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Which gas grill is right for you and are charcoal grills actually better?

Gas grills may not give you quite the same flavor as their charcoal counterparts, but they're still a very popular choice for outdoor cooking. Gas grills also come in more elaborate designs around which you can build the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. The Char-Broil Performance 5-burner is ZDNET's top choice due to its large surface and side burner.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer and  Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Char-Broil Performance 5-burner | Best gas grill overall
Char-Broil Performance 5-burner gas grill review | Best gas grill
Char-Broil Performance 5-burner
Best gas grill overall
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Dyna-Glo 3-burner open cart | Best budget gas grill
Gas grill outdoors next to table
Dyna-Glo 3-burner open cart
Best budget gas grill
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KitchenAid 6-burner dual chamber gas grill | Best splurge gas grill
Vegetable skewers cooking on outdoor grill
KitchenAid 6-burner dual chamber gas grill
Best splurge gas grill
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Kenmore 4-burner gas grill with searing side burner | Best dual fuel gas grill
Black gas grill outside next to pool
Kenmore 4-burner gas grill with searing side burner
Best dual fuel gas grill
View now View at Amazon
Weber Q 1200 | Best portable gas grill
People standing outside behind a gas grill at a tailgate
Weber Q 1200
Best portable gas grill
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By using natural gas or liquid propane, a gas grill can reach optimal cooking temperatures much faster than charcoal; which means no one at the cookout bothers you every five minutes to ask if the food is ready yet. They also have larger cooking surfaces so you can fit more food onto the grill, which is great if you're cooking for a crowd or like to meal-prep. Many gas grills also have side burners for cooking sauces, side dishes, or even desserts, as well as secondary racks under the lid to keep finished food warm while you wait for everything else to get done. High-end models like the KitchenAid 6-burner, dual-chamber gas grill have premium features like ceramic burners for better durability and heat distribution and rotisserie burners for roasting whole chickens, ducks, or turkeys. 

Gas grills tend to be more expensive than their charcoal-using brethren because they have slightly more complicated designs as well as built-in safety features to prevent flare-ups, gas leaks, and explosions. But even though they cost more up front, using liquid propane to grill is cheaper in the long run, since a typical 20-pound propane tank can last up to a month; compared to needing to buy a new bag of charcoal every other week. Other models that plug into your home's existing natural gas lines can save you even more money, since you don't have to pay to exchange empty cylinders. To help you find the grill of your dreams, I've picked five of the very best gas grills you can buy. I've broken down their features and price points to help you decide which is the best fit for both your budget and your outdoor space.

Must read:

Pros & Cons
  • Large cooking surface
  • Porcelain coated iron cooking grates
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Side burner
  • No utensil hooks
  • No front access to LP tank
More Details

Features: 10,000 BTU side burner | 5 burners | 495 square inches of cooking area

If you're looking to buy your first gas grill or upgrade your outdoor entertainment space, the Char-Broil Performance 5-burner grill is the best you can get. Each of the five burners features stainless steel construction to resist rust and corrosion, and the cast iron grill grates have a porcelain coating to prevent damage from food sticking and from the elements. A 10,000 BTU side burner lets you cook sauces and sides or keep appetizers warm while you grill ribs, whole chickens, steaks, or burgers. 

The right-hand side of the grill has a fixed shelf to keep seasonings and utensils close by, and if you need more space, the side burner has a lid that folds down to convert it into a second shelf. An electronic ignition button ensures quick and easy grill lighting, while the built-in thermometer lets you check cooking temperatures at a glance. The main grill grates give you 495 square inches of cooking area, while a warming grate lets you move things around so they stay warm without getting overcooked, which is perfect for quick-cooking proteins like fish or vegetables that you want to char but not let get mushy. When it's time to clean up, the removable, porcelain-coated grease pan makes disposing of burnt food and waste fat fast and simple. 

Pros & Cons
  • Under $200
  • Warming rack
  • 2 side shelves
  • Stainless steel construction
  • No utensil hooks
  • No side burner
More Details

Features: 3 burners | 449 square inches of cooking area | Warming rack

The Dyna-Glo 3-burner cart propane grill proves that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a great gas grill. For under $200, you'll get a total cooking surface of 449 square inches: 310 square inches of direct-heat grilling area and 139 square inches of warming rack. The grill also features two side shelves to keep utensils, seasonings, and sauces close by, while the stainless steel construction and porcelain-enamel coatings protect your grill from rust and corrosion caused by weather and the dripping juices and fat from foods. The three burners give you a total of 24,000 BTUs, which is perfect for burgers, chicken, steaks, and veggies. The grill also comes in three colors (black, blue, and red), so you can choose one that complements your deck or patio decor.

Pros & Cons
  • Tons of cooking options
  • Huge cooking surface
  • 50,000 BTU output
  • 10-year warranty
  • Very large
  • Natural gas conversion kit costs extra
More Details

Features: 6 burners | 1,057 square inches of cooking area | Tank storage area 

For customers with deeper pockets, the KitchenAid 6-burner dual chamber propane grill is an excellent investment for your outdoor kitchen, deck, or patio cooking area. It features five main burners with a combined output of 50,000 BTUs for quickly searing steaks and burgers, while the 16,000 BTU ceramic/infrared side burner lets you cook sauces and sides, and the 12,000 BTU rotisserie burner perfectly cooks whole chickens or turkeys time after time. The main grate gives you 1,057 square inches of cooking surface, so you can tackle huge cuts like whole racks of ribs, entire briskets, or even salmon. The left-hand side of the grill features a side shelf for keeping utensils and seasonings handy, while a storage cupboard and shelf let you safely tuck away things like aprons, cast iron skillets, skewers, and cutting boards. There also is a tank storage area with a pullout drawer for easier access to your LP tank when you need to switch it out. A battery operated ignition button gives you consistent, continuous burner lighting, and should you ever need a replacement part or to replace the whole grill, KitchenAid offers a 10-year warranty.

Pros & Cons
  • Dual fuel options
  • Tons of cooking space
  • Locking caster wheels
  • Porcelain-coated cast iron grates
  • No accessory hooks
  • Natural gas conversion kit costs extra
More Details

Features: 4 burners | 425 square inches of cooking area | Warming rack 

The Kenmore 4-burner grill is a bit different from other gas grills you may find: You can convert it to run off of your home's natural gas line rather than use a liquid propane tank. With the conversion kit, you can plug your grill into your existing gas lines for continuous fuel so you don't have to worry about making time to exchange an empty tank or running out of propane in the middle of cooking your meal. But if you prefer a propane tank for your fuel, twin doors on the front of the cart give you easy access to the tank for opening fuel lines or changing it out when it's empty. The powder-coated steel frame features four caster wheels for easier maneuvering around your deck or patio, and two of those wheels have locks to keep the grill firmly in place while you use it. 

The main grill has porcelain-coated cast iron grates for durability and better heat distribution, while giving you 425 square inches of grilling space; there's also a 165 square inch warming rack for slower cooking or to keep delicate proteins or veggies from burning while you wait for everything else to finish cooking. The four main burners have an output of 40,000 BTUs to handle everything from slow roasting to high-temp searing, and the side burner has a 12,000 BTU output, which makes it perfect for sauces, sides, and anything else your culinary imagination can dream up. An electronic ignition button ensures fast, easy lighting, while the built-in temperature gauge lets you monitor internal heat without needing to lift the lid. The grill even comes with a firebox for using wood chips or other flavoring accessories to elevate your cooking.

Pros & Cons
  • Folding design
  • Corrosion and rust-resistant
  • Built-in carrying handles
  • LP tank kit sold separately
More Details

Features: 189 square inches of cooking area | 8,500 BTUs | Carrying handles 

For anyone who loves to go camping, on picnics, or have tailgate parties for their favorite sports events, there's the Weber Q 1200 portable gas grill. This model has a compact, folding design that is perfect for on-the-go grilling. You get 189 square inches of cooking area, which is big enough for about a dozen burgers or a few steaks, and the main burner has an output of 8,500 BTUs. It uses propane camping cylinders for fuel, which means you don't have to lug around a heavy, standard sized tank when you want to go on a weekend RV trip or grill up some brats in the stadium parking lot before the big game. There's a conversion kit available for 20-pound LP tanks if you want one for longer camping trips. The stainless steel burner and cast aluminum body help prevent corrosion from the elements, while the cast iron cooking grate has a porcelain-enamel coating to help prevent rust from cooking juices and fat. Two foldout shelves allow you to keep utensils, seasonings, and to-be-cooked food close by while also giving you more stability for safer cooking. The Weber Q 1200 portable gas grill also has ergonomic carrying handles built into the body to make it easier and more comfortable to move it around.

What is the best gas grill to buy?

In my opinion, the Char-Broil Performance 5-burner model is the very best gas grill you can buy. It gives you 495 square inches of cooking surface, including a warming grate, as well as a side burner for cooking sauces and sides. A side shelf helps to keep utensils and seasonings handy while the built-in temperature gauge lets you check on cooking temps without having to lift the lid. The cast iron cooking grates feature a porcelain-enamel coating to prevent rust and corrosion that can happen when exposed to weather and cooking juices, and the stainless steel construction prevents water damage to the body and frame of the grill as well. It even has a removable grease pan to help keep your grill clean and ready to handle everything from burgers and hotdogs to steaks and briskets.

Gas grill


Cooking surface area


Char-Broil Performance


495 sq. in.


Dyna-Glo 3-burner


449 sq. in.


KitchenAid 6-burner dual chamber




Kenmore 4-burner w/searing side burner


590 sq. in.


Weber Q 1200


189 sq. in.


Which gas grill is right for you?

Once you've finalized a budget for a new grill, you'll next have to consider how you'll be using it. Are you planning on using it just for weekend get-togethers with friends and family? If so, you'll want a smaller grill with a lower BTU output so you don't overcook your burgers and hotdogs. Do you consider yourself a pit master and plan on smoking briskets or roasting whole chickens? Spring for a much larger model with a higher BTU output as well as a side burner or rotisserie burner to handle different cuts of meat.

Choose this gas grill...

If you want...

Char-Broil Performance

The best overall option

Dyna-Glo 3-burner 

A budget-friendly gas grill

KitchenAid 6-burner dual chamber

To splurge on a great gas grill

Kenmore 4-burner w/searing side burner 

A dual fuel grill

Weber Q 1200

A portable gas grill to take on trips

How did we choose these gas grills?

I chose gas grills from a variety of brands with different feature sets to suit different cooking styles. I picked different price points as well to fit both modest and generous budgets, so even if you don't have a lot to spend on a new grill, you can still get one that ticks all the boxes. I also made sure to choose gas grills with generous cooking surfaces to accommodate both small foods like veggies, kabobs, and burgers and larger cuts of meat like whole racks of ribs, briskets, and even whole chickens.

Are charcoal grills better than gas?

Charcoal grills sear faster and hotter than gas grills and give a charcoal flavor to whatever you are cooking, but they aren't necessarily better. Really, it comes down to your own preference with grills. 

Is cooking over propane safe?

In general, grilling your food is considered a healthy way to cook proteins and veggies since it doesn't use excess fat to impart flavor, unlike pan-frying, deep-frying, and sautéing. However, there have been studies done that suggest grilling food can cause the creation of carcinogenic compounds due to charring and prolonged contact with smoke. The good news is that natural gas and propane grills don't present as high a risk as their charcoal counterparts, since they cook your food at lower temperatures and don't produce as much smoke. If you want a more in-depth explanation of what happens to your food when you grill and the health risks that may be involved, you can check out our informative article over at Healthline.

Can a propane grill use natural gas?

Not every propane grill can use natural gas. If you want a gas grill that uses natural gas, look for a dual fuel grill, such as the Kenmore 4-burner grill on this list. 

How long will a gas grill last?

With proper maintenance (regular cleanings, making sure to remove food residue and buildup from the cooking grates, and using a grill cover), your gas grill can last up to 15 years. However, if you live in an area with wetter summers and harsh winters, you may only get 10 years of use from your grill due to exposure to the elements. And don't worry: just because your grill grates get rusted or corroded, that doesn't mean you have to get a whole new grill. You can often get replacement parts through the grill manufacturer website to swap out with whatever is damaged to prolong the life of your gas grill.

Are there alternative gas grills worth considering?

There are tons of options out there if you're in the market for your first gas grill or an upgrade to your current outdoor space. Here is a short list of other gas grills that I thought were great choices:

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