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Grilling is an art form and if you’re going to be an artist, you should have the proper tools. Charcoal and gas grills each have their merits, but we particularly like the unfussy dependability of a gas grill. They heat quickly, they’re easy to use, and they’re not too much of a headache to clean up (relatively speaking). So how do you select the best gas grill for you? So glad you asked.
The world of grilling, barbecuing, and smoking is expansive and can get very complicated very fast. For our purposes, we’re just looking for a straightforward appliance that is more or less all-purpose. The best gas grills can be portable enough to move around your backyard — or to take to a tailgate. They should be able to grill up enough food at once for a large family or party too.
Even so, variances in fuel type, construction, materials, and even size can make a significant difference in how well your food turns out, so we founded up a few considerations to take before picking up a new grill.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Gas Grill
Natural vs. Propane: Gas grills are fueled by either natural or propane gas. Propane gas comes in a refillable tank, which usually works out to about 25 hours of grilling time. A natural gas grill hooks up to your home gas line, which makes them less mobile than propane, and a bit of a process to install. But they also tend to be more economical and energy-efficient, and you never have to worry about running out of fuel.
Size: In general, the more burners a grill has, the more flexibility you have when it comes to multi-zone cooking and certain techniques. We find that unless you find yourself regularly feeding the entire neighborhood, two or three burners is plenty.
Material: It’s important to consider what your grill is constructed from, as cheap materials can chip or dent, and this is an item you should expect to keep for years. Stainless steel is the best material for the body of the grill, though cast aluminum, sheet metal, and cast iron are also common.
Cast iron is most preferable for the grill’s grates, however, as it is more durable than other typical materials — say, stainless steel and porcelain — which can chip or warp. It’s also important to note that even with the best materials, regular maintenance is the most important factor when it comes to preserving the life of your grill so you’ll want to wipe it down often.
Smokiness: The major point in a charcoal grill’s favor is the delicious smoky flavor it brings to meat. However, many gas grills also include a feature for adding charcoal or wood pellets, which provides the smokiness we look for.
Other Features: The latest gas grills are all equipped with built-in features, like a temperature gauge on the lid to let you know how hot it is inside, and pull-out trays and hooks to store your grilling utensils, plates, etc. We’ve even found an option with a built-in bottle opener.
1. Weber 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill
Our first pick is a Weber natural gas grill, with 529 square inches of cooking space over three burners — perfect for most home grillers.
Weber is, of course, a trusted brand in the grill world, which you can see in the construction. This grill has porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates and convenient design details like hooks to hang tools on. It also has reliable infinity ignition, so your grill lights up immediately every time.
The manufacturer notes Weber’s “flavorizer bars,” which uses porcelain-enameled bars angled to catch drippings, which then sizzle and release smoke, infusing food with smoky flavor. Keep in mind this won’t be as effective as a real smoker grill, so the Weber offers a nice alternative, but is not a true substitute.
Pros: Well-built and long-lasting. Easy to wipe clean.
Cons: It does have wheels, but is still a bit cumbersome to move around. This is a natural gas unit so you must have a connection to your home’s gas line for this barbecue to work.
2. Char-Broil Performance 2-Burner Gas Grill
We really love the construction of this propane grill, which has a stainless steel lid and cast iron grates, instant electric ignition, folding side trays, and a convenient storage compartment for the propane tank.
It’s a smaller grill, but sturdy and durable. You get two burners and 300 square inches of cooking space, which is still enough room for around eight to ten burgers at a time. It also has a swing-away warming rack, which goes a long way as far as cooking space goes.
People who use this grill have noted that it heats up quickly and produces an even heat under the grill, which you need to make sure each of those ten burgers comes out a perfect medium rare.
Pros: Well-constructed with even heat across the grill.
Cons: Only two burners so there is a smaller cooking area.
3. Megamaster Propane Gas Grill
This is another propane grill, but with three burners and 568.5 square inches of total cooking space – the largest capacity on our list. While we kind of wish it was stainless steel, the porcelain-enameled lid does retain heat and includes a built-in thermometer, which is another feature to look for. The cooking grids are cast iron, which is good, and distribute a nice, consistent heat for cooking.
On a purely aesthetic note, the matte black and red accents give this particular unit a somewhat sleeker appearance than other grills. We think this lends an upscale touch to your average deck setup.
Note that the side shelves do not fold, so it doesn’t fit easily into small spaces. It also does not come with a lot of extras like side burners. This might be a bummer for some, but we find those features often go unused, making them kind of a waste.
Pros: Stylish appearance and large cooking area.
Cons: Side shelves do not fold and can be bulky.
4. Cuisinart Full Size Gas Grill
This Cuisinart propane grill has 443 square inches of grilling space, but with four burners. We love this feature because it allows you more control over different heat levels on the grill at the same time, so you can keep one section warm and the other sizzling hot. On top of that, the 443 inches does not include the additional 167 square inch warming rack.
The grill also has plenty of prep space as well as cooking area, with two, 18 by 13-inch side tables. The appliance is well-built overall, with high-quality materials like a stainless steel lid, and heavy duty cast iron grids. A fun touch: it has a built in bottle opener for the cold beer we hope you’re sipping as you cook.
Pros: Four burners for more grilling options.
Cons: A small gap at the back of the lid could cause heat loss.