Without a grill, there’s nothing to stand next to while you drink beer in the backyard. Oh, and you don’t get the chow down on delicious food prepared al fresco, everything from burgers and steaks to salmon and zucchini (seriously, give it a shot). And if you need a grill, the first big decision you’ll make it what kind of fuel it should use. And while pellet and charcoal grills have their place, the the fastest, cleanest way to cook in the backyard is with a propane-powered gas grill.
If you’re in the market for one, you should consider a few things. Size is a big one. Are you planning on cooking for the family or the entire neighborhood? Choose the size of your grill accordingly or risk being stuck behind it for hours on end. Similarly, think about where you want to grill. The guy who sticks to his backyard and the guy who’s going to a different tailgate every week should probably not get the same model. And finally, there are plenty of bells and whistles to choose from. Make sure you choose a grill that isn’t too bare bones or loaded with unnecessary, expensive features. We picked our favorites, from a portable model to an infrared powerhouse that’ll turn your next backyard get-together or tailgate into a summer festival with the best grill possible.
Sometimes you might want to take your grilling game on the road, to a tailgate, picnic in park, or beach day at a beach with blessedly lax rules.
Pros: This portable grill from Cusinart has foldaway legs, a suitcase-style handle, and a locking lid, so it’s super easy to take the 13.5-pound grill on the go.There’s a twist ignition for easy lighting, and the relatively small unit can still cook up to 8 burgers or 10 chicken breasts at once.
Cons: The smaller tanks you’ll typically use with this grill are easy to carry, but they do require changing more often, so make sure you keep a few spares in the garage.
The cast iron grates on this mid-range grill are reversible, with a thin side that's great for delicate foods and a thicker side that leaves perfect sear marks when you want them.
Pros: There’s a lot to like about this gas grill, including its grease management system. Bars over the burner tubes block grease from hitting open flames, redirecting the grease to the drip tray below. The gas tank hangs on a fuel gauge that weighs it and lets you know when you’re getting low. You’ll never be stuck on a last-minute propane run again.
Cons: You can’t connect a natural gas line directly, so plan on making some trips to and from the propane place
With charcoal and propane, this combination grill gives you the best of both words.
Pros: Half of this grill is powered by propane, the other half charcoal. That means you can make food quickly on the former while getting authentic smoky flavor on the latter. There’s 557 square inches of cooking surface and 188 of warming rack space, so this thing can handle a lot of food.
Cons: You can’t switch cooking methods on a given side of a grill, so you can’t use the entire cooking surface with either propane or charcoal, which is kind of annoying.
A well-reviewed grill that's compact but still comes with a useful side burner.
Pros: This grill packs a lot of great features into a small package. It has 280 square inches of cooking space, an 8,000-BTU side burner, and a porcelain-coated lid and firebox that are built to last. Oh, and there are wheels to move this thing around easily.
Cons: Some reviewers say this grill is problematic because grease doesn’t drain into the included cup particularly well, and small grease fires have been known to happen within the firebox.
The infrared top burner means this grill can get up to 1,500 degrees instantly. That is, to turn a phrase, fucking hot. It also means short cook times and the ability to easily adjust how well you cook food by placing further or closer to the top of the grill.
Pros: All of the interior compartments on this grill are made of stainless steel, so you can put the grill rack, grill plate, trays, and pull-out pan into the dishwasher for as painless a cleanup process as we’ve ever seen. And again, it’s amazingly powerful, so cooking large quantities is easy.
Cons: The Broil King isn’t a classic propane grill, so you don’t get the joy of fiddling with your food as it cooks. If you like the distraction of grilling away a Saturday afternoon, look elsewhere.
This huge 720-square-inch surface means you can cook for a crew on this thing, and that fact that it's a flat top means there's no risk of flare-ups from grease drips.
Pros: There’s a side shelf with a cutting board on this grill, plus a paper towel holder, and trash bag hooks that makes this thing more of a mobile kitchen than a simple grill. It has four different heat zones of 15,000 BTU each so you can cook different foods on different regions of the grill.
Cons: It’s bulky, at 40 inches wide and 25 inches deep, and it weighs 134 pounds. There are wheels, but you’ll like this thing more if you get to leave it in the backyard all summer.
If you're ready to spend some money — a lot of money — you should consider a Napoleon grill. This model from the premium brand has 80,000 BTU (that's a lot) and luxury touches like an infrared rotisserie cooker and light-up knobs.
Pros: A side infrared burner can reach temps up to 1,800 degrees, so it’s perfect for searing. And while it seems kind of silly, we can’t get over the fact that you can choose which color these knobs light up in.
Cons: The price (over two grand) and size (254 pounds) means you only want to get this if you’re serious about cooking on propane.
This smoker handles vegetables, beef, pork, chicken, ribs, seafood, fish, large cuts of meat, and whole birds. Yes, you can smoke an entire chicken or turkey. Score.
Pros: You can stack all the meats you want, and let the grill do its job. There’s an adjustable gas supply to give you control over the amount of heat, and a rear vent can be opened or closed to regulate the amount of heat and smoke exiting the oven. You get 5.45 square feet of interior cooking space.
Cons: Some grillers say the door doesn’t stay closed.
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