If you want to skip the hassle of charcoal and grill your dinner with instant, steady, easily controlled heat, we can recommend the best gas grill for most people: the $400 Weber Spirit E-210. We’ve reached our conclusion after speaking to experts and reading a ton of reviews– we haven’t actually tested dozens of natural gas grills (which would be delicious, but very difficult).
The best gas grill is the $400 Weber Spirit E-210. If you ‘d rather purchase a charcoal grill, we suggest the Weber 22ʺ Original Kettle Grill Premium.
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Weber Spirit E210
Better built than cheap grills and filled with features found on more expensive models, the tough, two-burner Weber Spirit E-210 is compact and capacious, and it’s a deal at its current price.
$399 * from Amazon
* At the time of publishing, the price was $400.
At a price that’s relatively low for the category, the Spirit E-210 leaves little to be desired. The grill comes with fold-down metal side tables plus two top-ported linear burners that put out a total of 26,500 British thermal units, and its 360 square inches of cooking surface are enough to cook burgers and veggies for a family of four. The porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates are easy to clean, and the burner shields (which Weber calls Flavorizer Bars) prevent flare-ups and vaporize food drippings to produce a charcoal-like smoky flavor. Other nice touches include an electronic ignition system and a fuel gauge for your propane tank, and the compact 45 1/2-by-50-32-inch (height by width by length) design fits on a modestly sized patio or balcony. Setup is labor-intensive but straightforward, although the 100-pound packaging is heavy enough and awkward enough to require the help of another person to carry to your deck or patio. Once the setup job is done, you’ll have a well-built piece of cooking hardware that’s designed to last decades, protected by what we ‘d argue is the best warranty available on any grill priced less than $500.
$499 from Amazon
Weber Spirit E-310
For $100 more, the three-burner variant of our main pick gives you more space, more heat, and more versatility with your grilling options.
If you need to feed more people or if you want more control over the grill temperature, consider the three-burner iteration of the Spirit E-210: the $500 Weber Spirit E-310. The Spirit E-310, which comes from the same line, offers the same materials, the same features, and the same warranty as our main pick. Plus, the additional third burner (which is also linear) helps you cook a little hotter and control the grill’s overall heat with more nuance; it also provides a primary cooking surface that’s 64 square inches larger (that’s four or five more burgers’ worth of space) than our two-burner pick.
$199 from Amazon
A portable option
This compact, 31-pound grill has the tough materials of our main pick, in a smaller size that’s perfect for two people.
If your space is too cramped for a full-size gas grill, or if you want something compact enough to take tailgating or car camping, get the $200 Weber Q 1200. Like the full-size Spirit E-210 and E-310 grills, the Q 1200 is a tough gas grill made of heavy materials that will last years. It’s large enough to cook a complete meal for two, or it can handle about five or six burgers at a time. Included in the package are cast-iron grill grates, a porcelain-coated firebox and dome for quick maintenance, two fold-out side tables, and a well-placed propane coupling to make attaching and removing tanks simple. The beefy nylon handles make it easy to carry (as long as you can heave 31 pounds, with no tank attached). Like all Weber hardware, it comes with an excellent warranty.
Grilling with gas
How we picked
Flaws but not dealbreakers
A portable gas grill option
The 2015 competition
The older competition
How to clean your gas grill
Wrapping it up
Grilling with gas: the good and the bad
When most people think about grills, the first thing that comes to mind is the smoky, charbroiled taste of food cooked to perfection over charcoal. Cleaning out and filling your grill every time you cook is a mess. And then you have to make sure you have enough charcoal to finish cooking everybody’s food.
natural gas grills heat up and cool down quickly, making them convenient for weekday meals. Even Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn, the Amazing Ribs website’s grilling guru, says natural gas grills are the way to go for most folks.
“In the States,” Goldwyn told me, “natural gas grills significantly outsell charcoal grills and they do have some advantages. They’re convenient and easy. You just walk out there, turn the switch and turn it on.”.
All of that comes with one big caveat: natural gas grills generally won’t get as hot as charcoal. With an average top temperature between 400 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit– versus upwards of 700 degrees with charcoal– a gas grill makes giving a steak that crisp texture and seared crust somewhat harder.
To understand why this was the case, I spoke with Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks.
“The thing to look at is how heat is transmitted,” Potter explained to me. “You have convection: hot air. You’ve got infrared: radiant heat. If you look at a gas grill, a lot more of it is really about heating up the air. The hot air flows over the food and that convection heats the food. With charcoal, the fuel gets really hot– so hot it’s glowing red and that radiant heat is heating the food.”.
Convection heating isn’t as good at searing food as radiant heat is. But gas-grill manufacturers have figured out a few ways to get around this issue. For example, you’ll find that a lot of midrange to high-end natural gas grills come equipped with cooking grates made from cast iron or porcelain-covered steel. These grates retain and radiate a significant amount of the heat required to get a good Maillard reaction going.
natural gas grills equipped with these burners can crank out similar results to food cooked on a charcoal grill, which is nice! After talking to experts and doing some research on sear burners, I wouldn’t recommend investing in a grill that has a sear burner just yet: They’re high maintenance, and from all reports, they’re prone and fussy to failure if you don’t thoroughly clean them on a regular basis.
$149 from Amazon.
If you prefer charcoal.
Weber Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22″.
If you need more heat, want to pay less, and don’t mind the inconvenience of charcoal, our pick for the best charcoal grill is the Weber 22″ Original Kettle Premium.
If you ‘d rather have charcoal.
Note that if you need more heat, want to pay less, and don’t mind the inconvenience of charcoal, our pick for the best charcoal grill is the 22ʺ Weber Original Kettle Premium ($150).
You should choose a gas grill if you ‘d prefer to have convenience and can live with a few compromises. You’ll have several things to look for when you’re selecting one of these models.
How we picked.
You can’t go wrong relying on the knowledge of an expert. Since I’m not such a person– and since testing dozens of grills wasn’t possible– I reached out to our friends Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn of Amazing Ribs and Jeff Potter from Cooking for Geeks. I also spoke with retailers and manufacturers, and I consulted reviews and other online resources to decide on what features and capabilities a great grill should have.
A minimum of two linear burners: This feature allows you to create different heating zones– say, one burner on high searing a steak, and the other at a lower temperature to roast peppers. The burner arrangement varies wildly from grill to grill, but we find that linear (not round) burners running from front to back (not horizontally from one side to the other) best accommodate arranging your food and controlling the grill’s heat. Adding even more burners increases the grill’s versatility but also raises the grill’s size and price tag.
Almost 100 square inches of grill space per person eating: To cook for a family of four with side dishes, you’ll need almost 400 square inches. That much space can also handle about 15 hamburger patties at a time.
Steel burners: These parts endure intense heat, along with corrosion from the elements and food oils. A lot of grill manufacturers use aluminum burners, but the smart money’s on steel.
Porcelain-covered iron grates: These grates hold heat well, as cast-iron grates do, but they’re as easy to clean and maintain as steel. (Plain iron grates are tough to maintain, while steel grates don’t hold much heat.).
A good warranty: Read the fine print. Sometimes burners and internal parts get coverage for just two years, while domes and fireboxes enjoy coverage for five years or more. One sketchy warranty, after five years, will sell you parts at a 50 percent discount, but only if you bought the grill in a brick-and-mortar store.
While we’re at it, here are two things you don’t need in a grill.
Built-in thermometers: According to Meathead, they’re a joke. “The thermometer that grill manufacturers build into their hardware is typically garbage, the lowest-quality, cheapest thing they can get,” Meathead told me. “Readers often send me pictures of their digital thermometers next to the dial thermometer built into their grill, and the dial is often off by 50 to 100 degrees. Worse, the thermometers are often up in the dome. The temperature in the dome is different than the temperature down where the meat is on the cooking surface. You really need a digital thermometer with a probe that you can put a couple of inches from the meat and know what the meat is experiencing.”.
A stainless-steel exterior: It looks nice, but it isn’t the best material– stainless steel tends to be thinner than other dome and firebox materials, so it isn’t as tough or well insulated, and some types can even discolor in the presence of high heat (you know, like the heat you get from a grill). Meathead again: “A grill is not meant to be shiny.
With grills, and grilling, two topics that typically evoke strong opinions and fanboyism, that’s a good thing. Good Housekeeping hasn’t updated its gas grill guide since 2013. The same goes for America’s Test Kitchen, which last took stock of natural gas grills in 2010.
Next I looked into recent hardware review roundups from lesser-known sites like About.com, Amazing Ribs, Consumer Search, and Top Ten Reviews. As all of these sites are updated relatively frequently thanks to some knowledgeable individuals, I believed that they would be able to steer me toward a number of new grills worth considering. I also turned to online stores like Amazon, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart to see what models enjoyed wide popularity, had positive (or negative) feedback, and met our selection criteria.
Pricier grills use higher-quality steel and cast aluminum in their construction, with more weld points and fewer screws. We think most people will be happy with the performance of the midrange grills we picked.
In total, I considered 26 new natural gas grills as part of this year’s research (by reading reviews, considering our experts’ input, and comparing spec sheets, but not by conducting direct tests). All this research led to the conclusion that our 2015 pick for the best gas grill would be the same as last year’s pick– the $400 Weber Spirit E-210.
Weber Spirit E210.
Better built than cheap grills and filled with features found on more expensive models, the tough, two-burner Weber Spirit E-210 is capacious and compact, and it’s a deal at its current price.
$399 * from Amazon.
* At the time of publishing, the price was $400.
The Weber Spirit E-210, at $400, is not the cheapest gas grill out there, and it’s not nearly the most expensive one. At this midrange price, you get a level of quality and durability that will keep this grill going for years after cheaper models have succumbed to damage from heat and corrosion. You also get premium materials and features that you usually find on much pricier hardware.
At this midrange price, you get a level of quality and durability that will keep this grill going for years after cheaper models have succumbed to damage from heat and corrosion. You also get premium materials and features that you usually find on much pricier hardware.
The E-210’s build quality and materials are pretty great, especially for the price. The body of the grill is steel, which has more resilience than cast aluminum and has the nice heat-retention properties of cast iron (without the tendency to rust). Those are two materials commonly found in less-expensive natural gas grills; on the best products, you’ll find steel. For added protection, Weber coats the exposed metal of the dome, firebox, and frame in a black porcelain enamel, making the grill less likely to corrode when exposed to the elements. This feature alone gives the E-210 years more life than the cheapest models have.
If you ‘d rather purchase a charcoal grill, we suggest the Weber 22ʺ Original Kettle Grill Premium.
Like the full-size Spirit E-210 and E-310 grills, the Q 1200 is a tough gas grill made of heavy materials that will last years. natural gas grills equipped with these burners can crank out similar results to food cooked on a charcoal grill, which is nice! The burner arrangement varies wildly from grill to grill, but we find that linear (not round) burners running from front to back (not horizontally from one side to the other) best accommodate arranging your food and controlling the grill’s heat. Adding even more burners increases the grill’s versatility but also raises the grill’s size and price tag.
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