Weber Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Liquid Propane Grill
Credit: Amazon

The Best Gas Grills Under $500, According to Chefs

Grill without charcoal using the Weber Spirit II E-210 and other top picks.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

One of the oldest and most effective cooking techniques, grilling connects us to our forebears. More than that, it entices us with the distinct flavor and crispiness it gives food. For those who live in an apartment or would prefer an appliance that heats up in 10 minutes or less, gas grills emulate the open-fire experience. While food cooked in a gas grill lacks the taste of burning wood or charcoal, it benefits from the fat and oil that splatters as it hits the diffusers between the grates and burners.

To sort through gas grills that offer quality and value, we sought the help of chef Maxcel Hardy, owner of COOP and Jeds in Detroit, and chef Brandon Rice, owner of Ernest in San Francisco, to share their insights and expertise on which qualities to look for in a good gas grill. Considering factors like size, cooking capacity, number of burners, and BTUs (a unit that measures heat output), we dubbed the Weber Spirit II E-210 the Best Overall. Read on to learn why, and review our picks across several categories for the best gas grills under $500.

Our Top Picks

best gas grills
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Best Overall: Weber Spirit II E-210

View at Amazon ($499)

Also available at Home Depot and Best Buy

Pros: This grill offers excellent heat efficiency and retention.

Cons: It has a relatively small cooking capacity, and the propane tank is exposed.

Weber's Spirit II E-210 isn't the biggest or hottest-burning grill on our list, but what gives it the edge over all of the others is the construction that Weber has built its reputation on for decades. This construction, combined with its mid-range price and superior heat management, have sold Hardy on Weber. 

This compact grill is excellent for small spaces, but the size does not compromise its quality. In addition to the porcelain-coated cast-iron grates, the lid is also enamel-coated for heat retention and easy cleaning. The porcelain and stainless steel interior components make this grill durable and efficient. The only real drawback that we can find beyond its cooking area is aesthetic, in that its propane tank doesn't have a covering.

  • Dimensions: 50 x 24 x 46 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 360 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 2
  • BTUs: 26,500
best gas grills
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Entry Level: American Gourmet 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill

View at Amazon ($188)

Also available at Lowe's and Wayfair.

Pros: It has a 30,000 BTU capacity and porcelain-coated grates.

Cons: It has a smaller cooking area than most grills reviewed here, and the wire cooking grates can corrode faster than cast iron.

For the uninitiated, finding a gas grill can be challenging. Not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars on a new endeavor, or cost in general, is a legitimate barrier. The tired expression "you get what you pay for" can add to a new griller's hesitancy, but that need not be true. The American Gourmet 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill proves that quality and value are not mutually exclusive.

This grill forgos a few luxuries found in some of the other grills on our list. For example, the grill features wire grill grates instead of cast iron, but the grates are still porcelain-coated for sticking reduction. It has a relatively smaller cooking area, but it's still plenty of space to cook for a family or small gathering with ease. Its 30,000 BTUs per hour are more powerful than some of the more expensive grills reviewed here, which means it will get hot quickly, and the construction retains that heat during cooking.

  • Dimensions: 24 x 44 x 51 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 360 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 3
  • BTUs: 30,000
best gas grills
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Portable: Weber Q1200 Gas Grill 

View at Amazon ($259)

Also available at REI and Home Depot.

Pros: The Weber Q1200 heats like larger grills but is small enough to fit in the trunks of most cars (while leaving space for other items).

Cons: The handle on the lid can become quite hot during cooking, so use care when opening the grill. The grease collection system requires specially-sized aluminum pans.

At the top of our list of Best Portable Grills, the winning Weber Q 1200 packs quick and even heat of larger grills into a small footprint. Featuring porcelain enamel-coated grates and a single ring-shaped burner that provides 8,500 BTUs per hour, this tiny but mighty grill can handle delicate tasks like cooking fish or provide burgers for a family or small group with ease. The fold-out side tables provide room for ingredients or utensils, and the grease management system aids in easy cleanup.

  • Dimensions: 16 x 41 x 17 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 189 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 1
  • BTUs: 8,500
best gas grills
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Best Small: Fuego Element Hinged F21C-H

View at Amazon ($399)

Also available at Home Depot and Walmart.

Pros: The compact design is great for grilling in small spaces, and the dual ring burners allow for a variety of heat zones.

Cons: At 15 pounds, the cast-iron grate is heavy enough to make removing it for cleaning difficult. Replacement parts must be purchased from the manufacturer.

One of the qualities that Hardy looks for in a gas grill is storability. The Fuego Element is probably the most uniquely designed and easily stored grill on our list. Like the propane outdoor space heaters that have become popular in the last decade, the cylindrical design consists of an enclosure for the propane tank with the grill sitting above it, making it ideal for use in small spaces. Sitting on casters, the grill is easily movable for storage when not in use. In response to issues of heat causing the paint on the lid to bubble, the newer (2020 and beyond) models sport an enamel-coated, hinged lid.

The Element Hinged F21C-H sports a dual-ring design, allowing for two different heat zones for simultaneous high-heat searing and low-heat cooking. The cast-iron grate is heavy but provides excellent heat distribution and retention, efficiently using 22,000 BTUs per hour. In addition to the standard grill grate, an optional pizza oven and griddle top allow for expanded opportunities for grill-top cooking. It's a solid choice for grilling in small spaces such as balconies or small patios. 

  • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 46 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 346 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 2
  • BTUs: 22,000
best gas grills
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Large Format: Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill

View at Amazon ($389)

Also available at Home Depot and Walmart.

Pros: The four burners provide high heat capabilities, and the large cooking area can accommodate high-heat and offset cooking.

Cons: It is heavy and requires a considerable amount of space.

Heat capacity and the potential to hold that heat are two factors that Hardy looks for in a gas grill. The stainless steel 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill from Monument Grills fits this criteria, pairing 60,000 BTUs per hour with porcelain-coated cast-iron grates. Its burners facilitate quick heating while providing the flexibility for high-heat searing and slow roasting or offset cooking.

The side burner adds the capacity for high-heat searing, heating, sauteing, or wok cooking. LED lights on the control knobs add visibility to the temperature settings in low-light conditions. The included rotisserie kit has a 120V enclosed motor that is resistant to the elements and a 34-inch spit for slow roasting meats or poultry. Fully assembled, this sizable grill weighs 108 pounds, but the rigid casters make the grill easy to move when needed.

  • Dimensions: 54 x 46 x 23 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 513 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 4, plus 1 side burner 
  • BTUs: 60,000
best gas grills
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Value: Char-Broil Performance Series 4-Burner Gas Grill

View at Amazon ($370)

Also available at Ace Hardware.

Pros: This grill features great heat consistency and has an adequate cooking area for large families.

Cons: The BTUs are low for a four-burner grill, and the tank retention strap is a little thin for the purpose. 

Char-Broil's Performance Series 4-Burner Gas Grill is the steady, reliable workhorse that delivers in value-to-dollar ratio. Like many others reviewed here, it features cast-iron grates coated in ceramic to reduce sticking and enhance their lifespan. Four burners with 37,000 BTUs allow for a variety of heat zones and a large capacity for offset cooking via ambient heat. 

The side burner with 10,000 BTUs provides extra space for searing or heating sides and sauces. An included tray functions as an open griddle, suitable for grilling small vegetables that might otherwise fall between the grates and into the fire. Two solid wheels assist in easy movement of the grill for storage or cleaning, and the porcelain-coated grease tray adds a nice touch for easy cleaning and life expectancy. This appliance isn't going to make you better looking, and no one will be writing odes to it, but it's a reliable grill with all of the necessary features at a price point that earns our Best Value title.

  • Dimensions: 20 x 45 x 50
  • Cooking Area Size: 420 square inches
  • Number of Burners: 4, plus 1 side burner
  • BTUs: 37,000
best gas grills
Credit: Courtesy of The Home Depot

Best Gas/Charcoal Hybrid: Char-Griller Double Play

View at Home Depot ($399)

Pros: The grill offers easy heat management on the gas side and good heat retention on the charcoal side.

Cons: It's heavy at 162 pounds, with only two wheels to move the unit. Assembly of the grill can be time-consuming and confusing.

I have two grills that sit side by side in my backyard. One is gas and the other charcoal, each having its specific purposes. I like the flavor that a charcoal or wood fire produces, but I live in a place known for its heat and humidity, and I often don't want to wait for the fire to burn down to coals. That's where the gas grill comes in. It's easy to light and ready to cook in just a few minutes. The Double Play may be the grill for those who don't wish to commit to two grills.

The Double Play offers the option of gas or charcoal in one grill in a side-by-side format. The gas side has three burners with 40,800 BTUs per hour plus a 12,000 BTU side burner. Both sides feature porcelain-coated, cast-iron grates for longevity and resistance to sticking. The charcoal side can be banked for offset cooking or dispersed for direct grilling. A bolt-on firebox is available for purchase to allow you to use the charcoal side as an offset smoker, should you want that. It's a big grill that offers the best of both worlds in gas and charcoal.

  • Dimensions: 66 x 28 x 49 inches
  • Cooking Area Size: 1260 square inches (split between sides)
  • Number of Burners: 3, plus 1 side burner
  • BTUs: 40,800

Conclusion

Inflation has affected almost everything, grills being no exception. This has limited the field of choices for a reliable, efficient grill under $500. Yet, with this guide, you should be able to find a grill that fits your needs. Whether you want the smaller format yet highly efficient and effective Weber Spirit II E-210 or the large cooking space and higher BTUs of the Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill or something in between, feel confident that there is an option for you.

Factors to Consider

Size 

When it comes to size, consider where you will use the grill and where you will store it, if someplace different. Large grills and small balconies or patios can be both bothersome and dangerous. With a large grill in a small space, maneuvering around the grill can be difficult and increase the risk of burns from the hot exterior.

Cooking Area Capacity

If you have a large family or intend to cook for a large group of friends, consider buying a grill with a large cook area. On the other hand, if you are routinely grilling for one or two people, that expanded cooking area can be wasted, along with the extra dollars for the larger space.

BTUs

We've mentioned these in every product. A BTU is the measure of energy necessary to raise 1 pound of water, essentially 1 pint, by 1° Fahrenheit. Think of the BTU rating as the potential for heat. It doesn't necessarily mean that heat will be used, but it can be. A higher BTU rating can be good, but the more important measure is how that heat is distributed and retained.

Features

What features do you need and will reasonably use on a gas grill? If most of your cooking will be hot dogs and burgers, you likely won't need a side burner. A rotisserie is nice, but you can easily forgo it if roasting chickens or large pieces of meat isn't your thing. Push-button ignition is a handy feature included on most of these grills, but it's particularly irksome to Hardy, who claims that it will be the first thing to fail on the grill.

The Research

We thoroughly researched this topic, consulting two experts to get their thoughts on what makes a great gas grill under $500 before scouring the market for the best options. By combining their takes with our expertise, we weighed these grills and others against several criteria, including the factors listed above.

Pro Panel Q+A

Q: How do you smoke on a gas grill?

A: Hardy recommends using a commercially available firebox or building your own version with double layers of aluminum foil with chips soaked in bourbon. You first need to put the chips over high heat to get them to ignite, then you can turn the burner down for more ambient heat to slow cook your food and allow them to bathe in the smoke.

Q: How do you clean a gas grill?

A: Both Hardy and Rice prefer a little help from cleaning products to keep grills neat and shiny. Hardy prefers using oven cleaner and a grill brush while the grill is hot to remove food particles before they can build up. Rice likes to scrub and soak the burners in degreaser when they get clogged to restore them to good working order. Following either method and a good rinse, heating the grill after reassembly is crucial to preventing rust from forming on the wet parts.

The most overlooked piece and first to corrode is the grease tray. A grease tray is an excellent place for fires to start under the burners, so cleaning it regularly increases the overall life of your grill and decreases the likelihood of unwanted flare-ups and grease fires.

Q: How long do gas grills usually last?

A: Rice and Hardy both expect a grill to last two to three years when left outside. Improve longevity by covering the grill when not in use, storing it under cover to shield it from the elements, and regularly cleaning the parts of the grill to remove any buildup. Most manufacturers offer a limited-time warranty on frequently replaced parts, such as grates, so don't forget to look into those before throwing away your purchase information.

Our Expertise

Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with decades of experience in the food industry. For this piece, he interviewed pitmasters Maxcel Hardy and Brandon Rice to find out what the pros look for in a gas grill. He then used their insights and his own expertise and market research to curate this list.