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Best Gas Grills Under $500 – Great Quality, at an Affordable Price!

Have you been looking for a new gas grill that doesn’t break the bank? Maybe you want something that’s big enough for those backyard gatherings but doesn’t cost as much as a small car?

If so, this article where we search for the best gas grill under $500 just may be the best thing you read today!

German sausage and chicken grilling on a gas grill

So, what type of gas grill can you expect to purchase with a modest $500 budget? In this article, we set your expectations straight and show you exactly what you can and should expect.

We take a look at the main factors you should consider when buying a new grill, the build quality and features you should seek out, and some specifics on gas grills you might want to avoid.

We also take a look at eight of the best gas grills under $500 currently available on the market today.

At a Glance: Our Choices for Best Gas Grills Under 500 Dollars

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on either Home Depot, BBQGuys or Wayfair.

Best Gas Grill Under 500 Dollars – A Detailed Look at Some Top Models in 2019

You’ll be amazed at the quality of the grills available for less than five hundred bucks.

After spending many hours looking at a vast range of products currently available, what you’ll see below are, in my opinion, the eight best options under $500.

Note: For the best models available at other price points, check out our companion guides:

Overall Best – Weber Spirit II E-310

Weber is renowned for its quality, well-built grills with market-leading warranties—this Spirit II E-310 comes with a full 10-year warranty.

What I like about this product is the Weber GS4 grilling system, which is normally reserved for far more high-end products.

A combination of Infinity Ignition, porcelain enameled flavorizer bars, stainless steel burners, and an innovative grease management system ensures a great performance.

You can find a brief overview of the grill below, or for a more detailed take you can check out our Weber Spirit ii E-310 review.

What’s in the Box

As you would expect with a brand like Weber, this grill features a simple yet elegant design—it even comes with a choice of four different colored lids. An open cart design uses a cast aluminum mold with a stainless steel hood. This is one grill which won’t rust in a hurry.

Arriving unassembled, it is relatively simple to build, although you may need help to move the box, as it weighs a back-breaking 114 pounds.

Well-thought-out instructions make the assembly easy, even if you have very little experience in this sort of job.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: LPG—Natural gas version also available.
  • Number of Main Burners: 3
  • Ignition Type: Battery operated Infinity ignition
  • BTU: 30,000
  • Heat Flux: 75
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 424
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 105
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 529
  • Build Materials: Cast aluminum firebox with a stainless steel hood.
  • Dimensions: 5 x 52 x 27 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 10

This Grill is for You if…

With the large cooking area, the Spirit II E-310 is ideal for entertaining. The three burner design allows for different heat zones, searing a steak on one side, with vegetables cooking on a lower heat elsewhere.

The revolutionary porcelain enameled flavorizer bars will add more of a smokey flavor to your food for impressing the guests. The unique grease management system with an easily removable drip tray under the bars makes it much easier to clean up after parties.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

Being a Weber, it is one of the most expensive grills we will look at, being very close to the top end budget of $500.

If you just want a cheaper budget option, any of the others we have looked at will do the job, just don’t expect them to last as long. All the models we have looked at are certainly a lot better than those cheap, sub-$100 grills you often see at big box stores.

What We Like

  • Cast aluminum cook box will be rust resistant and durable.
  • The double-walled stainless steel hood is angled to push hot air back for even cooking of the meats.
  • Three powerful burners allow heating up quicker—up to 700 degrees in just 5 minutes.
  • Cast iron cooking grates retain the heat better.
  • Porcelain coating ensures the meat doesn’t stick to the grates and they’re easier to clean.
  • Larger knobs make for easier temperature control than many competing products.
  • Extras include iGrill 3 smart thermometer compatibility and a fuel gauge.
  • Sturdy cart with weather-resistant wheels.
  • Super long 10-year warranty, from lid to wheels, including labor.

What We Don’t Like

  • Some users will miss a side burner feature.
  • The stainless steel lid seems thinner and the plastic side shelves more flimsy than other Weber grills, (though do remember the price!)

Summary

If you want the very best gas grill under $500, there’s no argument the Weber Spirit II E-310 is the way to go. Weber just keeps improving its designs, and its grills constantly deliver more evenly cooked food and are better for slow cooking or fast grilling.

You will only ever have to buy one Weber, well at least for 10 years, with the durability backed by that super long warranty. For more details on the Weber Spirit II E-310 and the latest prices, click here.
 

Buy on Home Depot

 

Runner-up – Monument Grills Stainless Steel 4 Burner Propane Gas Grill With Rotisserie

This all stainless steel gas grill not only looks great on your patio but offers a performance many professional chefs would be happy with. Four separate burners deliver a whopping 60,000 BTUs per hour over a large 500 square inches of cooking surface.

A side burner rated at 12,000 BTU features the same easy-to-use electronic ignition as the primary burners, for fast, easy, reliable starting. A built-in rotisserie enables you to make the best roast chickens that are self-basting as they cook evenly on the spit.

What’s in the Box

The all stainless-steel build features four lockable caster wheels on the base for when you’ve found your perfect spot for cooking. Also included in the package are two porcelain-coated cast iron grates and the stainless steel rotisserie, which uses a 120-volt motor.

Arriving in kit form, assembly is pretty straightforward, only needing a cross-head screwdriver to attach the grill body to the lower cabinet. Some users have reported they have built it in about an hour, before adding the grates and other accessories for cooking.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only.
  • Number of Main Burners: 4
  • Secondary Burners: 1 side burner & built-in rotisserie.
  • Ignition Type: Electronic pilotless ignition.
  • BTU: 72,000
  • Heat Flux: 117 BTU
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 3
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 210
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 3
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel.
  • Dimensions: 32 x5 x 25.2 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 8-year stainless steel burner, 1-year full warranty entire grill.

This Grill is for You if…

For larger parties, this is ideal. Four burners allow for it to heat up quickly, and the large 513 inches of a primary cooking area will easily be enough to accommodate about 20 burgers or feed groups of ten or more.

A side burner enables you to cook more side dishes while the main attraction is grilling. You could even show off your chicken grilling skills with the rotisserie, or some delicious kebabs for more variety.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

For simple family meals, this 4-burner model from Monument Grills is a bit of overkill. It’s not particularly energy efficient and will just eat through gas more than some other more energy conscious alternatives. More BTUs doesn’t always mean more heat, and the larger design of this grill means heat can escape as you cook.

Even the Weber, with a slightly smaller 424 square inches of cooking area, only uses 30,000 BTUs per hour.

What We Like

  • Large cast iron cooking surface.
  • Porcelain-coated grates for easier cleanup.
  • Porcelain-enameled firebox for more durability.
  • Warming rack included.
  • Rotisserie can be attached and is included in the price.
  • Powerful side burner is ideal for sauces or sides, like vegetables.
  • Fast and reliable electronic ignition. Pilotless, easy to light in windy conditions.
  • Thermometer built into the hood.
  • Long, 8-year warranty on the stainless steel burners.
  • Attractive stainless steel design with side shelves and front doors.

What We Don’t Like

  • The huge 72,000 BTU rating, including the side burner, will be less energy efficient and more expensive to run.
  • The hood isn’t heavy enough and allows for heat to escape.

Summary

If like me, your backyard summer parties are the stuff of legend, this large product from Monument Grills will allow you to entertain even more guests. You could be spit-roasting chickens, searing steaks and making delicious sauces with this powerful all-in-one tool.

However, be warned, it will cost you more to run, with those propane-hungry burners rated at 72,000 BTUs.

For more details and the latest prices, click here.
 

Buy on Home Depot

 

Best for Small Spaces – Fuego Element F21S-H Stainless Steel Propane Gas Grill

Many people don’t have a huge backyard for their outdoor entertaining. This unusual mushroom-shaped grill still features a pretty impressive 346 square inches of cooking surface, but in a much more compact, upright design.

This mid-priced product was designed by a former chief designer at Apple, and is bound to turn heads. It’s not just about the size though, with the circular burners and a dome-shaped hinged lid allowing for a more even heat flow inside the grill.

What’s in the Box

This stylish looking grill from Fuego is clearly solid in the engineering and construction, which explains why it’s so easy to set up. With just 14 screws and a 22,000 BTU/hour dual zone burner system, it’s easy to assemble in about 45 minutes. Also included is a 15-pound porcelain enamel cast iron cooking grate.

A bottom column provides a hinged tank storage access door, with casters attached to the base for more mobility. The whole unit features just a 21-inch footprint for use where space is more limited.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane with natural gas conversion kit available.
  • Number of Main Burners: 2
  • Ignition Type: Piezoelectric.
  • BTU: 22,000
  • Heat Flux: 64
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 346
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 346
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel.
  • Dimensions: 21 x 21 x 44 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 1-year comprehensive parts, 3-year stainless burner.

This Grill is for You if…

Apartment dwellers with smaller balconies or patios will love this compact grill. With 346 square inches of cooking space, it’s still large enough for a group of four to five diners. The powerful dual ring burner allows reaching temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit in just five minutes, with an energy efficient 22,000 BTUs.

This compact gas grill is also ideal for use on road trips and will easily fit in the trunk of most average cars.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

If you have space and need to feed more than your family or maybe a couples date night, you’re going to need a larger grill. Although you should be able to fit about 12 decent sized burgers on the grate, it will leave very little room for anything else—and there’s no secondary cooking area or warming rack either.

What We Like

  • Compact 21-inch by 21-inch footprint.
  • Easy to assemble, just 14 fasteners, and the wheels are already attached.
  • Energy-efficient burners ensure higher temperatures, with fewer hot spots.
  • Dual-zone capabilities of the two-ring burner.
  • A heat reflection shield in the hood provides a convection oven effect.
  • Recessed thermometer for internal temperatures.
  • Residue tray collects grease and stores it safely below the firebox.
  • A natural gas conversion kit is available from the manufacturer.

What We Don’t Like

  • Small for many peoples use (though ideal for a family of 2 or 3)
  • The handle of the lid can get hot.

Summary

If space is severely limited at your home, and you just want a small unit to cook for the family or a few friends, the unique Fuego Element F21S-H is perfect. It’s very energy efficient, offers a reasonably large cooking surface and even dual-zone cooking abilities.

It may look out of this world, but unfortunately, some of the results won’t be. Okay for cooking steaks or burgers, just don’t expect a long, low n slow cook as the dome is too short to even fit a chicken underneath.

For more details and current price, click here.
 

Buy on Home Depot

 

Best Large Cooking Capacity – Char-Broil Performance 6-Burner Cabinet Gas Grill

At over 5 feet in length, this gas grill from Char-Broil is a backyard monster. Although at the top end of our price range, it offers the largest total cooking area, at 930 square inches, of any of the products in this guide.

What’s in the Box

This large but basic grill from Char-Broil is mostly made from powder-coated steel for the body, with 430-grade stainless steel for the fascia and hood. The supplied cast iron cooking grates are of a moderate weight, but the rest of the internal components are lightweight.

Arriving unassembled, detailed instructions are provided, and it’s relatively easy to put together. You may need an extra pair of hands due to its sheer size, but it shouldn’t take much more than an hour.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only.
  • Number of Main Burners: 6
  • Secondary Burners: 1 side burner.
  • Ignition Type: Battery operated electronic.
  • BTU: 60,000
  • Heat Flux: 3
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 650
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 280
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 930
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 4 x 24.5 x 45 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 5

This Grill is for You if…

Most customers are surprised at just how much they can cook on this model. If you need enough cooking space for about 40 burgers at the same time, you should consider this grill.

For those larger, Hollywood-style backyard parties, it offers the most cooking space in this price range.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

At closer to 6-foot than five, it’s going to demand a lot of space on your patio. For people with limited space, a mid-sized gas grill like the Weber Spirit II, would be a suitable alternative that can still cope with reasonably large groups.

What We Like

  • Huge cooking space. The “swingaway” warming rack offers a further 280 square inches, enough for keeping about 15 burgers warm.
  • The sixth burner is a sear burner, with higher BTU than the first five.
  • Good heat output.
  • Large side shelves for prep, even the side burner covers with a hinged lid.
  • Large cabinet with stainless steel doors.
  • Reliable battery-powered electric ignition.
  • Porcelain-enameled grates and removable grease pan make cleanup a breeze.

What We Don’t Like

  • Cheaper 430 series stainless steel will be more prone to rust or discoloration.
  • Burners and flavorizer bars over them use thinner steel, which won’t offer the durability of others.

Summary

If you plan on entertaining the local football team and their partners, this large gas grill from Char-Broil is ideal. An extra large cooking area with that bigger warming rack is great for even the biggest parties and offers great value for money.

However, don’t expect the same build quality of some other grills, especially the Weber series.

For more details and the latest prices on this “party” grill, click here.

 

Buy on Wayfair

 

Best Budget Friendly – Char-Griller 3001 Grillin’ Pro 40,800-Btu Gas Grill

Char griller 3001 isolated on white

At a much lower cost than our top-rated grill, this model from Char-Griller features an impressive 40,800 BTUs. Remember, it’s not just about which has the most BTUs, but with a generous 438 square inches of cooking area, it offers an excellent, almost 100 BTUs per square inch of grilling power.

What’s in the Box

The design of this budget model is a modified version of Char-Griller’s smallest charcoal grill. It replaces the coal grate with three burners and uses the same heavy-duty steel construction and cast iron grates of many charcoal grills.

Assembly can be quite tricky—the instructions advise you will need two people. If possible, an expert assembly option should be chosen, but that will push up the price.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only.
  • Number of Main Burners: 3
  • Secondary Burners: 1 side burner, 12,000 BTU.
  • Ignition Type: Battery operated
  • BTU: 40,800
  • Heat Flux: 5
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 438
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 192
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 630
  • Build Materials:
  • Dimensions: 49 x 28 x 49 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 5

This Grill is for You if…

For somebody making the move from charcoal to gas, this is the ideal choice. The familiar design features 438 square inches of primary cooking space for family meals or smaller gatherings.

There’s even a side burner if you need that little extra cooking space.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

Some users may find it too small for their needs. If you want to cook for larger parties and in less time, consider something larger and more powerful, like the Monument Grills or Char-Broil Performance grill we looked at above.

What We Like

  • High heat output, with three 13,600 stainless steel burners.
  • The smaller cooking chamber barrel design needs less BTUs for a good heat.
  • Extra side burner with 12,000 BTUs is powerful for the price.
  • Dual smoke stacks can be used to create an even heat across the cooking surface.
  • Good at holding heat, with porcelain-coated cast iron grates and a heavy-duty steel body.
  • Cooking surface of 438 square inches and an extra 192-square-inch warming rack is great
  • AA battery ignitor is reliable and easy to use.
  • Includes two side table areas and hooks for hanging utensils.
  • Offers terrific value for money.

What We Don’t Like

  • Powder coated steel won’t be as rust resistant as stainless—definitely buy a cover.
  • Weak plastic wheels for a grill which is designed to be easily moved.
  • Lower quality internal components—steel flavorizer bars over the burners can trap grease and cause flare-ups.

Summary

If you want a starter gas grill which has many of the features of top-end products but at a budget price, the Char-Griller Pro 3001 is a solid choice. At this price, it’s unrealistic to expect the best quality components, but the burner does feature a 5-year warranty, and the grill should offer reasonable durability.

To check out the latest availability or price, please click here.
 

Buy on Char-Griller

 

Other Notable Contenders

Although each of our top five choices are great for their own individual reasons, there are many more good all-around gas grills under $500. Here are another three for you to consider.

Weber 57060001 Q3200 Liquid Propane Grill

If you’ve always dreamed of owning a Weber but don’t need a huge model, the Q3200 is a good compromise. This elegant gas grill has a compact footprint, yet offers the function of a mid-sized model. It features a quality construction.

What’s in the Box

The body and lid are made of cast aluminum for greater durability and rust-proofing, with a glass reinforced nylon stand for mobility. Folding side tables are also included, which can be removed for easier storage, or when space is limited.

Assembly is straightforward: you just screw together the base cart before mounting the grill body on top. A removable drip tray fits underneath the main body, with porcelain cast iron cooking grates and a gas connector hose also included in the box.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only. A natural gas version is available.
  • Number of Main Burners: 2
  • Secondary Burners:
  • Ignition Type: Battery-operated electronic ignition.
  • BTU: 21,700
  • Heat Flux: 22
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 393
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 75
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 468
  • Build Materials: Cast aluminum.
  • Dimensions: 5 x 50.2 x 21 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 5

This Grill is for You if…

People with limited space or apartment dwellers with a small balcony will find this Weber grill can fit almost anywhere. The base even provides an area for storing the propane tank to make it even more compact. 393 square inches of primary cooking area will offer enough space for most families or smaller parties.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

When you need to entertain a larger group of people, you’re going to need something more substantial. Also, to justify the cost, you’re going to need to be a Weber fan or love the look—similar grills at this price will have many more features, such as side burners, etc.

What We Like

  • Solid Weber construction, backed with a 5-year warranty.
  • Durable cast aluminum cook box and lid. All-weather wheels better than most.
  • Lightweight and portable enough to take on road trips.
  • Small footprint, yet a mid-sized cooking area.
  • Unique split cooking grate design, half the grate can be removed and replaced with a flat griddle attachment.
  • Porcelain-enameled cast iron grates for better heat distribution and easier cleaning.
  • “Grill-out” handle light illuminates the surrounding area—great for cooking at night, or on shaded balconies.
  • Patented “infinite control” valves reliably lock in the cooking temperature.
  • Battery operated ignition.
  • Plenty of storage, with a bracket for the propane tank, 3 tool hooks and a slot for the warming rack when not in use.

What We Don’t Like

  • Flimsy warming rack, with only 75 square inches of surface. Won’t support too much weight.
  • Lack of extra features, like side warmer or fuel gauge, considering the price.
  • Very little protection on the front panel for the various controls.

Summary

Many would argue you can’t beat a Weber for quality when choosing a domestic grill. This more compact and portable product is no exception, with an elegant design yet solid construction. It’s a pretty damn good grill too, with quality internal components and a reasonable 393 square inches of cooking surface.

Backed with a Weber 5-year warranty, you just know it is built to last. However, there are many less expensive models available, with more features and a similar size.

If a Weber is a must for you, then click here to check out the latest prices and availability.
 

Buy on Home Depot

 

Char-Broil Performance Tru Infrared 3-Burner Cart Liquid Propane Gas Grill

This gas grill differs from the others we’ve looked at, as it has infrared technology incorporated. It’s the only grill which features a steel plate under the grates for emitting a fast and even infrared heat across the cooking surface.

What’s in the Box

This technology-filled product uses a combination of steel, painted steel and stainless steel in its construction. A stainless-steel lid and firebox are both porcelain coated for durability and to keep more heat in.

The painted steel cart provides storage for a propane tank and features two large wheels for easier mobility. Although the cart is straightforward to assemble, the body can be more challenging, with the internal components needing fitting.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only.
  • Number of Main Burners: 3
  • Secondary Burners: 1 side burner. 10,000 BTU.
  • Ignition Type: Surefire electronic.
  • BTU: 24,000
  • Heat Flux: 33
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 450
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 150
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 600
  • Build Materials: Steel
  • Dimensions: 4 x 54.1 x 45.5 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 5-year burner warranty, 2-year warranty firebox, all other parts 1 year.

This Grill is for You if…

For smaller backyard parties of just four or five people, this would be a great sized grill. The infrared technology means you will use less gas, and steaks or burgers will be evenly seared.

That specialized infrared surface could also be used with smoke chips, which just flare up on traditional gas burners.

Note: For more information on what the tru-infrared technology provides, check out our guide to the best infrared grills.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

You would struggle to cope with larger gatherings with this mid-sized grill. Although larger Infrared models are available, the jury is split on how effective they really are. Adding more burners or more BTUs seems to defy the point of the energy efficiency.

If you need a gas grill for your next big backyard party, consider a traditional gas model with a larger cooking surface, like the Char-Broil Performance 650, or our next choice, the Performance 550.

What We Like

  • Infrared technology provides a more even heat, with fewer hot or cold spots.
  • More energy efficient, less gas used.
  • The infrared plate creates a barrier between the food and the burner flames, to avoid flare-ups.
  • Durable porcelain-coated cast iron grates.
  • A 13,000 BTU side burner is powerful and increases cooking space.
  • Surefire electronic ignition for reliable igniting.
  • Large side shelves made of stainless steel.
  • Cabinet underneath provides plenty of storage space for tools, wood chips and propane tank.
  • Can easily be converted to Natural Gas with a kit available from Char-Broil.

What We Don’t Like

  • Food residue doesn’t fall through the grates and just stays on the cooking surface to slowly burn.
  • Some customers have reported flare-ups, despite the infrared technology that’s supposed to eliminate them.
  • Can take a long time to heat up, with only 3 burners for the large cooking area.
  • The cart isn’t as durable as some other grills.

Summary

Full-sized infrared grills often cost thousands of dollars, so this mid-sized offering from Char-Broil is a great introduction to the technology at a wallet-friendly price. The primary cooking area of 450 inches will be enough for smaller backyard gatherings.

Does infrared technology live up to the hype? Decide for yourself—click here for more details and the latest prices on this product.

 

Buy on Wayfair

 

Char-Broil Performance 5-Burner Cabinet Liquid Propane Gas Grill

Our final choice is again from the Char-Broil Performance range, but a more traditional LPG grill. This is close to a professional-grade grill, with a huge capacity and five burners,

What’s in the Box

Like the Char-Broil beast we looked at much earlier in this guide, virtually all the parts are made of stainless steel for more durability. The sides of the cart and side shelves are made from a painted matt black steel material, with four casters for more portability.

Just like the other larger Char-Broils, you will almost definitely need somebody to help with the assembly. However, detailed instructions, a comprehensive parts list and a hardware pack ensure that building the grill is quite simple.

Specifications

  • Fuel Type: Propane only.
  • Number of Main Burners: 5
  • Secondary Burners: 1 side burner. 10,000 BTU.
  • Ignition Type: PiezoElectric
  • BTU: 45,000
  • Heat Flux: 81
  • Primary Cooking Area (sq.in): 550
  • Secondary Cooking Area (sq.in): 205
  • Total Cooking Area (sq.in): 755
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel.
  • Dimensions: 9 x 24.5 x 45 inches.
  • Warranty (Years): 5-year burner warranty, 2-year warranty firebox, all other parts 1-year.

This Grill is for You if…

When you’re cooking for large parties on a regular basis, you are going to need one of the largest grills.

With 550 square inches of cooking surface and a further 205 square inches of warming rack, there’s not much you can’t throw at this grill. An additional side burner means you could even be warming up some sides or veggies at the same time.

Another Model Might Be Better for You if…

It’s huge! Definitely too much if all you do is cook for the family or the occasional small party. Consider a more compact or mid-sized grill, like the Weber Q3200, if you don’t need all that extra grilling capacity.

What We Like

  • Solid stainless steel construction.
  • Large cooking area.
  • Five stainless steel burners are durable and provide an impressive 45,000 BTU/hour of heat.
  • Stainless steel heat tents ensure a more even heat distribution and less flare-ups.
  • Electronic ignition offers fast and reliable startups.
  • The control panel features extra large, easy-to-use knobs—no awkward fiddling, unlike some other budget models.
  • Large metal side shelves for more prep area, and a lid over the side burner when not in use.
  • Porcelain-coated grates are much easier to clean—no burnt-on food to scrub off.
  • Large double cabinet space for extra storage.

What We Don’t Like

  • Heavy, at over 110 pounds; you will be glad of those castors.
  • Shallow lid—you won’t be cooking beer can chicken on it.
  • Thinner stainless steel used won’t retain the heat as well as those with double-walls or thicker lids.

Summary

If you’re looking for a large gas grill with plenty of cooking space for those summer parties, the Char-Broil Performance 550 is one of the largest we have looked at.

A durable product, it has been constructed to last many years, as demonstrated by the generous 5-year warranty from Char-Broil.

For more details and the latest availability and prices, please click here.

 

Buy on Wayfair

 

Up to $500 Gets a Good, Mid-Priced Grill

Having decided to choose a gas grill, you’ve probably seen the very best gas grills on the market, those backyard monsters which often cost a thousand bucks or more. They may look very impressive and are capable of feeding an army, but do you need to spend that much?

There are much more affordable models available, but how low do you go? Looking at the $100 to $200 range, options can be limited. Unless you’re willing to sacrifice the convenience of gas for charcoal, you will be looking at much smaller or portable gas grills. Normally they’ll be made of low-quality materials too.

The sweet spot for gas grills tends to fall in the $300 to $500 price bracket, for which you can get a very good mid-range model. They will be larger and have a better build quality with more consistent cooking results.

Let’s take a look at what makes some of these grills the perfect accompaniment for those summer backyard parties.

Benefits of Gas Grills Over Charcoal

Of course, if you really wanted to go cheap, you could choose a simple charcoal grill. Although many would argue you only get that true BBQ taste with charcoal, it lacks the convenience and no-fuss cooking of a gasser.

It seems most Americans agree, with a whopping 64 percent of grills owned in the US being gas grills. For beginners especially, the best option can be a gas grill, with their ease of use, and without the need to learn the science of open-fire cooking.

A simple press of a button is enough to light most gas grills, with a turn of a dial controlling the temperature. You don’t have to mess about with chemical starter fluids or refueling with briquettes—just make sure you have enough gas in your cylinder.

Gas grills can also be more economical to run, with a single propane tank able to last you all summer if you only use it two to three times a week. Cleanup and maintenance will be much quicker than with a charcoal model too, with no hot messy ashes to deal with.

What to Look for in the Best Gas Grills Under 500 Dollars

Having decided that gas is the way to go (why wouldn’t you?), the next question is: What should you look for features-wise?

Five hundred dollars may seem like a modest budget, but if you follow this guide, you really can get a good grill for that money.

Fuel Source: Propane or Natural Gas?

Although both are a greener choice than charcoal, with lower CO2 emissions, natural gas burns slightly cleaner than propane. If you already have gas installed in your home and you grill frequently, natural gas can sometimes be the more cost-effective choice.

However, propane is by far the more popular choice, with a 64 percent share of the gas grill market. All the products reviewed below are propane models, with only the top choice, the Weber Spirit II, offering a natural gas version.

Propane is much easier to hook up than having to get a gas pipe installed, and you can move the grill about too. You can easily get propane at most hardware stores, outdoor/garden centers, or even at your local gas station when you fill up the car.

Propane is relatively cheap too, with a 20-pound cylinder of gas lasting about 18-20 hours, according to Weber—and they should know!

Can a Propane Grill Use Natural Gas?

Without conversion, a propane-fueled grill can’t use natural gas. Liquid propane burns hotter than natural gas and therefore uses valves and other openings or orifices designed for lower gas flow. If improperly connected to a natural gas supply, the flames will be much smaller and the grill won’t heat up as effectively.

The easiest way to convert a propane model to natural gas is by using an official conversion kit, supplied by the manufacturer.

The removal and replacement of the parts will mean disassembly, and it will need to be carried out by a certified technician. A natural gas regulator, which matches the grill’s BTU output, will also need to be fitted and, in some states, will need to conform to building codes.

Think carefully before starting the conversion process, it’s not that easy to reverse. You might be better off checking out this guide for the best natural gas grills that we’re happy to recommend, instead of trying to convert a propane grill.

Btu Level / Heat Flux

A measure of how much gas your grill will use is the BTU level, or British Thermal Units. A BTU is a measure of energy and the total heat output of the burners per hour according to the fuel consumption. Think of it like the horsepower of your grill.

Just like the horsepower in your car, other factors will also affect how quickly the grill heats up or how hot it gets. A higher BTU level won’t always be a hotter grill. Just as a single bar heater may warm up your front room, it would be no good at heating a stadium.

A better measure of the heat output is the heat flux, which is an actual measurement of heat output. The heat flux divides the total BTU of the primary burners by the size of the main cooking area, for a BTU per square inch. A higher heat flux means heating up quicker and the capability of higher temperatures.

Cooking Capacity

The size of the main cooking surface will also be important—you need it to be big enough for the number of people you intend to cook for. Do you need a grill which can cope with large outdoor parties of eight or more? Or are you just looking for a smaller model to cook for a family of three or four?

The primary cooking surface is measured in square inches, but how many do you need? A useful guide is an average four-inch diameter raw burger, which will need 20.25 square inches, including half an inch clearance on all sides.

All the grills in the review section below feature a primary cooking surface of over 300 square inches, adequate for your average weekend griller. Another rule of thumb is to allow about 72 square inches of cooking surface per person, or about the size of a 9-inch plate.

Ignition System

One of the biggest advantages of gas grills is how easy they are to light. A simple push of a button, or even the heat control knob, will ignite them in seconds—no more hunting for a lighter or matches.

Higher quality, battery-powered ignitions tend to be better as they don’t break as easily. Many manufacturers, like Weber, have their own patented ignition systems, Infinity Ignition and the like, to ensure the grill ignites first time, every time.

A Good Grill Hood

If you want to cook anything larger than steaks or burgers, you’ll need a good hood or lid. The grill’s hood can be just as important for how fast or well the food cooks as the burners, grates or the BTU/heat flux rating.

The hood of the grill provides insulation to help the heat spread more evenly. A tight-fitting hood or one with double walls will prevent heat from escaping the cook box or cooking surface. A large and spacious hood is essential if you want to cook larger joints of meat or whole poultry, for if there’s not room you won’t be able to close the lid!

Normally made from cast aluminum or stainless steel, a hood should be durable as well as offering great insulation. Cool touch or heat resistant handles will also make the lid easier to open and close when cooking.

Physical Dimensions

It’s very easy to simply choose the largest grill in your price range, especially if you’re thinking of regularly entertaining large groups. However, do you have enough space in your backyard or on your patio?

A smaller upright model will be ideal if you live in an apartment with a limited balcony or patio space. Even with larger backyards or gardens, ensure the footprint allows for enough comfortable clearance space. Some compact designs can still offer large cooking surfaces.

Number of Burners

The burners of a gas grill will be important as they will affect how hot it will get, and how quickly. Generally, a grill which has three burners will heat up more quickly than one with only one or two, and will get hotter too.

More burners will also make the grill a more versatile outdoor cooking tool. You will have more precise control over the temperatures reached by different areas of the cooking surface. Different heat zones created by multiple burners can be used for direct and indirect cooking.

You could be searing a steak on one side of the grill while slow roasting a chicken in another zone. The burners may be located side to side or from the front to the back. Burners which are side to side will offer more flexibility and versatile options when grilling.

Side Burners, Rotisserie, or Warming Rack

Some gas grills feature secondary cooking surfaces like a side burner, warming rack or rotisserie. Side burners can be great for reducing a sauce or heating up other foods like vegetables while grilling. You can even use some side burners to add a final sear to your meats.

A warming rack will be handy for keeping buns warm when grilling your burgers or hot dogs. You could also use it to keep the burgers warm or even as a secondary cooking area for a very slow cook.

A rotisserie will often be a feature of gas grills. This can allow for perfectly cooked poultry or kebabs. Even if the grill doesn’t come with one, check if there is the facility or fixings for adding one later.

Easy Access to Gas Tanks

Does the grill feature a cabinet or hook where you can store the propane tank? If the gas runs out when cooking, the grill may still be hot and you will need easy access without the risk of getting burned. Additionally, you don’t want long hoses running across your patio or other entertaining areas.

Flavorizer Bars

Weber was one of the first manufacturers to adopt flavorizer bars in its gas grills. In answer to those critics who argue gas doesn’t offer a true BBQ taste, flavorizer bars collect the juices and drippings of food in the same way charcoal does. When it vaporizes on the bar, it adds that smokey flavor so many look for.

As well as adding flavor, these diffuser bars act as a barrier between the burner flames and your food. They help to distribute the heat more evenly, prevent flare-ups and therefore the burning of food. Well-designed flavorizer bars will also work as a grease management system, directing dripping fats and residues away from the burners.

Quality Grill Grates

After the burners, the cooking grates can have the most effect on how your food cooks. You should only buy a grill which has a stainless steel or cast iron grate, as these will resist corrosion and be easier to clean.

Stainless steel grates won’t rust and are much easier to clean than cast iron, but won’t hold the heat as well as cast iron grates. If you should choose a grill with cast iron grates, ensure they are coated with porcelain enamel, which will give you both the heat retention and an easier to clean surface.

Cheaper or flimsy grates won’t last too long with regular use and will not offer an even heat distribution. For better tasting food, you can usually replace the cheaper grates that come with some budget grills.

Shelving and Storage Space

Does the grill feature any side shelves or extra work surfaces?

Some models with a side burner may feature a lid to enable it to be used as an extra shelf or prep area. Do the shelves fold down for easier storage, or when space is limited?

Hooks on the shelves can be useful for hanging your tools on, but does it have any extra storage space?

A cabinet under the cook box will often be used for storing the propane tank but may also have space for tools or even dry goods, like rubs or spices. Remember, your grill is your outdoor kitchen—the more storage space, the better.

Materials and Build Quality

Your grill may be sitting outside in the harsh elements at certain times of the year. You will want to invest in one which is made with the most durable materials to withstand the weather.

Gas grills made with stainless steel tend to be more durable. Cast aluminum or coated cast iron will also be durable, but ensure any coating doesn’t get chipped, to prevent rust.

Don’t just look at the body of the grill, stainless steel burners will be more durable too.

Check the length of the warranty and which parts are included. Some may cover the burners for longer periods, like 5 years, with the main body having a shorter warranty.

Finally, to add years to the life, you should consider investing in a good grill cover.

Portability – if You Wish to Move It

How easy is the gas grill to move? Natural gas grills are likely to be stationary once positioned unless you fixed a removable hook-up for storage. Propane models, on the other hand, should be easy to move around your patio, with wheels or casters adding to their portability.

Some lightweight gas grills may be suitable for putting in the back of your truck, or even disassembled for the trunk of your car. Propane cylinders are normally available nationwide and a gas grill can be used in more national parks than open fire charcoal alternatives.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the grills we’ve looked at above have shown you can get a decent, often very good gas grill for under $500.

It’s not just about size or how much you can cook on them, but also the quality of build—remember this is an item which will be outside much of the time.

For the quality of construction, combined with the innovative grilling technology, the Weber Spirit II E310 is our choice of the best gas grill under $500.

Yes, there are larger models with more features available under $500. However, the Weber Spirit II E310 is a stylish product which has been well engineered and has a solid construction—hence the Weber 10-year warranty. Most importantly, it offers a great grilling performance. Now, where did I put that burger flipper?

If you have any comments, stories or questions related to budget gas grills, particularly any on this list, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Happy grilling!

Mark Jenner

Hi. I'm Mark Jenner, owner and creator of FoodFireFriends.com. I grill and smoke food outdoors at least three days a week on a wide range of equipment, have done so for years, and love nothing more than cooking good food, over live fire, enjoying it with friends. The aim of this site is to educate and help others to do the same.

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