You would often find large natural gas connected grills or griddles being used outdoors in many commercial BBQ establishments.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the domestic outdoor gas grill was invented by Don MacLaughlin, owner of the Chicago Combustion Corporation
Better known as the Lazyman grills, they adapted the gas open broiler design of commercial establishments to create a more portable unit. These gas grills were also the first to use the 20-pound propane cylinders, previously used exclusively by plumbers as a source of fuel.
Recent statistics suggest that over 60 percent of the backyard grills in the US are now gas-powered grills.
They range from smaller portable designs using propane cylinders, to full size grilling ranges plumbed into the natural gas supply.
Used with a metal smoker box, they can even give an extra smoky flavor to grilled meats or be used as smoker.
This is the smallest model in the Weber Spirit line and uses two stainless steel burners, with a total output of 26,500 BTU.
Despite the more compact design, the E-210 features a primary cooking area of 360 square inches with a 90 square-inch warming shelf.
With enough space to grill a meal for a family of four, you could even fit about 18 hamburger patties on if you are throwing a party.
Measuring just 48 inches wide, with a depth of 26 inches, this grill will fit even the most compact of patios. It features the solid construction you would expect from Weber. The model we looked at runs on propane, but a natural gas model is available too.
The Spirit range was one of the first to use the patented GS4 grilling system, developed from over 30 years of grilling experience. This innovative system consists of four unique key elements:
Well-designed cooking grates retain more heat, allow for a decent heat transfer, and leave those grill marks you desire on your meats. Being porcelain coated, they are also wear- and food-resistant, in addition to being easier to wipe down.
Although it does have folding out shelves for storage, the E-210 doesn’t feature the side burner of larger gas grills.
Being a basic grill, it lacks many of the advanced technologies of newer grills, with an old-fashioned metal analogue thermometer in the hood.
Additionally, rather than use the higher quality stainless steel of the Genesis models, Weber have chosen enamelled steel for the body. It may look smart, but won’t be as durable in the long run.
If space is limited and you are looking for a smaller gas grill which will still give good results, you will find the Weber Spirit II E-210 hard to beat. With years of experience in the grill market, Weber products are renowned for their quality of grilling.
However, for a basic grill, the Spirit II E-210 is more expensive than most of its competitors at this size. Call it the Weber tax, but you do get one of the best grills you can buy and that generous 10-year warranty from Weber.
The Dyna-Glo 3 burner grill is another compact and basic grill with a smaller footprint.
This grill features three professional-grade burners with 12,000 BTU each, giving a combined impressive 36,000 BTU.
The total cooking area consists of 390 square inches of primary grilling space plus an additional 117 square inches of warming shelf.
With the three tubular burners, this budget-priced grill from Dyna-Glo heats up very quickly. The iron cooking grates retain the heat well and ensure it is evenly spread across the cooking surface.
Aluminum tents over the burners act as the Dyna-Glo “flavorizer” bars and catch drippings or juice from the meat to turn into vapor. This also adds to the cleaning of this grill, as drippings are collected in a tray.
A double-lined lid uses steel on the exterior and aluminized steel inside for better heat retention. It also features a center-mounted analog thermometer.
This grill is ideal if you only want to cook the occasional hot dogs or burgers outdoors. However, if you want to cook more substantial feasts, the lack of space and lower temperatures won’t help.
The grill doesn’t tend to reach the high temperatures needed for a quality searing of meats. Another issue at this price is the lower quality materials used.
It may look very solid, but closer examination shows the firebox to made of steel, which will rust faster than more expensive grills. The steel tents used over the burners have also been reported to need replacing within a year, due to rust.
Similarly, the storage cupboard uses stainless steel double-walled doors but can feel flimsy, with the panels not aligning well.
It certainly doesn’t feature the build quality of the Weber, with the one-year warranty falling short too. However, it is also a couple of hundred bucks cheaper.
If you are looking for a simple grill which offers good value in a compact package, the Smart Space Living 3 Burner gas grill ticks all those boxes.
It will get the job done and enable you to cook grilled food outdoors at just the click of the electronic ignition button.
However, remember at just over 200 bucks, the best quality materials haven’t always been used. Lower cost and less durable steel will rust much quicker and you may need to replace parts more frequently.
Basically, you’re getting a lot of grill for your buck, just don’t expect it to last as long as more expensive gas grills.
This tabletop grill has a large 240 square-inch grilling area, thanks to a grate that goes edge to edge.
At nearly 28 inches wide, it will easily sit on your tabletop but you will definitely need two hands to carry it.
And at 35 pounds, an extra pair of hands would come in handy.
It’s not as portable as other tabletop grills.
A single 12,000 BTU burner loop sits under the cast iron grate, which quickly heats up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, in just 10 minutes.
A great looking grill, it is made almost entirely from stainless steel, with a double wall construction for better insulation.
The Cuisinart CGG-200 is designed to be used with disposable 14- and 16-pound propane cylinders. You can also get a hose adapter which allows it to be used with a 20-pound refillable propane tank.
The simple twist to ignite and temperature control dial is easy to use, even one-handed. Starting up instantly, the grill quickly comes to temperature, especially with the lid down, often hitting up to 500 degrees or more.
A large temperature gauge on the lid makes it easy to keep an eye on the cooking temperature.
One of the standout features of this grill is the versatile modular grill system, which uses interchangeable grill plates.
Both sides of the plates can be used for grilling: one side for those grill lines on your meat and the other for more fragile foods, like fish or seafood. An additional tray is included for cooking vegetables, pizza or other delicate foods.
Although the outside of this unit is made of quality stainless steel, some inner parts and plates are made from cheaper steel.
These can be prone to rust, especially in more humid climates. It’s always advisable to ensure your grill is properly cleaned with a quick spray of vegetable oil, which helps to stop the rust.
The tabletop design with double insulation is great at hitting high temperatures quickly, but in winter weather it can take longer. Cold air flowing all around the surfaces of the unit can significantly reduce the loop burner’s heating abilities.
The Cuisinart CGG-200 tabletop gas grill is the ideal gas grill for those who want something more compact for their patio or balcony. For tailgate enthusiasts or RVers, it’s something they could transport securely in the trunk of the car.
A single burner with 12,000 BTU may not sound a lot, but in practice, this grill was found to heat up very quickly. And the cast iron grates along with double-insulated lid makes sure it stays hot too.
For under $200 you are getting a very capable grill with enough space to easily cook for a family of four. Just make sure you clean it thoroughly after every use to extend its lifetime.
This natural gas grill from Weber features a huge cooking area, ideal for outdoor chefs who love to grill for larger groups.
The 646 square inches of primary cooking space is accompanied by a further 198 square-inch warming rack.
Introduced by Weber in 2017, the Genesis range of grills uses the GS4 high performance grilling system.
Four advanced burners offer a total of 48,000 BTU per hour, working out at a competent 74 BTU per square inch.
At just over five-foot long, this grill is designed to be the mainstay of your backyard and, as such, is ideal for natural gas. A propane gas version is also available if you don’t have a natural gas supply available.
Weber grills are well known for their quality construction and the Genesis II range is no exception. Weighing over 189 pounds, the body of the Genesis grill is made from high quality stainless steel, with interior grates of cast iron.
To further protect the grill from rust, both the exterior body and grates have been coated with porcelain.
The main benefit of this grill is the huge cooking space and its compatibility with other high tech accessories.
The optional iGrill 3 app-connected thermometers, along with the GS4 Grilling system we looked at earlier, make this grill suitable for beginners and experts alike.
The row of burners on this grill generally offer a superior grilling experience with a more even cook and fewer cold spots. However, the major problem with the Genesis grills is how difficult it is to maintain higher temperatures.
Indirect cooking gives a delicious taste for your grilling, but the direct heat at very high temperatures can be underwhelming. Searing your steaks can be hard with the limited upper range of temperatures.
The other major problem customers have reported is with the assembly of this unit. Although instructions are included, it’s not simple. Most users choose a professional installation, especially when using natural gas, to avoid any potentially life-threatening mistakes.
For both expert grill enthusiasts and those new to grilling, the Genesis II E-410 offers a quality high-end grill which, most importantly, is well made.
The Weber patented GS4 Grilling system, a functional design and additional features like Bluetooth put this grill streets ahead of its nearest rivals.
If you’re looking for a larger grill for your backyard, this gas connected grill offers a larger cooking space and makes a great centerpiece of any backyard cookout.
Although it may cost a little more than its rivals, the 10-year guarantee offered by Weber ensures you’ll be using this grill for many years to come
This Blackstone outdoor grill features a restaurant-style griddle plate with an enormous cooking surface, for under $300.
Using four independently controlled burners, it can kick out up to 60,000 BTU per hour, with a maximum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Made from a 7-gauge, cold-rolled steel, the 36 inch by 21 inch surface provides 756 square inches of griddle plate.
At 120 pounds, this grill features four caster wheels for added mobility, with two of the wheels lockable for safety. Like other outdoor grills, the Blackstone is powered by propane gas. There is no natural gas model or conversion kit available.
The main benefit of this griddle style grill is the extra cooking space it offers. With the four burners, you can create four cooking zones and easily cook for up to 20 people.
The other advantage for many is what they refer to as pre-seasoned goodness. If you already cook with cast iron, you will understand that extra flavor it imparts. The accumulation of grease, fat and other seasonings over time add that extra ‘oomph’ to your grilled foods.
And finally, griddle top grills are so much easier to clean. That build up of black gunk you get on traditional grill grates doesn’t happen with a griddle.
A simple scraping tool and grill sponge are all you need to clean this griddle. Just remember not to scrape off too much of that seasoned surface.
It’s not all good news, and the grease management system leaves a lot to be desired. The grease channel doesn’t seem to be sloped enough, so oil and grease don’t collect in the tray, often running down the legs of the unit.
The Blackstone grill is designed as an outdoor domestic gas grill; using it commercially will void the warranty. Although, with a very short, 90-day warranty, this is something you don’t have to worry about for too long.
Another drawback for many people is the specialized tools you will need to purchase for use with a griddle style gas grill. You will need to plan on buying a quality grease scraper, as well as other tools, like griddle spatulas.
If you regularly grill for larger groups of 20 or more people, this Blackstone Griddle is one of the largest workstations you will find.
With 60,000 BTUs in four controllable zones, it’s quick and efficient to heat up.
A griddle flat-top surface can add so much more versatility to your grilling, with a lack of holes for food to drop through.
Your next grill session could be adding items like fried rice or pancakes to your menu, with no issues. And the seasoning from that griddle surface is said by many to be incomparable to a traditional grill.
At under $300, you are getting a quality piece of grilling equipment that will last for many larger cookouts. If you want that traditional grill experience, you can always purchase the optional grill top.
Although many grill snobs will argue a gas grill doesn’t give that same BBQ flavor as charcoal, gas is undoubtedly more popular.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the popularity of gas grills is the convenience they offer.
A single press of an ignition button and within minutes you are ready to cook—most gas grills now feature electronic ignition guaranteed to light first time. No messing about with stacking up coals or messy lighter fluids. The grill will reach the desired temperature much quicker.
With charcoal, you often have to wait up to 40 minutes until it has reached higher grilling temperatures.
And when it is time to clean up, you will have to wait again for it to cool down before you empty the ashes. A gas grill can heat up in 10 minutes or so, and is controlled with easy-to-use dials and zoned burners.
Another factor people attribute the popularity of gas grills to is the continuing running costs. Although they may be more expensive to buy initially , a 20-pound propane tank is much cheaper than the equivalent amount of charcoal you would need.
It works out almost $1.50 cheaper per average grill session, which soon mounts up if you are a frequent griller.
If you already have natural gas supplied to your house, hooking up a gas line can be the cheapest method. But are there any other differences between propane and natural gas grills?
The main difference between propane (or LPG), and natural gas (or methane), is the way they are distributed.
Methane is essentially the stuff delivered by your local utility company via pipes. It’s the same gas used to power your boiler or indoor stove.
For your grill, it’s just a case of directing a pipe to your outdoor cooking area, but once it’s plumbed in, your grill is pretty much fixed in place.
Liquid propane gas is supplied in a bottle and can often be found at your local gas station or hardware center. Being in a tank, it is portable, meaning that the grill can easily be moved around your backyard.
A propane gas grill can even be thrown in the trunk of your car sometimes, with disposable gas refills for use on that camping trip or tailgate party.
Gas is gas isn’t it? Propane and natural gas may be used in the same way but they also have a couple of subtle differences.
These differences mean you can’t use both natural gas and LPG on the same grill.
Propane will burn higher, at 3573 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the 3542 degrees of natural gas. At grilling temperatures of around 500 degrees, this will make very little difference, but it means you need more natural gas to keep the grill constantly hot.
The most important difference when it comes to grilling is the different pressures each gas operates at. The flow of gas to your grill is controlled with valve jets, with jets for a natural gas grill being larger in diameter than those of an LPG grill.
Propane needs more oxygen to combust, with a ratio of 25:1, whereas natural gas only needs 10:1. It’s virtually impossible to make the larger jet holes of a natural gas grill smaller. Likewise, it’s not recommended to bore the holes out on a propane gas grill.
Conversion kits are sometimes available, but I would suggest you choose the kind of grill you want and stick with it. Converted grills rarely work as efficiently as a dedicated natural gas grill. You can always buy a cheaper, more portable, propane grill as a backup, if desired.
Charcoal grills with equally large grill areas are available, but it takes a large amount of charcoal to fuel them.
Bigger outdoor grill events will normally rely on gas-powered grills, because of the extra grilling capacity they provide.
A two-burner grill, with a cooking space of 200 to 300 square inches, will normally be adequate for a family of four. For outdoor grill cookouts with a big group, you should be looking at over 450 square inches of primary grilling area, with three or four burners.
It’s important to factor in the extra cooking space offered by a warming shelf. These are traditionally designed to keep food warm and free up space on the grill. A warming shelf can also be used to slow cook more delicate foods and veggies.
It’s no good having the biggest grill in the neighborhood if it is woefully underpowered.
Check the BTU rating of each burner for a total BTU per hour and compare it to the BTU per square inch.
For a decent sear to a steak, many experts recommend 100 BTU per square inch, although many of the lower end gas grills will struggle to hit this. A BTU of over 70 per square inch will be sufficient for most foods and also give an even cook of meats.
The BTUs depend on how often you are going to cook and how quickly you want the grill to heat up. Wherever possible, try to choose a gas grill which features multiple burners and, preferably, all over 12,000 BTU.
We’re not talking about the ability to throw your grill in a backpack and go hiking. But rather, how easy it is to move around the backyard and—if needed—put in the trunk for a day out with your grill.
Some larger gas grills, especially ones with over 700 square inches of grilling area, will be heavier to move and less portable. Most of the gas grills we have looked at use a cart-like design and feature fitted wheels for moving about.
With the exception of the natural gas grill, most are of a size that will comfortably fit in the bed of your pickup, for use on your next outdoor adventure.
Many national parks in the US now forbid the use of open fires but gas grills tend to be permitted—if in doubt, always check the regulations first. We will look in another article at more portable grills that will easily fit in your trunk.
This may sound a bit over the top, but a gas grill which is simple to clean will last much longer.
Gas grills should be easy to wipe down compared to a charcoal grill.
If left with grease or moisture, they will rust quickly. The easier it is to clean, the more likely you are going to make a good job of it.
I hope the mini reviews have helped you decide which gas grill is right for you.
If you are looking for a more stationary fixed grill with natural gas, the Weber Genesis II E-410 is one of the best outdoor grills you can get.
If you want to try your hand at griddle style grilling, the Blackstone 36-inch Outdoor Flat Top Grill has a large grilling area at a bargain price.
And finally, if you are looking for a basic gas grill with good build quality under $500, then trust in Weber. The Weber Spirit II E-210 is a simple gas grill which will reward you with many years of happy grilling.
This post was last updated on July 8th, 2019 at 08:35 pm
William Clay is a BBQ enthusiast dedicated to sharing his grilling (and overall cooking) expertise with FireFoodChef's readers.