A smooth, water-resistant stainless steel grill is a welcome addition to a patio for those who love to cook outdoors. It’s even better loaded up with steak, chicken, corn, and other favorite grillables.
There’s a reason stainless steel is one of the most popular construction materials for an outdoor grill. It’s lightweight, durable, and heat- and corrosion-resistant, not to mention sleek.
The best stainless steel grill for your next barbecue depends on your exact needs and preferences. As you shop, you’ll want to consider the type of grill as well as the size of the cooking surface you need. This guide will walk you through the most important considerations and highlight the best stainless steel grill in several categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Weber Spirit E-310 Liquid Propane Gas Grill 46510001
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Cuisinart CGG-240 All Foods, Roll-Away Gas Grill
- BEST NATURAL GAS: Weber 66006001 Genesis II S-335 3-Burner Gas Grill
- BEST PELLET: Z GRILLS ZPG-450A Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stainless Steel Grill
Before you select the best stainless grill for you, think about the size you need, the best type of grill based on your personal preferences and experience, the fuel source, and a few other critical considerations detailed below.
Consider how and where the stainless steel grill will be used. Will the stainless steel grill be stored in a shed, a workshop, or a garage in the winter? In that case, consider a small, lightweight grill that’s easy to move. These grills also make great companions on camping trips and at tailgate parties.
Of course, the smaller the grill, the smaller the cooking space and fuel capacity—except for gas grills. For big families or those who love to entertain, a large grill might make more sense. Wheels can help make even the most cumbersome model easier to move and store when needed.
Stainless steel is a common material for a wide variety of grills including standard, kettle, hibachi, portable, built-in, and smoker grill combos. Here’s what you should know about each type before you buy:
- Standard stainless steel grills typically have a square or a rectangular base with a rounded, hinged lid. They have a main cooking surface and may have one or two heating racks above the main cooking surface.
- Kettle stainless steel grills have a classic rounded shape and commonly run on charcoal. The grill is a steel chamber on legs that holds a charcoal grate and a cooking grate. A removable lid and vents at the bottom and top of the grill help control airflow.
- Hibachi or flat-top stainless steel grills employ grates suspended over a rectangular metal chamber. The chamber of these smaller, more portable grills holds charcoal or one or more propane burners. Hibachis don’t have a lid, and while some charcoal models have ventilation in the bottom for heat control, this isn’t a standard feature.
- Portable stainless steel grills, by nature, have to be smaller than a typical backyard grill. They may come with folding legs, a handle, a built-in tabletop stand, and a lid lock.
- Built-in stainless steel grills remain outdoors year-round. Semipermanent fixtures, built-in grills employ tough construction materials such as brick, mortar, concrete, cast iron, tile, and steel. They require a significant amount of time and money, but they last much longer than standard stainless steel grills.
- Stainless steel smoker grill combos offer the best of cooking al fresco, both smoking and grilling, in a single appliance.
Stainless steel grills can have a range of different fuel sources. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. The best option for your grill will likely come down to personal preference and experience.
- Charcoal burns at a high temperature and gives food a smoky flavor reminiscent of a campfire. Traditional grill cooks may prefer a charcoal grill because subtle adjustments to the airflow through the cooking chamber give them precise temperature control. Beginners, however, may find this too complicated.
- Propane often fuels portable camp grills and backyard grills. It typically comes in a refillable 20-pound tank or a small 1-pound tank that connects to the grill through a regulator and a hose. Backyard chefs control the flow of propane and set the intensity of the flame with the turn of the dial.
- Natural gas, a less popular grill fuel, typically has to come from a residential supply line run to an outdoor location. A built-in grill may justify this type of expense.
- Wood pellets may either fuel the fire in a pellet grill or flavor the food in a charcoal grill. In many pellet grills, an automatic pellet feed system slowly moves pellets along a turning auger into a burning chamber to heat the grill. Be aware that these grills also require an electrical connection.
- Electricity doesn’t typically fuel outdoor grills, except for tabletop grills. These small, stainless steel electric grills make great indoor grills during winter months and may provide an acceptable alternative to gas and propane for those who have to follow building regulations.
It’s important to consider the stainless steel grade of a grill to ensure that the finish, quality, and durability will meet expectations.
- 304 stainless steel includes a mixture of chromium, nickel, and carbon. This durable, water-resistant alloy is smooth, sleek, and non-magnetic.
- 443 stainless steel combines chromium and titanium and a little carbon. It resists moisture and salt as well as 304 does. But 443 withstands higher temperatures than those other alloys for less stress and warping.
- 430 stainless steel requires more frequent cleaning to maintain the grill. This cheaper alloy brings down the price of the grill, but it can’t resist water like 304 and 443 can. Outdoor cooks in high-humidity areas and cities along a coastline may want to avoid this option.
- 201 and 202 stainless steel won’t withstand moisture as well as 304 and 443. Where 304 brings in nickel, these two cheaper alloys integrate less water-resistant manganese or nitrogen instead. These may rust faster than higher-grade stainless steel.
The backyard gourmet can only prepare as much food as the cooking surface will hold. Shoppers need to choose a grill that will feed their family or guests. Think about how much food you prepare for a typical dinner and how much you plan to entertain.
Cooking surfaces can range in size from just 150 square inches of cooking space on small portable grills to well over 1,000 square inches on large smoker-grill combos. For most people, a cooking surface measuring about 400 to 600 square inches should suffice.
Grills range in weight from about 20 pounds to over 200 pounds. Those seeking a grill that travels well should look for features that facilitate that. Small lightweight grills may have folding legs that lock into place on top and double as a lid-lock during transport. Portable grills also typically have handles.
Larger grills should come on a full set of four locking wheels or at least a pair of wheels for pushing the grill wheelbarrow-style. Some flat-top grills have removable legs so campers or tailgaters can disassemble the grill and pack it in the car.
Some of the best stainless steel grills include built-in thermometers, warming racks, griddle plates, rotisserie bars, and side tables. Here are some extra features to consider:
- Built-in thermometers help grill masters keep a close watch on the temperature of the grill. Meat thermometers to check the internal temperature of a roast may also come with some products.
- Warming racks increase cooking surface and give chefs a place to prepare foods that don’t need as much heat, such as hotdog buns. The racks also keep cooked food warm until it’s time to plate it.
- Griddle plates can replace grill plates when softer foods are on the menu, like eggs, bacon, and hash browns. This feature more often accompanies tabletop and indoor electric grills, though griddle plates would certainly work on other grills.
- Rotisserie bars may come along with larger stainless steel grills. The bar extends across the length of the grill for rotisserie-style chicken, duck and for grills that can accommodate a bigger bird, even turkey. For those specifically interested in a grilled rotisserie turkey, make sure the grill is big enough for the job before you buy.
- Side tables keep grill tools, buns, condiments, and plates in easy reach.
Our Top Picks
The stainless steel grills below feature durable construction and innovative designs in a range of different grill types. These picks include the best stainless steel grills in several categories to meet the needs of all sorts of backyard culinarians.
Weber’s Spirit features three propane burners, each with individual controls for temperature and gas flow. Side tables on either side add space for tools, cutlery, plates, rubs, and spices. A 529-square-inch grilling surface provides room enough to feed the whole family. A built-in thermometer displays the grill’s internal temperature while the lid stays shut tight.
In the base of the Spirit, an enclosed storage space will hold the 20-pound propane tank needed to power this beautiful appliance. Thanks to a handy fuel gauge next to the tank’s housing, an empty propane tank will never catch the grill master by surprise. The gauge clearly indicates how much fuel remains at all times.
Weber’s Spirit, with its sleek black and silver exterior, makes a great upgrade to a deck, patio, or outdoor space.
The Cuisinart All Foods Roll-Away connects to large or small propane tanks for convenient use at home or on the road. Small side tables on either side of the grill make space for grill tools, plates, utensils, and more. A 240-square-inch cooking surface provides room for corn, potatoes, and a few burgers or steaks at once.
This 41-pound grill moves across flat surfaces with little effort thanks to a pair of wheels on one side. Collapsible legs fold flat for storage or easy loading into a trunk for camping, tailgating, and other cookout destinations.
Weber’s Genesis II S-335 brings natural-gas grilling without the cost of a built-in. This standard grill harnesses the power of three internal burners to heat the 669-square-inch cooking surface as well as a side burner for sautèing or simmering side dishes. The sear station feature rapidly heats up a small portion of the grill to make sear marks in the meat.
Enclosed storage in the base makes space for grill brushes, aluminum tins, and other supplies. A side shelf includes hooks for hanging tools. Four wheels facilitate easy movement around the deck or the patio.
The Z GRILLS’ smoker-grill combo runs on wood pellets loaded into a side hopper. From the hopper, the grill automatically feeds the pellets into the firepot, where they burn at a steady pace to maintain a preset temperature. A top vent allows for heat reduction when needed. This system provides the same temperature consistency as propane or natural gas, but without the subtle gas taste. Instead, grill cooks and their guests get a natural, woodsy flavor.
At a low temperature, the smoker-grill combo smokes ribs, roast, brisket, and other meats for hours atop its 452-square-inch cooking surface. At high temps, it grills up steaks, burgers, and sausages in a hurry.
An included waterproof grill cover helps protect against corrosion.
FAQs About Stainless Steel Grills
Check out the answers below to some of the most common questions about stainless steel grills.
Q. Can stainless steel grills rust?
While stainless steel resists moisture and corrosion, it can rust if not properly covered, cleaned, and maintained.
Q. Should stainless steel grill grates be oiled?
For best results, preheat and treat stainless steel grill grates with oil before using them. This helps create a protective seal that keeps moisture away from the metal.
Q. How is a stainless steel grill cleaned?
Stainless steel grills should be cleaned before and after every use. Mild cleaning includes using a grill brush and a cloth to remove any stuck-on food and grease from the grates. However, at least once per month, the grill should be cleaned with a grill cleaning solution and a soft scrub brush to remove oil, dirt, and grime without scratching or otherwise damaging the stainless steel.
Q. How long will a stainless steel grill last?
Typically, a stainless steel grill will last from 5 to 15 years. These grills last longest when they are stored during bad weather and get proper cleaning and maintenance.