At $1,000 or more, a high-end gas grill is a pricey enhancement to your outdoor living space, but it doesn’t have to be. You can find quality gas grills at or below $500 with durable construction in a wide range of sizes, from portable models suitable for a balcony to six-burner monsters that can feed a crowd. Affordable gas grills come in attractive painted or stainless steel finishes, and many models boast additional bells and whistles, such as side burners, integrated meat thermometers, and electronic ignitions. Keep reading to discover which features may be available in a gas grill at this price point, and learn why the picks described here are among the best on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Weber Spirit II E-210 2-Burner Propane Grill
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Nexgrill Deluxe 2-Burner Propane Gas Grill
- BEST MIDSIZE: Kenmore 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill
- BEST MULTI-FUEL: Char-Griller Flavor Pro 4-Burner Gas Grill
- BEST PORTABLE: Weber Q2200 Liquid Propane Grill
- BEST INFRARED: Char-Broil Performance TRU-Infrared 3-Burner Grill
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Gas Grills Under $500
When selecting a gas grill, consider several factors, including size, build quality, and heat output. Ahead, learn more about these and other gas grill characteristics.
Size and Cooking Area
When shopping for a grill, the first consideration is usually its size. While a large grill can cook a lot of food at one time and provide prep space on its side tables, it also occupies a good deal of space on a deck, balcony, or patio. Size, of course, also determines a grill’s portability.
Grill size is generally described in terms of the cooking surface, which is usually provided in square inches. Grills at the under-$500 level come in a range of sizes, from portable models with about 250 square inches of cooking surface, to large flat-top grills with more than 700 square inches of cooking space. A mid-tier grill with approximately 400 square inches of cooking area measures around 4 feet long, while 600-square-inch models are closer to 5 feet long.
Build quality determines how long a grill will last, and the $500 models are at the low- to mid-tier level. A grill at this price point typically has a body made of folded sheet metal with some plastic parts. Though not as durable as the solid, all-metal materials used in more expensive grills, it’s still fairly high quality. Most grills at this price point have enamel coatings versus fancier all-stainless steel finishes, although a few stainless steel models can be found for under $500.
Since the grate on any grill typically wears out before the rest of the appliance and can be costly to replace, the grill’s grate material is an important consideration. On the best gas grills under $500, the grate material is porcelain-coated iron, which does an excellent job of retaining heat while resisting rust. However, porcelain-coated grates eventually rust as the protective coating wears off and the iron core is exposed to air and moisture. Most grills also have warming grates, which consist of stainless steel.
Burner Number and BTUs
A gas grill’s ability to reach temperatures high enough to sear that perfect char on steaks and burgers is directly related to how much heat it can put out. Like gas heaters, the heat output for gas grills is measured in the BTUs (British Thermal Units) each of its burners produces. A gas grill with four 10,000-BTU burners produces a total of 40,000 BTUs.
The larger the grill cooking surface, the more BTUs it needs to evenly heat the surface. As a rule of thumb, a good gas grill should produce between 80 and 100 BTUs per square inch. For example, a grill with 450 square inches of cooking surface should have enough burners to produce 36,000 to 40,000 BTUs of heat. Some gas grills include a sear burner, which emits 15,000 BTUs, to produce the high temperature required to achieve a brown crust on meat.
Gas grills use either propane or natural gas for fuel. Very few pure natural gas grills are at the $500 price point, as the grills that typically use this fuel type are high-end built-in grills. Most $500 gas grills use liquid propane, which comes in 20-pound fuel tanks or 1-pound canisters for small, portable models. Some propane gas grills under $500 can be converted to a natural gas grill with an extra conversion kit. Some dual-fuel propane gas grills also burn wood or charcoal.
Many gas grills come with additional features designed to make grilling easier, such as electronic ignition systems that eliminate the need to use a lighter or match, fuel gauges that allow the chef to monitor the amount of gas left in the tank, and side burners for cooking sauces and side dishes. Some grills even come with a wireless meat thermometer system that can let the cook monitor food temperature from a smartphone. “Flavorizer” bars vaporize meat juices to create smoke to flavor the food.
Our Top Picks
The gas grills in this list, which include smaller grills for those with space limitations, large models with numerous burners, and lightweight portable options for camping and tailgating, come from some of the top brands. All the grills feature quality build and ample heat output.
Weber’s Spirit—the kid brother of the brand’s higher-end Genesis line—benefits from the durable design and advanced technology features of its pricier sibling. While the Spirit II may lack a stainless steel finish and concealed tank, its cooking parts, which include a porcelain-enameled cooking grate and stainless steel heat deflector, make it one of the more durable grills available for under $500.
This model also features “flavorizer” bars under the cooking surface that reduce flare-ups while creating smoke to add flavor. It also boasts iGrill 3 wireless, which enables the chef to monitor temperatures for up to four items via a smart device (with the purchase of a compatible meat thermometer).
- Number of burners: Two
- Cooking space: 360 square inches
- BTUs: 26,500
- Ample heat output
- Durable construction
- Advanced technology
This quality Nexgrill model features two burners that put out a combined 28,000 BTUs, which is plenty of heat for its modest 290 square inches of cooking space (not including the warming rack). The Nexgrill also comes with convenient features, including all-weather wheels that let the chef maneuver the grill into place, a removable grease tray for drippings, and hooks that hold three grill tools.
In addition to its bold fire-engine red color, the Nexgrill boasts an aesthetically pleasing streamlined design that becomes even sleeker when the side shelves are folded down. A covered cabinet hides the propane tank from view.
- Number of burners: Two
- Cooking space: 290 square inches
- BTUs: 28,000
- Attractive streamlined look
- Ample power for cooking surface size
- Concealed tank holder
This Kenmore grill presents a step up from the smaller models that dominate the under-$500 price range. With three stainless steel burners and a 30,000-BTU output, it’s versatile, allowing the grill master to create three separate cooking zones. Its more than 512 square inches of cooking space can handle a few dozen burgers or a couple of steaks and multiple sides. Two side tables provide prep space.
The Kenmore is also one of the more stylish grills going, thanks to the streamlined look of its pedestal base. The three-burner grill is unusual in that it comes in six color options, so users can coordinate it to suit the style of their outdoor living space.
- Number of burners: Three
- Cooking space: 512 square inches
- BTUs: 30,000
- Broad cooking area
- Three heat zones
- Stylish appearance in six color options
- Not as powerful as other gas grills
Its ability to use gas, wood, and/or charcoal from its innovative flavor drawer makes this Char-Griller model an attractive option for those who like the convenience of gas but miss the flavor of charcoal. Its unique design consists of four 10,000-BTU burners set below a drawer that houses charcoal and wood at the same time. The gas burners ignite the charcoal or wood, creating smoke that infuses food with flavor.
In addition to the four burners, heat can be managed through two smokestack dampers that control airflow to the wood and charcoal. A slide-out tray makes it easier to clean up ashes after grilling. The Flavor Pro comes equipped with two large side tables for prep work and hooks for grill tools.
- Number of burners: Four
- Cooking space: 725 square inches (direct and indirect)
- BTUs: 40,000
- Combines ease of gas cooking with flavor of wood and charcoal
- Large cooking surface
- Two dampers and four burners for temperature control
- Controlling the temperature can be challenging
With a compact size and ability to fold, Weber’s Q2200 gas grill is ideal for tailgating, camping trips, and other excursions. It boasts 280 square inches of cooking area, which is fairly large for a portable grill. Side tables fold out on either side, adding prep space.
Its single stainless steel burner puts out 12,000 BTUs, which is plenty of heat for the size of the cooking area. An electronic ignition makes the grill easy to start, while a large knob provides flame control. With a rugged cast aluminum lid and stainless steel burners, the Q2200 is one of the more durable portable gas grills on the market. The grill can run off standard 20-pound propane tanks or smaller 1-pound cylinders.
- Number of burners: One
- Cooking space: 280 square inches
- BTUs: 12,000
- Rugged construction
- Large cooking surface for a portable grill
- Runs off 1-pound propane canisters as well as a 20-pound tank
- At about 40 pounds, one of the heavier portable models
Those who like the perfect sear should consider this Char-Broil model. Its three burners create even heat and a sear on steaks and other meats. A 450-square-inch cooking surface provides ample space for food. And while its three burners emit just 24,000 BTUS, significantly less than other three-burner grills, its infrared technology makes up for that, efficiently directing heat toward the cooking surface.
Like other Char-Broil Performance Series grills, this model is one of the more affordable stainless steel options on the market. Other nice features include two large side tables, a 10,000-BTU side burner, and a swing-away warming rack.
- Number of burners: Three
- Cooking space: 450 square inches
- BTUs: 24,000
- Infrared design for even heat and searing temperatures
- Stainless steel finish
- Side burner
- Burners not as powerful as similar-size competitive models
For the quality of its construction, ample heat output, and advanced grilling technology, it’s hard to beat the Weber Spirit II 2-Burner Propane Grill at the under-$500 level. Those who are looking for a colorful and stylish option that has an ample cooking surface may want to consider the Kenmore 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill, which boasts 512 square inches of cooking space and three burners.
How We Chose the Best Gas Grills Under $500
We considered a few important factors when compiling this review of the best gas grills under $500. As an outdoor appliance, a gas grill is subject to some pretty harsh conditions, so build quality is critical. We only chose grills made with cast aluminum or stainless steel, both of which create a sturdy structure that won’t wobble while also resisting rust and corrosion. We also limited our search to gas grills with porcelain-coated grates, which, although not indestructible, offer the best cooking performance for gas grills.
A grill’s heat output as related to the size of the cooking surface is a key performance factor. We only chose grills that produce at least 80 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface, the minimal amount needed to evenly heat food. Additional important features include side burners, prep areas, and advanced technology such as built-in meat thermometers. Finally, we took aesthetics into account, leaning toward grills that hid their gas tanks and had stainless steel finishes versus those with exposed tanks and enamel paint coatings.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Gas Grills Under $500
While high-end grills have attractive features, there’s much to be said for the performance of grills under $500. In addition to costing less, they feature ample BTU outputs for the size of their grilling surfaces and come in a surprisingly wide range of size choices. Grills in this price range include portable models as well as large six-burner units. A quality grill at this price range generally offers excellent bang for its buck because its lifespan is similar to a high-end grill.
- Ample BTU output for cooking
- Similar lifespan as more expensive grills
- Wide range of size options
If you’re wondering how to maintain your new gas grill or how long you can expect it to last, then read below to find answers to these and other burning questions about these outdoor cooking appliances.
Q. How do I clean my gas grill?
Good scrapers can do much of the work, ideally when the grill is still hot. Use one to remove buildup from the grates as well as the inside of the lid. Next, move on to the heating elements, using a plastic scraper to free any debris from the burners or heat deflectors and a wire brush to scrape the burners. After scraping, brush all the debris into the grease trap below to dispose of it. Finish by wiping out the grill with a damp rag or paper towel.
Q. How many BTUs should a gas grill have?
A gas grill should have between 80 and 100 BTUs per square inch of cooking surface to evenly cook meat. For searing meat, look for a grill with a sear burner that can produce 15,000 BTUs.
Q. How do you start a gas grill?
To start a gas grill, open the valve on one of the burners and press the electric ignition button, which creates a spark that ignites the gas.
Q. Can I convert a propane grill to a natural gas grill?
Some propane grills can convert to a natural gas grill with a special kit, which is usually sold separately. Don’t attempt to convert a propane gas grill into a natural gas grill without a kit.
Q. How long will my gas grill last?
A gas grill can last between 5 and 15 years, depending on how well you take care of it.
Q. What temperature do you cook steaks on a gas grill?
The best temperature for cooking steaks is between 450 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is approximately the max temp of most gas grills. Cooking steak at these extreme temperatures allows you to create that sought-after brown crust that locks in juices.
Q. How do you use a smoker box on a gas grill?
Turn on all the burners to preheat the grill, and load the smoker box with wood chips. Place the smoker box over the burner you plan to leave on; then turn off all the other burners. Place the meat over the unlit burners and adjust the level of the still-lit burners until the grill reaches an internal temperature of 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.