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 11 gas grills.
The weather is perfect, the lawn is mowed, and the meat's been marinating all day. It's time to get your grill on. If your current grill is falling apart or you're looking to upgrade to a newer model, then 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. Two-burner grills, such as the Char-Broil Dual Fuel Classic, are the perfect size for a small family or if you have 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 their size and materials. Sure, cheap grills will 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 between 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 a charcoal grill. Instead of buying 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 when used 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 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 a higher level of 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 Evaluated, What We Found
As we tested the grills in our lineup, we discovered that the best grills cooked evenly, retained heat and were easy to clean. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you purchase your next barbecue gas 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 give 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 held the heat in better, and grill grates made of cast iron retained 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 being open for a few minutes while we turned and checked on the food. Thinner metal also bends easier, 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 nice-looking sear lines, they don't retain the heat as well as a cast-iron grate. 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 equals a larger grill with more room to cook and potentially more heat, we found that the grilling experience didn't necessarily increase with the numbers of burners or BTUs a grill had.
In addition to thicker construction, the best gas grills have three or four main burners, but what set our top three grills apart from the rest was their high-quality construction, which gave 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 design on high just to maintain a consistent temperature with the lid closed.
BTUs: What Are They?
Grill manufacturers use BTUs, 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, more BTUs doesn't necessarily mean a grill efficiently produces and maintain 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 BTUs should not be the ultimate deciding factor of which grill to buy.
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 you need to consider when you are narrowing down your choices.
While size alone doesn't guarantee the best grill, take into consideration 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 sauté 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.
Having 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 additional storage. This makes it easier to keep your accessories within reach. Some models even have 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, having four swiveling casters makes a world of difference. If you have only two swiveling wheels, you will 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 having to move 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 with 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
Take into consideration 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?
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 available 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 any grill larger than a three-burner model.
If you are on a tight budget, a less expensive gas grill like the Char-Broil N480 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, quality 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 the size and quality of the grill itself. 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 the best grill to have. 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 is designed to give you years of grilling enjoyment.
If you are looking for even heating coupled with a budget-friendly price tag, then the Broil King Baron, our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner, is your best bet. 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.
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.