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Gas Grills Review
What is the Best Gas Grill?
If your current setup needs an update or an upgrade to feed a bigger crowd, our gas grill reviews are a good place to start. Our Gold Award winner, the Weber Genesis II, has all the grill space and features you expect from the best grill. If grilling is more of a lifestyle for you than another way to cook food, then the Genesis II's heating consistency, wide cooking area and sleek look match the tasty meals you plan to serve up this summer.
The Napoleon Mirage, our 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.
Our Bronze Award winner, the Broil King Baron, 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.
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, so it's time to put drinks on ice and get the grill out. Here's more on choosing a gas grill to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 grills.
For more information on gas grills and other cooking appliances, read our kitchen articles and reviews.
Gas vs. Charcoal vs. Natural Gas
The debate over which fuel gives you the best grilling results has been going on for decades. The main reason for charcoal is the smoky flavor it imparts to slow-cooked meats like ribs and brisket, while propane grills offer more control and speed. One of the main drawbacks of charcoal grilling 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 ash cleanup after your cookout.
Gas grills are a quick solution to get 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 adding more coals. A propane tank may be heavy, but it is more cost-effective than charcoal. In fact, a full tank of propane can last for months on end with moderate grilling.
Many of the grills in our comparison can use a natural gas line with an approved conversion kit. This can save money if your home has a natural gas outlet you can connect to. Unfortunately, natural gas grills have limited mobility, as you can only go as far as the connection allows. This can be problematic if you want to take your grill for a remote cookout or just a different spot on your back porch or deck.
Gas Grills: What We Tested, What We Found
Our hands-on testing is designed to simulate normal, real-world experiences with gas grills. We got a few of the grills in our comparison on loan from some companies and others through retail purchase. The manufacturers have no input on our testing methodology, and we do not share our test results or rankings with them prior to publication.
As we tested the grills in our review, we discovered that the best gas grills cook evenly, retain heat well and are easy to clean. Here are some important things to consider before you buy your next barbecue grill.
Grill Material & Construction
We discovered that gas grills with cook boxes made of a thicker stainless steel retain heat better. These grills took longer to heat up in our tests, but once they reached the desired temperature, they maintained their heat consistency well, even with their lids open for a few minutes while we checked on the food. Thinner steel was less efficient; it lost heat through the lid, leading to drier, overcooked meat.
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're cooking a couple burgers or steaks, but if you're cooking for a long time, cast iron is the better choice for heat retention and cooking evenness. Stainless steel grates take more elbow grease to clean than cast-iron grates on our testing models.
Cheap grills are usually made of thin metal, usually a variety of stainless steel or a similar material that reduces the overall cost of the outdoor grill. While this may make your wallet happy, cheap grills tend to rust easily, and you'll find yourself replacing them more often. Thinner metal also bends more easily, and the side shelves, which used a thinner gauge of steel, felt flimsy and made us nervous when we moved the grills around the testing area.
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 possibly more heat, we found that the grilling experience doesn't always get better when a grill has more burners or Btu.
Our top-rated gas grills have three or four main burners, but what sets these three grills apart from the rest is their high quality, thicker construction, which gives them better heat consistency and retention. This let us cook juicier steaks and chicken on a medium setting, while we had to keep the grills with thinner construction on high 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 uses to generate heat. While this is a guide to the heat your grill can provide, a higher Btu rating doesn't always mean a grill efficiently produces and maintains heat. Again, the design of the grill is key in how effective the Btu output is.
In our testing, we noticed that grills made of thinner steel had a hard time maintaining a constant temperature on high. Regardless of the maximum Btu output, too much heat escaped. This meant longer cooking times and unevenly cooked food. The bottom line: Btu should not be the main reason to buy a gas BBQ grill.
As we assembled the grills we tested, we realized that, regardless of how good you are with tools, gas grills take a couple 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. If you decide to put your grill together on your own, read the directions carefully so you don't assemble it incorrectly.
Features of the Best Gas Grills
It's easy to fall into grill envy as 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 an outdoor kitchen. Unfortunately, your pocketbook still has a say in your purchases, so finding the best gas grill you can afford can get tricky. Here are some essential features to consider when narrowing down your choices.
While size alone doesn't guarantee the best grill, consider which propane grill fits 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 Smart Space Living, have foldable side shelves that are handy if you have limited porch or storage space. Another small grill, the KitchenAid 720-0891B propane gas grill is perfect for a small family.
On the other hand, if you consistently cook for large groups or plan to learn how to cook ribs this summer, a larger grill is good option. While a three-burner grill may initially seem too small, a top performer like the Weber Genesis II has enough room for plenty of burgers or a fair-sized rack of ribs. It also has excellent heat control and consistency, reducing the amount of propane you'll use to cook your food.
Many gas barbecue grills have an additional gas burner or a ceramic infrared burner installed on a side shelf. This is a helpful feature, especially if you want to boil some corn on the cob or saute some onions and mushrooms for your steak without moving 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 a side table.
A place to store your grilling tools and seasonings is a great benefit to your grilling experience. While some smaller grills don't have any additional space for anything besides the propane tank, the best grills give you storage under the grill for keeping your accessories within reach, including meat thermometers or digital grill thermometers. Some models have tool hooks or spice racks built into the side tables.
If you 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, removing some of the frustration when moving your grill. If you don't plan to move your grill often, a two-caster model works fine.
Picking the Right Gas Grill for Your Budget
While you could 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 largest or most expensive models.
Consider how many people you plan to cook for and the available storage at your home. If you entertain often, you and your guests can benefit from a four- or five-burner grill, which gives you more space. If you only cook for yourself, you likely don't need a grill larger than a three-burner model.
If you're on a tight budget, you can find the best gas grills under $300 from household names like Char-Broil and KitchenAid. If you have more wiggle room, 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 gas grill brands are made with better materials, so they last longer, cook better and have an exceptional grilling experience.
Recommendations Outside the Top Three Gas Grills
Cooking outdoors is one of life's greatest pleasures, and having the best gas grill for your needs can make your next cookout more enjoyable. The top rated gas grills are made from durable materials, cook consistently and evenly, and have enough space to cook for your family and guests.
Each grill we tested cost less than $1,000, but to spend the least possible amount of money for a solid gas grill, check out the Char-Broil Stainless 463446017. 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 grill 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 choice in terms of price and heat consistency. For sheer size, the Char-Broil Signature and the Dyna-Glo 5-Burner are the largest gas grills in our review by cooking area.
Grilling is more than cooking with a portable fire; it can be an art form. A high-quality gas grill gives you more control to make the best outdoor meals. Propane grills let you cook on your own time and need less upkeep than charcoal grills. With our gas grill reviews, you can be confident when choosing your next grilling investment.
Contributing Reviewer: John Carlsen