Which Gas Grill Class is Right for You?

Alfresco Luxury Outdoor Kitchen

Buying a gas grill is a huge decision, much like picking a name for your firstborn or choosing a career path. OK, it’s not all that serious, but you should consider the vast differences in quality, performance, and features across gas grills when it comes time to purchase one. To help you better understand what separates certain models from others, we’ve split our selection of gas grills into four distinct classes — Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Economy.

Though gas grills look similar and are built for the same task, their quality varies greatly. Some manufacturers construct their grills with nothing but commercial-grade stainless steel, whereas others are content using ordinary steel to meet specific price points. Features are just as wide-ranging among grills, with some sporting LED stadium lighting and chain-driven rotisseries while certain models have just a single burner and a cooking surface. And while they all get hot, grills in higher classes are better at evenly spreading heat and achieving a bigger range of temperatures. Low-end grills, meanwhile, cook at virtually one temperature and leave you vulnerable to hot spots and flare-ups.

Each of the four classes fall somewhere along these spectrums, giving you a clear starting point on your shopping journey.

Class Economy Gas GrillsEconomy Practical Gas GrillsPractical Premium Gas GrillsPremium Luxury Gas GrillsLuxury
Quality
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Luxury Gas Grills

  • Luxury Gas Grills & Outdoor Kitchens
    • Highest possible quality of parts and materials means these grills can last decades*
    • Expertly and beautifully designed to make a striking impression
    • Brands offer full lines of matching outdoor kitchen equipment for a cohesive aesthetic
    • Lifetime warranties are the norm, and some include the benefit of labor coverage
    • Top-of-the-line features provide a luxury experience for you and your guests
    • The most reliable ignitions and cooking systems along with innovate technologies
    • Most cooking versatility and widest temperature ranges of any grills
  • Quality

    Luxury grills should last a lifetime* and serve as a truly worthwhile investment that’ll yield years of enjoyment for you and your guests. They’re built entirely with high-quality materials like commercial-grade, 304 stainless steel that can stand up to repeated cooks and the test of time. In addition to their durable construction, Luxury grills boast superior craftsmanship and attention to detail in the form of fully welded seams, sleek lines, and hand-polished edges. With such strong aesthetics, these high-end models are designed to be the eye-catching centerpiece of just about any outdoor kitchen setup.

  • Performance

    The cooking systems of Luxury grills are generally quite forgiving, meaning you can briefly step away from the pit to socialize with guests without worrying if your food will burn. They’re known especially for creating even heat that minimizes hot/cold spots, allowing food to cook uniformly and at the same speed. Flare-ups are just as rare, but when they do occur, they result in the flame-kissed food that every home cook desires instead of a runaway fire. Additionally, Luxury grills can reach ultra-high temperatures for restaurant-quality sear marks and sink to the low end for more delicate items.

  • Features

    From hood lift assist functions to heat zones separators, Luxury grills turn cooking into an effortless experience. They remove the guesswork of grilling with front-facing viewing windows and extremely accurate analog thermometers, not to mention the built-in grease management systems that make cleanup a breeze. Integrated rotisseries are common in this grill class, which is also notable for its wide range of possible accessories such as smoker boxes, pizza stones, and steamer trays. Throw in built-in safety systems and hood lights for nighttime grilling, and you’ve got a group of grills that leave nothing to be desired.

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Top Luxury Grill Brands

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Premium Gas Grills

  • Premium Gas Grills & Outdoor Kitchens
    • Generally constructed completely from 304 commercial grade (or better) stainless steel
    • Long-lasting grills, some with lifetime warranties, that can reach up to 20 years of use*
    • Can be built into a BBQ island to tie your outdoor kitchen together
    • Variety of features available for easy and fun cooking experimentation
    • Various accessory options make them highly customizable
    • Produce consistent, dependable results so you can cook with confidence
    • Heat is stable and easy to control for worry-free grilling
  • Quality

    Perhaps the best thing about Premium gas grills is that they represent a huge step up in quality from the Practical classification with only a moderate increase in price. You can also expect much better customer service and support from Premium grill brands than from those that manufacture Practical models. Equipped with strongly built internal components and cast aluminum or 304 commercial grade (or better) stainless steel exteriors, these grills are all about longevity when it comes to construction. This is the lowest class containing “lifetime” grills, which we define as those that can last 20 years or more.*

  • Performance

    In terms of consistency and dependability, Premium grills stand far above the lower two classes. Their high-end temperatures are strong enough to create sear marks typically found in steakhouses, plus they can reach low enough heat levels to put smoker box accessories to good use. Expect heat to be mostly even across their cooking surfaces, which are also largely resistant to flare-ups so you don’t have to spend time babysitting the grill. Simply put, grills in this class provide improved performance in every aspect of cooking compared with Practical BBQ pits.

  • Features

    Many features introduced in the Premium class — such as heavy rotisseries, rear infrared burners, heat zone separators, and flash tubes for backup ignition — change what’s possible for a grill. But where these models really set themselves apart from Practical grills is their compatibility with accessories that unlock tons of cooking potential. Add-ons like drop-in smoker boxes and griddles, for instance, greatly contribute to the versatility of Premium grills. To top it all off, almost all of these models can be built into a BBQ island alongside stainless steel outdoor kitchen equipment.

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Top Premium Grill Brands

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Practical Gas Grills

  • Practical Gas Grills & Outdoor Kitchens
    • Manufactured with a mix of various grades of stainless steel, painted steel, and coated steel
    • Built to last up to 10 years*
    • Warranties up to 10 years in addition to longer-term customer support
    • Wallet-friendly with moderate reliability and quality
    • Fewer size options and features limit cooking versatility
    • Decent heat retention and evenness, though very high heat is difficult to achieve
    • Temperatures rarely exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Quality

    Practical grills are exactly what they sound like — functional, respectably built grills designed to meet basic cooking needs. While some of these models include painted or powder-coated steel in their internal parts, most use stainless steel in the grill head, burners, or exterior. Their construction is still far superior to what you’ll find in Economy grills, which often need to be replaced within just a few years of purchasing. This makes one Practical grill a much better investment than several Economy models, even if you pay a bit more up front.

  • Performance

    You may have to spend a bit more time tending to one of these grills than those in higher classes, but it will likely get the job done without too much hassle. They’re good at retaining reasonably high levels of heat, giving you nice searing potential for steaks and chicken. Hot/cold spots and flare-ups can be an occasional issue for Practical grills, though nowhere near as much as for models in the Economy classification. Because of their restricted capabilities, these grills are best suited to cook standard BBQ items for smaller groups of family and friends.

  • Features

    Though these grills don’t offer much versatility, they usually incorporate side burners or sear stations that expand and simplify your cooking experience. LED-lit control knobs also make using the grill easier and add an aesthetic touch, while drip trays are incredibly useful for speedy cleanup. If you choose a propane model rather than a natural gas one, your grill cart may even have a dedicated spot to store propane tanks. Just keep in mind that Practical grills aren’t compatible with most of the fun and easy accessories that make cooking on grills in higher classes quicker and more enjoyable.

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Top Practical Grill Brands

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Economy Gas Grills

Imagine that we asked you to design and bring to market a gas grill that will sell for $200. That means you’ll need to manufacture the grill for a fraction of that price. To do that, you’ll have to design a grill with only the cheapest materials available while sacrificing accessories, cooking systems, and safety mechanisms. Essentially, you’ll have to take out almost everything but the barest necessities that allow the grill to cook. This is what we mean when we call this class "Economy" — these grills were specially designed around a very low price point, and everything about them is a direct result of that cheap price.

  • Economy Grills
    • Made from painted steel and porcelain-coated steel, which can corrode quickly
    • Short usable lifespans before replacement parts must be purchased
    • Quality of products varies widely between brands
    • Grills have short and limited warranties
    • Cooking versatility is severely restricted by lack of features
    • Uneven heat and narrow temperature ranges make advanced grilling a challenge
    • Temperature gauges are inaccurate, and ignition systems fail quickly
  • Quality

    When we talk about Economy grills, we’re referring to models that are reverse-engineered to meet low price points for huge retailers. Their usable life is about only 1–3 years, after which you’ll have to buy replacement parts that inflate the original cost of the grill. Warranties for these models are also brief, making proper maintenance vital for getting as much use from them as possible. We recommend these grills for high-wear-and-tear environments like camping or for hunting and fishing camps.

  • Performance

    With construction intended to keep prices low, grills in this classification typically struggle to provide even heat or maintain high levels of it. The resulting experience is inconsistent and difficult, forcing grillers to constantly monitor the BBQ pit to prevent food from burning or cooking unevenly. Economy grills also have smaller temperature ranges with a significantly lower maximum end, so searing and other advanced grilling techniques could be a challenge. Whatever temperatures these grills offer will be hard to control and may leave you looking for another model long before the parts begin to wear down.

  • Features

    More features means more components, so these cheaply made grills are unsurprisingly light on bells and whistles. The few features they do have — such as analog temperature gauges that produce inaccurate readings — can be unreliable, and helpful mechanisms like flame tamers and grease collection systems might be missing altogether. At best, an Economy grill may come with side shelves for extra storage and prep space. These models generally don’t include any add-ons, and in some cases a protective cover will be the only accessory you can buy after you purchase the grill.

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*with proper care, use, cleaning, and maintenance