Cult Favorite: Large Big Green Egg

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Big Green Egg / Ace material


If you are curious about kamado style cookers, aficionados say the Big Green Egg is to buy. Reviewers praise this wood-fired model for its consistent temperatures, heat retention and stability, as well as its versatility: try slow, low cooking, or cook it thoroughly for a pizza worthy of a Neapolitan. You may have to order it online to pick it up, but fans say it’s worth it.


Smart outdoor stove: Ironwood 885 wood pellet barbecue

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Traeger / Amazon


If you’ve had enough of the charcoal and gas, but still want to upgrade to chef grilling, consider this an investment in your taste buds. This top-notch wood pellet grill combines all the technology of a smart outdoor range with the old-fashioned taste of wood pellet chips. You can also smoke, bake, roast and braise. A sensor monitors the machine’s pellet level and Wi-Fi technology lets you control the grill from anywhere.


Old Fashioned & Economical Grill: Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-inch Charcoal Grill

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Weber / Walmart


Maybe you just want to do it the old fashioned way, and for a price that fits almost any budget. For those simple souls among us, critics prefer the rugged Weber Original Kettle Premium 22-inch charcoal barbecue. If you want to modernize the look a bit and stand out from dad’s yard, the model is also available in green and copper.


Small Indoor Grill: George Foreman Contact Smokeless Grill

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George Foreman / Amazon


Reviewers love the George Foreman Contact Smokeless Indoor Grill, and not just because it takes the outdoor flavor inside by eliminating smoke by up to 80%. A non-stick coating on the grill makes cleanup easy and the George Foreman label means grease can be kept to a minimum. Better yet: the drip tray is dishwasher safe.


Indoor Grill Madness: Cuisinart Electric Griddler

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Cuisinart / Amazon


Enjoy the convenience of an indoor grill, dial the functions up to 11, and you get this high-tech wonder suitable for countertops. We’re talking about five cooking options – including panini pressing and full cooking – plus an LCD display, digital controls, a grab function and more. And this gadget still acts as a hot plate; it means that only one machine can take you from breakfast to dinner.


A little extra: the Traeger Lil Pig wood pellet grill

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Traegar / the barbecue guys


Tired of boring black? Like a small shape with your function? Your candy pink sausage savior is here. Traeger’s Lil Pig might have a steep price tag, but then again, it has a great style to go with it. It also contains a brain, with a digital thermostat control that allows you to set the grill and move away. Plus, a dual-probe meat thermometer can grill different cuts of meat at different temperatures.



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