Fired up or flamed out? Consumer Reports tests charcoal, gas grills

It's Memorial Day. Consumer Reports just put charcoal and gas grills to the test. Vic Micolucci tells us which ones they recommend most.

Maybe you’re a die-hard fan and grill year-round, but for many of us, spring and summer are the best times for a barbecue. And if your grill has seen better days, Consumer Reports is here with recommendations from its latest tests of charcoal and gas models.

If you love that smoky barbecue flavor, a charcoal grill is probably your best bet. You can keep it classic with a kettle grill like the recommended Weber 22-inch 14401001 for $220.

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For even better performance, consider the top-rated Dyna-Glo DGN576DNC-D for $290, which earns scores of Very Good for evenness and indirect cooking. Plus, its design makes it extremely easy to add coals, adjust the tray, and clean.

If you prefer to grill at the push of a button, CR found dozens of gas grills to recommend, and you don’t have to spend thousands. The Nexgrill 720-1046 for $450 preheats fast and earns a score of Excellent for sturdiness and indirect cooking. It’s also very good for evenness and temperature range.

If you really want to up your grilling game, a kamado grill is definitely the way to go. But they aren’t cheap! The recommended Kamado Joe Classic II 18-inch KJ23RHC starts at about $1,300. These grills use charcoal and get really hot for things like wood fired pizza. They can also hold a low, steady temperature for things like slow-smoking brisket.

No matter which type of grill you choose, don’t forget about safety. CR says to be sure to keep it at least 10 feet away from your house or anything flammable, and clean your grill every time you use it.

CR says cleaning your grill helps maximize its performance. If you do it while the grill is still hot, it’s a much easier chore. For steel grates, use a wire brush. And for porcelain-coated grates, choose a nylon brush. Check out the video below with more grill cleaning tips: