Gas grills may lack the romance of cooking over charcoal—you won’t get the extra boost of flavor from smoky briquettes, and it’s impossible to heat the grill to the same temperature. But gas offers instant, even heat that puts charcoal to shame, helping you cook up delicious burgers and chicken breasts. They also boast precise temperature control, which makes it easy to cook delicate foods that might be burned while cooking over coals that can get as hot as 700°F.
While choosing a gas grill is a relatively simple decision, deciding which to purchase is considerably more difficult. From big brands like Weber grills—including our top pick, Weber Spirit II E-310(available at Amazon for $549.00)—to the generic models that crop up at your local grocery store every spring, there are hundreds of options to choose from.
We put popular gas grills through a battery of extensive testing from the ease of assembly to preheat speeds, and evaluating its grill surface. After cooking dozens of burgers, chicken drumsticks, and asparagus, we can say with certainty that the most expensive model is not necessarily the best, but the cheapest options might not be built to satisfy, either.
These are the best gas grills we tested ranked, in order.
Weber Spirit II E-310
Weber Genesis II E-310
Weber Spirit SX-315 Smart Grill
3 Embers 4-Burner
Char-Broil Performance 5-Burner
Cuisinart 3-in-1 Five Burner
Weber Spirit II E-310
The Weber Spirit II E-310 may be the brand’s entry-level model, but it didn’t act like a lesser product when it came to performance. It was our favorite grill to use on every test, producing perfect sear marks on burgers, evenly cooked chicken, and picture-perfect asparagus. It can’t hold quite as many burgers as our upgrade pick, the Weber Genesis II E-310, but the 18 or so burgers that do fit will be cooked evenly to perfection.
This product is proof that BTUs are not the end-all-be-all in grill choice. Its 30,000 BTUs (or, 71 per square inch) cranks out an impressive amount of heat—we created indirect heat by turning a single burner on high heat, then heating the grill to 300 degrees; and when we turned all the burners on low, it hit an impressive 400° F (which was 25 to 50 degrees hotter than some of the higher BTU models we tested).
We also loved some of the aesthetic features, and the grill itself felt well put together and built to last. Weber really thought of everything with this model: a side-mounted propane tank with a gas meter, sturdy side tables, and cooking grates that fit together perfectly. It was also one of the few grills that had hooks on the side for hanging your grilling tools, and the Weber lids were the only ones designed to vent smoke away from tunneling into your face. A bonus, this grill also iGrill3 (a Bluetooth enabled thermometer that mounts permanently to the grill table and can send grilling alerts and data right to your smartphone) compatible. As compared to some of the other products we tested, the Weber was significantly easier to build, too. Although there were a lot of little parts to put together, the instruction manual was clear-cut and easy to understand.
The Weber Spirit II E-310 is absolutely worth its price. When you take all the factors into account—performance, ease of use, and aesthetic appearance—it's a no-brainer for our choice as Best Overall.
If you can afford the additional expense and want a grill with the same exceptional build quality as our main pick but with a larger cooking surface, we’d recommend upgrading to the Weber Genesis II E-310. You can easily fit 24 burgers on this bad boy (versus the 18 that Weber Spirit II E-310 can handle). The Genesis II offers roughly the same BTUs per square inch as the Spirit II (76 BTUs, in case you’re wondering). When it came to performance, we really didn't notice a difference between the two; they both produced excellent grilled burgers and chicken drumsticks.
The Genesis’ side-mounted propane tank has a windshield around it, and its four wheels make it easier to move around. Instead of a plastic handle and lid, the whole lid is metal, giving it a more professional, sleeker look. We loved how one of the side tables folded down for easy storage, and making the warming rack foldable was a brilliant design choice – I’m forever taking those things off to create extra space and losing them somewhere in the garage. And the grill is already configured for iGrill3 Bluetooth thermometers (sold separately).
If you’re looking for a step-up to this step-up, you’ll find that some models in Weber’s Genesis II Series also have sear burners and side burners. We didn’t test models with these features: they’re not worth the extra coin, for most people. If not having a side burner is a dealbreaker for you, this could be the grill for you.
That Weber backs its products with a 10-year warranty against corrosion and rust, helps to take the sting out of the purchase price of this upgrade pick. This is a well-made grill that will serve you well for years to come.
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef and outdoor enthusiast. During the summertime, you’ll find me outside grilling burgers on the patio, slow cooking a pork shoulder on the smoker, or building a yakitori grill on my fire pit. If I can cook it outside, I will!
One thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of having a reliable grill; it’s absolutely key to building confidence in your grilling game. I’d love to help you find the right one for you!
Using my training and years of grilling experience as a starting point, I spent hours researching the latest, greatest and most popular gas grills available online and in stores. Using price, quality and brand reputation to narrow the field, I chose seven highly-rated gas grills from available via popular shopping outlets like Amazon, Home Depot and Lowes to call in for testing. After receiving our test candidates, we set about building each one (a two-person job, for sure, given the weight of each grill).
After assembling each grill, my goal was to find out if factors, such as the number of burners, BTUs, and evaluating the square inches of cooking space for its grate material to see how that affected overall performance. To do this, I started off by testing how well each grill performed on three different heat levels: high heat (all the burners on the hottest setting), low heat (all the burners on the lowest setting), and indirect heat (one or two burners turned on high).
For our high-temperature cooking test, I timed how long it took for the grill to hit 600° F, an ideal temperature for high-heat searing for steaks, vegetables, and burgers. Once the grill was smoking hot, we placed slices of white bread over the entire surface to map out the heating pattern. Grills with even heating really shined here, creating predictable patterns without noticeable hot or cold spots. Next, I cooked burgers, spaced 2-inches apart, for 5 minutes per side. After the timer expired, I measured the internal temperature of each burger in hope that they were all within 5 to 10 degrees of each other. Finally, to round out the high-heat tests, we tossed thin-stemmed asparagus onto the cooking grates to see if they fell through.
For the low-temperature tests, I was hoping to see a temperature around 375°F when all the burners were turned to their lowest position. This is an ideal temperature for slow-cooking foods or grilling delicate items that can’t withstand a grill’s high heat. Chicken drumsticks were the perfect option for this test, and the top models we tested cooked them in about 30 minutes, creating an even, golden brown skin.
The last test was indirect heat: a cooking method which only uses a few of the burners to create an oven-like environment inside of the grill. It’s the best way to cook food that takes longer than 30 minutes to finish or that would otherwise burn when exposed to high heat—like a whole chicken, a rack of ribs, or a pork shoulder. I measured each grill’s internal temperature after 15 minutes of preheating and cooked a whole chicken on the top-performing models.
I finished our assessment by looking at each grill’s aesthetic features and build quality. Do the grills rattle and shake when you roll them around? Are the side tables and side shelves sturdy enough to hold heavy food items? Are there hooks to hang tools on? Is there a place to store the propane tank, and is it within reach of the hookup hose? Do the handles get too hot to touch? Is its grease tray catch pan easy to access? After compiling the scores, some of these design choices made a huge difference in the grill’s overall ranking.
What You Should Know About Gas Grills
What are BTUs?
Every gas grill has a rating known as BTUs—British Thermal Units—a measure of the amount of heat the grill can produce. More and more, grill manufacturers are pumping out grills with higher and higher BTU counts, and consumers rely on these numbers as a measure of the grill’s performance. So, what’s the deal: do the BTUs actually matter?
I’m going to go ahead and say no: our top two grill picks had fewer BTUs per square foot of cooking space than the competition, produced evenly-cooked food and offered a more enjoyable cooking experience. In fact, one of our least favorite grills had the highest BTUs in the group!
BTUs don’t necessarily give you a good measure of how the grill’s design will affect the cooked food. It’s also important to keep in mind that higher BTU grills burn through propane faster, and if the lid doesn’t fit tightly onto the grill, all that heat won’t remain inside anyway.
At the end of the day, BTUs are simply an indication of how much heat your grill can produce, not how hot it will actually get inside your grill. So, look at the number if you like, but don’t put too much stock into it.
Gas or Charcoal—How Do You Choose?
In the eternal debate over whether a gas grill or a charcoal grill is better for outdoor cooking, there is no wrong answer. If you’re cooking your food on the grill instead of inside the house, it will capture that beautiful charred essence and smoky flavor from cooking over open flames. You likely already have strong opinions on the topic of gas versus charcoal and we’re not here to change your mind. If you’re still on the fence on the subject, however, here are the pros and cons of using each type of grill to help you choose the right one for you. Let’s talk gas grills, first.
Gas grills are more convenient than charcoal grills. That they don’t use charcoal as fuel not only makes a gas grill easier to clean (no ash!), but it also cuts down its initial heating time. That gas grills come equipped with electric starters or a spark wheel to ignite its gas burner helps to get you cooking faster than charcoal users can manage, as well. It’s easy to easier to control the heat while you’re grilling with gas than it is when using charcoal; to adjust the heat up and down, simply twist a knob instead of fiddling around with hot coals. It is a bummer when you run out of propane, though, so we love these newer grills that have a handy meter right on the side of the grill.
The best charcoal grills, on the other hand, are significantly less expensive than their gas counterparts. Many people prefer the flavor of cooking over a charcoal grill, as the briquettes they use for fuel infuse smokey elements into the food. The coals created by burning those briquettes can burn hotter than propane or via grills hooked up to a natural gas line, which can be a pro or a con: you’ll get a serious sear on your food if that’s what you’re going for, but it’s also easy to burn your food over 700° F temperatures.
What About Electric Grills?
While these appliances are called “grills,” they heat your food using a coil instead of flames. That makes them closer to an electric griddle than a grill. If you want to grill indoors, we’d suggest you use your oven’s broiler, a cast-iron griddle pan or an indoor grill. In order to use an electric grill, you need an accessible power outlet (a feature that not all decks or patios have), or a high-powered extension cord (a hassle to use and a trip-hazard.)
Other Gas Grills We Tested
Weber Spirit SX-315 Smart Grill
The Wi-Fi-enabled Weber Spirit SX-315 includes three stainless-steel burners and performed just as well as the standard Weber Spirit II E-310 gas grill, our top pick in this roundup. The most notable differences, beyond the price tag, was the addition of the smart panel on the side table. Unlike most Weber gas grills, the SX-315 doesn’t have a thermometer on the grill’s lid. Instead, the LED panel is hooked directly into an ambient temperature probe, displaying a digital temperature on the control panel. That panel also has two probe temperature ports, allowing you to monitor the internal temperature of the food inside the grill.
Beyond the panel, the grill is also “smart,” meaning that it’s connected via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to the Weber Connect app on your smartphone. That allows you to view the ambient temperature of the grill, monitor the temperatures of food cooking with the built-in probe thermometers, use the app’s recipes and guided grilling programs, or receive low-fuel alerts on your phone, all without having to be right next to the grill.
The price difference reflects the addition of this smart technology, so you may be wondering if it’s worth spending extra on a smart grill. We can absolutely recommend this grill for beginners, as the app walks users through step-by-step instructions on how to grill meat, poultry, seafood, and more. It also provides real time alerts for when to flip your steaks or wrap a pork shoulder to create perfect results. That said, if you’re not new to grilling or you just purchased a new grill, you probably don’t need to rush out and buy this one. The Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub is available as a stand-alone purchase, and it offers much of the same functionality as the smart grill. As a bonus, it works with any grill brand.
If we were to describe any of these grills as being “built like a tank,” it would be the 3 Embers 4-Burner Gas Grill. It arrived in the heaviest box I’ve ever seen, strapped into a palate that almost buckled under its weight. After building so many grills, we definitely appreciated only having to put the side tables onto this one—especially considering that it has two drawers and a cabinet door, all of which would have been pretty tricky to put on correctly at home. The grill itself looks gorgeous, with a large glass viewing window, stainless steel for days, and fancy features like burner knobs that light up in iridescent blue when they’re ignited. It was also the only grill we tested that had stainless steel grates, which did get stained during the course of testing but made beautiful sear marks on our burgers.
Performance-wise, the 3 Embers had the most consistent heating across all four burners, although it was notably hotter in the front area than the back. It worked really well at low temperatures, too, maintaining a perfect 375° F with all the burners turned to low. The only thing it couldn’t do? The grates didn’t have crossbars placed in the right spaces, so our tiny asparagus stalks fell right through.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a massive grill that can cook over 24 burgers while looking like a professional staple on your deck, this is the one. Just don’t plan to move it too much (seriously, it’s so heavy!) and be ready to shell out some coin because this one doesn’t come cheap.
The Char-Broil Performance 5-Burner Gas Grill is proof that higher BTUs aren’t necessarily better. This value-priced grill only has 40,000 BTUs, but since it had a smaller cooking area than some of the other grills, it still averaged out to a solid 84 BTUs per square inch. It wasn’t able to get as hot as quickly as the higher BTU grills, but it did do an admirable job at cooking burgers and chicken drumsticks evenly across the five burners. Unfortunately, this grill lost a lot of points in the aesthetics department. The plastic dials felt cheap, and overall the grill was a bit flimsy and clunky. We wondered how long it would stay together! If you need a grill for the short term and don’t want to spend a lot, this would fit the bill. For our money, we’d rather spend more on a grill that will hang around for a few years.
We really liked some of the add-on features of the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Five Burner Gas Grill–such as its stainless-steel smoke tube and heavy-duty cast-iron griddle–but the grill itself didn’t perform well enough to justify its high price tag. The burgers in the back charred and burned before the ones in the front cooked through, and we had a hard time getting the grill to cook at lower temperatures. Not only that, but this one was one of the more difficult, time-consuming grills to build. It had too many pieces and the frame was flimsy, shaking and rattling when we moved it around. The lid was so heavy that I worried the grill might fall over when you opened it! Unfortunately, a few of the pieces warped on our original tests, but Cuisinart’s customer service was top-notch and sent us a replacement. We didn’t experience any damage with the second grill, but its performance still ranks it near the bottom of our list.
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