Gas grills are by far the most common type of grill found in backyards around the world.
And for good reason.
The combination of speed (as in how long it takes before you’re cooking), easy temperature control and versatility makes them a great choice.
There’s also way less clean-up to worry about than when cooking with charcoal.
But choosing the right gas grill is no easy task. Grills these days have so many features to choose from it can make your head spin.
In this guide you’ll find the best gas grills available in 2018 for any budget. We’ll also guide you through what all the features mean and give you some tips to help get setup and cooking on a your new grill.
Click to jump straight to each topic
- Best overall gas grill – Weber Spirit E310 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
- Best budget gas grill – Char-Broil Classic 405 4-Burner Liquid Propane Grill
- Best mid priced gas grill – Weber Genesis II E-310 Liquid Propane Grill
- Best high end gas grill – Napoleon Prestige 500 Freestanding Propane Gas Grill With Infrared Burner
- Charcoal vs gas grills
- LPG vs Natural gas
- Different types of gas grill
- Main things to consider when buying a gas grill
- Why you should ignore BTU
- Tips on setting up and using your gas grill
Best overall gas grill – Weber Spirit E310 Liquid Propane Gas Grill
The Spirit series is Weber’s attempt at a full-sized gas grill at an “entry level” price point. While it’s marketed as entry level, it’s still more expensive than other budget grills.
But we think the extra cost is worth it.
The Weber Spirit E310 has been updated for 2018 and comes packed with features. There’s also the Weber build quality which means you’ll be grilling for decades to come.
The main grate of this unit is 424 square inches, with an additional 105 square inch warming rack. That means this grill is big enough to cook about 20 hamburger patties. The unit also boasts two preparation tables on either side of the main cooking grate.
The cooking grates are porcelain enamel coated cast iron which makes maintenance a lot easier than regular cast iron. usually high maintenance cast iron grates are a lot easier to take care of. They do not need to be seasoned before use, and won’t rust or peel.
This grill has an electrical crossover ignition system. This feature allows you to ignite all 3 burners using one button, which makes lighting the grill nice and easy.
There is also a handy gauge to let you know how much fuel is left in the gas tank.
Weber also includes it’s “flavorizer bars” on this grill. These bars are made of either porcelain enamel or stainless steel, and are superheated and positioned to catch drippings from your food. The drippings smoke on the bars, imparting flavor to the food, ensuring that not one ounce of flavor is wasted in the cooking process. Any drippings that are not smoked up to flavor your food are channelled into the grease management system.
Leftover grease is channeled into a catch pan by means of an angled grease tray. The disposable grease tray sits a safe distance away from the burner tubes, beneath the cookbox. The location of the tray helps prevent flare ups, and is easy to access and replace when it comes time to empty it out.
What we like:
- This grill distributes the heat across the grates nicely. You can make full use of the cooking space as a result, without fear of hotspots.
- There is a nice amount of storage under this grill. While this might seem like a minor consideration, it certainly makes life easier when you can keep all of your barbecuing equipment in the one spot.
- Being a Weber product, you can expect many years out of this grill. Major components of the spirit such as the cook box, lid, burners and grill grates are covered by a 5 year warranty, while some smaller components are covered by a 2 year warranty.
What we don’t like:
- The gas regulator can be a little sensitive on this model. Problems with temperature control can usually be resolved by resetting the regulator.
- The position of the gas tank is a challenge for some. In order to make use of the gas usage gauge, you have to hang the tank on a hook up under the unit. You can leave the tank sitting on the ground, but the grill won’t be mobile, and you will not be able to make use of the gauge either.
After some time using this grill, you might notice “flaking paint” on the underside of the lid. In fact, this is not paint at all. There is no paint on the inside of the grill lid. This is in fact a build up of grease and soot. You can simply wipe this off.
Despite technically being part of Webers “Budget” range, this full sized gas grill packs a tonne of features, lives up to excellent build quality and is backed up by generous warranty.
With three burners this is going to be the best gas grill for the majority of people.
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Best budget gas grill – Char-Broil Classic 405 4-Burner Liquid Propane Grill
This grill comes in at a significantly lower price point than the other models we look at in this article, but does not feel like a “cheap” grill at all.
Sure, it might not have as many bells and whistles as some of the higher end grills, but it is sturdy, comes with a 5 year warranty on the burners, and does a great job of grilling your food.
While you have the option of two, three or four burner grills in this line, we will look at the four burner grill in this review.
The Char-Broil 4 burner boasts 405 square inches of cooking space. The grill grates are porcelain covered, and there is also a food warming rack that conveniently swings away when you’re not using it. This unit also has preparation bences to the sides, and there is the option to add a side burner to one of these if you want to warm sauces or prepare side dishes.
The burners themselves are protected by porcelain coated heat tents which shield the stainless steel burners, and keep the heat focussed on the grates.
This unit has large wheels on two of the legs, making it is easy to reposition.
There is a grease cup that sits underneath the firebox to collect drippings. While this is nothing fancy like the “flavorizer” system that Weber offers, the grease collection system on the Char Broil Classic is straightforward. The cup is easily removed, cleaned out and replaced.
What we like about the Char-Broil:
- For the price, this grill offers the size, reliability, and quality construction that you will also find on more expensive options, just with a few less frills.
- The cooking space on this grill is perfect for a family of four. If you are looking for a reliable grill that will cook up burgers and steaks for the family without breaking the bank, this is a great option.
- Assembling your grill can be a real headache. This model is actually quite straightforward to put together. It is possible to get the job done in an hour with the right tools.
What we don’t like about the Char-Broil:
- This unit does not have much storage space. While there are trays to the side, the manufacturers have not utilised the space under the unit to make a cupboard like some other brands do.
- This unit cannot be hooked up to natural gas, you will have to use a 20 pound propane tank.
- It also does not come with a gas level indicator like some higher end models, but lifting the gas bottle will still give you an idea of how much is left in the tank.
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Best mid priced gas grill – Weber Genesis II E-310 Liquid Propane Grill
We think the Weber Spirit line of grill is a good choice for most people. But if just “good isn’t enough for you, then the Genesis series of grills is probably right for you.
They do come at a higher price, but if you have room in your budget, the better construction quality and extra features make it well worth it.
For instance, the Genesis series brings gas grills well into the digital age, as these units are compatible with the iGrill3 system of Bluetooth thermometers.
The iGrill3 system monitors the temperature of your food via a probe thermometer, and also indicates your gas levels. All this information is displayed on your phone via an app. This offers ultimate convenience if you are entertaining and need to be two places at once.
Weber has also started packaging their years of grilling experience into a system they refer to as the GS4 Grilling system, and it is included on the Gensis ll model. GS4 is really just a clever name for the combination of the ignition system, high performance burners, flavorizer bars and grease management system that Weber have perfected over the years.
Weber offers a 10 year warranty on the cookbox, lid, and burner tubes, and a 5 year warranty on all other major components.
What’s great about the E-310:
- As with all Weber gas grills, the heat distribution on this unit is very even. The lack of hotspots means you can confidently use all of the cooking area and know that you won’t be offering up inconsistently cooked burger patties.
- The covers over the burners do a great job of preventing flare ups on this grill. While it is never a good idea to just take off and leave while you have something grilling, you will not have to babysit this grill too closely.
- This grill boasts 513 square inches of main cooking space, this is the biggest grill we have looked at in this article as far as main cooking space goes. This model also has a 156 square inch warming rack. The size of this unit is a great balance of price and versatility. By taking advantage of the indirect cooking method, you can roast a chicken while searing steak on a grill of this size.
What’s not so great:
- The bottom shelf is not enclosed on this model, which means the grease tray is out in the open. If you have a dog, take note that it is highly likely your dog will be eager to “clean up” for you. If the grease in the tray is piping hot and your dog takes a gulp, you could be in for a trip to the vet.
- You cannot level the legs on this model. So if your deck is a little wonky you will have to look for chocks of wood or cardboard to make up the difference. While this is not a big deal, it does look a little dicky.
If you want the iGrill3 feature on your grill, you will have to purchase and install the system yourself. If you are not confident to do it yourself, you will need to arrange for its installation when you purchase the grill.
If you want to see the E310 in action check out this video.
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Best high end gas grill – Napoleon Prestige 500 Freestanding Propane Gas Grill With Infrared Burner
There is also version of this grill that is designed for use with natural gas.
With 500 inches of cooking space, and the ability to cook in eight different ways, there really isn’t much you can’t do with one of these grills.
On the main cooking grate alone, you can cook up to 30 burgers.
The lid itself is a great design feature. Not only is it designed to roll away neatly, it also provides great insulation.
This means that you can use this grill to cook low and slow. Use a smoker tube filled with chips and you can get some great smoky flavor into your food as well.
The sear plates heat up to an impressive 1800°F, so you can sear your steak, then transfer it into the main grilling area and finish off the cooking using indirect heat.
The grill rods are cast iron coated in porcelain, in the distinctive WAVE design. The wave pattern helps stop smaller bits of food falling down between the grates.
The grill rods are also reversible, with the other side having thicker rods that have a groove in the middle. This groove catches the juices of the meat and keeps them there throughout the cooking process. This helps keep cuts of meat that would otherwise dry out stay moist and juicy.
What we like:
- One of the best things about this grill is the sheer amount of ways you can use it. To grill, sear, smoke, roast, even bake sweets. With the generous main cooking area, you can cook for a crowd, and the additional cooking areas mean you can have a few different dishes going at the one time.
- Napoleon takes real pride in the quality of their product. Each one of these grills is fired up once before they are sold, to make sure there are no issues after unboxing.
- The tool hooks on the inside of the doors is a nice touch that makes everything you need while you cook nice and accessible.
What we don’t like:
- The handles on the door are made of plastic, which is at odds with the quality fittings the rest of the unit has.
- Unlike some other grills at this price point, the knobs do not light up. So you will have to make sure you have some lighting organised if you plan to grill in the dark.
While you can use this grill to cook low and slow, if you want to use charcoal, you will have to order the optional charcoal tray.
The rotisserie kit that comes with this grill is commercial grade, and can hold up to 25 pounds.
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Charcoal vs gas grills
Amongst the barbecue community, asking whether gas or charcoal grills are superior will lead to an animated, if not heated discussion. And at the end you will likely be none the wiser. The reason being, there is no out and out “winner” in this debate.
Your lifestyle, what you like to cook, and how much spare time you have are probably the three biggest determining factors which dictate which type of grill is the best for you.
Let’s have a look at why:
- Speed – Gas gets hot, and fast. When using charcoal, not only do you have to wait for the grill to get up to temp, but you also have to light the coals, which will take time. With a gas grill, you can expect your grill to be up to temperature in around 10 to 15 minutes. When you take charcoal out of the equation, cleanup is a lot quicker also.
- Temperature Control – Controlling the temperature on a gas grill is as simple as turning the knobs. Granted, issues can arise at times, but this is usually down to some kind of regulator issue which can be solved with some troubleshooting.
- Versatility – It is true that gas does not produce the “old school” smoky barbecue flavor that charcoal aficionados love. These days, however, you can get your hands on all sorts of accessories, such a smoking tubes, that allow you to still get some smoky flavor into your food even if you cook with gas. Higher end gas grills will usually have all sorts of features like sear burners, rotisserie kits and warming racks.
- Taste – Let’s be honest, nothing can top the flavor of meat cooked over charcoal.
- Searing – Unless you go for a higher end gas grill with a few added extras like searing grates, your gas grill might not get to the temperatures required to sear your meat. Charcoal will get to this temperature without the need for any additional features, making it a natural choice for those who are fans of searing but who don’t have the budget for a high end gas unit.
- Easier than you might think – Charcoal has a reputation of being complicated and finicky to grill with. The truth is that the well designed charcoal grills that are available these days take a lot of the guesswork out of using charcoal as a fuel source. All sorts of features such as well placed vents, easy ash cleanup systems and well sealed units add up to mean charcoal is nowhere near as scary to grill with as you may have been led to believe.
Having said that, when cooking fattier cuts of meat you will still have to keep a close eye on a charcoal grill, as fat dripping onto those super hot coals is the perfect recipe for a flare up.
After it is all said and done, there are compelling reasons to be a fan of both types of grill. Really, it comes down to how much time you can devote to grilling, and what sort of food you like to grill.
But if you are time poor and feel a gas grill is the right choice for you, there is no need to feel ashamed. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, approximately 62% of barbecue owners in the US have a gas grill. Embrace the convenience and enjoy the undeniably tasty food that gas grills can produce.
LPG vs Natural gas
You also have the choice of LPG or natural gas as your fuel source.
First, let’s have a look at the differences between LPG and natural gas. LPG stands for ‘liquid propane gas’, as propane is the chemical that is burned to generate heat. Natural gas is methane.
Let’s break down the differences:
Heat: Propane (LPG) does burn slightly hotter than methane, but we are talking a difference of 23-41°F at temperatures of up to 3555°F. It will really not make a scrap of difference to what you are grilling whether propane or methane did the job. They both get very very hot.
Method of delivery: Natural gas is piped into the house. If you already use natural gas to cook or heat your home, then using natural gas for your grill may be as easy as getting an extra outlet installed.
LPG comes in bottles which are refilled once they run out. Different suppliers often have slightly different fittings on their bottles, so you will usually have to stick with the supplier you initially purchased your gas bottle from. Make sure you buy your first bottle from a supplier that is closeby and easy to deal with.
Price: Natural gas is supplied by a local utility company. If you are already connected to the mains, then you will likely be paying a fixed charge. In this instance, using natural gas makes financial sense as you will be getting the most use out of a charge that you have to pay anyway.
LPG is charged per the bottle, or per refill. Per unit, LPG is more expensive than natural gas. However, if you don’t use natural gas at your house, buying gas by the bottle will likely be more convenient than rigging up natural gas just for your barbecue, especially if only plan to use the grill occasionally.
Mobility: Natural gas might be convenient to hook up if you already use it at your house, but bear in mind that your grill will have to stay wherever you placed the outlet.
LPG can be used anywhere it is safe to grill. You can also use LPG when you go camping if you have a portable grill.
It is important to note that switching between natural gas and LPG is not just a matter of plugging your grill into the mains or a bottle as you fancy. The pressure at which the gas is delivered is different between the two, so your grill will have to be configured to suit.
It is best to decide what kind of gas you will be using before you buy your grill. If you want to convert your grill, make sure you get it done by a professional. Fiddling around with gas yourself can be a dangerous business. And costly, it you blow up your grill!
Different types of gas grill
The three main variations of gas grill are freestanding, built in, and infrared. Let’s have a look at the variations of grill on the market.
Freestanding: A freestanding grill is probably what springs to mind when most people think of a “Barbecue”. However, these units come in many shapes and sizes, and also come with wildly varying price tags.
Freestanding grills offer you the convenience of moving your grill around depending on the weather, or your mood. You will also find that if your budget is a little tight, a freestanding grill is likely to fit within it.
If you are undecided about how elaborate your outdoor cooking setup should be, you can get freestanding units with significant bench and cupboard space. In effect, offering a compromise between a built in grill and a freestanding grill.
Don’t forget that if you use natural gas, your freestanding unit effectively becomes “built-in” as you won’t be able to move it away from your gas outlet.
Infrared: Generally seen on higher end grills, infrared heat gets hotter than standard convection cooking. Generally, if a gas grill has ‘sear plates”, these will be infrared.
Special plates are placed just above the gas flame. These plates absorb the heat and transfer it to your food.
Another advantage of cooking with infrared heat is that the hot surface is closer to the food. Any drips of fat and oils from the food you are cooking is vaporized and ends up adding more flavor to your food.
Infrared cooking also tends to dry the food out less than convection cooking methods.
Built-in: If you are going all the way when it comes to luxury, convenience and price, then you might want to look at built in gas grills.
Built-in grills are essentially the focal point of outdoor kitchens. You will likely also be looking at benches, cupboards, extraction fans and a covered outdoor area to house everything. So the price is going to take a significant leap up.
Outdoor kitchens are great places to relax and entertain, and you may find yourself eating outside all the time if you go down this route. But for the cost involved in getting the whole setup, you would want to be sure that it is an investment that is going to be well used.
Main things to consider when buying a gas grill
Once you’ve decided between a freestanding, infrared or built-in grill, it’s time to narrow your search down by deciding what features are most important to you. These are the main things you need to consider:
1. Number of burners
You will need at least two burners on your gas grill. This is so you can use the 2 zone cooking method. If you can’t use this method, you are so limited with what you can do with your grill it isn’t really worth having one (unless you are happy grilling nothing but steaks).
Beyond that, how many burners you have is really up to you and how much you plan to cook. It is worth remembering that the more burners you have, the more flexibility you have with your cooking.
2. Cooking grid material
The most common cooking grid materials you will come across are cast iron, stainless steel or some kind of metal coated in porcelain.
There are pros and cons with each of these materials:
- Cast iron retains heat well, and is sturdy. For these reasons it has long been the ‘go to’ material when it comes to grill grates.
- For cooking low and slow it is fine, but if you are looking at purchasing a gas grill, low and slow might not be your the way you plan to cook most of the time.
- If you are wanting to get a good sear on your food cast iron might not be the best choice. Because it is chunky, it will block the heat from reaching the surface of the meat, leaving grill marks rather than searing the entire surface of the food.
- There is also some upkeep with cast iron as far as seasoning goes which other materials do not require.
- As with cast iron, these grates retain heat really well which means dark grill grate marks, leaving the rest of the meat’s surface underdeveloped flavorwise by the time you have to take it off.
- They are easier to look after than cast iron as they do not require seasoning. They can crack if they are dropped (and your foot will cop it as well). If they are cracked, they can rust out.
- Porcelain coated grates will have the same heat retention properties of the metal it is coating. So you will have the same heavy grate marks if it cast iron or steel underneath the porcelain.
- The upside of porcelain coating is that it is easier to care for than cast iron. Just be careful not to drop the grates and crack the coating. Also, be mindful not to scrub these grates too harshly when cleaning up.
There are some grill grate options out there that allow for a great seer. Cast aluminum hard anodized GrillGrates can be put on top of your current grill grates, or you can take out your grill grates and pop these in instead.
They amplify the heat in the grill, enhance the smoky flavor by vapourizing drippings, stop small food from falling between gaps in the grill grates and are durable.
3. Grill housing and frame quality
With so much talk of burners, BTU, gasses and grates the actual body of your grill can be easily overlooked.
The gold standard for the housing of grills is stainless steel. While most good quality grills will be made of stainless steel, make sure you check the frame. Sometimes manufacturers will gloss over a painted steel frame by drawing attention to the shiny looking stainless steel body.
Ask plenty of questions, and have a good look in the guts of your grill. If the frame is also stainless steel, your grill will likely last you a long time.
4. Max temperature
You no doubt want to be able to sear your food with your new gas grill. You might be under the impression that you need your grill to reach dizzying temperature highs to accomplish this.
The truth is, if your gas grill can reach around 600°F, you will be able to sear successfully.
While you do not need to purchase a top of the line grill to reach these temperatures, it is worth checking that your grill is capable of getting there.
If you have the budget for a more expensive grill with a dedicated searing zone, you might even be able to reach 900OF +. But owning a grill that can reach such temperatures also comes with a word of warning. Cooking at such high temperatures can dry food out and leave you with a burnt mess if you don’t know what you are doing.
5. Grilling area
The first thing you need to think about when deciding what size grill to buy is cooking area. How many people will you be cooking for? Look for a grill with a main cooking area that allows for 100 square inches per person you plan to cook for.
You may well be surprised at how much space you will actually need on your grill. Often it ends up being about twice the size you expected.
There are two main reasons for this.
It is not good to overcrowd a grill. You will need around ½ inch around anything you cook.
To use the 2 zone cooking method (and you will need to use this method if you plan on cooking much at all) you will need twice the amount of space you think.
Also, make sure you clarify whether the amount of space your grill has is main cooking grate space, or if it includes warming racks and extra cooking areas.
Sometimes companies will combine all these areas and quote it as the cooking space, while others will specify where the space is. It is good to be clear on exactly how much space you are getting and where.
6. Ignition system
There are three main types of ignition system you will come across. Often the price of the grill you have purchased will dictate the ignition system you get.
- Electronic – this system uses a battery to generate the spark. These systems can fail, but the good news is that it is usually just a dead battery at the root of the problem.
- Piezoelectric – The spark is generated when a quartz crystal strikes a small hammer. Piezo systems make a distinct clicking sound when they start up.
- Hot surface ignition – These are often found on high end grills, and they are very reliable. There is a rod in the grill which becomes instantaneously red hot. This, in turn, ignites the burners.
Crossover ignition systems work when the flame from one burner jumps over and lights the remaining burners. However, it is nice to have a dedicated ignition system for each burner. You will pay more for this feature.
One feature to look out for is a backup manual ignition. This usually takes the form of a hole near each burner. Just in case something goes wrong, you can always get your grill started with a good old fashioned match.
Why you should ignore BTU
Manufacturers will state the BTU of the grill. While you could be forgiven for thinking this indicates how much heat your grill can generate, it really isn’t the case. The BTU is actually an indication of how much fuel your grill will burn per hour. A high BTU might actually mean more about inefficiency than it does about heat output.
You need to look at the “heat flux” to determine how much punch your grill has. You can calculate this by dividing the BTU by square inch of primary cooking space (do not include warming racks and extra cooking areas in this calculation). The result is the heat flux. A heat flux of about 85 is normal.
Other factors, such as how close the cooking surface is to the flame, will affect how much heat is delivered to your food. If the surface is close to the flame, you will get more heat, but there is also the possibility of cool spots between burners.
Tips on setting up and using your gas grill
This topic deserves an entire article of its own, so we won’t go into all the details here. In the meantime, these tips should get you started.
Season and calibrate your grill with a few dry-runs
Starting up your cooker a couple of times without food will accomplish two things:
- Burn off any grease leftover from manufacturing.
- Give you an idea of how to set everything up, and get an idea of where all your controls are.
Learn how to control the temperature, and master the 2 zone temperature setup:
It is a good idea to aim for a target temperature, such as 225°F. To be sure that you have reached the correct temperature, you really should purchase a good quality probe thermometer. No matter how good your grill is, the thermometer that comes probably cannot be trusted.
While adjusting the temperature of a gas grill is as simple as turning a few knobs, hitting your target temperatures takes some practice.
A good suggestion is to try some different heat settings with your burners and note down the temperatures. For this reason you will need a good quality thermometer. Refer to these notes later when you are planning to cook food.
Once you can control the temperature, try a 2 zone temperature setup. One side of your grill should hot enough to cook directly (this temperature varies depending on what you are cooking, but can be anywhere from 350°F to 450°F), and the other for indirect cooking (around 225°F).
Wrapping it up
We hope you have enjoyed our guide on gas grills. Gas grills offer a great deal of versatility and convenience. There are so many on the market that choosing one that suits your needs and fits within your budget can seem overwhelming.
The good news is, that with all the variety there is sure to be a grill out there that suits you. By breaking down your needs and doing a bit of research into what grills are available, you are sure to find a grill that will be great for you.
Do you have a gas grill? How do you find it? Do you have any tips you would like to share, or questions that we have not covered in this article? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.
Last update on 2018-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API