Features a generous 760 square inches of total cooking area. Equips 4 stainless steel burners and an infrared rear burner. Night light control knobs assist during night use. Simple quick start system.
Assembly instructions can be tough to follow. On the expensive side.
Offers 557 square inches of cooking space. Features cast-iron cooking grids and chrome-plated warming racks. Removable ashtray offers easy cleanup. Steel control panel and rubber grip knobs feel quality.
Some reports of minor rust.
Ignites charcoal briquettes with the push of a button. You can use either gas or charcoal methods to grill. Has 363 square inches of cooking space. Features LCD countdown cook timer. We love the metal finish.
Does not come with a lid on the fuel bin.
Offers the ability to cook several different things at the same time. Has 576 square inches of cooking space. Charcoal pan can be height adjusted with a simple crank. Stainless steel construction. Features quick start system.
Does not include a side burner. Assembly can be challenging.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
For many outdoor cooking enthusiasts, a hybrid grill offers the best of both worlds. On the one hand, you have the ease of use of a gas grill, with things like instant push-button starting and precise control. On the other, you have the ability to suffuse your meat, fish, and vegetables with the traditional flavor that many argue you can only get when grilling over charcoal.
If all that sounds like the kind of grill you’ve been looking for, you’ll need as much detail as possible to help you make the right choice, because “hybrid” can cover a number of different approaches. Of course, there’s also a wide range of sizes and styles, too.
Here at BestReviews, we’ve been looking at all the latest models so we can provide you the information you need to get top performance and value. We’ve made a number of recommendations that underline the variety available — without breaking the bank — and in the following hybrid grill buying guide we look at all the options you’ll want to consider.
Kettle: Compact kettle-style hybrid grills (also known as combo grills), use a small disposable gas bottle and electronic ignition to light the charcoal. Most people just run the gas for a few minutes until the charcoal is well and truly lit and then turn off the gas. Entry-level rectangular hybrid grills use a full-size gas bottle, but the cooking technique is pretty much the same.
Multi-fuel: True dual-fuel grills are larger and have the added capability of allowing you to cook with gas under one hood and charcoal under the other. That gives you tremendous versatility, with the opportunity to vary temperature and duration to suit different foods. There are also a few triple-fuel hybrid grills that can use wood as well as gas and/or charcoal.
Infrared gas: Finally, there are infrared gas hybrid grills, which offer both infrared (radiant) cooking and standard gas burners. While these are called hybrids, most only use a single fuel source — either natural or propane gas. However, look hard enough and you can find gas and charcoal hybrids that also have infrared capability. These arguably offer the greatest versatility of all, but they are expensive.
In a nutshell, you’re either using gas as an easy way to light charcoal, or you have the option of cooking with either or both. Bear in mind that the latter, with two grilling surfaces, can be quite substantial in size.
Once you’ve decided on the type of hybrid grill you want, a lot of the decisions are the same as for a standard gas grill.
The cooking area is a major factor, and most of the time it will depend on the number of people you’re grilling for. Experts suggest you allow an area roughly the size of a dinner plate per person, which is about 72 square inches. For a family of four, that would be 300 square inches.
The smallest kettle hybrid grill we looked at is around 350 square inches, so you certainly won’t have any trouble finding one big enough. Just how big also depends on what and how you like to cook, and whether you want the ability to cook with gas and charcoal separately. Hybrid grills like that can easily have 800 square inches and more of cooking area, so you’ll also want to check the external dimensions.
Much is made of the British thermal unit (Btu), which is a measure of the heat generated and the number of burners. It’s generally suggested that you have 80 to 100 Btu per square inch of cooking area, so the numbers can get very big. 40,000 is by no means unusual, and some grills go over 100,000. For a bigger hybrid grill, you want more burners so the heat is distributed evenly. For example, if you see two similar models with the same cooking area, but one is a three-burner model and the other is four, the latter is going to provide better coverage, though it will likely cost a little more.
You’ll have to decide how important these things are. A little less heat doesn’t mean the grill won’t cook, it just means it will cook more slowly. If foods cook unevenly, moving the food around can largely overcome the problem. The question is how much are you prepared to pay not to have that fuss?
Ignition is invariably push-button piezoelectric, which doesn’t need a power source. Dials control the burner output. Some additional temperature control may be available via charcoal trays that can be raised or lowered using a handle.
On cheaper hybrid grills, the grates are usually stainless steel, which is easy to clean and corrosion resistant. Better models use cast iron coated with porcelain. It has better heat retention, but it will rust if chipped. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue to use it, but it does detract from the appearance.
Side burners, side tables, warming racks, and rotisseries all add flexibility, but each adds to the price. Think about the things you know you’ll use and those you won’t. A side burner can allow you to use a wok or make sauces in a pan, but not everyone cooks like that. Extra prep space is never a bad idea. Some hybrid grills have doors and areas in which you can store utensils.
A hood with a thermometer is useful for monitoring the heat inside, which is useful for smoking and roasting, though it won’t tell you whether the meat is fully cooked.
With many hybrid grills, the main body is powder-coated steel, which is durable and cost-effective, but it will rust if it gets scratched or chipped. Stainless steel is great looking and resistant to rust but more expensive. (A cover is still a good idea). Wheels make it easier to move your hybrid grill around.
Look at how easy the grill is to clean, too, particularly the charcoal element. How do you remove the ash once you’re done cooking?
Grill set: Special grilling tools have longer handles than their kitchen counterparts to keep your hands safe around the grill's heat. A basic set will include tongs, a barbecue fork, and a spatula, but deluxe sets provide much more.
Grilling gloves: These gloves are the perfect way to protect your hands.
Meat thermometer: Even if your hybrid grill has a temperature gauge, it’s only telling you the heat under the hood, not whether your meat is cooked or not.
The flexibility of hybrid grills does come at a price, with the cheapest at around $300 to $350.
There are lots of choices between $400 and $600, including several with separate smoke boxes. The size and versatility in this price bracket should provide a solution for all but the biggest gatherings.
Very large models, particularly those incorporating infrared technology, can push prices higher, and there are several that top $1,500, though that seems cheap when you compare them with heavy-duty gas/charcoal/wood models that can be as much as $20,000!
A. Hybrid grills are generally very safe, but there are a few precautions you can take to avoid accidents. As you would with any grill, have a clear, stable area for cooking, a minimum of 10 feet from wooden fences or sheds and with no overhanging foliage. Check the gas hose before use. If there’s any damage, replace it immediately. If you can smell gas, turn it off until you can locate and fix the problem. Finally, children love to help, but never leave them by the grill unattended.
A. The problem with throwing even damp wood on a hot grill plate or charcoal is that it will soon dry out and catch fire! If your hybrid grill doesn’t have a smoker, soak the wood chips, wrap them in kitchen foil, then puncture the foil parcel with a skewer. Put that on the grill with the lid closed. As it heats up, you’ll get the wood smoke you’re looking for.
A. We didn’t find any natural gas/charcoal hybrid grills during our research. However, there are conversion kits available to change from propane to natural gas, so it may be possible. We would strongly recommend talking to the manufacturer of the particular grill you’re considering, because not all grills are suitable for conversion.