Want to start grilling, but know you won’t have time to do it often? Don’t want to invest a whole lot of money right now? Fortunately, there are a lot of great options in gas barbecue grills that won’t break the bank.
A basic gas grill will provide what you need to cook up a great burger, steak, and more. It may not have all the fancy features and doodads, but it’ll give you what you need. It’ll let you focus on impressing your buddies with the great taste of the food rather than distracting them with shiny levers and switches.
What We Consider An Entry-level Grill
Price seemed to be the easiest way to divide gas grills into categories. There are grills at all price points – from $200 to $20,000. They can all cook a decent meal, but their size and features are going to vary.
So for this category, we looked at grills under $500 at the time of this writing. Of course, prices may change at any time; we have no control over that.
What To Expect In An Entry-level Grill
The size of the grill and the number of burners are one of the most important factors to look for. However, you can still find rather large grills even in this lower price range.
To grill for a family of four – or a group of friends that size – you should get a grill with at least two burners. The cooking-surface area will be about 400 square inches. A three-burner grill can have a surface of up to 500 square inches and feed six people.
These are the most common sizes in this price range, but we’ve even seen a 5-burner grill. So you can still get a rather large grill for a good price; you just might not find other features with it.
It’s the area of add-ons where an entry-level grill is going to lag behind pricier models. So what can you still expect to get?
Almost all grills will offer at least one shelf underneath. You’ll appreciate having this space! But you will also find some that have a two-shelf cabinet. That means a lot more storage that’s also protected by the doors.
Grill grates that are covered in porcelain are more durable and easier to clean than those without. That’s almost standard on all grills today, no matter the price range.
You can even find grills with side burners in this price range. That’s great for preparing vegetables or keeping some of your food warm. This isn’t common, though. However, you’ll still be able to get grills with one or two side tables for storage.
A thermometer should be standard on grills across any price range. Higher-end grills might let you check temperatures in different parts of the cooking surface. In this category, you’ll have a single gauge.
Our Picks For The Best Entry-level Gas Barbecue Grills
Now that you can still get a decent grill with a good cooking area at a low price, let’s have a look at some of your top options. We’re listing them in order from most to least expensive. We can’t include prices because they can change, but at the time of posting, they were in this order. In this case, you do get more when you pay more.
When it comes to grilling for a crowd, size matters, and this model from Nexgrill goes above and beyond.
This is a 6-burner grill that offers 60,000 BTU of main grilling surface and an additional 15,000 BTU on its side grill. The total cooking surface is just over 768 square inches, 563 of which make up the main grilling area. That’s enough to throw a nice backyard cookout!
It doesn’t come up short on features, either. A grease pan is included. There is even an LED light over each knob to help make it easier to see at night.
There’s two-shelf enclosed storage underneath as well as one side table. The grill is outfitted for propane but includes a natural gas regulator in case you want to make a switch.
This model is a bit heavy, at 124 pounds without the gas tank. Its 4 wheels do make it easier to move around, though.
The set does include a rotisserie kit, too. That’s a plus. However, there is no rotisserie burner. Nexgrill suggests turning off the inner burners and using the outer burners to provide indirect heat. It’s just something to be aware of, as the kit can lead you to think it offers better rotisserie grilling.
We’ve seen very few complaints with this grill. The only common issue was with the assembly instructions. However, there’s a video on YouTube that helps.
There’s a one-year warranty on this grill.
Weber constantly shows up among the top grills in every category, and its Spirit model doesn’t disappoint as a worthy entry in this price range.
This grill only has two burners, but that’s more than sufficient for the 360 square inches of primary grilling space. There’s also 90 square inches of warming rack. For a small group or an average-sized family, that’s perfect. It offers 26,500 BTUs for the primary area.
A drip tray does a decent job of catching droppings.
There are two side tables and a platform underneath for storage. There’s also a gas tank gauge to make it easy to know when you’re running low.
This model has only two wheels, meaning that it’s necessary to lift the other end when you need to move it. It weighs 103 pounds – not too extreme but still demands a bit of upper-body strength.
Weber offers a ten-year warranty on the burners.
This 2-burner grill is another popular and respectable entry in this price group. It offers a large cooking area and a couple of features that make storage easy.
The two burners produce 26,000 BTU. There’s a single cooking surface that measures 457 square inches. That’s a nice amount of space for cooking. However, a lot of people have issues with it not producing enough heat to grill correctly. The company suggests resetting the regulator (they provide instructions at the link above, in the Q&A section). It does seem like the cooking size is at the upper limit for this amount of power, though.
The cabinet below holds the propane tank and keeps it hidden from sight. That, and the bright red finish, help make it an attractive piece of patio furniture.
The side tables have tool hooks, a convenient feature. They also fold down, making it easier to store the grill.
It has four small caster wheels that make it easy to move at least on smooth, flat surfaces. It could be tougher to handle on grass or gravel, though. Fortunately, it weighs just 74 pounds.
This grill is manufactured and maintained by NexGrill and sold under the KitchenAid brand.
There is also a common problem with the brackets holding the heat spreaders corroding after a few years.
This grill is covered by a 10-year limited warranty on the burners, 3 years on the grill, and 1 for the rest of the grill.
Another quality entry, this 3-burner grill from Dyna-Glo comes in basic black, a good match for what it offers. But it gets the basics down right.
You get a 24,000 BTU grill to cook on a 310-square-inch primary cooking surface. There’s also 139 inches of secondary space. That’s a good amount of heat and space and will let you cook for 3 to 4 people at a time.
There are two side shelves.
The grates are porcelain-enameled. There’s also a grease pan to gather drippings.
There are two wheels on this grill but it weighs in at a light 64.7 pounds, making it easy to move.
There’s nothing fancy about this grill but it gets the job done exceptionally well. Sometimes simple is all you need!
One big plus that this grill has over many others is that it’s easy to follow the instructions and get it assembled.
The grill is covered by warranty for one year.
Our final entry doesn’t disappoint and offers good value for the money. It even offers a unique feature that we haven’t seen elsewhere!
Three burners provide 40,800 BTU to the main cooking area. There’s also a side burner that cooks at 12,000 BTU. Not bad at all for its price level!
The primary cooking surface is 438 square inches, with a 192 square inch warming rack. The grills have the typical porcelain enamel. It heats up quickly and maintains a high temperature.
There’s a side shelf for a limited amount of storage space.
What makes this unique is the two smokestacks on the lid. These can help control the temperature by allowing heat to escape as needed.
The unit weighs 81 pounds. It has two large wheels
Overall, it’s a great value for the money, and we’ve found no issues with it.
There is a one-year warranty on the grill, and the burners are covered for five years.
If you don’t want to invest a fortune in a grill, there are still many great options. While you might lose out on some features, you can still get a unit with multiple burners and a grilling area sufficient for four people or more. Happy grilling to one and all!