Best gas grills 2019: find the right grill for your next BBQ

J.D. Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
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When choosing the right gas grill for your summer barbecue parties with your family and friends, there are a number of things to keep in mind. How many people will you need to feed? A large BBQ feast requires a big grill, so everyone can eat together. Will you be setting up camp in your yard, or are you literally going camping? If so, you’ll need a portable grill that’s easy to carry and store in your car or trailer. And if you’re on a budget, how much your choice of grill costs is going to be a deciding factor.

With all this in mind, we assembled, tested and used each gas grill in our group test to cook dozens of pounds of meat. At the end of our analysis, we believe the Weber Spirit II is the best grill you can buy. This high-quality Weber grill has consistent and even heat distribution, ample grilling space for big groups and is sturdy too. With the five-year burner and parts warranty, you can expect this grill to last a long time to come, as well.  

Best Overall
Weber Spirit II
Our testing team was very impressed by the Weber Spirit II. It scored the highest in our grilling experience and heat-consistency tests. It's a great choice for all grilling needs.
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US$499@Amazon
Best Overall
Weber Spirit II
Best Value
Char-Broil Performance
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality grill. The Char-Broil Performance offers four main burners and enough space for 12 burger patties. It’s not perfect, but the price makes it a hard choice to pass up.
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Most Portable Grill
Coleman RoadTrip X-cursion
If you’re looking for a grill to take camping, picnicking or on a road trip, the Coleman RoadTrip X-cursion is a perfect fit. It’s not flawless, but it travels well and performs excellently.
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Best Overall
One of the most critical elements of any gas grill is its ability to generate and sustain heat. The Weber Spirit II earned the highest heat-consistency score of any gas grill we tested. It bested the competition with its three stainless steel primary burners, which produce a total of 30,000 BTU of heat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a side burner, which would be a good addition for rotisserie and side dishes. The grilling space on the Weber Spirit II is ample. The primary cooking area is 529 square inches, enough to fit 12 burger patties on the main grill and four on the warmer. It’s not the largest grilling area we saw, but it’s more than enough to cook for everyone at a family barbecue or friendly get-together. Weber is well-known for the sturdy, high quality materials in its grills. The Spirit II is backed by a five-year warranty for both the burner and parts, so you can expect it to last at least that long – and probably much longer. During our testing phase, we had our entire lab crew assembling and cooking on all the grills we reviewed. And since we grilled in a semi-public place, we had several observers. Everyone who commented on the grills said they would buy the Weber Spirit II if given the choice of all the models we had.
Pros
  • Scored highest in our grilling experience evaluation
  • Can cook up to 12 burgers simultaneously
  • Constructed of high-quality, durable materials
Cons
  • No side burner for side dishes and toppings
  • 30,000 Btu burners are slightly below the category average
  • The assembly manual has pictures but very little text to guide you
US$499Amazon
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Best Value
If you don’t need the absolute best, or you're on a tight budget, the Char-Broil Stainless is a great choice. You can pick one up for less than $200, and while it’s not perfect, you get a lot for your money. This grill offers a 475-square-inch primary cooking area. That’s enough to cook 12 burgers simultaneously, the same as the Weber Spirit II. And it does come with a side burner, so you can cook the non-meat portions of your meal as well. It produces 46,000 Btu and retains and distributes the heat very well. We measured the heat produced by each grill at seven, 14 and 21 minutes after ignition. Based on those measurements, the Char-Broil Performance scored a 92 out 100 in heat consistency. Only our top pick received higher marks. You can expect to have a nice, even grilling experience with no hot or cold spots, so all your food cooks at the same rate. While this grill is superior to our top pick in some ways, such as the addition of a side burner, more Btu and the price, the Weber Spirit II is simply better at grilling overall. This grill costs $200 less than the Weber Spirit. However, that saved money may not be worth it in the long run. This grill only has a five-year warranty for its burners and a one-year warranty for all other parts. Contrast that to the 10-year warranty offered by Weber. However, this Char-Broil grill earns our recommendation as a low-cost option.
Pros
  • Costs less than $200
  • Ample grilling space with side burner
  • Preheats in less than three minutes
Cons
  • Parts warranty only lasts one year
  • It’s made of lower quality parts than our top pick
  • Assembly instructions are somewhat difficult to follow
US$188.50Amazon
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Most Portable Grill
The Coleman RoadTrip X-cursion is appropriately named. It’s the ideal grill to take with you wherever you need a cooking surface. When we reviewed this grill, we didn’t have many expectations, given its size and price. But we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to assemble, how sturdy it was once constructed and how much power the small burners produced. Most importantly, it's easy to use and its cast-iron grill grates are very effective. You get a lot for your money with this Coleman grill. It impressed with its cooking power, especially for a portable model. The other portable grill we reviewed, the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet, only produced about 5,500 BTU. The X-cursion, by contrast, can put out 20,000 BTU. Many full-size grills produce 30,000 BTU or more, but this small unit comes close to those larger rivals. That's a lot of power for a small grill. The convenience factor of this grill is hard to overstate. It only took us about 45 minutes to assemble. And once it was set up, we were impressed by how little space it took up and how easy it was to clean and transport. It’s small enough to fit into the backseat, trunk or bed of any vehicle. Then it folds up nicely so it can be tucked away when not in use.
Pros
  • Takes less than an hour to assemble
  • Small form factor makes it convenient for trips
  • Excellent grilling surface for a portable grill
Cons
  • No built-in thermometer
  • The lid often won’t close all the way while cooking
  • Only one side tray
US$169.99Amazon
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Best Tabletop
Standing grills are great for backyards and patios, but small, tabletop grills have their place too. If you just need a small unit for camping or tailgating parties, the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet is definitely worth considering. Its small-form factor also makes it a good choice for people with small apartment balconies. It’s also very easy to setup, clean and store – making it a prime choice for people who have limited space for grilling equipment. However, there are a couple of downsides, most notably the drip tray. While it catches most of the drippings, we had to empty it every few minutes during our testing. It also lacks a thermometer, making it very difficult to gauge how hot it’s cooking. These two factors make it imperative that you pay close attention to this grill while you use it.
Pros
  • Its small form factor makes it convenient for those who have limited space.
Cons
  • It requires you to pay closer attention while you’re cooking.
US$115Amazon
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Largest Grilling Area
Grilling for large get-togethers requires a lot of cooking space. If you plan to regularly cook for more than a few people, consider the Nexgrill 5-Burner. At 638 square inches, this grill has the largest cooking area of all the gas grills we reviewed. That’s enough for at least 12 big burger patties at once. It also produces the most BTUs of cooking power. The main burners draw up to 55,000 BTU and 12,000 for the side burner. The heat distribution across the cooking area is decent, and the heat stays consistent. But we did have some problems with food sticking to the grates when trying to turn over burger patties and chicken. That isn’t a huge deal, but it was noticeable, especially when compared to the other grills we were testing.
Pros
  • It has the most spacious cooking area of all the grills we tested.
Cons
  • Food sticks to the grill on a more frequent basis than other models.
US$234Amazon
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Gas grills: experts view

Top Ten Reviews acquires as many products as possible for side-by-side testing. During each test on gas grills, we record our personal experience with each grill, what we liked and disliked, as well as noting each model’s strengths and weaknesses. In other words, our conclusions are based on our own real-life experiences.

Our evaluation team included four members with years of experience grilling meals for large and small occasions. On top of that, we reached out to grilling experts and others who use gas grills regularly, asking what they look for when they buy a new grill. Antonio Lexerot of Salt Lake City is a member of a Utah outdoors club. He has catered their bi-annual summer camp for more than a decade – grilling food for dozens of people at a time. He owns several different types of grills, including charcoal, smokers, gas and infrared models.

Speaking about gas versus charcoal grills, Lexerot noted that gas grills give you even, long-lasting heat, whereas charcoal grills get hot quickly then “peter out over time.” His advice: “If you’re doing something quick, charcoal is fine, but if you are doing a larger project you need the indirect heat that gas grills provide.”

When asked about what he looks for in a good gas grill he said, “You want one that has some kind of flare-up control, so if you drip some grease it doesn’t turn into a tire fire and ruin your food – especially chicken.” The most important point Lexerot stressed was, “If you’re going to get a grill that you plan on using regularly, get a sturdy grill that has ample features, is easy to use and that will hold up over time. Make sure to get a gas grill that’s going to hold up, big enough for your needs, has a warming rack.”

However, not all grillers make gas grills their first choice. Jesse Johnson of the Utah BBQ Association is a pitmaster for a competitive barbeque team. At the time of publication, he owned 14 grills. He generally uses wood-burning grills because they create the Maillard reaction, which imparts more flavor to your meat. But he will use gas grills to create a reverse sear on steaks. His preference for wood-burning grills means that his 16-year-old Weber Platinum mostly gathers dust. However, he’s still a fan of the brand. “They make some of the best products before you get into the crazy money,” Johnson told us. “Weber is probably the biggest name in grilling out there.”

Although he favors wood-burning grills, he says it’s all a matter of personal preference: “If someone is just looking to cook hamburgers and hot dogs, a gas grill will work just fine. But when I’m cooking for the family I like to slow everything down. The environment of cooking with the family is more important than blasting meat on a gas grill.” And he said that while a wood-burning grill imparts more flavor, you can get a similar experience with a gas grill. “If you can cook, you can cook on anything. The biggest thing is that you get high-quality meat and proper seasoning. Those two things will increase the quality of the final product.”

How we found the best gas grill

Our four-member grilling team gathered more than a dozen of the best grills on the market today. As we assembled each grill, we timed how long it took, how easy the instructions were to follow and the difficulties we encountered.

To gauge the capacity of each grill, we used 4-inch paper cutouts, in the shape of burger patties, to measure how many could be placed on the grill. We also evaluated each grill’s grates and layouts to determine which is the best for specific uses.

We used each grill to cook two burgers, two steaks, two chicken breasts and one foil-wrapped fish. We started the grill and timer, setting the temperature to high, and timed how long it took to reach 350 degrees. We then put the meat on the grill, with the lid closed, and used an infrared thermometer to monitor the grill’s temperature at seven, 14 and 21 minutes.

Key Features to Look for When Buying a Gas Grill

If you looking to buy a gas grill, we've rounded up the key features and things you need to look out for so you come away with the best gas grill for you.

Grilling area

Think about how much food you are going to prepare and purchase your model accordingly. The biggest grills we reviewed can cook up to 12 hamburgers at the same time, which may be perfect for some but overkill for others. Smaller grills we reviewed can fit three to eight burgers, which is probably enough for the average family.

Heat consistency

An unevenly heated grill can lead to inconsistent results. You may end up with one burger or steak burned, while the others are undercooked. Make sure you get a model that distributes heat evenly across the entire cooking space. However, if you do run into problems with heat distribution, you can probably confine your cooking to the center of the burner, where the heat will have the most uniformity.

Design

Most of the grills we reviewed have stainless steel exteriors. When maintained and cleaned properly, most of these grills can stand up to weather, wear, tear and rust. The best grills have grates that are made of cast iron, which delivers a better cooking experience and is easier to clean than stainless steel.

Portability

When you buy a gas grill, you should consider what you’ll be using it for and how much you intend to move it. If it’s going to sit on your patio for years, you can probably get a bigger, heavier model like the Nexgrill or Char-Broil Performance. Most of the grills we reviewed have roller wheels, so you can move them around a bit.

But if you take your grill on the road with you, it's important to be able to move it around easily. Medium-size grills, such as the Weber Spirit II, have larger wheels and fit nicely into a truck bed. However, if space is tight, we recommend smaller models, such as the Coleman RoadTrip X-cursion, and tabletop models like the Cuisinart Petit Gourmet. They fit easily in a trunk or even the back seat of a car. 

How much does a good gas grill cost?

You can potentially spend thousands of dollars on a gas grill. However, when we tested, we picked more affordable options, anywhere from $150 to $500. These are all good models that will get your food cooked with almost no problems, so unless you’re an enthusiast or have the money to spare, there’s no reason to shell out big bucks for a grill.

The best gas grill for $1,000

We also tested several more expensive gas grills. If you’re willing to spend up to $1,000, we recommend the Weber Genesis E-310. This Weber grill is the older sibling of our best overall pick, the Weber Spirit II, and it has the same great qualities with some enhanced features.

You can comfortably fit 24 4-inch burger patties on this grill’s 513-square-inch cooking area. That’s twice the capacity of the Spirit II. The burners on this grill can produce up to 37,500 BTU worth of heat. By contrast the Spirit II produces about 30,000 BTU. In our tests it took this grill 8 minutes and 34 seconds to heat up. And it scored perfectly in our heat consistency tests.

Another thing you get with this model that isn’t available with the Spirit II is a natural gas connection – no conversion kit required. If you happen to have a natural gas hookup at you home, this is a big plus.

Like all Weber Grills, this one is made of solid materials. Other stainless steel grills we reviewed feel somewhat flimsy and cheap. The Genesis II is sturdy, durable and reliable. And with it’s 10-year warranty, you can expect it to last a long time.

There are a couple of things missing on this grill. Chief among them is the lack of side and rear burners. So, if you want to boil some corn or saute vegetables you’ll have to use your stove.

All-in-all though, this is an outstanding grill for the price. If you have regular barbecues, or have a large family, this model is worth the extra cash.

Reinventing the Original Traeger Grill

When Traeger released its original wood-pellet grill in 1987, it was a landmark innovation in the world of home-grilling. The company recently announced a reinvented version of its classic model. This next-generation of grills improves on the past with the D2 direct drive technology. This is a drivetrain that features a 20-volt brushless motor with a one-piece direct mounted auger. It represents a major change to how Traeger grills deliver fuel to the fire, which results in more even temperatures because it ramps up and down based on the fuel need.

Each line of Traeger grills has all-new models. The new Pro Series grills have added two inches of cooking space and replaced their circular design with an oval one that raises the grill so you can cook more food. Traeger has also added its WiFire technology to this line, which allows you to control and monitor your grill remotely through the Traeger app.

Traeger’s flagship line, the Timberline, has everything you need for wood-pellet grilling. The one big improvement is its pellet-sensing technology that notifies you, through the app, when your pellets get low.

There's also an all-new line of grills – the Ironwood. This is a model that sits between the Pro Series and the Timberline. It includes an adjustable two-tier grate system and a double side-wall, which makes it more versatile than the Pro Series. It also replaces the traditional chimney for downdraft technology that improves its smoking capabilities. Unfortunately, it has limited availability and is only sold at the top Traeger retailers.



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