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Summer is right around the corner, and we all know summertime and barbecues go hand in hand. But maybe you're looking to cook juicy burgers for a crowd or throw a quick shrimp on the barbie for a tasty weeknight meal—without spending a fortune on a luxury grill. Luckily, there are a number of cheap gas grills out there that will still have you grilling like the pros in no time.
A gas grill cooks food with gas jets located underneath its cooking surface, fueled by natural gas or liquid propane. It can utilize either gas from the house using a connected hose or a refillable propane tank. The advantages to gas grills over their charcoal counterparts are many. They’re tidier: You can skip the messy wood chip/pellet and charcoal system and ash cleanup. They’re faster: Just turn it on instead of waiting for the coals to heat through. And, they’re safer: You control the size of the flame and the temperature with a turn of a dial.
If you’re in the market for a new gas grill but are on a budget, I’ve picked out the best ones below after talking to the pros, consulting online reviews, and thoroughly researching product information from a variety of sources. Equipped with every feature you might need, the Char-Broil Classic 360 is the top of the pack.
Here, the best cheap gas grills so you can show off your skills.
Best Overall: Char-Broil Classic 360 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill with Side Burner
What We Love: Has features expected from a higher-end grill, easy to transport, large grilling space
What We Don’t Love: Challenging to assemble
The Char-Broil Classic 360 is a great starter grill if you’re on a budget, newer to grilling, and don’t want to commit to a spendy option—or simply won’t get the use out of a “big guns” type of grill. While this grill is budget-friendly, it offers many of the features you’d expect from more expensive versions: 30,000 BTU of grilling power (plus more on the side burner), 360 square inches of grilling space (enough for 15 burgers), and a 170 square inch rack that can be used for slow cooking or to let foods rest after searing. Another great bonus feature is that it’s easy to transport: not too heavy and has no attached gas line.
It features two side shelves for prep space, stainless steel inline burners that offer better temperature control, and utilizes the Piezo ignition system that works quickly and easily. The porcelain-coated steel lid and the firebox mean it’s ok to leave it outside no matter the weather.
Reviewers’ major beef (sorry) was that the grill was difficult to assemble (insert IKEA joke here), though many said it was doable with only a Phillip’s head screwdriver. Overall, buyers were super happy with this grill because it offers the fancy features of a luxe grill at a fraction of the price.
Material: Stainless steel, porcelain, and cast iron | Dimensions: 51.2 x 24.1 x 43.5 inches | Weight: 48.5 pounds | Number of Burners: 3 | Cooking Surface Area: 530 square inches | BTUs: 38,000
Best Portable: Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
What We Love: Lightweight, compact, sizable for a portable grill
What We Don’t Love: Messy cleanup, some parts are flimsy
Whether you're planning a road trip, a tailgate party, or a camping trip, the Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Gas Grill has you covered. It offers three adjustable burners, boasts 20,000 BTU grilling power, and a push-button ignition. The selling point with this grill is obviously its portability. It has a compact size (30 inches long and 16 inches tall), it's lightweight (under 50 pounds), and it's easy to set up in minutes so you can start flaunting your skill behind the grill. It also breaks down quickly to roll back into your car thanks to its two wheels and telescoping handle.
The grilling area is pretty sizable for a portable grill—285 square inches—so there’s enough space to grill for a few people. It has two sliding side tables for meal prep, and an interchangeable cooktop, so you can swap out the grill for either a griddle or a stove grate.
Reviewers’ main complaint was the water pan, designed to sit under the cooktop and around the burners to catch any grease or other messes that drop through the grates, is messy to clean. But, several reviewers do offer solutions on what works best for them.
"The Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Gas Grill is a great option for home use, but it's [also] a safe and reliable grill for camping, tailgating, or wherever you need a portable grill that's easy to set up and use. It gives you even cooking temperatures and is great for burgers and dogs—you can't go wrong!" — Kristin Hazlett, Denver chef
Material: Blend | Dimensions: 30.25 x 19.2 x 16.1 inches | Weight: 52.6 pounds | Number of Burners: 3 | Cooking Surface Area: 285 square inches | BTUs: 20,000
Best Infrared: Char-Broil The Big Easy TRU-Infrared Smoker, Roaster, and Grill
What We Love: Infrared burners help retain moisture, use less propane, versatility, compact and lightweight, affordable
What We Don’t Love: Small grilling space, doesn’t cook low temperatures well and assembly could be better
Infrared grills are propane gas grills that use infrared technology as their heat source or as an optional burner, rather than the direct flame heating the grate, by placing an infrared element in between the grate and the flame. By using radiant heat instead of convection heat, the airflow is directed away from the grill surface and makes food retain moisture, resulting in juicer meats.
An added bonus is that the grill vaporizes drippings, you won't get any flares. While its low level of BTUs may seem underwhelming at first compared with conventional gas grills, keep in mind that with the infrared feature, it doesn’t need the added power. It also uses some 30 percent less propane than a conventional propane grill and has reduced cooking times.
With names like ‘inferno,’ and ‘magma,’ it’s easy to be intimidated by these grills, but don’t be. What’s great about the Char-Broil The Big Easy is that, as the name suggests, it’s capable of smoking, grilling, and roasting, and that versatility earns major points with us. Whole turkeys and racks of ribs can fit in the roaster basket, and there’s a smoker box for added smoke flavor.
The grill grate gives you 180 square inches of grill space and works for steaks, burgers, chicken, and side dishes. It’s also compact and very lightweight at under 25 pounds.
Material: Steel | Dimensions: 23.1 x 23.4 x 36.2 inches | Weight: 22.7 pounds | Number of Burners: 1 | Cooking Surface Area: 180 square inches | BTUs: 20,000
Related: The Best Grills
Best Tabletop: Cuisinart Chef's Style Stainless Tabletop Grill
What We Love: Power is commensurate with larger grills, comes assembled, burners operate independently
What We Don’t Love: Small size means it can only cook for small groups
For apartment dwellers or those cooking for just one or two people, there may not be the need to get a show-stopping grill. Enter the tabletop gas grill. I love this Cuisinart version for many reasons: It comes assembled out of the box, turns on with the turn of a knob, and never needs matches. Plus, for its size, it packs a serious punch of 20,000 BTUs total on two burners. It heats up in under 10 minutes, and you can control the heat on either burner with the knobs, using each burner individually or together. Since the burners work independently, you can set different temperatures depending on what you’re cooking, and there’s a built-in thermometer to help monitor the heat.
The Cuisinart weighs only 22 pounds and has a locking cover, folding legs, and a handle, so it’s easy to take the barbecue with you. It can double as the ideal stove on a road trip or camping trip, as well as work on a tabletop indoors or outdoors. It comes with a 3.5-foot hose that hooks up to a 20-pound tank of propane. The stainless grill is easy to use and clean, and it has a grill tray to catch grease and drippings. It’s especially great for those who live in small spaces or whose residences have charcoal grill restrictions.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 21.5 x 19 x 15 inches | Weight: 28.7 pounds | Number of Burners: 2 | Cooking Surface Area: 275 square inches | BTUs: 20,000
Best Under $200: Master Cook 3 Burner Propane Gas Grill
What We Love: Heats quickly, includes a warming rack and two side tables
What We Don’t Love: Challenging to assemble, difficult to clean
For grillers who want to stay within a budget and still get a decent grill, the Master Cook 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill is a great choice. Its system cranks out 30,000 BTUs, starts with the twist of a knob, and heats up to cook in under 10 minutes. It has a built-in thermometer and 339 square inches of grill space with an additional 132 square inch warming rack above the main grill. It has two side tables for prep use and when they’re folded down, the grill is a compact 29.5 inches in length.
It has two wheels and a handle for easy transport to the yard, garden, courtyard, or balcony space, and it can be used for all-season grilling. Reviewers’ biggest complaint, though, was that some of the materials were flimsy and cheap. However, many other reviewers got the grill assembled fine and used it successfully.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 46.5 x 20.9 x 41.1 inches | Weight: 49 pounds | Number of Burners: 3 | Cooking Surface Area: 339 square inches | BTUs: 30,000
Related: The Best Grills for Tailgating
The Char-Broil Classic 360 gets our top spot because it’s a real winner for the price. Most grills that have the bells and whistles (tons of grilling space, warming rack, additional burner) cost at least twice as much. Looking for a gas grill you can take anywhere? The Cuisinart CGG-306 Portable Tabletop Propane Grill is the ticket.
What Are The Other Options?
Weber Genesis II E-335 Propane Grill: With grills, the choices are endless, starting at around $1,000 and up, they can be costly, but they also last decades. These quality grills build brand loyalty for a reason. This Weber is like the Cadillac of grills, offering a massive 513 square inches of main grilling space and three side burners. It can be paired with your smartphone, ensuring perfectly cooked food every time. You simply program the iGrill 3 app with the type of food you’re cooking (for example, a steak cooked to medium-rare), and it notifies you when the internal temperature has reached the correct level. The possibilities are endless once you get into the "over $1,000" price range, but if you’re ready to grill at a nearly professional level or need to cook frequently for a crowd, it’s worth considering the upgrade.
Kenyon B70090 Frontier All Seasons Portable Stainless Steel Electric Grill: Reviewers claim that the hype is real on this product, meaning that if you love to grill and want the flavor you get from grilling, this electric grill will work just as well as its gas and charcoal counterparts—but is safer and permissible where rules no longer allow grilling. Made of 304 Marine-grade stainless steel, the Kenyon Frontier has a waterproof digital touch control panel that allows you to precisely dial in the desired heat. It features a nonstick grate that will give you the distinctive char marks of a regular grill, but none of the smoke. It has an insulated lid designed to prevent accidental burns, a double-coated non-stick grilling surface that’s dishwasher safe. It has a 600-degree capacity that’s perfect for searing and preheating in under 10 minutes, and the 155 square inches of grilling space heats evenly.
How We Selected
Rebecca combed through scores of top-rated gas grills under $500, looking at consumer reviews and available manufacturer information such as key specifications. She interviewed professionals and avid home cooks to learn more about what makes a great gas grill and how to best use them without making common mistakes. Rebecca used this data to choose her top picks.
What to Look for When Buying a Cheap Gas Grill
Major things to consider when buying a gas grill are safety and solid construction. Grill stability is key because you want to avoid tipping. Grills that are properly assembled are safer and last longer. Other than those important considerations, think about how many people you’ll typically be cooking for and what you will be preparing. Hotdogs and burgers are pretty easy to cook, but what about more delicate items like fish or vegetables? Look for a grill that heats up quickly and maintains temperature well (and with your control) over how many BTUs it has.
How should I clean a gas grill?
Most experts recommend using either a stiff wire brush dipped in water to scrub off the big stuff while the grill is still hot (it’ll be steamy, so stand back). Use soapy water to scrub off any stubborn stuck-on bits and then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
How long should gas grills last?
Gas grills should last somewhere between two and 10 years. Burners are the part that gets replaced the most, but that’s a fairly simple job. Check your warranty options before you buy, if that’s important to you.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Rebecca Treon is a freelance food and travel writer whose mission is to share her knowledge with readers. As an avid griller, she’s cooked everything from romaine to ribs, and especially loves cooking for others.
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