Best grills for beginners: 5 options to get you started in BBQ

Best Grills for Beginners

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If you’re new to the BBQ and grilling world, or simply looking for a grill to get you started, this guide will show you five great grills for those starting out in BBQ and grilling.

We will share with you a list of the best grills for beginners and also what you should consider before getting one. We will also teach you about different types of grills and fuel types.

When I first started exploring the BBQ world over two decades ago, I knew I needed a grill but didn’t know where to begin. I will use my 20 years of experience, trial and error to save you some trouble, overspending and headaches.

And no, you don’t need a thousand dollar grill if you are a beginner or to cook good BBQ.

Top Best grills for Those Starting in Grilling and barbecue

1. The Z Grills 450B – Best Grill for Beginners

zgrills-450b

This grill is one of my favorites and our top recommendations for barbecue beginners because it checks many boxes, including ease of use and low purchase cost. The Z Grills 450B is a budget-friendly pellet grill but still offers good quality and features found in more expensive models.

450B temperature controller

The 450B offers 459 square inches of cooking space, is fueled by wood pellets, and has a digital controller to manage temperature. It even includes a meat probe, so you can monitor the meat’s internal temperature as you cook, and the meat temperature is displayed on the grill’s LCD screen.

One noteworthy aspect of the 450B is that it is compact and light. I can grab this grill and move it around my patio with ease. It is also easy to fit into small backyards.

You can read our full review of the Z grills 450B.

Why our top choice?

We chose the Z Grills 450B as our best overall because, first, it is reasonably priced, and second, it offers all the features necessary to grill and smoke foods. This grill is small which makes it great for those looking for something simple, inexpensive, easy to handle and maintain.

What we like:

  • It’s easy to use – Add pellets to the hopper, push the power button, and set the cooking temperature. 
  • Good quality for the money.
  • Three year warranty.
  • Includes meat probes.
  • Easy to clean and maintain.
  • Great smoky flavor.

What to consider

  • You will need to become familiar with pellet flavors to be sure you are pairing meats with the right flavors. 
  • Cooking temperatures on pellet grills range from 160 to 500 degrees, which are good for smoking and grilling but not high enough to bake pizzas or get a nice sear on steaks.

2. The Weber Spirit E-210 Propane Gas Grill – Runner up

The Weber Spirit E-210

Available at:

The Weber Spirit is a two burner propane gas grill with enough cooking space for a small family or couple. This grill is very easy to use and gets the job done without any gadgetry to get in the way. 

This propane gas grill is very easy to use. Turn on the burners using a push-start piezo igniter and set the burners to low, medium, or high heat, or until the built-in lid thermometer shows the desired temperature.  

Weber grills are good quality, and most of us started our BBQ journey using one. This grill has a fuel gauge to let you know the fuel level in the propane tank, flavorizer bars, and two cooking grates. It is a simple grill, but that’s what makes it so good. 

This Weber is one of the best beginner grills because of its simplicity but it also includes all the aids ad feature you need for grilling great food.

What we like:

  • It’s simple to use and get started.
  • Two burners can get the grill to a high enough temperature to get grill marks on steaks.
  • of grilling space for a small family or entertaining a small group. 
  • The cooking area is split between a main cooking grate and a warming rack, which comes in handy to keep food warm.  
  • The flavorizer bars help with flare ups.
  • Stainless steel burners should last a long time.

What to consider

  • Propane grills do yield real BBQ flavor since fuels like natural gas and propane don’t have flavor. ( like charcoal or wood pellets ) 
  • If you want a “smoky flavor” you will need to use a smoker box with wood chips.

3. The Z Grills 7004DE – Good Choice

Z Grills FLAGSHIP 700D4E

Available at:

This Z Grills is a larger, more refined version of the 450B we mentioned above, and it is also larger. This means that the Z Grills 4004DE shares the same easy to use controls and includes many of the same features, but it is larger. 

This grill can double as a smoker, so if you are wanting to start your grilling career and are also interested in learning how to smoke meats, the 700D4E is a great grill smoker combo grill

This grill offers you a large cooking space, the well-liked automation of a digital temperature controller, meat probes, and two cooking racks. This is a grill that you can easily learn to use and grow with. It is very easy to use and versatile. Its temperature range is from 180 to 450 degrees, so you can cook a variety of foods, smoke meats, and grill.

This is the best grill for those who are looking for good wood-fired flavor and have the space and budget for a slightly larger grill than the top two on this list. If you budget allows it I would recommend this 700 over the 450B since you get a lot more space and a nice storage cabinet for not that much more.

Read our full review of the Z Grills at 7004DE with all the details. 

What we like

  • Larger grill with plenty of space to cook large meat cuts.
  • Very easy to use, digital temperature controller and two meat probes to monitor the food.
  • It has a large store space with doors to store tools and pellets.
  • Great outdoor grill only needs a power source and pellets.
  • Only maintenance routine includes emptying the grease collector and grease tray cleaning.
  • Large LCD display
  • Affordable

What to consider

  • Is a larger grill so be sure you have the space.

4. The Weber Kettle Premium Premium Charcoal Grill : Best beginners charcoal grill

Weber Kettle Premium

Available at:

The Weber Kettle is not only easy to use and simple, it is a classic. The shape of this grill is Weber, which is the most recognizable shape in the BBQ world. This BBQ grill is fueled by charcoal but is designed with simplicity in mind. 

Charcoal grills give you total control over the cooking process and can be easily adapted to work as pizza ovens, charcoal smokers, and, of course, grills. 

However, many people get intimidated by the idea of having to deal with charcoal or grab a bottle of lighter fluid to light charcoal. This is all eliminated by using a chimney starter, some good quality lump charcoal, and you are ready to go. There are different methods of lighting charcoal without using chemicals or lighter fluid.

What we like:

  • Easy to use grill for beginners wanting to start on a charcoal grill.
  • Simple airflow controls to manage the fire and temperature.
  • Easy to arrange lump charcoal for indirect heat cooking when smoking meats.
  • Portable since no power is needed, just coal.
  • Very little maintenance, just empty the charcoal ash and clean the grates with a good brush.
  • Works well for both high heat grilling and low and slow cooking.

What to consider:

  • The grill can get hot to the touch. 
  • It takes a little while to find a good air vent setup for optimal airflow and heat control.

Helpful: How to light charcoal using a chimney starter

5. The Ninja Foodie Smart XL – Best Electric Grill for Beginners

Ninja Foodie Smart

Available at:

The Ninja Foodie Smart is a different type of grill, and it is electric. This grill is considered more of an indoor electric grill than an outdoor one, but for some who live in apartments. This can be a good start. 

The Ninja has two heating plates, so it cooks food evenly. It also has a smart digital temperature controller that handles all aspects of temperature control.

What we like:

  • As easy as it gets- press a button and start cooking.
  • Can be used indoors 
  • Small and compact, fits in many places.

What to consider:

  • Limited cooking surface.
  • No smoky flavor.

6. The Joe Classic Kamado Charcoal Grill

The Joe Kamado is a premium charcoal grill. It can be your first grill and your last. The reason I say this is because kamados are incredibly durable and versatile. You can cook virtually anything with them, and because they are ceramic, they will not rust. However, these grills are on expensive side.

Things to consider As a beginner when selecting a grill

Have you ever been to a golf course where a beginner claims his golf clubs are terrible and that is why he curved the ball? Then a more experienced golfer grabs the same set of clubs and hits a straight 200 yard drive. Well, the same can be said about BBQ grills. Your skills will play a major role in how good or bad your food tastes. Nevertheless, when looking for the best grill for beginners, our test and research teams look for the following attributes, and so should you.

The flavor of the food will be affected by factors such as the type of fuel used, the type of grill, and, of course, your grilling skills. 

But to help you navigate the world of grills, here are a few things you should consider when purchasing your first grill or if you are a beginner.

Price of the Grill

If this is going to be your first grill, you might want to start with something inexpensive and budget friendly. There are budget smokers on the market that will cook just fine, and great gas grills under 500 dollars that will also do a fine job. 

The point here is that you do not need to overspend to get a good grill, especially if this is your first grill. 

If you are sure you are in the BBQ game for the long haul and want to spend on a good grill now so you don’t have to buy another grill later, then there are good American made grills that will outlast most budget options. 

Grill Quality

You should look for quality characteristics in any item you purchase, but especially in grills. These are poor quality grills which succumb to the abuse of high temperatures, moisture, grease, and eventually rust. 

Good quality grills will also include a good warranty and great support. 

Good quality characteristics include the use of high-quality materials to construct the grill, such as stainless steel and heavy-duty steel. Also, cast iron grates, stainless steel grates, and stainless steel components are often found in good quality grills.

The Grill Fuel Type

There are grills powered by a variety of fuel types. I will elaborate on this later in the article, but it’s important to note this now. Each fuel type has its own list of advantages and disadvantages, but in summary, charcoal grills are very versatile and, in some cases, inexpensive, but require more effort and expertise to manage. A charcoal grill is a good grill to learn on if you want to learn how to cook authentic BBQ and delicious food. 

The common fuel types are gas or propane, charcoal, pellets, and electricity. Think about what type of cooking you will be doing , what fuel you feel comfortable using, and what type of flavor profile you are after. 

Your Cooking Style

If you want to learn how to grill simple dishes like hot dogs and burgers, it’s one thing, but if you want to learn how to cook real BBQ, it’s another. For grilling a few hot dogs now and then, any grill can do, but to cook real BBQ and get lots of flavor, a charcoal grill / charcoal smoker, or pellet grill should be on the short list of options. 

Common Types of grills

This is very important and here is why. There are quite different types of grills and all have their own pros and cons, which I dive more into detail in my grill and smoker types guide

However, here is a quick list of grill type available on the market.

Gas Grills ( propane or natural gas )

Charcoal

Electric

Pellet

Wood

BBQ Grill Smokers 

The first thing you need to know is that when it comes to grilling and BBQ, there are two main and more common types of “cookers,” namely, smokers and grills.

Smokers are traditionally larger grills designed to cook meat for a longer period of time and cook at lower temperatures. When you go to a restaurant, you see on the menu “smoked ribs” or “smoked pulled pork”, those dishes were prepared in a smoker. 

With a smoker, you can cook food low and slow and infuse meats with extra smoke to achieve that authentic BBQ flavor.

Smokers are available in different shapes and fuel types, and if smoking meat is more of what you want to learn and cook, be sure to read our smokers guide to learn all about the different types of smokers.

Smokers’ operating temperatures range anywhere from 160 degrees to about 450 degrees. Smoking cooking temperatures are usually in the ballpark of 190 to 275 degrees.

BBQ Grills

Grills are more common and traditionally what people start with. In retrospect, some grills can work as smokers, but few smokers can get to high enough temperatures to grill. So keep that in mind.

Grills can operate at low temperatures but also reach high temperatures in the range of 600 to 900 degrees, which is enough to sear steaks and bake pizzas. There are a variety of fuels available for grills, and each has advantages and disadvantages that relate primarily to the skills required to operate the grill and to its flavor.

Let’s take a look at the different types of grill fuel.

Ease of Use by Grill Fuel Type

Grills come in all shapes and sizes, but the primary difference is the type of fuel. Below are the most popular grill fuel types, ranked by ease of use.

Electric grills – Easiest

Electric grills are extremely user-friendly, making them ideal for beginners and novices. An electric grill doesn’t burn any fuel. Instead, a heating element or resistance heats up cooking grates or a metal plate of some sort to evenly distribute heat and cook the food. 

Electric grills are great for cooking indoors or for those wanting something small, maybe a portable grill or just the simplest grill to operate. Electric grills are also great for those who live in apartments or have little to no space for a grill.

These grills are often called “ smokeless grills,” which makes them great for cooking indoors.

You can read more about these grills in our indoor grills guide.

The biggest and most significant drawback of an electric grill is that it yields no flavor. Since you are not burning wood, wood pellets, or charcoal, the only taste comes from the seasoning. Quite frankly, this is my least favorite type of grill, although it has its purpose.  

Gas Grill or propane – Easier

Gas grills are the second-easiest to operate, primarily because most of us are familiar with the primary components of a gas grill, namely the gas burners. Many of us already have gas stoves in our homes, and just like a gas stove, a gas grill has one or more burners to heat up the cooking space. 

A gas grill, just like an electric grill, does not yield flavor since you are burning gas from a propane tank. The main difference between your gas stove and a gas grill is that the grill has grates to cook the food on. 

The food will be cooked on some sort of grate, be it cast iron, porcelain coated steel, or stainless steel. This creates a different cooking effect than boiling or braising the meat in a pan, as melted fat, grease, and oils drain and escape from the bottom of the grill. 

Some gas grills have what are called “flavorizing bars,” or shields, above the burners and below the grill grates, and as fat hits those flavorizer bars, the “fat steam” can add flavor to the food. Nothing live changing but it does add some “grill flavor” to foods. 

Nerve the less you can use smoker boxes in your gas grill and add more smokey flavor to your food. It will not be as much as a charcoal or pellet grill, but it will add more flavor than grilling on an electric grill.

Gas grills are simple because all that you have to do to operate one is turn the burner control knob and decrease or increase the flame to decrease or increase the temperature. That’s it.

Pellet grill – Easier

I own a pellet grill and I absolutely love it. Pellet BBQ grills are not necessarily harder to use than electric grills, but because there are a few more steps involved, I rank them below gas or propane grills. 

Now, don’t think these pellet cookers are hard to use; they are not at all, but because high-end pellet smokers and grills have WIFI, temperature probes, and other components, it might take a minute or two to become familiar with the tech, not the grill. 

As far as the grills go, they are as easy to use as a propane or electric grill. In fact, one would say that a pellet grill is the combination of the ease of use of an electric grill with some of the flavor of a charcoal grill.

These grills are my favorite types to use because they are simple to use and you get an amazing smoky flavor from burning wood pellets

The only steps required to operate a pellet grill are to add pellets to a hopper, turn on the grill, and set the temperature. The grill does everything for you, including feeding pellets to maintain the temperature setting.

Charcoal grills – Harder

Charcoal grills are the most difficult to learn to use, but they are also the most versatile and rewarding. Charcoal grilling can be a lot of fun and opens the door to a wide range of culinary options because you are in control. Fire, heat, flavor, you control it all. 

I own a kamado grill, and it is by far one of the best grills I own, but even for me, with years of experience, it took me a while to master that grill.

The point here is that a charcoal grill will beat all other grills on this list, but it does take longer to learn and some people simply do not like to deal with charcoal.

If you intend to be in the BBQ game for the long haul, I strongly recommend starting with a charcoal grill. The results will be very rewarding and you will learn skills you can later apply when using other grills or any cooking style.

Conclusion

We go over a lot in this article, but to summarize, the best grill for beginners should be simple to use, and I recommend something affordable. You should also consider the type of fuel you want to use, as this can affect the flavor. 

I hope you found this guide to be helpful. Grill on!

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