Rev up your outdoor culinary experience with the perfect standalone grill for your home. This guide is for those who savor the act of grilling as much as the feast that follows. With summer on the rise, it’s time to not only fire up those tongs but also reassess your backyard layout to accommodate a grilling upgrade. From the fiery glow of a wood-fired grill to the convenience of gas grills and the precision of ceramic cookers, we’ve outlined the best options for your alfresco adventures. Below, we’ll explore not just which grills are the front runners for your backyard but also how to rework your landscape layout to integrate them seamlessly, ensuring your summer sizzles just right.

1. The Wood is Calling: Best Wood-Fired Grills

Looking to embody the essence of traditional grilling where the taste of wood smoke melds with your cuisine? Then a wood-fired grill is your answer. Known for offering superior smokiness and exceptional grilling experiences, these grills require a deep appreciation for the craft of BBQ. Here are our top picks:

Grillworks 36: The Artisanal Flame Master

For those who cherish both form and function in their grilling equipment, the Grillworks 36 stands out as a true masterpiece. This residential model garners acclaim for its beautifully crafted 304 stainless steel body, exemplifying artisanal quality and durability. Operating with a unique crank system, the Grillworks 36 allows chefs to masterfully adjust the two sizable 18″ x 19″ grates, meticulously controlling the heat for a perfect cook. Its heritage is deeply rooted in the traditional open-fire cooking styles prevalent in Spain, Italy, and South America, and it has been popularized in the United States, particularly in Southern California where it’s affectionately known as the Santa Maria grill. Drawing design inspiration from the Argentinian parrilla, the Grillworks 36 incorporates distinctive V-shaped grates that are angled to channel away juices, reducing flare-ups and enhancing flavor. Completing its sophisticated design, the grill features long, detachable catch pans that serve as a repository for succulent drippings, ready to create sumptuous sauces that complement your culinary creations.

The Braten 1000: Precision Meets Craftsmanship by Engerbecht

Enter the realm of precision grilling with the Braten 1000 by Engerbecht. A marvel of design, this grill boasts a feature that enthusiasts and professional chefs alike will appreciate: a cooking grate that ascends or descends with a simple turn of its strategically positioned wheel, mounted on an axle above the grill. This advanced mechanism is supported by two robust stainless steel cables, one on each side, granting the cook unparalleled control over the heat intensity. A culinary ballet where proximity to the coals determines the cooking rhythm, the closer your feast is to the embers, the more vigorous the dance. This system finds its roots in the storied Santa Maria grills, a staple in Southern California and similarly revered in Argentina. Yet, this grill isn’t without its desire for perfection; a common wish is for the capacity to lower the grate even closer to the coals, to achieve that enviable, intense sear that is the signature of a master griller.

2. Keep It Gas: Best Gas Grills for Effortless Performance

Gas grills are the quintessential choice for ease and quickness, using propane or natural gas for a reliable flame that’s ready to grill at the turn of a knob. If you’re all about results without the ritual of prep, consider these top-tier gas grills:

Weber EX-325s: The Household Hero

This grill is the high-tech version of our best overall pick, so you already know things are starting from a solid foundation. What this one brings to the table is a suite of smart technology to take the guesswork out of barbecuing, such as various cooking programs, notifications for when to flip and serve, and recipes. Thanks to its intuitive connected app, we also enjoyed knowing the real-time temperature, even when away from the grill.

KitchenAid: The Gourmet Grill

The KitchenAid Propane Gas Grill in stainless steel is designed for serious grill enthusiasts. Crafted with premium materials and featuring 4 burners, this grill elevates your outdoor cooking experience. Enjoy professional-grade meals with precision control and durability for all-weather conditions. Keep your grilling tools organized and within reach with the convenient accessory bar.

3. The Art of Precision: Best Ceramic Grills

Ceramic grills, often referred to as kamado grills, have gained popularity for their temperature retention and versatility. Celebrated for their ability to grill, smoke, and bake with equal prowess, these grills are a favorite among those who value control in their cooking process. Here are two that stand out:

Big Green Egg: The Originator

Big Green Egg remains a titan in the world of ceramic cookers. A versatile tool, it’s used by casual meat-smokers and competition barbecue teams alike. The Egg, as it’s affectionately known, can maintain low temperatures for hours, essential for that fall-off-the-bone tenderness, as well as heat to upwards of 750°F (399°C) for the perfect sear.

Kamado Joe: The Innovator

Kamado Joe brings a fresh take to ceramic cooking with innovative designs like the Divide & Conquer flexible cooking system, which allows for multiple cooking styles in one grill. And with features such as the Kontrol Tower top vent and patented Air Lift Hinge, they’ve addressed the small inconveniences of traditional kamado grilling.

Kalamazoo Shokunin Kamado: The Ultra-Premium Choice

Renowned for its exceptional craft and innovativeness, the Kalamazoo Shokunin Kamado Grill stands as the pinnacle of luxury outdoor cooking. Embodying a meticulous attention to detail, the Shokunin is built from a thick gauge stainless steel, ensuring superior heat retention and remarkable durability. As an ultra-premium option, it redefines the standards of kamado grilling with its expansive grilling surface that offers ample room for creativity and gastronomic exploration. This grill is not merely about cooking; it’s an exquisite statement of design and sophistication that becomes the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen. With its sustainable production process and commitment to quality, Kalamazoo doesn’t just deliver a grill, but a legacy that champions culinary excellence in your own backyard.

4. The Flavor Innovators: Best Pellet Smokers for Ultimate Convenience and Taste

Embracing the cutting-edge of smoking technology, pellet smokers represent a perfect melange of simplicity and flavor-enhancement. These grills utilize compressed wood pellets that not only infuse food with rich smoky flavors but also offer effortless temperature control through digital systems. Here are two standout pellet smokers that excellently embody craftsmanship and culinary precision:

Traeger Pro Series 34: The Trailblazer

The Traeger Pro Series 34 pellet smoker is a pioneer in the field, blending ease of use with consistency in performance. Built with a robust steel construction and a powder-coated finish, it is as durable as it is functional. The Pro Series 34 is equipped with a digital controller that maintains precise temperatures, and the large cooking area accommodates multiple dishes simultaneously, making it a beloved choice for backyard enthusiasts and professional pitmasters alike. Its patented auger system moves pellets seamlessly from the hopper to the fire pot, ensuring a steady smoke and an even cook.

Green Mountain Grills Daniel Boone: The Tech-Savvy Smoker

Innovation meets tradition in the Green Mountain Grills Daniel Boone pellet smoker. It harmoniously integrates smart technology with the age-old practice of smoking. With Wi-Fi capabilities allowing for remote control and monitoring of your smoker via a smartphone app, this grill offers an exquisite balance of technological convenience and classic smoking. Its peaked lid provides ample space for stand-up chickens or large racks of ribs, and the thermal sensor, known as the Sense-Mate, monitors the grill temperature, adapting to the external environment for a flawless smoke, every time.

Adapting Your Landscape for Stand-Alone Grills

A new grill isn’t just a swap of hardware; it’s the centerpiece of a culinary arena that creates a strong presence in your outdoor space. Here’s how you can adjust your landscape layout to get the most out of your new grill investment:

Space Is Key

Ensure the area around your grill allows for safe and efficient maneuvering. You should have a comfortable working space, ideally two feet on either side, to accommodate trays, seasoning, and preparation of meat. This proximity is also crucial for grasping tools while cooking.

Proximity to Your Kitchen

Convenience is the name of the game. If your outdoor grill setup is too far from your indoor kitchen, you’ll find yourself running back and forth, which can dampen the joy of grilling. Strive to keep the grill close enough to facilitate an enjoyable and seamless cooking process.

Choose Your Foundation Wisely

You’ll want to install your outdoor grill on a solid, durable surface that can stand up to the heat and is easy to clean. Concrete pads, paver stones, or tiles are safe options. These materials provide stability and are resistant to staining from grease or ember burns.

Aesthetics Matter

Your grill should complement your outdoor aesthetic, not overpower it. If you have a rustic, woodsy landscape, a stainless steel or modern gas grill may look out of place. Conversely, a sleek, contemporary layout could be the perfect backdrop for a gas grill’s sheen.

Personalization Is Key

Your outdoor space is an extension of your home, so tailor the area around your standalone grill to your personal preferences. Integrate elements that enhance the enjoyment, like seating, lighting, and perhaps even a built-in fire pit or pizza oven, if space allows.

A standalone grill upgrade is an investment not just in your outdoor cooking but in your entire summer experience. With the right landscape adaptation and the perfect match from the world of wood fire, gas, or ceramic cooking, you’re well on your way to becoming the envy of the neighborhood with a summer grilling setup that’s second to none. Enjoy your outdoor living and the delicious meals it will now include, and remember, the secret ingredient is always a little bit of soul – and a lot of practice!

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