Side shelves fold inward for convenient storage when not in use. Cooking surface is just large enough for most types of grilling. Ideal for small home living and apartment life.
Small profile might not be enough for true grilling connoisseurs.
Extremely portable with a slim and narrow profile for easy carrying and storage. Can hold a couple of pans at the same time.
Lack of dedicated grilling can make some meats harder to cook.
Heavy duty exterior protects the delicate innards during bad weather. Propane tank is easy to hook up and store when it is time to replace.
Limited four burner setup won't produce as much heat as larger five-burner options.
An affordable model with handy features, such as the swing-away warming rack and handy side burner. Provides decent cook space for the price.
Assembly is challenging, and the instructions could be better. The flame occasionally goes out without warning.
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.
Some people say that barbecuing is an art. However, you can't be crowned Grill King or Grill Queen if you don't have a grill. These days, a propane grill is as unique as the cooking style of the individual using it. With so many options available, how do you decide which one is right for you?
Whether you aspire to culinary greatness or just want a way cook some burgers for friends, a propane grill is a great investment.
The shopping guide guide below will walk you through everything you need to know about propane grills, from side burners to infrared technology. When you’re ready to invest in a new propane grill, we invite you to look at our favorite choices at the top of this page.
Propane grills are a hot item. Some grills are outfitted with bells and whistles galore – which we will get to in a minute – but the three crucial elements, the ones that most affect cooking, are primary cooking surface, BTUs, and burners.
Primary cooking surface
When considering cooking efficiency, the only cooking surface measurement you need to worry about is that of the grill's primary cooking surface. Many manufacturers include warming racks and side burners in a "combined" surface area figure, but that figure is misleading at best. The primary cooking surface area is the only measurement you need to determine if your grill has the proper BTUs.
“BTU” is simply a unit of measurement – and possibly the most overhyped factor in the grilling industry. At most, you want only 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch of primary cooking surface. Any more, and you're just wasting fuel – possibly because your grill is poorly constructed and doesn't retain heat properly. Any less, and you may be frustrated with preheating and recovery times – how long it takes for the grill to heat back up after the lid has been closed.
For example, if you had a grill with a 10” x 20” cooking surface, that would equal 200 square inches of primary cooking surface. You would only need 16,000 to 20,000 BTUs for that grill.
The burners are your heat source, so you might think, "I have a large family. I need six burners to cook all these burgers." But that's not the best way to consider how many burners you actually need. The true benefit of more burners is cooking diversity. Burners allow you to perform different types of cooking on the same grill, e.g., searing meat while roasting vegetables. If you're only cooking one food at a time, the number of burners is not a huge consideration. If, however, you're looking to cook an entire meal on one propane grill, that's when more burners become a necessity. Consequently, the more burners you have, the more cooking surface you'll need, and the higher your minimum BTUs will be.
Following is a list of the parts and features your grill may or may not have. Some are essential; others are optional.
Lid: When slow cooking, a closed lid captures and retains heat. Ideally, the lid of the grill you buy should be solidly built with a snug fit. A grill with higher BTUs than necessary could signify a poorly constructed lid.
Temperature gauge: Usually found on the lid of your grill, this device measures the temperature inside your grill when the lid is closed.
Igniter: This is a little button that, when depressed, sparks the grill to life with the help of a battery.
Control knobs: These dials, located on the front of your grill, allow you to individually adjust the flow of gas to each burner. This allows you to control the flame height and overall temperature of your grill.
Burners: This is the heating element in your grill. It can be used to cook food in two very different ways: traditional heating and infrared heating. Traditional heating works by heating the air inside the grill. The air, in turn, cooks your food. Infrared heating uses a special emitter plate that absorbs the heat from the burners and radiates it directly to the food. This technology offers higher, more even temperatures and also helps keep the meat from drying out.
Heat tents: These tent-shaped metal plates incinerate drippings and deflect excess grease away from the burners to help protect them. They also help prevent flare ups, which can lead to unevenly cooked food or grill fires.
Cooking grates: This is where you place your food to be cooked. Two of the most common cooking grate materials are stainless steel and cast iron. Stainless steel grates are a cost-effective option. They are durable and easy to clean. The main drawback is that they do not retain heat well. Cast iron grates have better heat retention and offer much more even heating than stainless steel. If properly maintained, they could potentially last a lifetime. On the downside, they are hard to care for, they can rust quickly, and they are rather heavy.
Side burner: This often-neglected feature is much like a burner on your indoor stove. Use it to simmer soups, cook vegetables, heat up beans, and even fry foods while the main course is sizzling away on the grill.
Grease tray/cup: This is a removable tray or cup that collects excess grease and drippings while cooking. It needs to be emptied regularly.
Warming rack: Located above the primary cooking surface in the back, this metal shelf will keep food warm while freeing up room for more cooking.
Rotisserie: This is an optional attachment that allows the slow roasting of meat on a rotating spit. Some people favor it because the meat cooks evenly in its own juices. If this is an important feature for you, make sure the grill you are considering can accommodate a rotisserie.
Grill light: Some grills come with a grill light, but most are purchased separately. This handy little device attaches to the handle of the lid and shines down on your cooking area when the lid is open. It is a must for nighttime grilling.
Meat thermometer: This is an essential tool for making sure your meat reaches the proper temperature to kill harmful bacteria. The high-tech versions are wireless systems that can be accessed through your mobile device.
Storage cart: The space beneath your grill is the storage cart. Mostly, it is used for housing the propane tank, although some models feature drawers for condiments. Depending on your preference, you can get a closed cart with doors or an open cart that looks more like a table.
Wheels: If you never plan on moving your grill, wheels may not be very important to you. However, if you think you will be pushing your grill around often, it is worth investing in a grill with durable wheels that have a locking mechanism.
Smoker box: This little metal box with holes in the top is where you put wood chips that infuse your food with a distinctive smoky flavor. The most common flavors are hickory, mesquite, cherry, and apple.
Pizza oven: If you really love pizza, it is probably worth the additional cash to purchase a pizza oven. This accessory allows you to cook pizza on your propane grill.
The overall price difference in consumer grills is most closely related to the number of burners. Please note that the following are average figures; prices for propane grills can vary widely between brands.
The least-expensive propane grill is usually a portable/tabletop model. These grills range from $40 to $100. If you want a little more cooking space, you can get a two-burner propane grill that costs somewhere between $90 to $180. If you want a stainless-steel two-burner grill, however, plan on spending up to $250.
Three- and four-burner grills sell for a significantly higher price; we’ve seen models that cost anywhere from $220 to $320. A stainless-steel propane grill could cost up to $350.
If you’re going for a five- or six-burner grill, expect to spend at least $350 and maybe more. During the course of our research, we found top-end propane grills with multiple burners that cost as much as $1,800.
Regular cleaning is the best way to extend the life of your grill. Here are a few tips to help keep your grill in excellent condition.
If you have a stainless-steel grill, use only specially formulated stainless steel cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean the outside. Other surfaces can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water.
One of the best maintenance techniques is to run your grill on high after cooking. This helps burn away grease and food particles. Consult your owner's manual to see if this is a recommended technique for your grill.
Grates can be made of many different materials; be sure to use the proper cleaning tools for your grates. For instance, cleaning porcelain-coated grates with a wire brush could permanently damage them.
If warm water and mild detergent aren’t getting your grill clean, a specially formulated foaming grill cleaner might be the answer for those tough-to-clean spots.
Lightly coating your grates with cooking oil or vegetable oil will help reduce the amount of food that sticks to them.
Do not neglect cleaning the inside elements of your grill: heat tents, burners, cook box. These items need the same care as your grates in order to ensure your grill works well.
When your grill is not in use, cover it with a properly fitted grill cover. This can help extend its life.
Q. How do I start my grill?
A. Open the lid. Open your propane tank fully. Turn the first burner all the way up. Press your ignition button. Turn any additional burners on. Close the lid and allow the grill to preheat to approximately 500°F before adjusting for cooking.
Q. How do I use a meat thermometer?
A. According to Food Safety and Inspection Service requirements, for whole cuts of meat, you should place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and cook until it reaches 145ºF. Then, remove the meat from the heat source and let it sit for three minutes. For ground meats, the temperature needs to reach 160ºF. All poultry products must be heated to 165ºF.
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