About Barbecue & Grilling Product Evaluations

For more than two decades I have been testing, evaluating, and gathering information on every type of outdoor cooking equipment, accessories, foods, and, well, anything else barbecue and grilling. When I test a product, I look for not only how well it does what it is supposed to do, but also what is the value. For grills and smokers, this means looking at how it is made and by who. How long will it last? What will be its biggest problems? Is this really what people are looking for? I have had a lot of feedback from users. I have talked with retailers and repair persons. I have toured factories. And I have done a lot of cooking. Lots and lots of cooking. I try my best to be objective, to tear away the hype and get down to the nitty-gritty details. I track products back to their factories. You'd be surprised how many 'brand names' correspond with generic companies.

The icons I put with my reviews are here to help you quickly identify the best from the not so great. Of course, there are also full reviews of these products with detailed evaluations and breakdowns of the most important aspects each item. For these symbols, I have chosen a variation of the USDA grading system for meat. Explanations of each symbol follow and I hope that it makes sense to you.

If you are a manufacturer, retailer, or distributor and would like to use these symbols on your website or in your marketing, please contact me. There is no charge for their use, I only ask that you link back to the pertinent page for additional information.

Prime

These are the best of the best and as such tend to be the most expensive products in their category. That is not to say that the most expensive items are the best, or that the best are the most expensive. Prime means luxury, and products listed with this grade are luxury products. Only a handful of items deserve this designation and if you find it, you have found one of the best barbecue & grilling products on the market.

Choice

While not necessarily the most expensive items on the market, products with the 'choice' designation are exceptional. These products might cost more than many items out there, but they are definitely worth it. These represent the upper end, but not top of the line in quality and price and are a better value than the Prime products. If you can afford products in this price range, then these are the ones to buy.

Select

Products with this label are great. They are certainly a better value (and when I talk about value I mean that combination of good price and good products). These products are widely available and will do the job they are supposed to do. They may not be as fancy, but consider items with this grade as the best you will find for the price (which is more reasonable than those above).

Standard

Here you will find a number of store brands, but also good items are a great price. While they may not possess the durability and overall quality as products in the higher grades, they are competent. If, for instance, you are looking for a grill that can cook up some burgers occasionally, then these are good choices. They won't be fancy, but they will work.

Canner

In meat, the canner grade tends to end up in cans. Cans of chili, soup, or other places where appearance isn't important. Canner grade products on my lists are for those that don't want to spend much, but want a product that will get them through a season or two. These are among the least expensive products that are still worth buying.

Cutter

This grade of product is where you should start looking somewhere else. These are products that either can't do what they promise or simply won't last long to be worth even their small investment. In the area of grills, these are the items that will simply cause frustration. Avoid these products.

Rejected

Products with the rejected logo are unsafe. They have either been completely recalled, are in the process of recall, or I have received verifiable information that they are unsafe. If you have a rejected product I recommend that you discontinue use and return to the point of purchase if possible. I will update these reviews with recall information as available.