Want a grill that sizzles? Our update to last month's report yielded a new top grill among large models and a portable grill that blends consistent heating with high style. But high prices, shaky quality, and flare-ups kept several other grills out of our winner's circle.
Paying $800 for the newly tested B1 Jenn-Air buys superbly even cooking, a rotisserie and warming drawer, and all-stainless construction. Capable grilling and similar features also make the new B4 Kenmore, $700, a top pick. But you don't have to spend that much to please a crowd: The B2 Brinkmann, a CR Best Buy, performs slightly better without the stainless steel for roughly half the price.
Tailgate parties are heating up sales of portable grills, which also suit smaller decks and patios. The Pro-Iroda O-Grill 3000, $180, produced juicy salmon and chicken with distinct sear marks. While its lid was too small to fit the electronic heat sensors used for our evenness tests—required to be included in our grill Ratings (available to subscribers)—it's a fine choice, as is the $200 C2 Weber.
Less impressive was the Cadac Safari Chef, $120, which holds just one piece of chicken, salmon, or steak, and it undercooked the steak. Flare-ups with the Cuisinart CGG-200, $190, and so-so low-temp grilling with the infrared Heat Surge Miracle Grill, $150, kept both out of our picks.
Medium-sized grills are still what most people buy. Superb grilling put the new Vermont Castings Signature Series VCS300SSP near the top of our Ratings overall (available to subscribers). That model also includes non-magnetic stainless for better corrosion resistance, beefy cast-iron ends for the lid, and, at $950, a hefty price. Several CR Best Buys, including the A4 Kenmore, cost less than half as much.
Small, non-portable grills save space and money (most cost well under $300). But a shaky cart compromised Kenmore's otherwise impressive Patio Grill 16126, $250. Our advice: Spend $20 more for the sturdier, better-grilling C1 Char-Broil.