WRITTEN BY: JEANINE SKOWRONSKI
Gas grills are a popular option for people looking to cook (or have a cookout) with relative ease. They’re generally easier to start and regulate temperature more efficiently than their charcoal counterparts. The price of a gas grill varies from a couple hundred to a couple thousand (or, even, tens of thousands of) dollars. But people on tighter budgets will be happy to know that there are some quality gas grills out there that won’t totally break their bank accounts. We’ve pulled together some tips on how to spot a quality gas grill and rounded up some of the best gas grills under $500.
How to buy a gas grill
In general, when picking a good gas grill, durable, heavy-duty construction is key.
“The grill should have some weight and heft as a good sign of initial quality” says Matt Moore, author of “Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection.”
When assessing parts, focus on the thickness of its cooking grates, burners, flame tamers, firebox and lid, says Logan Fisher, outdoor living expert for online retailer BBQGuys.
Stainless steel is an obvious sign of quality. “It should be at least 430-grade, but the gold standard for outdoor durability is 304-grade,” Fisher says. However, “lots of grills will use a cast aluminum firebox to get under the $500 price point, and that’s totally acceptable,” he adds. “Aluminum can’t rust, can be cast in a very thick form, and does a good job of retaining heat.”
Smaller grills generally cost less, but it’s important to purchase one that’s large enough to suit your family’s needs. Otherwise, you’ll just have to spend more on an upgrade.
“Think about how you will use your grill 75% of the time and buy that size,” Moore suggests.
You can save on a gas grill by buying one at opportune times, like the off-season (September through April) or major holiday weekends. (Learn more about the best time to buy a grill.)
The best gas grills under $500
MediaFeed has identified some of the best gas grills under $500 based on their components, warranties and reviews across popular retailer’s websites, including Lowe’s, Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot. (Prices were taken from the grill manufacturer’s website. They are accurate as of the time of this article’s publication, but subject to change.)
1. Spirit II E-210 two-burner gas grill by Weber
A top-rated gas grill on most major retailers’ websites, this 103-pound propane-powered Weber grill is a solid choice from anyone with a slim(ish) budget and/or limited backyard space. It features two stainless steel burners operating at 26,500 BTUs, porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates, a porcelain-enameled lid and stainless steel heat deflector. It’s also got a number of bells and whistles that modern Weber grills have become known for, including porcelain-enameled “flavorized” bars, an upgraded ignitor, grease management system and iGrill compatibility. (Weber has an app designed to help grillers determine when food is at the right temperature.)
The Spirit II offers 360 square inches of primary cooking space, along with a 90-square-inch warming rack. It’s designed to serve three-to-four people, so larger families might need, well, a larger grill. Weber is known for its competitive warranties and its Spirit grills are no exception. They include a 10-year warranty on all parts, excluding normal wear and tear and contingent on proper use.
2. Spirit II E-310 three-burner gas grill by Weber
If you are looking for a larger grill and don’t mind bumping up against your $500 price point, you’ll be happy to know that the Spirit E-210 has a big brother. Weber’s Spirit II E-310 three-burner gas grill has a lot of the same features and the same warranty as the smaller model. However, it has an additional stainless steel burner so it operates at a total of 30,000 BTUs. It also offers more cooking space. You’ll get 424 square inches of primary cooking surface and a 105-square-inch warming rack. The Spirit II E-310 is available in propane and natural gas versions at the same price point.
3. Performance Series 4-Burner gas grill by Char‑Broil
Char-Broil grills are generally known for providing good value for shoppers on a budget. Per its customer reviews, this Performance Series propane gas grill is no exception, featuring stainless-steel cooking grates, a porcelain-coated grease pan and four stainless steel main burners operating at 36,000 BTUs.
The grill offers 425 square inches (or 25 burgers worth) of primary cooking space, along with a warming rack that adds 175 square inches and two stainless steel side shelves for prep. There’s also a side burner operating at 10,000 BTUs, perfect for cooking sauces. Char-Broil offers a five-year warranty on the burners, a two-year warranty on the firebox, and a one-year warranty on all other parts.
Portable gas grills under $500
Portable gas grills are considered a must-have by many frequent campers or tailgaters. But their lower price point might also make some of them a good option for couples, small families or city-dwellers with limited outdoor space. Here are some of the best portable gas grills under $500.
1. Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill by Weber
Given these grills are mainstays on “top-rated” retailer lists, they’re worth considering alongside other options under $500. The Q 2200 gas grill comes with porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates, a cast aluminum lid and body, and a stainless steel burner operating at 12,000 BTU-per-hour. It offers 280 square inches of primary cooking area and comes with two folding tables that offer extra prep space for marinades or spices.
Weber offers a five-year limited warranty on the grill’s cookbox, lid, cooking grates, burner tubes and plastic components. It offers a two-year limited warranty on all other parts.
2. Standard portable liquid propane gas grill by Char-Broil
The top-selling grill on Amazon at the time of writing this article was this portable propane grill from Char-Broil, so if you are here in search of a portable gas grill to take on the road, this affordable option might fit the bill. The grill features heat-resistant handles, a porcelain-coated cooking grate and a stainless steel burner operating at 11,000 BTUs. It offers 190 square inches (or 8 to 10 hamburgers worth) of cooking space. Char-Broil provides a 90-day warranty on the burner, grate, lid/box and other parts.
The best grills of 2021
Trying to assess all of your grilling options? We’ve also identified some of the best grills on sale at big-box retailers across popular shopping categories.