New Grill Brands Want to Take Over Your Backyard
Consumer Reports tests 9 new grill brands to see whether they can take the heat
Weber and Char-Broil have been making grills for more than 60 years—and they dominate the backyard grill market. But that hasn't stopped newcomers from trying to win over grilling enthusiasts with innovative designs and evocative names. Each year, Consumer Reports' industry experts see a slew of new brands rolling out at hardware stores and home centers. (Check out our expert picks for the best gas grills at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Walmart.)
And shopping for a gas grill isn't like buying another major appliance. "If you go to buy a refrigerator, you'll probably recognize most of the brands with models at the store," says Mark Allwood, a CR market analyst who oversees grills (and refrigerators). "But with grills, there might be a dozen brands you've never heard of, and five or six might be companies that didn't even exist last summer."
That's not to say that new is bad. A number of the models from new brands do well enough in CR's exhaustive gas grill tests for us to recommend. You won't find these newcomers in our survey results for brand reliability and consumer satisfaction yet.
Here, listed in alphabetical order, are some of the noteworthy newcomers we've tested in the past two years.
CR's take: These midsized grills at Home Depot are $400 to $700 and boast stainless and style. Sagittarius Sporting Goods makes them, and you'll also find the brand's big seven-burner stainless grills at Costco and on Amazon for $1,000 and up.
We tested two models from Chef's Grills. The Chef's Grill RT-24175-1 has three main burners that come with a 10-year warranty. It heats fast, earning a score of Excellent in our preheat test. The Chef's Grill IR2818-1, $650, has a bigger cooking area and two main infrared burners with a five-year warranty. But it didn't perform quite as well as its brandmate.
CR's take: Even Embers grills are available at Tractor Supply Company. These grills sell for less than $300, and the midsized Even Embers GAS7540AS grill we tested costs even less. Still, it has five main burners, a side burner, coated cast-iron grates, and a 10-year burner warranty—unusual at this price. In our tests, it earns a score of Excellent for even heating—our most crucial performance test.
CR's take: This new grill line, exclusive to Lowe's, pairs a pretty snazzy looking grill atop a bare-bones cart. Side shelves and built-in temperature gauges are standard, but side burners aren't. This model earns a score of Excellent in our sturdiness test, one indicator that you can expect several seasons of grilling before it will need to be replaced.
CR's take: This top-of-the-line grill, exclusive to Costco, is also sold under the store's Kirkland Signature brand name. Built to compete with full-sized outdoor kitchens, it does offer a lot of features for the money, including side burners, stainless steel storage doors, and a rotisserie. Most grills of this size and design cost two to three times more. But its performance doesn't match its price—it earns a score of Fair in our evenness test. Bottom line: You can do better for the money.
CR's take: These basic grills, mostly available online, come in five- and six-burner versions at prices lower than nearly all the competition. Though they lack features like side burners, lights, and even closed carts, they perform quite well. This model earns a score of Excellent in our indirect cooking test, making it well-suited for jobs like slow-roasting pork shoulder or smoking ribs.
CR's take: This outdoor kitchen, exclusive to Lowe's, offers one of the single best deals we've seen. The massive grill has six burners, two side tables and a side burner, and four stainless steel doors for under-grill storage. Better still, it has the cooking chops to back up all of its features. It's noteworthy for the speed with which it preheats, earning a score of Excellent in that test.
CR's take: RevoAce grills are basic and sell for $250 or less at Walmart. The small RevoAce GBC1729W has a rotary igniter, and three burners with a five-year warranty. It heats quickly, earning a score of Excellent in our preheat test. We also tested the $100 RevoAce GBC1708WDC, another small grill, which didn't perform quite as well. Its porcelain-coated lid chipped during testing, leaving the exposed metal vulnerable to rust.
CR's take: There's a lot to like in this Costco-exclusive grill. It has heavy stainless steel construction, a side burner, LED-lit burner knobs, and a slide-out tray for a propane tank. It's also no slouch at cooking, earning a score of Very Good in our crucial evenness test.
CR's take: The Smoke Hollow Vector Series VTTSS is the first portable we've seen with a smoke tray. It holds wood chips, like hickory or mesquite, that add a smoky flavor to food. Outdoor Leisure Products makes it, and you'll find this grill for under $200 at Home Depot, Sam's Club, and Walmart. It has two burners, not counting the smoke tray, and a one-year burner warranty, and it earns a score of Very Good in our preheat test. See how it stacks up against the other portable grills we've evaluated in our full gas grill ratings.