Looking for the best gas grills under $500? When it comes time to shop for a new gas grill it can be overwhelming. Every brand has its own trademarked name for the same thing the other guy has. Ever heard of a Flavorizer? Yeah, it means heat deflectors on the other guy’s model. We took a look at the most popular grills on the market and sorted through all the jargon to make it easier to decide on the best propane grill for you.
As a former restaurant chef, I look at how easy things are to clean and general ease of use. The durability and any special features of each grill are then weighed against the quality of the grill in this price range. I am also showing you options as what may work best for me will not be the best grill for you. Want to know more about me or see some of the recipes I have created? Follow the links for more.
What to consider when choosing the best gas grills under $500
The first thing to ask yourself is what do you plan to cook on the grill? Seems like an easy question but it is not as obvious as it sounds. What are you cooking now and how will that translate onto your new grill? Do you currently have a gas grill that you are using? If so, what did you like about it and what would you like to avoid on the next one? These are important factors to remember when reading about my thoughts on each grill.
Size & Cooking Area
This is important. Manufacturers are tricky because they will give you a number that includes the side burner and that thin top warming rack on your grill. They call this the total cooking area. The numbers I list are the surface area of the main grilling area only.
Some people prefer cast-iron grates over the porcelain coated grates that are commonly used now. I understand that but when it comes to cleaning the coated grates win every time. The trade-off is that you have to be careful to not chip the coating. Once you do it will deteriorate fast and you risk having porcelain chip off into your food. Cleaning before and after each use for optimum life.
Number of Burners
The more burners you have the more control you have with the grill. Each of the main burners can be set to specific temperature zones. This is ideal when you want to have a sear side and a low finishing side.
An abbreviation for British Thermal Units. BTUs is a measurement that is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree. But what does that mean and why is it important? In short, it is the power of each burner and how much heat it can produce. The higher the BTU the more efficient the burner is at heating. This is both a good and a bad thing. If you have too many BTUs in a small unit it could be worse than not having enough. I give an example of this with a portable grill below. The specs seem great but the reality is that it is too much packed into too small a package.
Propane Gas vs. Natural Gas
If you are shopping for a gas grill you are more than likely looking for a propane gas grill. A natural gas grill needs to have a connection to your home that has existing natural gas. This is more common in built-in gas grills.
I intentionally left off these grills. You are either looking for charcoal grills or you are not. I do not know a single person that has, or uses both a charcoal grill and a gas grill at the same time. It just doesn’t make sense.
Nearly all the grills have a temperature gauge on the lid. This is great for smoking or long cooks but most people are not cooking whole chickens directly on their gas grill. When I am grilling on my gas grill I never have the lid down. I am grilling my food, not baking it.
This is the stuff that should be listed as standard but the marketing team needed some fluff to make this grill feel more special. You will see everything from a sear burner which is just a burner that can get turned up more and isn’t necessary. Tool hooks, who doesn’t need tool hooks for their fathers day tool set? Regardless of what it is, these features are simple adds but do not add any additional expense. If anything it should be used as a tiebreaker for determining what is the best gas grill for you.
The Weber Spirit series is featuring all the newest technology that Weber has to offer. It includes Infinity Ignition which guarantees ignition every time, re-designed stainless steel burners, and porcelain enameled Flavorizer bars. The grease system is pretty convenient as well. It is an easy-to-access disposable pan that slides easily under the main grill. This semi-compact 2 burner grill is excellent for someone that wants high performance but doesn’t have the space for a full-size grill. If an app connected device is important to you, Weber has an optional iGrill 3 thermometer designed for the GS4 grills.
- 2 Burners
- 26,500 BTUs
- 360 Square Inches of primary cooking space
- Stainless Steel Flavorizer Heat Deflectors
- Open cart design
- Push-button ignition
- Redesigned for performance
- Tech-Friendly with additional iGrill 3
- GS4 Technology
- 10-year Weber Guarantee
- smart grease management system
- Powerful for such a small footprint
- One of the smaller grills on the list
- The optional thermometer kit has reports of being very inaccurate
A pretty powerful grill option. The LED control knobs are nice to have when cooking at night. The tempered glass window is a smart upgrade to the traditional covering. It will need to be cleaned well after every use though, otherwise, it will become a greasy mess quickly.
- 4 Burners
- 52,000 BTUs
- 392 Square inches of primary cooking space
- Side Burner
- Large Storage Cabinet
- LED Control Knobs
- Stainless Steel Flame Tamers
- Clearview Window
- The clear view window is great for being able to see what’s going on without having to lift the lid.
- Clean Stainless Steel Design
- Side Burner is great for heating sides or sauces
- The removable grease tray slides out under the side shelves which is cumbersome.
- Not known for their customer service
Somewhat of a newcomer to the market is Fuego Grills. Their stylish and space saving design is perfect for backyards with small spaces. Coming in at 346 square inches and with 22,000 BTUs in a dual zone burner system. It heats up fast and maintains its heat well.
- Compact 21”x21” Footprint
- 346 Square Inch Grill
- Cast Iron Grates
- 22 BTUs
- Dual Zone Burner System
- Comes on Casters
- Fast and Easy Assembly
- The cast iron grates can be switched out with the optional griddle and pizza stone kit.
- The Dual Zone is perfect for both indirect and direct cooking
- Lightweight and Easy to move
- Cast Iron Grates will rust over time
- Will rust quickly if left out in the weather
This full-size grill which is 23” wide and 18” deep is a good size for cooking for the family and friends. It is a no-frills straightforward gas grill and is a great value at this price point. They have this model with a stainless steel cabinet for propane storage if that is important to you. Link Here.
- 4 Burner Design
- 36,000 BTU’s
- Stainless Steel Finish
- 10,000 BTU Side Burner
- Porcelain Coated Grease Pan
- Stainless Steel Burners
- Porcelain coated cast iron grates
- 425 Square Inch Cooking Area
- Powerful Gas Grill with even heat distribution
- Side Burner is great for heating sauces or side dishes
- Porcelain coated cast iron grill grates
- No Propane Tank Storage, Hangs on Side
- Lacks storage space
Sleek design with a 3 burner gas grill on casters for easy movement. The Kenmore 3 burner comes in 6 color options to fit your style.
- 3 Burners
- 30,000 BTUs
- 381 Square Inches of Grill Space
- Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Grill Grates
- Folding Side Shelves
- Built-in Thermometer
- Electronic Igniter
- Portable & Lightweight
- Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Grill Grates
- Electronic Igniter
- The porcelain-enameled lid retains heat well
- Does not have a removable bottom tray for cleaning
- A small grease cup hangs over the propane tank and can be tricky to get in and out.
- A lightweight design may not be durable enough for heavy use
Char-Griller used the look and design of their charcoal burner and installed 3 gas burners on it. Delivers consistent and even heat for quick cooking items like burgers and steaks. I probably won’t be using this for longer cooks with smoke tubes as it has poor heat retention.
- 3 Burners
- 40,800 BTUs
- 12,000 BTU Side Burner
- 438 Square Inches of grilling space
- Steel Tube Construction
- Porcelain Coated Cast Iron grates
- Dual Smoke Stacks for better ventilation
- Electronic Igniters
- The highest BTU per burner of grills reviewed
- Powder Coated Grill designed to handle the elements
- Assembly can take time
- Shell is thin and can warp if you run all the burners on high
Ideal for tailgating or while camping. At 20,000 BTUs for such a small grill it can heat up quickly and stay hot. That is both a pro and a con. Keep the lid open while grilling to control your temperature better. Closing the lid will create some intense heat that will not be desirable.
- All Stainless Steel Construction
- Two Burners
- 20,000 BTUs
- Portable Table Top Design
- Dome Thermometer
- 274 Square Inch Cooking Space
- Works on 20 lb Propane cylinders
- Portable Design
- Durable Stainless Construction
- Grill Grates are far apart from each other
- Challenging to clean since it is so small
- Is known to leak grease from the bottom
This little Weber was made for a tailgate. Cooking burgers, hot dogs, and steaks are effortless with this portable grill. The single burner design gives you steady heat but if you want precise control this is not the grill for you.
- Single 12,000 BTU burner
- 280 square inches of grill space
- Porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates
- Electronic ignition
- Two folding work tables
- Split Grates for grate/griddle combination
- Grill grate/griddle combination
- Tall lid for such a small grill
- Great for road trips
- Single Burner means limited control
I have been a fan of griddles and their versatility for a long time. I think they make a better burger and steak as you can get a harder sear on a steel plate. Imagine knocking out a breakfast of pancakes, hashbrowns, bacon, and eggs all in one place. For dinner make yourself some cheesesteaks with home fries or ribeyes with perfectly cooked vegetables. Smash burgers for your next pool party? No problem. Griddles are champions of large gatherings.
- Side tables with removable cutting board and paper towel holder
- 720 square inches of cooking space
- 4 burners
- 60,000 BTUs
- Locking casters
- Battery powered push button ignition
- Black Powdered Coated Frame
- Cold Rolled Steel Cooking Surface
- On casters for easy movement around your backyard
- Plenty of power to cook anything
- More versatile than a traditional gas grill
- large cooking area
- Takes time to properly season the steel cooking surface
Propane Gas Grill Accessories
Fill these with wood pellets from pellet grills and set them on fire then place the smoking tube on your grill. They will slowly infuse smoke into your food during longer cooks on your grill.
If you prefer using wood chips over pellets then this smoke box is for you. Place the soaked wood chips in the stainless box and place it over a burner on high heat. Give it a few minutes to start smoking before adding your meats.
ThermoWorks DOT Thermometer
I am a huge fan of everything from ThermoWorks. I relied on their Instant Read thermometers in all of my restaurants and I still use them at home. They are more expensive than others that you will find on Amazon but these are 10x more reliable and accurate. The DOT is a great and affordable version of their professional Instant Read series. It’s what I use at home and for the price you can’t go wrong.
ThermoWorks Square DOT
Two thermometer probes, one for ambient temperature and the second to measure the internal temperature of the meat. Accuracy is important to a chef if we ever want to deliver great food consistently. You want the same otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
Webers app-based Bluetooth thermometer with space for up to four probes that are designed specifically for their gas grills using the GS4 technology. It attaches directly to your Weber Genesis II or Spirit II compatible gas grill. The only challenge I have seen is that people have complained about the accuracy of the internal temperature shown. Claiming it was off by as much as 20º. I do not use this thermometer so I can not speak to its accuracy.
Made of a durable sponge-like material the Grill Rescue is designed to steam off any build-up on your grill grates. Use this immediately after grilling to keep your grates clean. The soft and non-abrasive texture will not scratch or chip porcelain grates. The scraper on the opposite side of the sponge will if you are not careful though. The other advantage is that this brushless grill cleaner will not leave harmful metal bristles that can transfer into your food.