A top-of-the-line gas grill can cost thousands of dollars, but if you're looking to spend much less than that, there are certainly options for you. While you won't be getting a professional-grade product that lasts forever, a budget-friendly version should get you through years of barbecuing hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, and more—as long as you take the proper steps to clean and maintain it.
When it comes to this end of the market, you can get a freestanding grill, but it might be more worth getting a portable one. They can have the same amount of power as big grills, while being easier to move and store. Since there are so many options on the market today (some of which are significantly better than others), we tested and researched top-rated brands to help find the best option for you at under $250.
Char-Broil 463773717 Classic Series 3-Burner Gas Grill
Easy to move around
Even flame and independent temperature control
Not very sturdy
No drip pan on the right side
Food can stick to grill grates
One of the best inexpensive gas grills you can score is the Char-Broil Classic 3-Burner Propane Grill. This freestanding model has all the features you need to host an epic backyard cookout, and you can’t beat its affordable price. While it may not have the bells and whistles of fancier models, the performance is impressive and find it to be a particularly good option for small spaces. "The flame was even and responded well to temperature adjustments, which translated to even cooking and food that came out exactly as expected," one tester commented.
This grill runs on propane and has 360 square inches of primary cooking space—enough to fit up to 15 burgers at a time—as well as a 170-square-inch swing-away warming rack. There are three stainless-steel burners that you can control individually, and the grill’s total heat output is 30,000 BTUs per hour. The grill features electronic ignition, and porcelain-coated grates, as well as two durable side shelves for food prep. The grill is mounted on 6-inch wheels for increased mobility.
Price at time of publish: $230
Dimensions: 51.2 x 24.1 x 43.5 inches | Cooking Area: 360 square inches | Burners: 3 | Power: 30,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 5 years (burner); 2 years (firebox and lid); 1 year (everything else)
Char-Broil 463630021 Performance Series 2-Burner Gas Grill
Very accurate built-in temperature
Easy assembly and cleanup
Hot spots around the grate edges
When you're on a grill budget, you'll find a lot of small options with two burners. This Char-Broil 2-burner gas grill comes with a great performance, and, thanks to the folding side shelves, can fit just about anywhere. We were impressed with how well it heated all 395 square inches of cooking space, with the burners quickly responding to any turn of the dial. We did catch hot spots around the edges of the grates, though.
We also had to keep an eye on the internal ambient temperature. With such a small enclosed space, the air heats up a lot faster with nowhere to go, a situation that could run your meal if you're not monitoring closely. Thankfully, this has a very accurate built-in thermometer so you know when it's time to turn down the dial. Lastly, the remarkably painless assembly and cleaning make this an easy grill to use, especially for beginners.
Price at time of publish: $249
Dimensions: 44.5 x 22.4 x 45.3 inches | Cooking Area: 395 square inches | Burners: 2 | Power: 20,000 BTUs/hour | Warranty: 2 years (firebox, lid); 5 years (burners); 1 year (all other parts)
Weber Go-Anywhere 1-Burner Portable Propane Gas Grill
Legs double as lid lock
Awkward tank layout
Grate is steel and not cast-iron
With its compact size, light weight, and low price, the Weber Go-Anywhere really can go…anywhere. We love the clever design feature that the legs fold up to lock the lid in place for transport. Despite its paltry 6,500-BTU single burner, it was still able to get the grate to 600 degrees for good searing in Lab testing, and we got nicely cooked flaky fish as well as beautifully medium-rare steak. Instead of cast iron, the grate is made of stainless steel, which saves on weight but doesn’t hold heat as well; we measured precipitous (and uneven) drops in temperature when opening the lid and adding food—it’s best to keep the lid closed while cooking on this unit.
It uses a standard 1-pound camping-style propane cylinder, but the Go-Anywhere’s layout is a little strange: The container screws in at an angle, and you need to set the grill on the edge of a table or other surface where the tank can hang down below the legs. The control knob is also next to the tank, rather than on the front of the grill like most other models. With its low price and easy portability, this grill might be great for someone who likes fishing: You can grill your catch right on the shore, riverside, or even on the boat.
Price at time of publish: $89
Dimensions: 14.5 x 21 x 12.2 inches | Weight: 13.5 pounds | Cooking Area: 160 square inches | Burners: 1 | Power: 6,500 BTU/hour | Warranty: 5 years (plastic components); 10 years (lid, cookbox); 2 years (all other parts)
Coleman 225 Portable Tabletop Propane Grill
Large cooking area
Easy to set up
Lid doesn’t lock for transport
At just 25 pounds, the RoadTrip 225 gets you a huge amount of cooking area for its size—225 square inches, to be exact. This model features two separate burners with a total of 11,000 BTUs, for quick and powerful heating. It brought the grate to 650 degrees with little difficulty in our tests, creating a great seared crust on the steak and browned, crisp skin on the fish, and both came off the grate’s nonstick surface easily. It was also noticeably simple to set up: We had trouble figuring out how and where to attach the 1-pound propane tank on many of the models we tested, so this is a small but appreciated design element.
The downside to having separate burners is that they’re prone to creating uneven heat, and that was a bit of an issue here. After the beautiful sear, the heat dropped pretty quickly—especially with the lid open—and we found differences in temperature from one side to the other. Our other complaint is that the unit feels a little cheaply made, with plastic handles and feet, no attached prep table, and a lid that doesn’t lock in place for transport like most models. (The grate itself is cast-iron and holds heat well, however.)
Price at time of publish: $210
Dimensions: 21.8 x 18.3 x 10.6 inches | Weight: 25.6 pounds | Cooking Area: 225 square inches | Burners: 2 | Power: 11,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 3 years
Coleman RoadTrip X-Cursion 2 Burner Propane Gas Portable Grill
Large cooking surface
Accurate and responsive controls
Needs 2 people to set up
While most portable grills have a single burner to heat the entire cooking surface, this one’s pair of burners puts out an impressive 20,000 BTU, plus its “EvenTemp” design is made to ensure even heating on its entire 285 square inches. Despite its huge power, the grill actually heated up more slowly than we expected in testing. But that’s a good thing: The X-Cursion reacts accurately to temperature adjustments rather than just blasting out its maximum heat all the time. We got excellent browning on our fish filets and great grill marks on the seared steak without any stickage or worry about overcooking. (There are also a griddle and stove grate—both sold separately—that swap out with the grill grate to further expand its capabilities.)
The grill collapses down onto its wheeled base for easy transport but it’s high enough when fully extended that our 6-foot-plus tester didn’t have to stoop down at all. However, it took two people and some fiddling to get it to fold up and back down. It also feels a little top-heavy and unstable while cooking: Make sure you don’t lean on the folding side table or set it on uneven ground to avoid the whole thing toppling over.
Price at time of publish: $220
Dimensions: 19.1 x 32.3 x 12 inches | Weight: 41.2 pounds | Cooking Area: 285 square inches | Burners: 2 Power: 20,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 1 year
Cuisinart Venture Portable Gas Grill
Effective nonstick coating
Small capacity and low power
Can only use 1-pound propane tanks
When you show up to the barbecue or tailgate with a Cuisinart Venture, people might think you’ve got a lunch box or cooler. But this compact grill has a clever design that packs plenty of power into a small and easy-to-transport container. Its 1-pound propane cylinder clips into the bottom section, with the short-legged grill itself in the middle, plus a wooden cutting board/serving tray on top and a large, comfortable handle to carry everything.
Since the Venture doesn’t have a domed lid, it’s open to the elements during cooking, something that resulted in uneven temperatures from one side to the other in our testing. The mere 9,000-BTU burner managed to heat part of the cast-iron grate well above 600 degrees for great searing, but we recorded differences of more than 200 degrees from one side to the other. The nonstick coating on the grate was very effective, not holding onto the delicate fish we cooked at all, but one end of our steak wound up almost burnt as the other was perfectly medium-rare. (Your best bet to account for this is to turn and move the food frequently during cooking to even out the temperature.)
Price at time of publish: $200
Dimensions: 13 x 16.3 x 10.8 inches | Weight: 20.6 pounds | Cooking Area: 154 square inches | Burners: 1 | Power: 9,000 BTU/hour | Warranty: 3 years
Royal Gourmet PD1301S Portable 24-Inch 3-Burner Table Top Gas Grill Griddle
Spacious cooking area
Griddle top detaches for cleaning
Prone to hot spots
Griddles offer plenty of cooking space for breakfast favorites, such as bacon and eggs, or dinner dishes, such as salmon and shrimp kebabs. This 3-burner unit delivers 25,500 BTUs, lit with a piezo igniter, across its 316-square-inch porcelain-enameled cooking surface. That's spacious enough for tailgating or picnicking with three or four people.
The griddle can attach to a 20-pound propane tank with an included regulator and hose. It's incredibly easy to put together and to take apart for cleaning. Reviewers say its flat surface makes it easy to clean, though they suggest making sure it’s on a level surface to prevent grease drips.
Price at time of publish: $140
Dimensions: 25 x 16.3 x 7.9 inches | Weight: 30.4 pounds | Cooking Area: 316 square inches | Burners: 3 | Power: 25,500 BTU/hour | Warranty: 1 year
The Char-Broil Classic Series 3-Burner Gas Grill is an extremely well-priced option, as that features 30,000 BTUs per hour over its 360 square inches of space. However, if you're looking for a more portable option, the Weber Go-Anywhere 1-Burner Portable Propane Gas Grill is very lightweight and can get to the temperatures you need.
How We Tested
We've tested gas grills directly in the homes of our expert food writers and in our Lab. Our Lab testers grilled and seared burgers, steak, salmon, and onions on each grill to thoroughly analyze every feature and the grill's performance. The grills were then rated on heat control and retention, size, features, performance, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Our home reviewers spent weeks using them in their backyards to see how the stood up to everyday cooking and cleaning. They were also able to offer additional insights including how easy they were to set up and store, and using these during typical weather conditions. After testing, our writers submitted their feedback on what they liked and didn't like.
Other Options We Tested
- Nexgrill 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill with Side Burner: This large gas grill is spacious enough for a 4-person dinner and easy to use to boot, but it was lacking in performance when we tested it. It couldn't reach high enough temperatures for a great sear—food looked more baked than grilled—and the burners were inefficient in heating the grates. Before we even noticed those problems, it was already a problem grill for us. The assembly was one of the most difficult ones we experienced in the Lab.
What to Look for in an Inexpensive Gas Grill
If you have the room to cook outdoors often, look for a grill with at least two burners since that will offer flexibility and more temperature control. Having different burners means you can create multiple temperature zones, so you can cook your dinner all at once. A grill's cooking space or surface area, once of its most important measurements, is measured in square inches. A 350-square-inch grill is on the smaller side, but should still be able to make four servings at a time.
If you grill occasionally and don’t have a lot of yard or deck space for a more permanent grill, a tabletop model could be the perfect fit for you. They tend to be on the smaller side, with 100 to 300 square inches, so you might have a do a round or two of cooking, but they're more portable and easier to store.
Gas grills can still have a good amount of basic features when on the inexpensive side. Burners with independent temperature control, built-in thermometers, and nonstick grates are found on freestanding and portable gas grills. Foldable side tables and locking lids are also common. You won't find the more advanced technology found at higher price points, but you don't necessarily need those in order to grill a great meal.
The power of a gas grill is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), and as we've learned in testing, you don't need to have a more powerful grill in order to reach the hot temperatures need for grilling and searing. The BTU rating will definitely affect how much fuel you're burning and higher ratings can correlate to quicker preheating times, but the design of the grill and the material is made from will also play a role in how efficient your grill is with heat.
What's better for a beginner: gas or charcoal?
If you're just learning how to grill, you might veer towards charcoal since it's relatively cheaper and easier to maintain than a gas grill, but gas could be the better option. Once you've got the propane tank hooked up correctly, basic gas grills are very similar to using a gas stove. You control the burners with a dial and those light via a built-in ignitor. And when you're done, you simply turn it off and clean your grates (with more in-depth cleaning happening occasionally). On the other hand, charcoal grills require a chimney to start and some skill to keep the flames lit properly. When you're done, the coals need to cool down before being disposed of along with the ash.
How many years should a gas grill last?
Proper maintenance is key to keeping your gas grill going for years. You should be able to get a few good seasons out of a gas grill without any trouble, and, if you keep up with cleanings, your grill can last for the better part of a decade. You'll know it's time to start looking for a replacement when issues begin occurring with the flame (low flames, different colors, lots of smoke, etc.) or if you notice a dangerous gas leak.
How do you maintain a gas grill?
At least twice a year—and more than that if you grill a few times a week—you should safely disconnect any propane, take apart your grill and thoroughly clean all the parts, according to your manufacturer's instructions. You'll want to check that all your metal parts are in good order (no rust, soft spots, or chipping), clean any hidden greasy spots, and check your tank connection hose for holes. Additionally, you should position your grill at least 10 feet from any structures for safety.
Can you store a gas grill outside?
Yes, you can store a grill outside, but you should buy a high-quality weather-proof grill cover! Harsh temperature and weather can quickly weather the metal exterior of your grill, shortening its lifespan. You can also leave the propane tank attached, if you plan on grilling during the winter months. If not, disconnect it, cover it with plastic for weather protection, and store it outdoors, or in a well-ventilated covered area. You should never store propane tanks indoors, not even in a garage or shed.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This roundup was put together by The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn, who’s been writing about food and drinks for almost 20 years, and grilling for a lot longer than that. He chooses gas over charcoal for control and ease of use, but he’s come up with a pretty solid method of smoking on a gas grill.
Commerce editor Siobhan Wallace has also contributed to this roundup. She's been covering our grills beat since 2022.
This article was originally written by Camryn Rabideau, who has written close to a dozen pieces on all styles of grills for The Spruce Eats. She's also done firsthand testing of multiple grills and smokers.
Arricca SanSone, who updated this article, is a health and lifestyle writer for Prevention, Good Housekeeping, Cooking Light, CountryLiving.com, Oprahmag.com, Martha Stewart.com, PureWow, and many others. She’s lived and traveled in Asia and Europe but is happiest at home baking, making pasta by hand, growing heirloom vegetables, and preserving the bounty of her garden.