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Spring and summer days are here, and now is the perfect time to start grilling. There are all kinds of different grills you can choose from — including pellet grills, portable grills and traditional charcoal grills. However, the classic gas grill continues to reign supreme when it comes to backyard cooking.
The best gas grills are simple to use, making them perfect for newbies. They ignite fast and heat up quickly. Most have plenty of room to fix a feast for the entire family too. If you’re worried about limited backyard space, it’s not hard to track down a compact model to fuel your outdoor cooking adventures. Some of today’s best gas grills also come jam-packed with nifty extras, from side burners to special sear stations to built-in lighting for evening cooking. And now is the perfect time to look for a grill: You can shop grill deals and grab discounted products this holiday season.
So if you’re on the hunt for a quality gas grill, you’re in luck. We put a bunch of the bestselling models through their paces by using them to cook up burgers, whole chickens, ribs and more. When all the smoke cleared, we picked our favorites. This list is updated periodically.
Best gas grills
Other grills we’ve tested
The CNET Smart Home editors have been cooking and serving up grill data for a few years now. In addition to the gas barbecue models above, here are the other gas grills we’ve tested. This list doesn’t include the many models we’ve tested over the years that are no longer available for purchase.
- Char-Broil Signature Series four-burner: We tested this well-built and practical Char-Broil model in 2019. It was middle of the road in our testing and the new model is now priced high at $1,096. It comes with plenty of cooking space, a side burner and cabinet doors. If you’re a fan of Char-Broil’s grills, this model is a safe bet, but there are better grills from other brands for your money.
- KitchenAid 720-0891C: KitchenAid’s style and color options are impressive, but the performance of this $299, two-burner gas grill was underwhelming in all three tests. If you’re looking for a two-burner grill, the Weber Spirit II E-210 is a better choice. It’s a Propane gas grill but can also be converted to natural gas.
- Napoleon Rogue three-burner: Despite its cool looks and sturdy construction, this Napoleon model was underwhelming in our tests. At $699, it’s pricey and the Char-Broil 3-burner we tested delivered better results.
- Dyna-glo five-burner: This five-burner has plenty of power, with 63,000 BTU and a turbo burner with porcelain cast-iron grate cooking surface for searing. Still, we found cooking to be uneven, not to mention small quirks like side shelves that don’t fold down, a weird “condiment storage” hole and no dedicated tank space that seem more significant, even at a reasonable $349.
How we test gas grills
To determine the best gas grill and get a feel for how these grills perform in a variety of cooking scenarios, we perform three tests. Based on different meats, methods and heat settings, these tests show us how efficiently and evenly a grill does (or doesn’t) cook.
Our first test is ribs. It’s an anecdotal round, so there isn’t a connected thermometer set or software capturing specific data. We preheat each grill on high for 10 minutes before turning it down to low, indirect heat. Depending on the grill size, that means turning one or two burners off completely.
We remove the outer membrane on a rack of pork back ribs and season it with an all-purpose rub we use for ribs and chicken. Then, the ribs are placed on the grates for at least three hours with the lid closed the entire time.
Rib enthusiasts may not agree with this relatively short and smoke-free cooking method, but it allows us to see just how well a regular propane gas grill can cook low and slow. If time allows we continue cooking until the ribs are completely done and make note of the total cook time.
To test the grill with a midrange cook time and medium heat settings, we grill a whole chicken. We preheat the grill on high for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and turn off burners to create an indirect heat environment.
Once we’ve trimmed and seasoned the bird, we place it in a roasting pan and insert one temperature probe into each chicken breast, for a total of two probes per chicken (this is an important step — even if the grill has a built-in thermometer — because undercooked chicken is no good for anyone). To keep our results as fair as possible, all the chickens are as close as possible to 5.5 pounds.
Those temperature probes are connected to a data logger and laptop with software that records the internal temperature of each chicken breast every two seconds. Each chicken cooks until the temperature in both breasts reaches a food-safe 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grilled chicken should have a crispy skin and meat that is cooked through fully but not dry. We perform this test in three rounds, giving us a solid average cooking time for each grill.
Burgers are our final test for our grill reviews. We measure out 5.3 ounces of 80/20 ground beef and press them into uniform patties. Those patties go into a grill basket and we insert a temperature probe into the center of each patty at a 45-degree angle.
With the grill preheated for 10 minutes on high, the basket goes onto the grill. After six minutes of cooking, we flip the basket and monitor internal temperature. Once the last burger in the basket reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the batch is finished. A good burger in this test is one that has both a nice outside char and a slightly pink center.
Burger testing points out any hot spots across the grill’s cooking surface if one burger consistently reaches 145 F before the others in every round.
An average 15- or 20-degree difference across the quickest and slowest patties in a batch was the norm in our testing. Red flags are raised when we begin to see differences in the 30- to 40-degree range.
A closer look at specs
Comparing these gas grills isn’t all apples to apples. With different grill sizes, cooking grates and BTU levels, a difference in performance is expected in each individual outdoor gas grill. Still, there are some observations to be made.
One thing our test data highlights is how quickly a grill can cook on its own medium or high setting. That doesn’t mean each grill is set to the same preheated temperature. It simply means we turned the knobs to what each grill indicated was medium heat.
We also compared each grill’s average cooking time for chicken and burgers over three identical tests. We run the clock until the last burger reaches 145˚F and the lowest chicken breast reaches 165˚F.
If speed isn’t your deciding factor, don’t fear. There are other characteristics you can compare to choose the grill that’s right for you.
Exactly which one is that? It depends on your cooking style. If you’re cooking for large groups frequently, you’ll need a grill with a large primary cooking surface, a warming rack and a side burner. Some of you might also have strong feelings about the cooking grates — you need stainless steel, cast-iron grates, porcelain-coated grates or even porcelain-coated cast iron.
Look carefully at each description to be sure you get what you’re looking for. If you plan to use your grill to flip a few burgers occasionally, stick with a less expensive or smaller gas grill model. And, of course, if you’re looking for a portable gas grill or an indoor grill, these won’t be right for you.
Once you’ve picked out the best gas grill for you, don’t forget accessories. You’ll want to look at grill covers and pick up grilling tools like a grill brush, a thermometer to check for food-safe temperatures and liners for the drip tray. Take a look at this chart to compare size, power, warranty and more.
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