Look alive, grill masters! Summer is just around the corner, and that means that it's almost time for barbecue season. And if you're looking to be the envy of the neighborhood potluck, it might be time to upgrade your grilling setup. There are tons of options to choose from, including pellet grills, portable grills and even traditional charcoal grills for that great smoky flavor. But an easy-to-use gas cooker remains the tried-and-true champion when it comes to backyard grilling.
Because gas grills are simple to use, they're ideal for newbies. They ignite fast and heat up quickly. Most have plenty of room to fix a feast for the entire family, too. Some of today's gas grills also come jam-packed with nifty extras, from side burners to special sear stations to built-in lighting for evening cooking.
So if you're on the hunt for a quality gas grill, you're in luck. We put a bunch of the bestselling models through their paces by using them to cook up burgers, whole chickens, ribs and more. These backyard models are three of CNET's favorites.
Weber Genesis II E-335
CNET TAKE: This Weber Genesis II liquid propane gas grill is pricey. We won't skip over that. However, if you're serious about grilling and ready to make an investment in your outdoor kitchen, this Weber grill is absolutely a top choice with ample grilling area and cooking grid dimensions.
This model comes with plenty of high-performance specs. With 513 square inches of primary cooking space powered by 39,000 BTUs, plus a fold-down warming rack, a 12,000-BTU side burner and stainless steel rod cooking grates for heat retention, you'll never want for cooking area space. Two cabinet doors hide a two-shelf storage area below the grill for utensils and supplies. That does mean the propane tank is stored outside the grill, but the provided hanging fuel gauge and easy access felt like a bonus more than an eyesore.
The Genesis II E-335 is also one of Weber's iGrill 3 compatible models, along with other Genesis II models and the Spirit II line. This $121 accessory plugs into the front of the grill and houses up to four Bluetooth temperature probes. You can monitor the temperature probes via a companion app for iOS and Android, so you keep an eye on what's happening in your cooking area from a distance.
Char-Broil Commercial 3-burner
Best midrange model
CNET TAKE: Char-Broil's three-burner stainless steel model comes in at almost half the price of the Weber model above. At $529, you'll get a liquid propane and natural gas grill that can handle most cooking challenges with ease.
Char-Broil uses what it calls Tru-Infrared, a set of perforated emitter plates that separate food from flame to evenly distribute heat and reduce flare-ups. There were definitely fewer flare-ups compared with other models in our testing, but you won't be able to see the flame when you're lighting the grill or adjusting the temperature, so keep that in mind.
You'll get less power than the Weber at 25,500 BTUs over 420 square inches of primary cooking area space, and there aren't any smart grilling features for remote monitoring. This Char-Broil model does have a side burner as well as tank storage behind two cabinet doors. Like the Weber, it comes with a 10-year warranty.
Char-Griller E3072 3-burner
Best budget model
CNET TAKE: No one ever said you have to spend hundreds of dollars to be happy with your barbecue grill. Char-Griller's E3072 proves it. This model brings 40,800 BTU of power over a generous 438 square inches of cooking space, not counting a 12,000-BTU side burner.
What we noticed most in testing this grill is how quickly it got up to temperature compared with other models. It held that heat well, too. Unfortunately, that became a hindrance in our testing. Burgers and chickens were too charred on the outside, thanks to the hot cast-iron cooking grate. If you do purchase this model, keep that in mind and start out with less heat. Ribs were better, perhaps owing to the two smokestacks designed for even low and slow cooking.
There's no storage cabinet on this model. The propane tank sits behind a decorative front panel. That's an aesthetically pleasing compromise, but reaching through the side bars and around the panel to open and close the tank was frustratingly difficult. Despite those annoyances, this barbecue grill offers plenty of practicality and power for a very reasonable price.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: Senior writer Brian Bennett, former CNET staff member Molly Price and Copy Editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, please visit www.cnet.com.
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