Our goal was to find an affordable gas grill that could rival more expensive gas grills in the under $500 range. If there’s one reason to get a gas grill, it’s the ease of use. Gas grills are all about simplicity.
In our quest to find the best gas grill under $500, we tested how each model performed at both grilling and slow-cooking.
There’s no such thing as a perfect gas grill for everyone. The perfect grill for you will depend on: The special features, The cooking area, and How much space you have. To ensure that you buy your best gas grill, follow the 3 rules below:
Grill Buying Guide: How to buy the right grill for you
Consider The Special Features:
Some only fulfill basic needs, while others come with tons of extra features. If you want the ability to cook different types of meat at once, then you might want a grill with infinite control valve adjustability. If you like to slow cook and BBQ, then you’ll want a grill with a warming rack. If you want a compact kitchen at your side while you grill, consider a model with a side burner and side shelves, …
Attention To Cooking Area:
One of the most important features of any grill is the cooking area it offers. You should consider the cooking area when thinking about how many people you’ll cook for on a regular basis. If you know you’ll often cook for parties, it’s a good idea to buy a grill with a lot of cooking space. If you know you’ll only use your grill to cook for yourself and your girlfriend, then you may not need to purchase a huge grill.
Consider How Much Space You Have:
Grills come in many different sizes. Size correlates with the cooking area the grill offers. A grill with 700 + inches of cooking space and side tables that don’t fold down, like the Dyna Glo DGE, will take up more space than a grill without side tables and less cooking space, like the Fuego Element. Compact grills like the Cuisinart CGG-200 are also easier to transport to parties.
Gas Grill Buying Lingo (10 Key Terms):
If you don’t have a basic working knowledge of these terms, it’s easy to get confused when reading through descriptions of different grills. I’ve defined the 10 most common gas grill terms for you. Read and understand them so you know exactly what each grill offers, and how each grill may fit your needs.
BTU stands for “British Thermal Unit.” Grill manufacturers use this measurement to rate the heating capabilities and fuel consumption of their grill. A grill with a high BTU count will still cook food poorly if it doesn’t also contain good insulation and high-quality cooking grates. Nowadays, grills are engineered for efficiency, so it’s ok for a grill to contain slightly less than 100 BTUs per square inch.
Burners + Side Burners:
Burners are the components of your grill that provide heat and fire. Burners are important because they control how hot your grill gets, and how long it takes for it to heat up. In most cases, a grill with 3 burners will get hotter more quickly than a grill with only 2 burners. The more burners your grill has, the more precise the control you have over the temperature of different areas of your grill. This feature is called “infinite control valve adjustability.”
Cooking grates are the actual surface on which your food cooks. You should only buy a grill with cast iron or stainless steel cooking grates. These two materials are the easiest to clean, and they resist corrosion. Look for cast-iron grates that have been coated with enamel. This gives you iron’s heat holding capacity and stainless steel’s easy-to-clean surface.
Natural Gas Vs. Propane:
Propane tanks are easier to set up than natural gas. All you need to do is buy a tank and attach it to your grill. They are also the most popular fuel source for grills, so more manufacturers offer grills that use propane. Both propane and natural gas have low CO2 emissions and small carbon footprints, making them much more environmentally friendly than gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal.
Liquid propane (LP) is the most common form of propane used to power grills.
Warming racks allow you to raise food off the surface of the grill’s grates, which creates more cooking space. By taking food away from the direct heat source, warming racks give you a surface upon which to finish food without overcooking.
These are the shelves on either side of the grill. Some models come with shelves that fold down, while others are fixed. Side shelves allow you to do most of your cutting, seasoning, and marinating right there at the grill. Some side shelves even house an additional side burner.
Control valves are the knobs you turn to adjust the heat of your grill. There is usually one control valve for each burner. It’s best to get a grill with control valves made from stainless steel instead of plastic. These will last longer and resist rust.
The hood is basically the lid for the grill. Sometimes, you will see it referred to as the “cook box.” The hood provides insulation that helps the heat spread evenly. Many grills offer tight-fitting or double-walled hoods that prevent heat from leaving the cooking surface. Always look for stainless steel or aluminum components. These resist rust much better than regular steel or other metals.
The ignition switch is the button that lights your burners and starts your grill. High-quality battery-powered ignition switches are best because they don’t break easily.
Now that you know the three rules to follow when purchasing a gas grill, you’re ready to start shopping. Find the best gas grill under $500 for you now.