We are a nation that loves grilling. Grilling in our backyards, tailgating parties, birthday parties, camping, and more, we overwhelming agree that grilling can improve taste and enjoyment of our food. An iconic part of many summer holiday's, our reliance and love of grilling is backed by the stats. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, 75% of all households own a grill. Of those, 45% will plan to buy a new grill next year. That means 42 million households will be looking for a new grill. If you are among the millions currently in the market for a new grill, then you have a lot of options to select from. Finding the right one can be immensely challenging, especially if this is your first grill.
Before you continue reading bellow we would like to mention that this gas grills buying guide is more than 6000 words long and may take you a while to make your decision. We recommend you go through the whole review, but if you simply don't have the time to read all the reviews we suggest using the following shortcuts to make your final decision. If natural gas grill is what you would like to go with, head out to the best natural gas grills review section in order to see our top pick and choose one of them. If propane gas supply grill is what would you like to go with however, you can choose one of the following categories: best propane grills under $1000, best propane grills under $500, best propane grills under $300 or best propane grills under $200, depending on your budget.
We have included a detailed guide on everything you need to know about gas grills below. Along with reviewing the basics, we cover myths and misconceptions, the kind of grill you should get, what to expect from different price ranges, potential dangers, frequently asked questions, and more. Regardless of your previous experience, you will come out of this better informed and ready to make your next gas grill purchase. With that out of the way, let's roll up our sleeves and get started.
It is estimated that out of everyone who uses grills, 41% will use either charcoal or wood while 58% will use gas. There is a clear preference for gas grills. One reason is that gas grills come in all shapes and sizes. They can range in luxury and cost from full outdoor kitchen packages sold for more than $10,000 or be as little as $30 or so for cheap models. Gas barbecue can come with dozens of special bells and whistles, or be designed in a simplistic and easily portable way. They can take either liquid propane gas or natural gas depending on what is available to you. As a quick not, be aware that while people may assume that they are the same, propane and natural gas are in fact very different.
For those on the border, going with a gas grill over more traditional coal can be a hard case to make. Ultimately, more people will go with gas for the following 5 reasons listed below.
Gas grills are complex and will have more parts than an evenly matched charcoal grill. One reason for the complexity of gas grills is their fuel source. The typical gas grill includes the grill hood, the burner, the hose, the gas source, the valve regulators, the starter, the grill body, and the grill cooking surface. When you are using propane, then the gas source will be the propane tank. When you are using natural gas, then the gas source will be the line extending from your home.
Ultimately, the number of parts is based on how fancy your grill is. Higher quality and priced grills will often include multiple burners, V racks for adding smoked flavor, and other little luxuries that improve your control over the flavor of what you are cooking. As a result, they may include things that are not listed above. Larger gas grilling units can include dozens of parts that turn your outdoor cooking area into a small kitchen. Other smaller models will have only the bare minimum so that you can get the functionality and portability without the additional weight. Time and time again you will see that gas grills can be quite diverse and provide a myriad of cooking experiences depending on the functionality of the model you buy.
It all starts with the gas source. This can be a tank of liquid propane or be a natural gas line from your home. If it is a tank of liquid propane, then you will buy it and refill it separately. From the intake hose, it will go through the valve regulators. Here you have dials that you can turn to regulate how much gas is going through and there by control the intensity of the heat. From there, the line goes past an igniter that is responsible for setting the gas aflame.
The igniter is a unique component in the gas grill whose correct functioning is essential for igniting the gas and keeping you from potential risk of injury. Regardless of the model, an igniter requires three things to work properly. They are gas, oxygen, and a spark. There are 3 common ways that igniters are made and each function differently to produce the same result. The electric igniter uses batteries to produce the spark necessary to light the gas. The piezo electric ignition is a little more complicated, using the spark created through the friction of when a small quartz crystal is hit with a spring loaded hammer. The last type is the hot surface ignition, which uses an igniter rod to ignite the gas. While the end result may always be the same, note that different igniters cost different amounts to replace. If you suffer a broken igniter, then the cost and ease of replacing it will depend on the make and model of the gas grill you have.
Gas grills have a myth associated with their use that you've probably heard of. It is assumed that if you use a gas grill, you will experience a bad aftertaste in your food thanks to the chemicals in the gas. Where does this myth come from and why is it false? Let's find out so that you can buy a gas grill without fear that your food will be any less good than if you went with charcoal/wood.
The myth of the "bad gas taste" comes specifically from mercaptan. What is mercaptan? Mercaptan is foul smelling compound that companies put into gas to make sure you can detect it. Without mercaptan, gas is impossible to detect with our senses and can be a serious risk to our health. As a result, the mercaptan is used to ensure that if there is a gas leak, you will be able to tell that something is wrong and act immediately. Again, the odor and taste is specifically chosen because we have such a strong, negative reaction to it.
As you can see, it is easy to make the jump that if gas has mercaptan in it, and mercaptan is a taste that people have a disgust reaction to, then gas food will also have that terrible taste. While this may seem like a reasonable argument, it is simply unsupported by the available facts. This becomes apparent when we look at the science behind mercaptan. You see, when gas with mercaptan is used, the mercaptan is burned along with the fuel. It turns into a sulfur dioxide and then quickly turns into a sulfuric acid that is deposited on your food.
Wait, isn't sulfuric acid just as bad as mercaptan? Yes and no. Sulfuric acid is not good for you. However, it is deposited in such small amounts that the average levels already in the food or in the rub you put onto the meat is significantly greater already. The mercaptan adds a small, barely detectable amount that does not add any negative odors or tastes to the food you are eating.
The long and the short of it is that while mercaptan warns you of danger, it does nothing taste wise to your food. If you don't trust the science, then consider the majority of people out there who prefer gas to charcoal. If there was even a small number of a reported issue with taste, then the vast majority of people would have quickly gone over to the charcoal/wood side. It is no wonder that this claim is thrown out so readily when brought to the attention of those who use gas grills all the time.
When you are buying a gas grill, the first thing you will have to figure out is whether or not to use gas or liquid propane. We mentioned earlier how different these fuel sources can be and we will get into the nitty gritty details below. Suffice it to say, there is a lot for you to consider and your final choice will have implications for how you grill.
Often considered the best gas grill liquid, liquid propane provides a great deal of heat you can use to cook with. It is a fantastic choice for a gas grill when you are in remote or otherwise hard to reach area and natural gas isn't readily available. There are also a lot of propane barbecues out there and it may just be that you find a design that works better with liquid propane.
There are many reasons why liquid propane is popular for grills. The chemical nature of the gas is definitely one of them. When you compress liquid propane, it turns from a gas to a liquid, saving you a considerable amount of storage room. It is also capable of storing more cooking energy. Known as British Thermal Unit(BTU), liquid propane is great for getting more cooking power out of your gas.
Liquid propane does not require a land-line like natural gas and will allow you to take your grilling experience to wherever you can move the grill and propane tank to. Want to grill in the woods? You can with propane! Want to grill at a tailgate party? Liquid propane makes it possible. Simply put, liquid propane gives you the ability to take the grilling experience wherever you go without relying on charcoal or wood.
Liquid propane will be stored in 20 pound steel tanks most of the time. The weight for its size is designed to help protect the liquid from accidentally igniting. You can get the tank filled with an additional 15 pounds of fuel. Be aware that if you have a liquid propane grill, then be sure to have a backup on hand if you are cooking anything. The last thing you want is to be halfway through cooking something before the tank empties and you are left with a half-cooked bird. Most grills will include a gauge that lets you know just how much propane you have left. In addition, the fuel can be found just about everywhere.
A gas grill can make grilling easy by removing many of the headaches associated with charcoal and wood use. As millions have already discovered, gas grills provide a simpler experience that you too may benefit from. If you are interested in getting a gas grill, then there are a few thing you will want to consider.
There is a correlation between price and longevity. Grills can be thousands of dollars and be the most important consideration. While price gets you functionality, it more importantly gets you longevity. Hence long you will use your grill is key. Will you use the grill once a year, or more frequently? The more time you spend using the grill, the more you will want to invest in it.
Do you want a basic cooking unit or do you want something that has dozens of options and allows you to carefully craft your cooking surface temperature? Do you need a lot of surface area to cook things on or do you only need enough for you? Will you be taking the grill out a lot or will it remain relatively motionless in your back yard? Your need will figure out your need in order to determine what size and model you get. Don't assume that because you have family or many housemates that you will use the grill more frequently. At the same time, some people living alone enjoy grilling everything at once and like being able to do it all in a single go. Again and again we arrive at the same point that you will have to review your own personal needs before making a purchase.
How big is your outdoor space? Do you have a patio? Do you have a larger deck? Are you looking to fill or compliment an outdoor area with a larger gas grill setup? Depending on the space available, you may want to select from the upright or smaller portable units. Know that getting a portable units does not necessarily mean less cooking space. There are some very nice portable gas grills that look great, get very hot, and provide a substantial amount of cooking space. Also know that if you decide on natural gas grills, then your eventual setup will have to remain stationary.
Does your home have natural gas? If it does, then a natural gas grill will save you more money down the road by being a less expensive gas than propane. Natural gas is your best option when setup is inexpensive and the fee from hiring a professional to run the line out is low. However, you lose out on versatility and being able to take your grill with you.
An important part of any grill is the experience of cooking with it. A grill that feels natural to use will go a long way to improving the experience. Below we go into detail regarding how you can use a gas grill to cook food.
The devil is in the details. The basic principle of grilling is no different. However, if you are coming over from charcoal or wood, then you may need to relearn some things because the details will be different. Mastering the best gas barbecues require their own unique skillsets and can take some time to get the handle of. Over time, you will discover that gas grills make the cooking process more predictable and straightforward. Below we review how to cook on a gas grill.
The first step to cooking on a gas grill is trying out your new unit once it is plugged in and ensuring that you get the desired flame color. Gas grills have a unique flame color that can indicate if the fuel line is providing a healthy amount of gas or is otherwise compromised in a way that can be dangerous to your health. For example, if you start the grill and the igniter fails to engage, then you will have no flame at all and instead will be filling the area around you with flammable gas. The best way to prevent this from happening is to leave the gas on for as short of a time as possible before igniting. If there is a problem with no flame coming up, then it can be a problem either with the igniter or the gas line supplies itself. Consider any repair work carefully and disconnect the line to the gas before beginning.
If you manage to get a flame then you will be looking for a blue flame with a yellow tip. If your flame is mostly yellow, then something is most likely wrong. It takes on average about 10 seconds for the flame to hit its optimal color. More likely, you will have no issues with the flame when you start and you can move on to the next step.
Once you get a predictable flame, you will want to calibrate the grill. A crucial first step to understanding the feel of your gas grill, calibration can be done in a number of different ways. Below we review four popular ways to help calibrate your grill.
The first should be done regardless. Do a dry run on your grill and warm it up to high heat for a few minutes. This will help the grill burn off manufacturing grease and reduce the chance of there being a disgusting taste parted onto your food. It disinfects and prepares your grill for a better grilling experience.
The second way to calibrate your gas grill is through the bread test. Put slices of bread in rows over your grill surface and turn on the heat evenly throughout the entire grill. Let the bread toast. Where the bread is toasted and the amount it is toasted will show you if there are any hot or cool parts of your grill.
A third option is to invest in a decent digital thermometer. Hold it over various parts of your grill once things are heated up and see if the temperature changes depending on where you place the thermometer and measure the temperature at different parts of the grill as well. Be aware that the thermometers included with the grill are generally poor quality and may not provide an accurate reading.
The forth and final way to help calibrate your grill is to play around with it and test out the nobs yourself. Depending on how fancy your gas grills is, you will be able to selectively heat certain parts of the grill. Try these out and measure the temperatures to see what no heat, low heat, and high heat really mean both in the section you are testing as well as the area around it. All of this will help you get the best gas barbecue temperature out of your grill.
With everything plugged in and working correctly, it's time to cook! Charcoal and wood fires can be a pain to get the exact temperature you want. With these other cooking fuels, you have to plan around how quickly your food is cooking and consider putting them somewhere else on the grill. Gas grills make this process a lot simpler and more direct by giving you precise control over the temperature of your cooking surface. This makes it far harder for you to burn your food. It also makes it easier for you to plan what food you are going cook and when you are going to cook it ahead of time. Many gas grill reviews rank gas grills as better than charcoal because of this fact.
The more you use the grill, the better you will get at reading it and planning cook outs accordingly. Be aware that the center of the grill will always be the hottest. If you have two levels, then center bottom will be the hottest and top sides will be the coolest. The difference in temperature can range from a few degrees to more than a hundred depending on the make and mode you have.
You will get a sense for how much fuel it consumes and be well stocked by playing around with it first. You will also be able to do slower cooks with greater precision. Most gas grill owners feel competent after a year of using their grills.
This depends entirely on your need and can be both yes and no because of it. Let's explain. On the whole, the best gas grill will be harder to use at first. Why? Well, there will be a learning curve for figuring out the settings and determining what works for you. As we mentioned above, you may need to take some time and play around with it. However, once you figure this out, you will be amazed at how easy it is to use. In addition, the best gas grill will break down less frequently and be easier to fix if and when it happens. Better quality grills will have good designs that minimize ware and tare on the individual components.
There is a major exception to this rule. There are some gas grills that are designed to be very portable and practical. These grills will sacrifice things like ease of use in order to provide a more reliable grilling experience that keeps it weight to a minimum. As long as having an extreme amount of portability is unnecessary, the best gas grills will typically be the easiest to use.
Knowing what size of grill you should get is important and challenging to figure out if you have not used a grill in some time. More often than not, consider getting one size below what you would otherwise gotten. This is a good rule to follow because while larger grills offer more cooking potential and can serve more people at once, you will end up going through your fuel at a much quicker rate.
With a little creativity and a firm understanding of your gas grill, you can do more with less. Surface area can be regulated and optimized to prepare far more food at once than you might first consider. Go for the smallest choice that has the functionality you need. Again, consider the importance of user reviews as they can help direct you towards a more solid purchase.
This depends entirely on the type of grill you are using as well as the gas. People swear by propane and state that it can get far hotter than natural gas. However, with a well designed natural gas grill, you can get some pretty impressive temperatures. Expect somewhere between 400-550 for the majority of grills currently on the market. The grill you are interested in getting will most likely have its temperature range clearly labeled.
It is possible to get grills that go below or above the 550 range. For example, some models can get hotter than 600 degrees. People report modifying their grills to get temperatures at around 230 degree for slow cooking and upwards of 800 degrees for more heat. Be aware that any modification you make to your gas grill can be dangerous and may cancel any warranty you have on your gas grill.
Mentioned earlier, BTU or British Thermal Unit is often a way of determining the quality and longevity of burn. The BTU is the amount of energy that is required in order to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It is not uncommon for manufacturers to list the number of BTU's that their grill can create. Be aware that this number is misleading and that the highest BTU does not mean the best gas grill. The number you want to pay attention to instead is the heat flux. The heat flux is calculated by taking the number of BTU's and diving by the square inch size of the grill area. While it involves a little bit of math, it will give you a better understanding of what grills give you the biggest bang for your buck heat wise.
Natural gas and propane are relatively predictable and are so popular as grilling fuels because they are generally safe. Be aware though that just because something is mostly safe, it can still be dangerous under the right conditions. No amount of safety on your part will make gas non-combustible. With the right set of specific conditions reached, you may experience a fire burst or even an explosion.
There are instances when gas grills have caused their owners considerable injury. The most common injury is burns. First through third degree burns have been reported with gas grills. Typical parts of the body to experience burns include the face and arms. An explosion can happen so quickly that you have no time to react. Recovery is typically long and painful.
Another type of injury comes from having the lid closed. Gas is heavier than air and will condense in an enclosed space. If you leave the lid closed, then there is a chance that the enclosed space will fill with gas if there is a leak or it is left open. When ignited, the lid can explode off its hinges and strike you. Even with the hood up, there can be a violent explosion if you are not careful. Either way, the forceful impact can knock you off your feet, break bones, and require immediate medical attention.
Checking before you use the grill can prevent the majority of gas grill injuries. Smell in and around the grill to see if you can pickup on a gas leak. Keep the grill lid open. Shut off the gas for a few minutes and wait before igniting if you tried and failed to ignite the grill at first. If you find any problem with the gas line, then do not attempt to use the grill at all until you have it looked at and resolved by a professional. Takes these steps and safeguard the wellbeing of you and your family.
Millions of people will look for a new grill every year. While many will settle, the above guide can help you find the best gas grill out there for your needs. Many believe that the best gas barbeque is better than coal or wood alternatives and we've definitely made the case for why it can be superior. Despite having a number of advantages, there are also considerations worth reviewing. While the basics of cooking remain the same, how the cooking is done is what changes so dramatically between gas and coal. In addition, propane verse natural gas provides even more options when trying to determine the perfect grill for you.
Prior to placing an order, double check your need, the size you have available, and the amount you are willing to spend. The best gas bbq is when all of your needs as a cook are met. With any luck, you will be the proud owners of a new grill and join those who love their grill. Until then, best of luck on your quest!