The best grills of 2019: Gas models we love – CNET

Grilling season is rounding the corner from summer barbecues to gameday tailgates, and if you're upgrading your gas grill this year, you'll find plenty of options staring back at you in your local home improvement store

Options range from charcoal grills to pellet grills, propane grills and even natural gas. If you're looking for signature smoky flavor, smokers like the big green egg open up another category entirely. One thing is for sure: picking the best grill can be overwhelming.

Read more: The best way to clean gas grills and grates  | The best coolers for summer 2019

We put six of the best-selling grills you can buy right now through their paces at the CNET Smart Home to help you find the one that's right for you. Twelve racks of ribs, 18 whole chickens and 96 burgers later, here's how it all shook out.

Read more from Chowhound: Everything you need to know about grilling | Grilling 101: How to Grill Everything on Every Type of Grill | What Is the Difference Between Gas and Charcoal for Grilling? | When to Use the Lid on Your Grill

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Chris Monroe/CNET

The Dyna-Glo 4 burner is my top pick this grilling season. It delivered above-average results across our testing categories. It performed well in our rib taste tests, outscoring Weber, Char-Broil and KitchenAid models every time. Chicken didn't cook quite as quickly on this grill as others, but that's not necessarily bad news. The Dyna-Glo 4-burner gave us a bird with crispy skin and juicy meat.  

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. This grill also had one of my favorite thoughtful extras: a sliding liquid propane tank drawer inside the cabinet for easy access.

With an MSRP of $449, it isn't the most affordable grill we tested or the most expensive, but you can find it for as low as $273 at Home Depot if you keep an eye out for sales. The warranty is nothing to write home about, either. Still, this grill was a solid performer I'd be happy to have on my own patio.

Chris Monroe/CNET

If burgers are the mainstay of your cookouts, this Weber grill is a great choice. Weber's 10-year warranty applies to all its grill parts, so you'll be set for years to come, even with heavy use. 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 $349, this grill sits in the middle of the affordability spectrum. You won't get a side burner or a cabinet to hide your propane tank, either, 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 patty. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

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. 

The Smart Space Living 3-burner's MSRP is $329, but we saw it priced at $239 at Home Depot. This model didn't do as well with burgers as it did with chicken and ribs, but if you're looking to cook larger cuts of meat, you won't be disappointed. It's also the smallest three-burner gas grill we tested, and at just 77 pounds, the lightest. This Dyna-Glo is great for someone who wants the easy indirect heat option of a three-burner grill without any extra bulk. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

This Royal Gourmet was the most budget-friendly model in our testing group. The MSRP sits at just $200, but we saw it at $176 on Home Depot's website. You'll get a grill with 413 square inches of primary cooking space, 36,000 BTUs and a side burner. You'll also get a good-looking temperature gauge on the hood, cabinet doors to hide a propane tank, and the option for a powder-coated or stainless steel finish. 

The Royal Gourmet GG3201 did well with low and slow cooking, coming in second in our rib taste tests. However, burgers on high heat were extremely well done, nearly burnt, every time. If you purchase this grill, I'd keep a close eye on anything grilled above medium heat, as it tends to run hot. 

Other grills we've tested

The CNET Smart Home editors have been serving up grill data for a few years now. In addition to the models above, here are the other gas grills we've tested: 

  • Weber Spirit II E-310: Weber's larger Spirit II model includes three burners and is also iGrill compatible. However, that accessory costs $100, and this basic three-burner is already priced high at $449.
  • Char-Broil Commercial Double Header: This $700 grill is a good choice if you're looking for large capacity. Four burners, two separate fireboxes and a side burner mean you'll be ready for any crowd.
  • 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 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. 
  • 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. You won't get any extras either, like side burners or temperature probes, and it appears to be unavailable on Broil King's website.
  • 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 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.

The best grills of 2019: Gas models we love     - CNET

Rib testing takes three hours on low, indirect heat.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Rib enthusiasts may not agree with this relatively short and smokeless cooking method, but it allows us to see just how well a regular 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. 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 grill test. 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. 

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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 and BTU levels, a difference in performance is expected. 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 Dyna-Glo DGB390SNP-D Dyna-Glo DGE486GSP-D KitchenAid 720-0891C Royal Gourmet GG3201 Weber Spirit II E-210 Weber Spirit II E-310
Chicken 94 min. 75 min. 86 min. 113 min. 103 min. 73 min. 117 min. 80 min.
Burgers 14 min., 2 sec. 14 min., 54 sec. 12 min. 14 min., 45 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. 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, these won't be right for you.

Looking for a small model that gets the job done? KitchenAid's compact 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 Dyna-Glo 4-burner (DGE486GSP-D).

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 Dyna-Glo DGB390SNP-D Dyna-Glo DGE486GSP-D KitchenAid 720-0891C Royal Gourmet GG3201 Weber Spirit II E-210 Weber Spirit II E-310
Price $749 $600 $329 $449 $279 $200 $349 $449
Dimensions (HxWxD) inches 47.8x66.3x23.5 46.2x55.2x27.5 45.7x49.6x23.0 47.0x51.2x24.6 44.69x48.03x21.46 44.9x48.8x22.4 44.5x48.0x27.0 44.5x52.0x27.0
Weight (lbs.) 215 143 77.8 101.5 72 89.3 103 114
Main burner BTUs 36,000 30,000 36,000 40,000 26,000 36,000 26,500 30,000
Side burner Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No no
Warranty Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year Burners: 5 years Other: 1 year Burners: 5 years Other: 1 year Burner: 10 years Firebox: 3 years Other: 1 year 1 year 10 years 10 years
Primary cooking space (sq. in.) 650 530 507 486 332 413 360 424
The best grills of 2019: Gas models we love     - CNET

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