Let’s be honest—most of us could use a little help when cooking out. Start with your most important instrument: the grill. The latest are practically idiotproof, taking human error (mostly) out of the equation and turning weekend ribs into the envy of anyone within sniffing distance.
Portable Kitchen 360 ($870)
Our favorite of this year’s bunch is the Portable Kitchen 360, PK’s first new grill in nearly four decades. (The smaller original is a cult favorite.) Made from cast aluminum, this charcoal model has a four-vent system, allowing for precise temperature control, and two and a half square feet of grill space—enough to fit a couple of racks of ribs, six burgers, and a full chicken. Of the models we tested, the 360 held the most consistent heat and retained it for hours. Once we hit that ideal low-and-slow mark of 225 degrees, we just closed the lid, set a timer, and cracked a beer.
Camp Chef SmokePro DLX ($700)
A close runner-up is the electric Camp Chef SmokePro DLX. Temperatures rose and fell eight degrees during cooking, hovering in the vicinity of 225. The DLX also has a built-in meat probe and connects to an outboard propane grill ($250), allowing you to sear a couple massive steaks or a half-dozen vegetable kabobs while also smoking ribs or salmon.
Traeger Pro Series 34 ($1,000)
The Traeger Pro Series 34, also electric, has six square feet of cooking space, which should be sufficient to refuel your entire cycling team. It did, however, struggle to maintain an even temperature in cooler weather, swinging 20 degrees in either direction, which affected cooking times.
CharBroil Gas2Coal Hybrid ($330)
Finally, the CharBroil Gas2Coal Hybrid takes the versatility prize. Perfect for low-maintenance chicken, burgers, and steaks, it easily switches between charcoal when you want smokiness and propane for convenience. With that taken care of, all you have to do is get the best cut of meat you can find—and invite your friends.