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12 Types Of Grills And Which One Is Best For You

From various fuel sources to the actual grilling surface, there are plenty of grill types that can make you the master of the backyard grilling scene. Different fuel sources have different requirements and can even create a distinct flavor profile in the food that you grill. They have varying costs and maintenance requirements as well. You can also consider the shape of the grill, its portability, and the type of grilling or smoking that it does best.


The trick is finding the right style for your cooking preferences, size and space constraints, and experience level. If you envision yourself enjoying a seared steak with a crispy, flavorful crust, you'll need a grill type that works well with high heat. But if you're more interested in smoking meat for a super tender dish to share, a grill that has plenty of air circulation and low heat settings is better for you. No matter what you're grilling goals, finding the best type of grill for your needs is the first step to getting delicious food.

Propane grill

Propane grills are easy to use and very reliable, which is why they work with everything from juicy grilled chicken to mouthwatering ribs on the grill. These grills use a replaceable tank filled with liquid propane, which is why you might also see them referred to as LP grills. Once you hook up the tank and turn on the grill using a starter, the propane burns to create heat. You will need to purchase a tank of liquid propane separately but you can find them at grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, and many other places, especially during the summer months. Bring back your empty tanks to trade them in for full ones.


Propane grills are best for those who want convenience and portability. They are some of the most versatile grills available because all you need to do is hook up a tank of liquid propane, turn on the grill, and get started. They heat quickly and evenly so you don't need to wait a long time or be a master chef to use one. There are also plenty of models out there, from two-burner grills perfect for a small family to models with four burners or more made to cook for a crowd.

Natural gas grill

Natural gas grills require a separate hook-up to an available natural gas line. This can be more work upfront but means that you never need to worry about refilling the tank or running out of fuel. Depending on the setup in your grilling space, you might need to run a new line, which can be costly. But if you already have a natural gas hookup available, a natural gas grill requires minimal maintenance and you'll never need to run out to the store to pick up a tank of gas, like you do with propane grills.


Natural gas grills are ideal for those who like the convenience of cooking with gas, want an even and consistent cook surface, but don't need to move their grill. The main advantage of natural gas over propane is that it eliminates the need for a separate tank of fuel. Natural gas is also less expensive overall than propane, although you will need to factor in the potential costs of running a natural gas line or maintaining the existing line over time. Like with propane, there are many natural gas grill models of various sizes from small grills to massive six-burner options. You can even find some of the same models available in both propane and natural gas options.

Charcoal grill

These grills burn charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal and create a deep, smokey flavor in your grilled meats and veggies. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and require a bit more work to get started than some other grills that use different fuel sources. Burning charcoal creates ash so these grills have a bit more cleanup required than other types, which is important if you don't want your steak to taste burnt. Charcoal is made of wood and the best options for grilling aren't doused in lighter fluid, which can make your food taste funny.


Charcoal grills are beloved by those who want an authentic grilled food experience and taste. There is a noticeable difference in flavor of food cooked over a charcoal grill and other types of grills. Reliable charcoal grills tend to be very simple and have been around for decades. They're a good choice for those who don't mind putting in a little effort to get the fuel source started but don't want all the maintenance and hassle of dealing with grills that have extra buttons and settings. Of course, you can find charcoal grills with all of the bells and whistles, including digital controls and smartphone compatibility, as well since there are many models available.

Electric grill

Electric grills use electrical power to heat up the cooking surface, similar to an electric stovetop. All you need to do is turn it on and adjust the temperature, which is easy since the grill responds quickly. This is a great choice for those who don't want to deal with changing out tanks, worrying about gas leaks, or fumbling with lighters to start a fire. Because they don't use natural gas, propane, charcoal, or wood, you can also use them inside without worrying about an open flame or smoke. They won't give your food that distinct barbecue flavor, however, since they don't have an open flame.


These grills are very consistent and easy to use, which makes them a good choice for beginners. Many models are compact, perfect for those who don't have a lot of space but still want to do some grilling, but you can also find full-size electric grills. You will need to have access to power, either from an outlet or a portable generator if you're taking your grill on the go. Some portable models work on battery power but these are small and not ideal for large amounts of grilling. Because they use electricity, these grills will also not work if there are any power outages.

Pellet grill

As their name suggests, these grills use wood pellets to create both heat and smoke, resulting in a delicious aroma and taste as you grill. You can even use them to bake, smoke, or roast food. You'll need to pick up pellets, which can be found at the hardware store or ordered from specialty vendors who often carry a wider variety. Look for food-grade pellets labeled for barbecue grills. Not only will these create a better flavor in your food, but they are free of extra additives that might pose a health risk. They're also better for your grill and won't create as much build-up and ash.


Pellet grills are a fantastic choice for grill enthusiasts who want a distinct flavor profile or who like experimenting with different types of wood, especially for smoking meat. Most pellet grill models are made for low-temperature cooking, although you can usually adjust the temperature with precision digital controls and the grill will feed more pellets into the fire to maintain the desired temps. If you're cooking for a crowd, look for an extra large and heavy-duty model. It can take a long time for the grill to heat, however. If you're looking to sear meat on a high-heat grill surface, these grills aren't the best option.

Combination grills

You never need to worry about running out of fuel mid-party when your grill uses two different types. Most combination grills work with charcoal and gas, which is great for those who want a traditional charcoal grilled flavor but also occasionally like the convenience of a gas grill. You can use each side individually or both at the same time, depending on what you are cooking or how many people you plan to feed. Keep in mind that you'll need to supply the fuel sources and maintain the grill, which can be more work when you have to do it for two separate systems.


These grills are a good choice for people who want more versatility from their grill but don't want to purchase and store multiple models. They tend to be a bit larger than a single-fuel source grill but still don't take up as much space as two grills would. They are also good for those who have a strong preference for particular cooking methods at different times or with different foods. You can find models with adjustable grates and side burners as well as combo grills with extras like smoker boxes for even more culinary options.

Infrared grill

If you like to cook with intense high heat, an infrared grill is the way to go. These grills typically use gas for fuel, although you can find some models that are fueled by charcoal, and have ceramic plates on the grill top that heat up faster than traditional grill grating. They come in natural gas and propane models, as well as a few options powered by electricity. While regular gas-powered grills heat the air inside the grill, which is then transferred to the cooking surface and ultimately the food. Infrared models heat ceramic plates, resulting in less heat loss and faster cooking times.


Infrared grills are not only good for high heat, but achieving high heat right away. They heat up quickly and can reach higher temperatures than grills with normal grill tops. This is especially important if you want to get the best sear marks on meats, which can enhance flavor and make the dish look its best. This exterior crust on meat also helps keep the juices locked inside, resulting in a more flavorful and tender steak. Some models have a side burner with infrared technology, which can make it more cost-effective.

Kamado grill

Kamado grills are some of the most well-known and use charcoal as a fuel source. The kamado name refers to the shape of the grill, which traces its origins back to domed cooking pots popular in China around 3,000 years ago. The shape helps with airflow and allows the grill to reach extremely high temperatures efficiently. Modern kamado grills are made of ceramic and resemble eggs, giving them a very recognizable profile and even inspiring names like the Big Green Egg, which is one of the most popular and iconic kamado grills out there. You can use a kamado grill on high heat to sear meat or on low heat as a smoker.


They burn lump charcoal to create a hot cooking surface and interior, which you can control by opening and closing vents to get the desired temperature. Adjusting the temperature can take some trial and error, especially if you are a beginner, so expect a breaking-in period when starting with a kamado grill. But once you learn the mechanisms and how to adjust the dampers, kamado grill cooking is fast and yields great results.

Flat top grill

This grill style is also known as a griddle or a hibachi grill. It is very versatile and works on everything from burgers to pancakes, although you won't get those distinct grill marks and char that many people like. They can be heated by electricity, propane, or charcoal, although each model typically only connects to one type of fuel. Flat top grills come in tabletop varieties that are very portable but you can also find full-size options that include prep space and a grill cart with everything from shelves for accessories to hooks for your tools.


Flat top grills are best for cooks who want to use their griddle for a variety of foods beyond meat. It's especially nice for small or delicate foods that would be difficult to cook on grill grates, including fried eggs and certain veggies. You'll need to do some thorough cleaning after each use since the grease and juices are collected in a grease trap on the grill. If you're camping, taking a portable flat top grill is great because you can use it from breakfast to dinner without carting around a lot of extra appliances and tools.

Barrel grill

As their name suggests, these grills are shaped like horizontal barrels. They have grills inside that allow you to keep your food close to or far from the flame and heat, while the lid closes to keep the temperature consistent. Charcoal is the most common type of fuel source used in barrel grills, which are also sometimes referred to as barrel barbecue pits. They can come in simple models with charcoal trays or high-tech options that include a wifi connection and digitally-controlled gravity feed system to add charcoal as needed. You can even order custom designs to get the exact size and features that you want.


These grills are great for people who want to smoke meat since they can be adjusted to low heat and provide a large interior area for the air to circulate for low, slow cooking. Because they come in large sizes and even double barrel models, these grills are perfect if you know that you're going to be cooking for a large group often. Barrel grills are the choice of many barbecue restaurants that specialize in smoked or grilled meat.


These big grills actually smoke instead of grill which means they cook your meat at a lower temperature for a longer time. Air circulates around the meat inside the smoker as it cooks. They often use the same fuel sources, including propane, charcoal, and wood pellets. You won't get the distinct char and sear marks that people love from high heat grilling but low heat results in deliciously tender and juicy meat that is full of flavor. You can also add flavor with your choice of wood pellets in smokers that use wood as a fuel source. You can also find them in combination models that work with both propane and wood pellets. Lifting the lid too much wreaks havoc on any type of grilling, but doing is especially bad for smokers, which is why many models come with multiple meat probes that you can set up ahead of time to monitor progress without having to open the grill.


Smokers can take some extra work since you'll need to monitor the cooking periodically as the meat smokes. But many models come with high-tech features like wifi connections and gravity-fed fuel sources that help maintain a controlled temperature during the entire cooking process. You can set it and let the smoker do its work with minimal involvement required. Smokers often come in vertical shapes that help the air move around the meat efficiently, but barrel-style models are also very popular and work well.

Portable grill

If you like the taste of grilled food, you don't need to be tied to your backyard to get those fresh sear marks and caramelized veggies for dinner. Portable grills can go with you on adventures thanks to their smaller size and features like wheels and foldable shelves. Consider if you're going to have a workspace such as a table to use your grill or if you need it to come with features like a stand or wheels to make carting it easier. Different models use various fuel sources, with propane and charcoal options being some of the easiest to find.


Portable grills are ideal for people who like to travel and want to cook where they go, as well as people in smaller living quarters who might be grilling in a small yard or patio. Portable grills also make great additions to tailgates and other outdoor festivities, although the smaller grilling surface might mean that it'll take longer to whip up all of your food for a large crowd. They don't take up a lot of space and are easier to store when not in use. Some models have multiple burners and prep surfaces while other options are compact enough to fit right on the tabletop.