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The best gas grill in 2020: Weber, Char-Broil and more – CNET

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If you’re new to grilling or just looking for an upgrade from your old model, the abundance of grills on the market can make picking the best one feel overwhelming. It’s hard to know whether to go for a gas grill (fueled by propane or natural gas), kamado grill, charcoal grill, pellet grill or perhaps a portable model.

Gas grills are a great place to start for new grillers and make a great upgrade, too. They are simple to use, easy to control and roomy enough to feed the whole family. We put six of the best-selling models you can buy right now through their paces at the CNET Smart Home to help you find the best gas grill. After cooking up 12 racks of ribs, 18 whole chickens and 96 burgers, here’s how it all shook out.

Note our original list included the DynaGlo 4-burner (DGE486GSP-D) and Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living 3-burner (DGB390SNP-D) among our top picks. These models are now discontinued, and we’ve updated our recommendations accordingly.

Read more: The best outdoor tech of 2020

Best overall

Weber Spirit II E-210

Chris Monroe/CNET

If burgers are the mainstay of your cookouts and backyard barbecues, this Weber gas grill is a great choice. In fact, it’s a great choice for cooking all around. Weber’s 10-year warranty applies to all its grill parts, so you’ll be set for years to come, even with heavy use (like, if you let no weekend go by without having a chance to char-broil some burgers). Its consistent performance in our testing delivered burgers with a good char and a slightly pink center.

The Spirit II E-210 is also one of Weber’s iGrill compatible models, an additional accessory line that includes Bluetooth temperature probes you can monitor via a companion app. If you’ll be preparing dishes that require more time on the grill, the iGrill system will help you keep an eye on things from a distance.

At $379, this gas grill sits in the middle of the affordability spectrum. The cons are you that you won’t get a side burner or a cabinet to hide your propane tank, though there is a rack to hang it on with a sliding gauge mechanism. Still, I was pleased with the searing and even cooking across this Weber model, and I’d recommend it to anyone who dreams of the perfect Saturday spent grilling.

Best large capacity model

Char-Broil Commercial Double Header

Chris Monroe/CNET

The name says it all. This $499 gas grill is a good choice if you’re looking for large capacity, and it feels like working in a professional outdoor kitchen. Equipped with four burners, two separate fireboxes and a side burner, this grill will easily conquer cooking for the largest crowds.

The Char-Broil Commercial Double Header does an excellent job of preventing flare-ups, no matter how greasy your meat. And it takes a low-and-slow approach to cooking, which means you can relax in a lawn chair without worrying about whether your meat will burn. However, it is expensive. You might luck out with summer sales, but be prepared to spend big for a big gas grill that will serve up patties by the dozen.

Read our Char-Broil Commercial Double Header review.

Best smart grill

Weber Spirit II E-310

Chris Monroe/CNET

Weber’s larger Spirit II model includes three burners. It also comes with a propane tank scale and six hooks for easy tool organization. It performs well and gives you the option of an iGrill accessory, a $100 Bluetooth temperature probe that connects to your mobile Weber app to monitor the temperature of your food.

Priced higher at $479, the Spirit II E-310 looks great, offers smarts and is a good size for most people. If the tank scale and iGrill 3 accessory matter to you, the Spirit II might be worth your money.

Other gas grills we’ve tested

The CNET Smart Home editors have been cooking and serving up grill data for a few years now. In addition to the models above, here are the other gas grills we’ve tested. These do include some models that are currently unavailable.

  • Char-Broil Signature Series 4-burner: This well-built and practical Char-Broil model was middle of the road in our testing and is priced high at $600 (though we did see it for $500 at Academy Sports). It comes with plenty of cooking space, a side burner and cabinet doors. If you’re a fan of Char-Broil’s grills, this model is a safe bet, but there are better grills from other brands for your money.
  • KitchenAid 720-0891C: KitchenAid’s style and color options are impressive, but the performance of this two-burner gas grill was underwhelming in all three tests. If you’re looking for a two-burner grill, the Weber Spirit II E-210 is a better choice.
  • Dyna-Glo 4-burner (DGE486GSP-D) (no longer available): This model performed well in our rib taste tests, outscoring Weber, Char-Broil and KitchenAid models every time. In addition to 40,000 BTUs across the main burners, there’s also a 12,000-BTU side burner, perfect for heating up sauces or side dishes.
  • Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living 3-burner (DGB390SNP-D) (no longer available): Dyna-Glo proved itself once again when it came to low and slow cooking. The Smart Space Living three-burner was the winner of our rib taste tests every time. Chicken on this Dyna-Glo model was average in cooking time, but was worth it for the crispy skin and tender meat.
  • Broil King Baron S520 (no longer available): The Baron S520 tended to run hot in our testing, and we found ourselves burning food too often while cooking. You won’t get any extras either, like side burners or temperature probes, and it appears to be unavailable on Broil King’s website.
  • Royal Gourmet (GG3201) (no longer available): We liked the grill for the balance of its $200 value and decent performance. Other Royal Gourmet models may be worth considering if you’re on a budget.
  • Char-Broil Performance XL (no longer available): The $299 Performance XL was our top pick last year given its great performance and reasonable price, but this five-burner model (#463243518) is no longer available from Char-Broil’s website or Lowe’s, though the folks at Char-Broil tell me there is a nearly identical model replacing it.

How we test

To determine the best gas grill and get a feel for how these grills perform in a variety of cooking scenarios, we perform three tests. Based on different meats, methods and heat settings, these tests show us how efficiently and evenly a grill does (or doesn’t) cook.

Ribs

Our first test is ribs. It’s an anecdotal round, so there isn’t a connected thermometer set or software capturing specific data. We preheat each grill on high for 10 minutes before turning it down to low, indirect heat. Depending on the grill size, that means turning one or two burners off completely.

We remove the outer membrane on a rack of St. Louis style short ribs and season it with an all-purpose rub we use for ribs and chicken. Then, the ribs are placed on a piece of aluminum foil and grilled for three hours with the lid closed the entire time.

grills-2019-16
Rib testing takes three hours on low, indirect heat.
Chris Monroe/CNET

Rib enthusiasts may not agree with this relatively short and smoke-free cooking method, but it allows us to see just how well a regular propane gas grill can cook low and slow. Even with the arguably slim three-hour cook time, ribs at the end of this test can be tender and juicy.

A blind taste test by five selfless and dedicated (definitely not just there for the free food) coworkers results in a ranked list with the lowest scoring grill declared the winner. We repeated this test twice, you know, for science.

Chicken

To test the grill with a midrange cook time and medium heat settings, we grill a whole chicken. We preheat the grill on high for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium and turn off burners to create an indirect heat environment.

Once we’ve trimmed and seasoned the bird, we place it in a roasting pan and insert one temperature probe into each chicken breast, for a total of two probes per chicken (this is an important step — even if the grill has a built in thermometer — because undercooked chicken is no good for anyone). To keep our results as fair as possibly, all the chickens are as close as possible to 5.5 pounds.

grills-2019-24
Whole chickens are cooked on indirect, medium heat until both breasts reach 165 degrees.
Chris Monroe/CNET

Those temperature probes are connected to a datalogger and laptop with a software program that records the internal temperature of each chicken breast every two seconds. Each chicken cooks until the temperature in both breasts reaches a food-safe 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chicken grilled well should have a crispy skin and meat that is cooked through fully but not dry. This test is performed in three rounds, giving us a solid average cooking time for each grill.

Burgers

Burgers are our final test for our grill reviews. We measure out 5.3 ounces of 80/20 ground beef and press them into uniform patties. Those patties go into a grill basket and we insert a temperature probe into the center of each patty at a 45-degree angle.

With the grill preheated for 10 minutes on high, the basket goes onto the grill. After six minutes of cooking, we flip the basket and monitor internal temperature. Once the last burger in the basket reaches 145 degrees, the batch is finished. A good burger in this test is one that has both a nice outside char and a slightly pink center.

img-20190426-114623-1
Burgers go on the grill over direct, high heat.
Brian Bennett/CNET

Burger testing points out any hot spots across the grill’s cooking surface if one burger consistently reaches 145 before the others in every round.

An average 15- or 20-degree difference across the quickest and slowest patties in a batch was the norm in our testing. Red flags are raised when we begin to see differences in the 30- to 40-degree range. In this group of grills, only the Royal Gourmet gave us a real hot spot issue across the grates.

A closer look at specs

Comparing these gas grills isn’t all apples to apples. With different grill sizes, cooking grates and BTU levels, a difference in performance is expected in each individual outdoor gas grill. Still, there are some observations to be made.

One thing our test data highlights is how quickly a grill can cook on its own medium or high setting. That doesn’t mean each grill is set to the same preheated temperature. It simply means we turned the knobs to what each grill indicated was medium heat.

The chart below compares each grill’s average cooking time for chicken and burgers over three identical tests.

Average cooking times

Char-Broil Commercial Double Header Char-Broil Signature Series 4-burner KitchenAid 720-0891C Royal Gourmet GG3201 Weber Spirit II E-210 Weber Spirit II E-310
Chicken 94 min. 75 min. 103 min. 73 min. 117 min. 80 min.
Burgers 14 min., 2 sec. 14 min., 54 sec. 15 min., 4 sec. 9 min., 35 sec. 13 min., 26 sec. 15 min., 44 sec.

If speed isn’t your deciding factor, don’t fear. There are other characteristics you can compare to choose the grill that’s right for you.

Exactly which one is that? It depends on your cooking style. If you’re cooking for large groups frequently, you’ll need a grill with a large primary cooking surface, a warming rack and a side burner. Some of you might also have strong feelings about the cooking grates — you need stainless steel, or cast iron grates, or porcelain coated grates, or even porcelain coated cast iron. Look carefully at each description to be sure you get what you’re looking for. If you just plan to use your grill for flipping a few burgers occasionally, stick with a smaller or less expensive model. And of course, if you’re looking for a portable grill or an indoor grill, these won’t be right for you.

Looking for a small propane gas grill with a compact cooking area that gets the job done? KitchenAid’s size and bold color options make it a solid, stylish choice that also cooks food well. If you want that side burner and plenty of power to go with it, the Char-Broil Commercial Double Header delivers great power and a stylish stainless steel look. Otherwise, I’ll point you back to my top pick this year: the Weber Spirit II E-210.

Once you’ve picked out the best grill for you, don’t forget accessories. You’ll want to look at grill covers and pick up grilling tools like a grill brush, a thermometer to check for food-safe temperatures and liners for the drip tray.

Take a look at this chart to compare size, power, warranty and more.

Gas grills compared

Char-Broil Commercial Double Header Char-Broil Signature Series 4-burner KitchenAid 720-0891C Royal Gourmet GG3201 Weber Spirit II E-210 Weber Spirit II E-310
Price $749 $600 $279 $200 $349 $449
Dimensions (HxWxD) inches 47.8×66.3×23.5 46.2×55.2×27.5 44.69×48.03×21.46 44.9×48.8×22.4 44.5×48.0x27.0 44.5×52.0x27.0
Weight (lbs.) 215 143 72 89.3 103 114
Main burner BTUs 36,000 30,000 26,000 36,000 26,500 30,000
Side burner Yes Yes No Yes No no
Warranty Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year 1 year 10 years 10 years
Primary cooking space (sq. in.) 650 530 332 413 360 424

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