Picture the scene: It’s a party in your backyard, with friends, neighbors, and family. Kids are splashing in the pool. Cold drinks are chilling in every hand. Everyone’s looking forward to burgers, dogs, and chicken fresh off the grill. You turn the valve to open your propane tank, but the grill won’t light. You’re out of gas.
The best natural gas grills won’t leave you hanging with no fuel. These grills tie directly into your home’s natural gas supply, offering a constant source of fuel to prevent last-minute trips to the local propane swap. They’re clean, convenient, and easy to use. One just might be the best grill for your backyard cookouts.
- BEST OVERALL: Weber Genesis II E-315 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: Weber Genesis II S-435 4-Burner Natural Gas Grill
- BEST COMPACT: Weber Q 3200 2-Burner Natural Gas Grill in Titanium
- BEST BUILT-IN: Bull Outdoor Products 26039 Natural Gas Outlaw Grill
What to Consider When Choosing Among the Best Natural Gas Grills
The best natural gas grills aren’t so different from traditional gas grills. They light in a similar manner and are just as easy to maintain and use. But there are few points to understand before cooking with them.
Freestanding vs. Built-In
There are two main types of natural gas grills: freestanding and built-in. Which of the two will work best is largely a personal preference.
As the name suggests, freestanding natural gas grills stand on their own, similar to a basic gas or charcoal grill. Some have cabinets underneath for storing items or hiding the natural gas line. You can put a freestanding grill anywhere a natural gas line will reach. They are typically less expensive than a built-in grill and are easy to store away in the winter.
Built-in natural gas grills are designed to slide into a nook meant specifically for a grill. They’re the best choice for an outdoor kitchen where you build the appliances into place as part of the outdoor room’s design. While they don’t have legs, the cooking area is not necessarily smaller than a freestanding grill. Built-in grills create a more seamless look than a freestanding grill.
Material and Construction
The bodies, legs, and lids of grills are usually made of either stainless steel or standard painted steel.
- Stainless steel is the most durable material. It’s corrosion-resistant, long-lasting, and easy to clean, but it’s also expensive and heavy.
- Painted steel is less expensive and lighter, but might not last as long due to corrosion.
Grill grates are usually made of stainless steel, porcelain- or ceramic-coated cast iron, or cast iron.
- Stainless steel grates are easier to clean and lighter than cast iron. They heat up faster but don’t retain heat as well.
- Cast-iron grill grates retain heat well, offering a cooking surface with a consistent temperature, but they are more likely to corrode.
- Coated cast-iron grates offer the best of both worlds, but the ceramic or porcelain coating can chip, resulting in rusting.
Size and Weight
Size and weight aren’t much of a concern for built-in grills, but those factors do matter for freestanding models you’ll be moving around. Striking the right balance between worksurface size and portability is key.
A compact natural gas grill may weigh 80 or 90 pounds, while a larger stainless steel grill can weigh more than 250 pounds. Most freestanding grills have wheels built in to make it fairly easy to move them around the patio or into the garage for winter storage.
Many manufacturers use the number of burgers that will fit on the grill at one time as a measurement of its size. A larger grill might fit 30 or more burgers and measure more than 5 feet across (including the side wings). A compact grill might fit 18 or 20 burgers and measure less than 3 feet across.
There’s more to a grill’s cooking surface than the number of burgers it can hold. You should also consider the number of burners it has and whether it has side-burners, warming racks, and more.
A compact or smaller grill will usually have enough room to cook a handful of burgers and hot dogs as well as a rack for warming buns. These grills generally offer around 400 square inches of cooking surface, two burners, and a small prep surface on either side of the grill.
Large grills can offer 700 to 900 square inches of cooking surface and hold enough burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and steak for a crowd. Since not all of those meats cook at the same temperature, large grills usually have several adjustable burners. These grills often have additional cooking surfaces like side burners for pans.
Natural gas does not provide as high of a temperature as propane does, so it’s important to keep an eye on heat output. When a manufacturer designs a natural gas grill, they’ll use larger jets (or gas nozzles) to allow more natural gas to flow through than would be typical for a propane grill. This increased volume compensates for the lower-burning temperature.
Manufacturers describe the heat output of their grills with British Thermal Units (BTUs). The higher the BTUs, the greater the heat output. Proper heat output is relative to the size of the grill. A smaller grill will have fewer burners, producing (but also requiring) less heat. A larger grill with 45,000 or more BTUs will heat quickly while also providing an even heat across its entire cooking surface. A smaller grill with 20,000 to 30,000 BTUs will do the same.
For convenience, the best natural gas grills include features like electronic igniter switches and thermometers for monitoring the grill temperature. Some even feature built-in Bluetooth compatibility and can accept digital meat thermometers that transmit the internal temperature of a piece of meat directly to your mobile device.
Additional workspace and extra burners are also worth noting. Some of the best natural gas grills have folding side wings that offer a wide surface for placing platters while cooking but then drop down for easy storage. They also have burners for heating sauerkraut, pan-frying onions and peppers, and other food-prep related activities.
Ease of Cleaning
Natural gas grills are just as easy to clean as propane-burning models. They have built-in grease catchers underneath for food drippings to minimize messes. Stainless steel is by far the easiest material to clean and maintain, with porcelain- or ceramic-coated cast iron coming in second place. Cast iron is a little more difficult to clean and requires a coat of oil to stay rust-free. Soap and water are suitable for cleaning any of these materials, but a grill cleaner might do a better job. You can also crank up the burners to heat them, and then brush them clean in between regular cleanings.
Our Top Picks
Keeping all of the top considerations in mind, here are some of the best natural gas grills on the market.
When it comes to an all-around capable grill, would-be grillmasters should check out the Genesis II E-315 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill from Weber. This freestanding grill features a porcelain-enameled stainless steel lid and grill grates, offering durability and easy cleaning. It has three burners and produces 39,000 BTUs, providing plenty of output for grilling up to 20 burgers at once.
The E-315 has some desirable built-in features as well. It has Bluetooth capability, tying in with the iGrill 3 thermometer to send meat temperatures directly to a mobile device. It also has an electronic ignition for easy starts. While it does weigh 194 pounds, the large wheels make scooting it around the patio a bit easier.
Grilling a delicious meal doesn’t always require the most expensive tools. The Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill has features similar to grills twice the price. This grill features three stainless steel burners, porcelain-enameled (and reversible) cast-iron grills, and folding side shelves. It comes with a built-in port for the iGrill 3 meat thermometer—a feature most high-tech grillers will appreciate.
The grill’s lid and body are painted steel; though not the most durable material, it does keep the price and weight down. The E-310 has room for 21 burgers and produces 30,000 BTUs. If corrosion is a concern, rolling the 114-pound grill inside for winter storage is easy, thanks to its large wheels.
Serious backyard chefs should check out Weber’s Genesis II S-435 4-Burner Natural Gas Grill. This freestanding grill has enough room for 32 burgers at once. And, while Weber markets the S-435 as a four-burner grill, there’s an additional burner at a “sear station” for steaks. There’s also a side burner for cooking with pots or pans, effectively making the S-435 a six-burner grill capable of producing more than the listed 48,000 BTUs.
The S-435 has all the features one would expect from an upgraded grill. The stainless steel body and grates are easy to clean and maintain. An electronic ignition lights the grill quickly and easily, and Bluetooth compatibility means users know exactly how their food is cooking. While the grill weighs 215 pounds, attached wheels help lessen the load while moving.
It can be difficult to fit a full-size grill on a tight deck or in a small backyard. Weber’s Q 3200 solves the problem with its small footprint and roomy cooking surface. This grill has enough cooking space on the porcelain-enameled cast-iron grills to handle 19 burgers at once. The two burners produce up to 21,700 BTUs as well, so heating those burgers won’t be an issue.
This small grill has big features, like two folding side tables that provide room for food prep or serving platters. There’s a built-in thermometer for dialing in the ideal cooking heat for steak, burgers, dogs, or veggies. There’s even an electronic ignition for quick and easy starts. When it’s time to move this 86-pound grill around, attached wheels make it a breeze.
Bull Outdoor Products’ Outlaw Grill Head with its drop-in design is easy to incorporate into an outdoor kitchen. It fits in standard-size grill cutouts measuring 31 inches wide by 21 inches deep by 9½ inches high, so no custom planning is required. The Outlaw Grill Head is also packed with desirable features like an 810-square-inch cooking surface and four porcelain-coated bar burners that produce even heat across the entire cooking surface.
The stainless steel grates, base, and hood make this grill durable enough for the rigors of an outdoor kitchen. Piezo igniters, similar to those on kitchen stoves, along with zinc control knobs and burners that produce up to 60,000 BTUs add functionality and durability.
FAQs About Natural Gas Grills
If you’re new to grilling with natural gas, you might still have some questions about the best grills. Here is more information about natural gas grills.
Q. Is it safe to grill with natural gas?
Yes, it’s just as safe as grilling with propane. Do not use propane in a natural gas grill. The valves and nozzles in natural gas grills are larger, and they can emit too much propane to be used safely.
Q. How do I choose a natural gas grill?
You’ll want to consider the features you want and compare size and mobility. The Weber Genesis II E-315 3-Burner Natural Gas Grill is a good overall choice that will meet most people’s needs because it has a wide range of features.
Q. Can any gas grill be converted to natural gas?
No. Propane grills have smaller valves and orifices, so they won’t emit enough natural gas to reach proper cooking temperatures.
Q. How long do natural gas grills last?
The outdoor environment takes a toll on any grill. In general, a gas grill will last four to six years, depending on its quality and materials. Bringing a grill into a garage or shed in the winter might extend its usable life.