Best Outdoor Gas Grill – Top 5 Hottest Review for Feb. 2017
There’s something special about the smell of food being grilled over charcoal or wood.
It isn’t really the smell of the food, of course; it’s the smell of the burning fuel, which somehow feels more authentic and might even evoke memories of Dad or Grandpa standing over the barbeque with a can of lighter fluid in one hand and a grilling fork in the other.
Of course, the rest of the charcoal grilling experience isn’t quite as special – at least, not in a good way. Aside from the lighter fluid, there’s the heavy bag of charcoal, the long wait for the coals to reach cooking temperature, the uneven heat from coals burning unequally, and the messy (and somewhat disgusting) chore of dumping the ashes and washing the grill after the meal has been cooked. Also, let’s not forget the battle to actually get the charcoal lit in windy weather.
The Convenience of the Outdoor Gas Grill
It’s no wonder that gas grills have become the outdoor cooking method of choice. They’re convenient, they’re fast, they’re reliable, and except for cleaning the grate and the grease tray, they’re painless to use. Even better, today’s best gas grills have so much versatility and so many options that it’s easy to forget that you’re cooking outdoors and not in a kitchen.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Outdoor Gas Grill
This isn’t the place to debate the pros and cons of built-in gas grills, which are a common sight in upscale backyards – but often leave owners stuck when they can’t find a replacement model that’s the same size. In these reviews, Groom+Style will be focusing on the portable grills that are the ones most people rely on every summer.
Choosing a gas grill can be complicated. They’re now made from an enormous variety of materials (high quality stainless steel is a better choice than aluminum for grills, for example, but both are readily available), the number and type of burners, the size of cooking areas and the materials used for grates vary widely, and there’s a dizzying array of side burners, work areas, fuel gauges and other accessories to choose from. Needless to say, there are just as many price points.
The Groom+Style review team have juggled all of those factors and choices in compiling our list of the top 5 best gas grills, and come up with great alternatives for just about any budget – although we did decide to leave out “luxury grills” like the Lynx L36PSFR-2-LP, which can provide the ultimate outdoor cooking experience for the surprisingly-low price of just $5899.
For those of you with a normal budget (under $1000), here’s our rundown.
1. Napoleon LEX 485 Propane Gas Grill
Napoleon is a Canadian company that makes terrific grills. Groom+style looked at a number of them for the purposes of these rankings, and decided on including the 485 model from their LEX series (formerly known as Mirage) because of its rock-solid, 430 stainless steel firebox (some non-essential components like the legs and lower cabinet sides are made from cast aluminum, and the cabinet handles are plastic, to lessen the unit’s overall weight), large grilling area, terrific accessories and overall performance. The 485 isn’t the biggest or most expensive in the LEX line, but it’s the right balance between size (a total cooking area of 815 square inches) and price (just under $1000).
There are three stainless steel primary burners in the cookbox, surrounded by double walls to keep the heat inside where it belongs. The unusually-shaped grids (in a wave pattern) are also stainless, as are the underneath sear plates. The LEX heats up quickly, maintains heat uniformly, and grills like a dream. There are two additional infrared burners with their own control knobs, a rear unit to be used in conjunction with the included rotisserie that sits well above the grates, and a side “sizzle zone” burner for high-heat searing (or for use as a “regular” cooking burner for side dishes). On the opposite side of the grill is a cutting board and marinade/ice bucket, along with large stainless steel shelves for prep work.
A lot of thought obviously went into the LEX’s design, including the lid which is double-walled and built to prevent heat loss when opened, the “jetfire” igniters which are among the most reliable you’ll find anywhere, and the removable grease deflectors which prevent buildup on the burners. There are also extras which might seem superfluous to some but great ideas to others, like the backlit control knobs and the built-in hooks and condiment holders on the side shelves. You can purchase an optional charcoal and smoker tray, if desired. The grill Groom+Style reviewed is powered by propane, but a natural gas model is also available as is a built-in version.
The key, of course, is what ends up on the plate – and the LEX 485 delivers in fine fashion, from perfectly-grilled and seared meat, to fish and vegetables; you can even cook a roast that will rival one prepared in your kitchen oven on this unit’s rotisserie.
In the world of grilling, this is a moderately-priced unit; in the world of our rankings, it’s a high-end grill, and the best one you can buy.
Facts and figures for the Napoleon LEX 485 Propane Gas Grill:
2. Weber Genesis E-310 Gas Grill
Weber’s the name most people think of when they’re looking for a gas grill (incidentally, Napoleon is considered “the Weber of Canada”). That’s understandable, since Weber’s been producing high-quality grills since they released their first charcoal unit in 1951. As with Napoleon, Weber offers a large variety of gas grills; some are larger and more expensive, with more features, than the E-310. The Groom+Style review team have chosen this one as our #2 entry on the list of the top 5 best gas grills, however, because it comes in at a lower price point while still providing Weber-quality grilling.
There are always going to be some compromises in the materials used to build a grill when it costs less than $1000, and that’s probably why the Genesis cookbox is made from cast aluminum rather than stainless steel, although the three burners are made from high-grade stainless steel. The wide grates are easy-to-clean porcelain-enameled cast-iron and the “Flavorizer bars”, similar to sear plates on other grills, are porcelain enamel. There are actually some benefits to cast-iron over stainless steel; they hold heat longer than steel, so they’re a good choice for slow-cooking foods like ribs – although nothing beats smoked ribs cooked in a top of the range electric smoker. In short, you’re not paying the much higher prices charged for all-stainless construction, but the grill is constructed to maximize heat distribution, consistency and effectiveness, so the end product is still delicious.
The total cooking area on this Weber is smaller than we’d like, at 637 square inches, and some of that is taken up by the small warming rack above the main grilling area. It’s more than enough space to prepare dinner for the family, though. There are no auxiliary burners (you can move up to the Genesis 330 to get a side sear burner for another $150 or so), but there are good-sized work areas on both sides of the grill, and the individual igniters on each burner seem to work “first time, every time.” The grill moves easily on its caster wheels, too. As with the LEX, the Groom+Style team reviewed the propane model but a natural gas model is also available.
There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles on the Genesis 310, but it’s the best grill you’ll find in this price range for great outdoor cooking.
Digging deeper on the Weber Genesis E-310 Gas Grill:
3. Broil King Baron 440 Gas Grill
Canadian-made Broil King grills may not have the cache of Webers (or Napoleons, for that matter), and they do have some drawbacks. But you won’t find a more satisfactory grill for cooking than the Baron 440 if you’re only looking to spend around $500.
Three stainless steel “dual tube” burners, said to produce more even heat than those on the competition, are inside the porcelain-coated steel cookbox; the double-walled hood is made from stainless steel as well, and the grates are porcelain-coated cast iron. The primary cooking area is just 444 square inches with a total area of 644 inches, but much of the extra space is for an extra side burner, a welcome convenience at this price. You can purchase a conversion kit, if you want to use natural gas instead of propane.
We mentioned drawbacks, and the smaller grilling area is one of them. The other is that the Baron 440 takes much longer to heat up than we’d expect. Once there’s actually food on the grill, though, it is cooked completely and evenly with good sear marks – and isn’t that the ultimate goal? There is also a 10,000 BTU side burner for delicious side dishes.
A closer look at the Broil King Baron 440 Gas Grill:
4. Char-Broil Performance TRU Infrared 450 Gas Grill
The review team found that the best grills under the $300 price mark come from Char-Broil, so our last two entries on this list, of the top 5 best gas grills, are from the same manufacturer. This is an interesting model from the company’s innovative infrared line, which positions three 443 stainless steel plates (with small holes) as a radiant surface underneath the porcelain-coated cast iron grates. The surface sends some of the heat back up to the cooking surface, while burning most of the drippings to create additional flavor. The plates can also hold chips or pellets for smoking. It’s a smart idea.
There are two main burners inside the cookbox, plus an additional 10,000 BTU side burner, and while that doesn’t provide as much cooking power as the three-burner units we’ve looked at so far, the construction of the TRU Infrared 450 (450 represents the size of the primary cooking area on the grill, 450 square inches) makes the most of the heat – which ends up producing juicy, well-cooked meats and vegetables. There’s also a 150 square inch warming rack that swings away for better access to the cooking surface, a nice touch.
Once you’ve reached this price range, you shouldn’t expect a unit suitable for a master griller. The Char-Broil Performance comes close.
Specs for the Char-Broil Performance TRU Infrared 450 Gas Grill:
5. Char-Broil Classic 4-Burner Gas Grill
Here’s our second Char-Broil model, and the team think it’s a bargain at less than $200. It’s a basic gas grill, primarily made from less-sturdy aluminum and without the infrared plates of the Performance TRU series we’ve just mentioned. But there are three primary stainless steel burners and porcelain-coated cast iron grates, the same swing-away warming rack as on the TRU, a double-walled hood and a 10,000 BTU side burner all included – that’s a lot of grill for the price.
Groom+Style don’t look at this as a grill that you will own for the long-term, even though the burners come with a five-year warranty; the casing won’t last that long unless you live in a very temperate climate or keep the grill in the garage except when using it (the large wheels on the Classic make that very doable).
While it lasts you will get some great meals from it.
More info on the Char-Broil Classic 4-Burner Gas Grill:
If you really want to impress your friends and family, then rather than “cooking with gas” why not try an electric smoker? Curious, then read Groom+Style’s review of the best electric smokers!