Easy to put together. Includes a smoker box and a rotisserie. Even heat. Easy temperature control. Cooks just as well using two burners as all six. Large grill space. Great service from the company.
Pricier than other grills on the market, but does not require an outside kitchen.
Cooks perfectly. Does not require you to babysit the meat. You can set your temps and leave it to cook. Even heat. Comes with 3/8-inch quick disconnect. Quality construction. Easy to clean. Enameled cast iron cooking grates. Also comes in four-burner and six-burner options.
Requires assembly. Grease catch not included.
Made to be built into your outdoor kitchen. Solid components. Easy to install. comes completely assembled except for the grates. Looks great. Gets hot fast. Cooks evenly. Heavy-duty construction. Not difficult to clean.
A drop-in unit, not freestanding. You must have some kind of an outdoor kitchen to use this natural gas grill.
Large cooking area. Includes a side grill. Comes with 10 inches of natural gas hose for flexibility in your hookup. Stainless steel finish. Easy to assemble. Cast iron grill with enamel coating. Gets to high temperatures quickly. Grill cover fits well and is easy to remove. Even distribution of heat.
The grill is lightweight and may blow, roll, and pull the gas line if not bolted down.
Beautiful stainless steel finish. Huge cooking area. Very easy to clean. Durable under regular use. Made for installation in an outdoor kitchen or BBQ area. Heavy-duty construction with good weight on the lid. Drip tray under all burners makes it easy to clean. Also comes in a propane option. Comes with a rotisserie. Includes a night light for evening grilling.
Grill can only be shipped within the U.S.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whether it’s an association with backyard parties and summer fun or the primal thrill of cooking over an open flame, people love food prepared on an outdoor grill. But what type of grill and which accessories and features do you need? Today’s grills are practically an outdoor kitchen unto themselves, with more bells and whistles than you can shake a sauce mop at, so making choices can be daunting. If you’re in the market for a new or replacement model, you’ve come to the right place.
Gas grills can be broadly broken down into two fuel types: propane and natural. Propane grills utilize portable tanks of fuel that are manually filled, while natural gas grills burn fuel that is delivered via a hard-plumbed gas line. While some purists argue that natural gas is better for barbecuing because it burns cleaner, most people can’t tell a discernible difference between the cooking qualities of the two fuel types. It really comes down to a question of cost and convenience.
In this guide, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of grill types and walk you through the myriad choices of features available so you’ll be confidently searing steaks and perfectly charring chicken in no time.
As mentioned above, the two primary differences between these grill types are fuel cost and convenience. The price of gas will vary depending on what region of the country you’re in, but generally speaking, natural gas will be considerably cheaper than propane, perhaps one-sixth the cost.
As for convenience, since propane grills incorporate portable tanks, they provide latitude as to where you can place the grill and allow you to move it about depending upon the season, the weather and other factors. However, you’ll need to monitor the tank’s gas level (gauges can help) and either exchange it or refill it when empty. There’s nothing quite like the disappointment of running out of fuel in the middle of a party with half-cooked burgers.
Natural gas grills require attachment to a permanent gas line, which limits where you can place your grill if it’s a portable model or requires advance planning if you’re installing a built-in model. On the other hand, once in place, you’ll never have to worry about filling tanks or running out of fuel.
Assuming you’ve opted for a natural gas grill, let’s move on to other considerations.
Gas grills have as many as eight separate burners. Will you be grilling only occasionally for a few friends before the game, or hosting large parties on a regular basis? Consider the volume of usage when buying a grill, but also know that more burners means more flexibility when cooking. You can sear with high heat in one area while simultaneously warming food over lower heat in another.
Closely related to the number of burners is the size of the grilling area is. Some manufacturers pack the burners close together, shrinking the size of the grill even though they can brag about the number of burners in their ads. The number of burners is important, but so is the size of your cooking area. Always look for how many square inches of cooking area a grill has.
Where are you going to keep your grill between uses? What about during the winter when you’re probably not using it at all? The bigger your grill, the more room you’ll need to store it.
Casters and wheels are closely related to storage because they dictate how easy it is to move the grill from one place to another. Are you going to be moving your grill back and forth between a storage shed and a patio? How often are you going to be moving it? Casters —you’ll want one on each corner with at least two that lock — allow for movement in any direction and precise adjustment, but they don’t work as well as wheels on lawn or uneven surfaces.
If you’re going to store your grill outside, you’ll need a cover to protect it from dirt and weather. Most grills don’t have a cover included, so you’ll need to consider this extra expense. The bigger the grill, the bigger (and more expensive) the cover you’ll need. The elements can take a toll on covers, so while you might be tempted to opt for an inexpensive one, consider the cost of replacing it regularly.
There’s no getting around it: Grilling can be a messy business that requires clean-up. You’ll want to look for a grill that allows for easy access to the areas and parts that need the most attention. Manufacturing materials are also a consideration. Stainless steel is very popular, looks great and is durable, but it scratches easily, especially when using abrasive cleaning tools and cleansers. Porcelain-enameled surfaces can be easier to clean, but can also chip.
Does the grill of your dreams come fully assembled out-of-the-box, or will it require substantial assembly? Bigger grills almost always have to be either partially or wholly assembled, whereas smaller ones are generally good to go as soon as you get them.
Natural gas grills cook your food just as well as propane grills, only cheaper.
These are narrow racks that move back as you open the lid. They generally sit 8-10 inches above the main grill. This distance keeps them further away from the flames and flare-ups as well as frees up space on the main grill. If you want to cook delicate veggies and corn on the cob that’s still in the husk, the upper rack is the place to do it.
Originally an innovative feature, snap ignition and burners with individual variable temperature controls have become standard on most models.
A rotisserie burner for cooking whole chickens and birds of all kinds, as well as roasts and hams, has become the must-have feature on high-end grills. Infrared burners for the rotisserie are often included.
A side burner is a burner mounted on the exterior of the grill box. When not in use, they typically have a hard cover over them, which serves as a prep area. Side burners provide a heat source for preparing sauces for basting or barbecuing or warming a side dish and can turn a grill into a full-featured outdoor kitchen where you can cook everything in one place. Convenience is the name of the game here.
Usually mounted in the lid, thermometers that measure the interior temperature of the grill were also a new feature at one time, but now they’re standard. Don’t buy a grill that doesn’t have a thermometer on it. You may also want to invest in a separate wireless digital thermometer for more precise measurements of food readiness.
A smoker box is a metal container inside the grill for holding wood chips. It can be equipped with a separate burner to heat the chips or utilize heat from one of the main burners. Throw in some of your favorite water-soaked wood chips – hickory, applewood, mesquite – and you’ve turned your grill into a smoker.
These will turn on when the lid opens to illuminate the grill at night or on overcast days. If the grill you’re considering doesn’t come with lights, you can purchase them separately.
Do you want more sear marks on your steak than your grill is providing during normal cooking? A sear station with a separate burner is the answer. It’s quick and easy to use, providing just the right visual touch to accent a meal.
Shelves under the grill and hooks beneath prep surfaces keep your utensils out of the way but still readily accessible when you need them.
Porcelain is easier to clean than cast iron or steel or even stainless steel. A grate that isn’t enameled with porcelain is going to require some muscle power to clean.
Typical colors for grills are black or steel gray. Brushed steel is also popular. Baked-enamel grills come in a range of colors.
If you’re in the market for a permanent outdoor kitchen, there are built-in grill inserts available that can be installed in a kitchen area on the patio. If you get one of these, you may want to consult a contractor to install it for you.
Clean-up of a natural gas grill is no different than for a propane grill.
The classic “rotten egg” smell of natural gas provides prompt warning in case of a leak.
Grills come in a wide range of price points, depending on size, features and quality.
Inexpensive: Grills under $200 should have 3 or 4 burners, 400 to 600 square inches of cooking surface, a built-in thermometer, individual burner ignitors and controls, 30,000 to 50,000 BTUs, and porcelain-enameled grates.
Mid-range: In addition to the features listed for the inexpensive range, mid-range grills (up to $1,200) should have 700 to 800 square inches of cooking space, up to 78,000 BTUs, one or more side burners, lights, and a rotisserie burner or smoker burner. You may have to choose from among some of the features, but many of them will be included.
Expensive: Grills costing $1,200 and up should have literally all of the features above. Better design and engineering, larger grills, heavier-gauge steel and higher-quality materials overall are the hallmarks of top-end grills. Showroom models top out at around $2,700. Anything more than that would be for a custom-built grill.
To minimize flare-ups, turn the grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking to burn off grease or residue from previous use. Scrape off anything that remains on the grates before adding additional food.
Barbecue sauce usually has a lot of sugar in it, which burns easily. Keep the grilling temperature below 265ºF to keep sauced meat from charring.
Indirect grilling of whole chickens or large roasts can be done by turning off the middle burner(s) and leaving on the side burners. Sear the meat with direct heat at first, then move it to the center and turn off those burners. Leave the other burners on for slow, even cooking.
Maintenance is key to keeping grilling equipment working properly. Check the holes in the burners for blockages, check the igniters to make sure they’re functioning and generally keep the grill clean.
There are plenty of gas grills on the market, including a few models that we like but didn’t have room to include above. The Napoleon T495SBNK Triumph Natural Gas with 4 Burners has a sleek, modern aesthetic, a side burner, folding side shelves and a built-in bottle opener. The Weber Summit 7270001 S-470 has everything on it but the kitchen sink: plenty of utensil storage and sturdy side preparation shelves. It includes both a rotisserie and a smoker burner.
Q. How often do I need to refill the gas tank?
A. Never! Natural gas grills connect to your home’s natural gas line, so you never run out of gas. No more lugging heavy tanks back and forth to the store.
Q. Does natural gas have an odor?
A. Not naturally. In fact, it’s completely odorless. The gas company adds mercaptan to the gas to give it that rotten-egg smell so you can easily detect if there is a gas leak.
Q. How clean is natural gas?
A. It burns cleaner than propane and charcoal.
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