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Best BBQ Grills

Updated May 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 53 Models Considered
  • 35 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 222 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best BBQ grills

    Last Updated May 2018

    There's nothing quite like a barbecue. It's not only a great way to eat, it's a great way to spend time with family and friends. The easiest way to get the cooking done is with a gas barbecue grill. Reliable lighting, even heating, and plenty of workspace make the job a pleasure. The best gas barbecues will give you succulent food with that smoky aroma we love, time after time. But specifications can be confusing — and making the wrong choice could turn out expensive to correct.

    After a great deal of testing (and tasting) we have our final selection. Each of the gas barbecue grills in the matrix above came top in its class, and carries our seal of approval.

    If you'd like more detail to help you decide which model to buy, please read the following comprehensive report.

    If you want a BBQ grill for camping, check how portable it is. Many are designed to fit on a table top, but some have folding legs to stand on their own.

    BBQ grill specifications

    What do you need to look for when choosing a gas barbecue grill? We think the list would cover:

    • Gas type

    • Size

    • Performance

    • Materials

    • Other features

    Gas type

    Gas is gas, right? Comes in a canister. Connect it up and away you go.

    Not quite. There are two types of gas commonly available: propane and butane. They are similar, but not the same.

    Most gas BBQs are designed to use propane. Technically speaking, it burns at the same temperature as butane, though butane releases more energy for the same volume. In practical terms, you'll never notice the difference. The thing that might be important, if you like to barbecue in the winter, is that propane doesn't freeze, but butane can.

    It's best to stick with the gas recommended for your barbecue, which is almost always propane. Butane will do the same job, but you need to change the gas regulator. It's a simple task, but unless you know what you're doing you should find a suitably qualified engineer to do it for you.

    Some areas have a natural gas supply, which might be a more convenient option than replacing or refilling bottles. You need to check the barbecue carefully though — not all grills can be converted. Again, if you have doubts, get expert help.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    If there is a fire, close the lid of the grill immediately to starve the flames of oxygen. If you can reach without danger, turn off the gas. The lid may get very hot, so allow time for it to cool before reopening. It's better to have burned dinner than burned hands!

    Size

    It's important to check physical size. Photography can be deceptive, and BBQ grills are often bigger in real life than they seem in pictures. It may not be an issue if you've got plenty of space, but in a smaller urban yard it's an important consideration.

    Flexibility is offered by side tables that fold or are removable. These give you a relatively compact BBQ on one hand, but the opportunity to make extra space available when you need it.

    EXPERT TIP

    Don't add salt before you cook — it will dry out the meat, and make it tougher.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Performance

    Gas grills are rated in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise a pound of water by 1°F.

    What does that mean in real terms? Not a great deal — but you need a way to compare the performance of one barbecue with another, and those are the units you get!

    What's important is not the absolute maximum BTUs, it's the balance between power available and cooking area. You want enough heat to maintain temperature across the whole grill.

    As a general rule, that means approximately 80 to 100 BTUs per square inch from a standard gas burner grill for the primary cooking area — not including warming racks. Infrared models use heat more efficiently, so only need 50 to 80 BTUs per square inch.

    Exceptional Value

    The inexpensive Char-Griller 3001 performs on par with its pricier counterparts. Its 40,800 BTUs delivers solid cooking, while its porcelain-coated, cast-iron lid and grates allow for sufficient heat retention. The overall design is simple yet sturdy, with durable parts that hold up even with prolonged use and under adverse weather conditions. Buyers who bring this model home and use it for the first time are often amazed that they did not pay more for it.

    While size-for-size infrared models tend to be more expensive, they use less gas for similar performance. The technology provides both radiant heat (the same as other gas grills), and infrared heat. It's claimed this helps retain flavor and tenderness. Many owners also say it reduces cooking times.

    When it comes to number of burners, some experts recommend a minimum of three for even cooking across the whole grill. With traditional round burners — like the ones in a gas hob — that's a good idea. However, many modern BBQ grills have tube burners. These stretch across the cooking area and give more balanced heat distribution, from fewer sources.

    The other thing that impacts cooking performance is the material used for griddles and grates. Cast iron is a great heat conductor, but heavy, and prone to rust. Coatings are used for added protection, but can themselves be prone to damage. Steel is also a good conductor, and arguably more resilient — which is why you often see chrome, nickel, or stainless steels used.

    EXPERT TIP

    Always keep a spare gas bottle around. The one on your grill will always run out at the most inconvenient time!


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Materials

    • Cast iron has always been popular for barbecues. It's cheap and durable, though it will rust over time. Powder coating of the outside increases overall protection.

    • Aluminum is light, doesn't rust, and is easy to clean. Great for side tables, but not for cooking areas.

    • Chromed or nickel-plated steel is often used for racks. It's inexpensive, is easy to clean, but does deteriorate over time.

    • Stainless steel has all the benefits of aluminum, is more durable than chrome or nickel plate, looks great, and is better at taking bumps and knocks. It does tend to add to the price, though.

    • Porcelain coatings have become popular both for appearance and ease of cleaning. They can also add to the cost, and care is required not to chip or scratch them.

    If you store your barbecue grill indoors, whether that's a shed or garage, don't put it away hot.

    Let's be honest, most BBQ grills don't always get great treatment! Even the best barbecue will “mature” over time. While aluminum and stainless steel will never rust, heat will eventually color them. Other finishes and coatings will almost certainly get chipped or marked eventually — it's the nature of barbecuing.

    That said, the manufacturer will give instructions on how to look after your barbecue properly. It may not be your favorite job, but occasional maintenance undoubtedly extend its life.

    As far as general construction is concerned, you do tend to get what you pay for. There are plenty of cheap gas BBQ grills around, but thin steel and low-grade components don't make for a long working life. Investing a little more will get you a grill that will not only last longer, it will be nicer to use, too.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Check propane BBQ grills regularly to make sure tubing is not perished or split. Always turn the supply off at the tank when you're finished cooking.

    Features

    • One of the big advantages to a gas BBQ grill is easy lighting. Push-button electronic ignition should ensure the burners fire up first time, every time. Bear in mind the ignition runs off a battery, which will need replacement periodically.

    • A temperature gauge should be provided with every grill. It's usually mounted on the top of the cover where it's easy to see.

    • Warming racks are a big benefit, so you don't have to try to juggle the cooking times of different foods. Side burners also add flexibility.

    • The latest new idea around barbecuing is "flavor enhancement technology," or something similar. The concept is that by circulating juices you can improve the taste of your barbecued food. While it might sound like a bit of a gimmick, owner feedback supports our own results — it works. It's certainly worth considering.

    Juicy Results

    The Char-Broil TRU Infrared utilizes 20,000 BTUs over a cooking space of 465 inches. There are two burners, each with its own thermometer gauge. What makes this grill stand out from the rest is that it uses patented TRU-Infrared technology to produce radiant and infrared heat. This helps the meat retain its moisture and natural juices. Users have also reported considerably quicker cooking times compared to previous models that they owned.

    • Deflectors and guides are used to channel fats and grease away from burners. This not only prevents flare-ups, and potential fires, it can also make cleaning easier.

    • Some models have a gas fuel gauge, which should ensure you never run out with dinner half cooked!

    • The gas tank may be on a pull-out shelf, making it easier to change.

    • Wheels or casters are a good idea, so it's not difficult to move your BBQ around. There should be a means of locking them, so the grill stays in place while you're cooking.

    • Tool hooks or racks keep things handy, and provide convenient storage.

    • If you're going to keep your BBQ grill outside, a fitted cover is a very good idea.

    • Many barbecue grills require some assembly, but it's usually minor things, like fitting racks and side tables.

    Use a hand-held meat thermometer to ensure meat is cooked through. The temperature gauge on your grill only tells you the surface heat, just like in an oven.

    How much does a BBQ grill cost?

    You can pick up a cheap gas grill for under a hundred bucks. They work. They might not last very long. If that's your budget, we feel you'd be better off investing in a quality charcoal barbecue. You're not really going to benefit from the advantages of gas grilling at that price.

    So how much do you need to spend?

    You can get a very good, entry-level grill for around $200. It'll be big enough for the average family and will have all the basic features. If you look after it, you'll get several years of great food — which is the main reason you buy one, after all.

    And what about a really stylish grill, from one of the top brands?

    If you have $300 to $400 to invest, you have a whole world of BBQ delights to choose from. Great looking, high-quality grills, with exceptional build quality. At this price, it's pretty much a question of putting together your wish list and taking your pick. Just about everything you want falls within this price bracket.

    The only reason to spend any more would be if you want a giant. $500 will get you a huge BBQ grill with enough cooking space to feed the whole neighborhood!

    EXPERT TIP

    Good barbecuing, like any cooking skill, takes time to learn. Practice is fun, get plenty of it!


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • BBQ grills have lids for two reasons: first, to keep the heat in while cooking. Second, to keep the weather at bay. Always close your barbecue once it's cooled, to keep the elements from damaging it.

    • If you're making kabobs with wooden skewers, soak them in water for a few minutes first. They'll still be stiff enough to spear your meat and vegetables, but they won't catch fire easily, once on the barbecue.

    • It's tempting to keep checking your barbecue grill, but every time you lift the lid the temperature drops, and the flavors escape. Modern gas grills have reliable thermostats. Unless you're cooking something that needs constant attention, try to leave your barbecue closed as much as possible.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The word barbecue comes from barbacoa, a raised cooking platform used in the Caribbean. It probably arrived first in the southern U.S., brought by the Spanish conquistadores.

    FAQ

    Q: Is a gas barbecue grill better than a charcoal grill?
    A:
    Actually, we love them both! There's no right answer, but one usually suits you better than the other.

    If you like the natural approach, with charcoal as the main heat source and various woods to add flavor, it's tough to beat. It allows for lots of experimentation, and competitive barbecuers invariably use this method. Charcoal barbecues are simpler, and usually cheaper. The drawbacks — as anyone who has used one will tell you — are getting the thing lit, maintaining an even temperature, and cleaning up after.

    You'll never have trouble lighting a gas barbecue grill, and it's far more controllable. Though it isn't necessarily easier to clean, there's no hot ash to get rid of after. For most people, it's the more convenient, easy-to-use option.

    It's a personal decision. A barbecue is a great way to cook — and entertain — however you do it!

    A marinade has two purposes: to add flavor and to tenderize. Meat should be marinated for an hour at the absolute minimum — overnight is better.

    Q: Are germs and bacteria a problem when cooking on a BBQ grill?
    A:
    Barbecuing shouldn't present any additional food hygiene problems. A rare steak is rare whether you grill it indoors or out. Chicken should be cooked through, just like you always would. Take the same precautions when preparing food, just as you would in the kitchen. Then preheat your barbecue for 20 minutes or so. This will kill any nasties on the grill itself, and make sure you are cooking at a consistent temperature.

    Q: What is the correct spelling of barbecue? Or is that barbeque? Or bar-b-cue?
    A:
    We have no idea — and we suspect nobody else does! “Barbecue” is how it's commonly used, but “barbeque” is fine too, and is an alternative sometimes used in the U.K. Some argue that “barbecue” is the thing you cook on, and “barbeque” is the verb. As long as it's hot and tasty, who cares?

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Heather
      Heather
      Chief Content Officer
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor