Gas Grills Review
Why Buy a Gas Grill?
The top performers in our review are the Weber Genesis, our Gold Award winner; the Napoleon Mirage, our Silver Award winner; and the Broil King Baron, our Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing the best gas grill to meet your needs, along with details on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 gas grills.
The sun is out, and your air conditioner is on full blast, but the great outdoors calls you. Your lawn is mowed and perfectly trimmed, which means it's time to put beverages on ice and get the grill out. If your current setup could use an update or you have a bigger crowd to feed and you need to upgrade, our gas grill reviews and articles are the best place to start. While charcoal has its allure, a good outdoor gas grill allows you to get cooking faster and more efficiently, without the messy cleanup.
Gas grills range in size, expanding your cooking capabilities with each additional burner. Small grills, such as the KitchenAid 3-Burner propane gas grill, are the perfect size for a small family or a home with limited space, such as a townhouse or apartment. On the other end, the Dyna-Glo 5-Burner boasts five full burners, giving you enough space to cook for a family reunion or a company or block party. Gas grills also range in price depending on size and materials. Sure, cheap grills can cook your food, but if the grill doesn't retain heat well, it can take longer and not cook as evenly, resulting in drier, overcooked meat.
Gas vs. Charcoal vs. Natural Gas
The debate of which fuel gives you the best grilling results has been going on for decades. The main argument for charcoal is the smoked flavor that slow-cooked meats like ribs and brisket are known for, while propane grills offer more control and speed. One of the main disadvantages of grilling with charcoal is the wait time. You have to stack the coals, spray lighter fluid, light the coals and wait until they are ready. Then there is the ash cleanup to deal with after your cookout.
Gas grills are a quick solution for busy people who want freshly grilled foods such as hamburgers, steak, chicken and sausage without the wait. They are also an excellent choice for slow-cooking meats, as you can maintain a steady temperature without the worry of forgetting to add more coals before they go out. A propane tank may be heavy, but gas grills are more cost-effective than charcoal grills. Instead of you having to buy lighter fluid and a bag of charcoal briquettes when you want to grill, a full tank of propane can last for months on end with moderate grilling.
Many of the grills on our lineup can be converted for use with a natural gas line with an approved conversion kit. This can save you money if your home has a natural gas outlet you can connect to. Unfortunately, a natural gas grill is limited in its mobility, as you can only go as far as the connection allows. This can be problematic if you want to take your grill anywhere for a remote cookout or even just want to grill in a different spot on your back porch or deck.
While each fuel provides results in its own way, gas grills offer higher convenience than charcoal and natural gas grills. Gas grills are also easier to clean, as there is no ash residue to dispose of, and the fuel in a propane tank lasts longer than a bag of charcoal.
Gas Grills: What We Tested, What We Found
As we tested the grills in our lineup, we discovered that the best grills cook evenly, retain heat well and are easy to clean. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you purchase your next barbecue grill.
Grill Material & Construction
Cheap grills are primarily made of thin metal, usually a variety of stainless steel or a similar material that reduces the overall cost of the outdoor grill. While they may make your wallet happy, cheap grills tend to rust easily and consistently have poor grilling performance. This is mainly due to the loss of heat through the hood, forcing you to turn up the temperature and use more fuel. While they initially cost less, you'll find yourself replacing cheap grills more often.
We discovered that the grills with a cook box made with a thicker gauge of stainless steel hold the heat in better, and grill grates made of cast iron retain heat more effectively. These grills took a little longer to heat up in our tests, but once they reached the desired temperature, they maintained their heat consistency well, even after their lids had been open for a few minutes while we turned and checked on the food. Thinner metal also bends more easily, and the side shelves made from a thinner gauge of steel felt flimsy and made us nervous when we moved the grills around the testing area.
Stainless steel grates take a bit more elbow grease to clean than the cast-iron grates on our testing models. While the stainless steel grates can give your food nice-looking sear lines, they don't retain the heat as well as cast-iron grates do. This isn't a problem if you are just cooking a couple burgers or steaks, but if you are cooking for a prolonged time, the cast iron is the better choice for heat retention and cooking evenness.
Bigger Isn't Always Better
The grills we tested all had two to five primary burners. While more burners mean a larger grill with more room to cook and potentially more heat, we found that the grilling experience doesn't necessarily improve with the numbers of burners or Btu a grill has.
In addition to thicker construction, the top-rated gas grills have three or four main burners, but what sets our top three grills apart from the rest is their high-quality construction, which gives them better heat consistency and retention. This enabled us to cook juicier steaks and chicken on a medium setting, while we had to keep the grills with thinner construction or weaker heat displacement designs on high just to maintain a consistent temperature with the lid closed.
Btu: What Is It?
Grill manufacturers use Btu, or British thermal units, to describe the propane output of their burners. But what does it really mean? A Btu is a unit of measurement that describes how much fuel your grill can use to generate heat. While this is an indicator of the heat your grill can provide, a higher Btu rating doesn't necessarily mean a grill efficiently produces and maintains heat. Again, the construction and design of the grill is key in how effective the Btu output is.
During our testing, we noticed that the grills made of thinner stainless steel had a hard time maintaining a constant temperature on high. Regardless of the maximum Btu output, too much heat was escaping. This equated to longer cooking times, as our food was not evenly cooked. The bottom line is that Btu should not be the ultimate deciding factor of which grill to buy.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We obtained the gas grills in our comparison on loan from the companies and through retail purchase. The companies had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
Features of the Best Gas Grills
Shopping for a new grill is much like shopping for a luxury sports car, and there is nothing wrong with dreaming as you shop around. It's easy to fall into grill envy as you let your eyes wander over the sleek curves of the shiniest, newest model, complete with more burners than you'd ever need and all the conveniences of a full outdoor kitchen. Unfortunately, your pocketbook still has a say in your purchases, so finding the best gas grill you can afford that has all the conveniences and quality you want can get a little tricky. Here are some of the essential features to consider when you are narrowing down your choices.
While size alone doesn't guarantee the best grill, consider which propane grill will fit your lifestyle and backyard the best. If you live in a townhome or apartment, you probably don't have much room to spare. Some grills, like the Dyna-Glo 3-Burner, have foldable side shelves that reduce the area the grill takes up. This is a handy feature for those with limited porch or storage space.
On the other hand, if you are consistently cooking for a large group or plan on learning how to cook ribs this summer, a larger grill is what you may need. While a three-burner grill may initially seem too small, a top performer like the Weber Genesis has a deep enough grate to accommodate plenty of burgers or a fair-sized rack of ribs. Additionally, it has excellent heat control and consistency, reducing the amount of propane you'll consume to cook your food just right.
Many barbecue grills have an additional gas burner or infrared sear plate installed on a side shelf. This is a helpful feature, especially if you want to boil some corn on the cob or saute some peppers, onions or mushrooms for your steak without having to go back and forth between your grill and the kitchen. While not in use, these side burners are covered up with a lid that sits flush, giving you back your side table.
A place to store your grilling tools and seasonings is a great benefit to your grilling experience. While some of the smaller grills do not have any additional space for anything besides the propane tank, the best grills give you a place under the grill for storage. This makes it easier to keep your accessories within reach. Some models even have tool hooks or spice racks built into the side tables.
This may not seem like a big deal, but if you need to move your grill often, four swiveling casters make a world of difference. If you have only two swiveling wheels, you have to fight with your grill as you move it back and forth to get it in the perfect spot. With four casters, you can push your grill in any direction, including straight back or forward. This removes a significant amount of frustration from moving your grill. If you don't plan on moving your grill often, then a two-caster model will work just fine.
Picking the Right Gas Grill for Your Budget
While you could definitely cook up your greatest backyard barbecue masterpiece ever with a brand-new, stainless steel gas grill that has seven or more burners, staying within a reasonable budget is a wise choice. The best barbecue grills aren't necessarily the most expensive models.
Size & Quantity
Consider how many people you will be cooking for and the available storage at your residence. Do you need a patio grill that won't take up your whole back porch, or do you need a grill that can handle large gatherings? A three-burner grill is sufficient for a family of four – you can fit about 15 to 20 burgers on a grill of this size, which translates to about four large steaks and a side of vegetables. If you entertain often, you and your guests can benefit from a four- or five-burner grill, which gives you much more space for large cuts of meat.
Another factor to consider when shopping for your next grill is what kinds of foods you plan on cooking. When you cook up hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, the grilling space plays a huge role in how many you can cook at once. If you only need to cook for yourself, you most likely don't need a grill larger than a three-burner model.
For those on a tight budget, you can find the best grills under $300 from household names like Char-Broil and KitchenAid. A less expensive gas grill like the Char-Broil Stainless 463446015 gives you enough room to cook for five or more people, while still giving you a couple years or more of good use if you maintain it properly.
If you have a little more wiggle room in your budget, it is more than worth it to upgrade to a higher-quality grill from Weber, Napoleon or Broil King. While they are more expensive at the start, these brands' grills are made from better materials, so they last longer, cook better and reduce the frustration that can come from a subpar grilling experience.
Verdict & Recommendations
Cooking outdoors is one of life's greatest pleasures, and having the best gas grill for your needs can make your next cookout even more enjoyable. The best gas grills are made from durable materials, cook evenly and consistently, and have enough space to cook for all your family and guests. The cost of a grill largely depends on its size and quality. Even a two- or three-burner propane grill made of quality materials can cost you $500 to $1,000.
Our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner, the Weber Genesis, has all the grill space and features you would expect of the best grill. If grilling is more of a lifestyle for you than just another way to cook food, then the Genesis' heating consistency, wide cooking area and sleek look will complement the amazing meals you plan on serving up this summer.
The Napoleon Mirage, our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner, gives you a great grilling experience and includes an infrared side burner to get your steaks just right. While a bit pricey, this grill has a limited lifetime warranty and can give you years of grilling enjoyment.
The Broil King Baron, our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner, is your best bet for even heating at a budget-friendly price tag. With its cast-iron grates and four burners, this patio grill performs remarkably well for nearly half the price of our two top-ranked grills.
All of the grills we tested cost less than $1,000, but to spend the least possible amount of money for one of the best gas grills, check out the Char-Broil Stainless 463446015. A compact and affordable grill, it heats up quickly and gets the job done. You don't get a lot of extras, but you aren't paying for those extras either.
One of the grills we enjoyed using was the Weber Spirit E-330. It's easy to use and clean, and every meat we grilled on it cooked evenly. It's a good middle-of-the-road choice when it comes to price and heat consistency. Be sure you use a meat thermometer or a digital grill thermometer for your food with it, though, because we found that the temperature gauge on the lid wasn't accurate.
We assembled every grill we tested and came to the conclusion that, regardless of how good you are with your hands and tools, these grills are likely to take you a couple of hours to assemble. If you have the option for free assembly, we suggest you take it. Although it wasn't difficult to assemble most of the grills, it was time-consuming and we would have rather been grilling during that time. If you decide to put your grill together on your own, be sure to read the instructions carefully so you don't assemble it incorrectly, which only means a longer wait for you and your family.
Grilling is more than cooking with a portable fire. It can be an art form, and a high-quality gas grill gives you the control you need to make the best outdoor meals ever. Propane grills allow you to cook on your own time and require less maintenance than charcoal grills. With our gas grill reviews, you can be confident when choosing your next grilling investment.