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 Entry-Level.

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 lower-quality steel to meet more accessible price points. Features are just as wide-ranging among grills, with some sporting LED stadium lighting and chain-driven rotisseries while certain models keep things simple. And while they all get hot, grills in higher classes tend to be more versatile and sport top-level performance.

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

Class Entry-Level Practical Premium Luxury
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 can limit cooking versatility
    • Decent heat retention and evenness, though very high heat is sometimes hard to achieve
    • Narrower temperature ranges and greater difficulty maintaining high-end heat
  • 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. Warranties really start to slim down in this class, with most topping out at 10 years of coverage. The majority of Practical gas grills are either freestanding or portable, though limited built-in options are available.

  • Performance

    You may have to spend a bit more time tending to one of these grills than those in higher classes, but it'll likely get the job done without too much hassle. They’re decent 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 not nearly enough to ruin your cookouts. 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 might not 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 useful for speedy cleanup. If you choose propane your grill cart may even have a dedicated spot to store 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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Entry-Level Gas Grills

Thanks to their accessibility and relative affordability, Entry-Level models are popular among beginners buying their first grill (typically in hardware and home-improvement stores) or those who want to try a new grill brand without breaking the bank. These grills tend to be simply made with straightforward functionality and features, which newcomers may find less intimidating than grills in higher classes. While their low price points are equally enticing, keep in mind that lower prices can sometimes lead to sacrifices for brands, whether that means choosing thinner materials or facing tough decisions about which features make the cut. It’s also worth noting that Entry-Level is the widest grill class — higher-end grills typically share the same degree of quality, performance, and features, whereas Entry-Level models range from value-packed to questionable in all facets. There’s a “best” in every grill class and price point, and we see it as our duty to help you get what you pay for.

  • Economy Grills
    • Often favored by beginners for their affordability and accessibility
    • May compromise on quality, performance, and features to meet low price points
    • Overall quality varies more widely among these grills than those in any other class
    • Introduces grillers to major brands without requiring a huge investment
    • Mostly painted and porcelain-coated steel, though some grills use durable stainless steel
    • Short and limited warranties are the norm, but certain brands provide excellent coverage
    • Simple construction and low max temperatures may be less intimidating for newcomers
  • Quality

    Though this class is home to grills with relatively lower levels of quality, it’s often in service of making them more affordable and accessible. Painted or porcelain-coated steel is the norm, and while those materials are more likely to quickly corrode, a few models from the most trustworthy brands buck that trend by using stainless steel throughout the grill body. Warranties generally leave something to be desired as well, with most offering just a few years of protection. That being said, the higher-quality grills in this class will have warranties spanning 10 years or even the lifetime of the purchaser.

  • Performance

    Simple construction and fewer bells and whistles usually lead to a more straightforward grilling experience, another reason those new to grilling often start their search at Entry-Level. Generally lower max temperatures can also lessen the intimidation factor for beginners, though that may end up as a trade-off for lower overall performance. Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned pro, the best indicator of performance in this class is a well-designed flame-tamer — it evenly distributes heat across the grill grates, keeps flare-ups in check for worry-free grilling, and protects the burners from food drippings.

  • Features

    Most Entry-Level gas grills are short on features, and the common add-ons are more sensible than entertaining; tool hooks, side shelves, and cart storage don’t exactly scream sexy, but each touch is helpful in some aspect of grilling. A select few Entry-Level brands strive to provide a more versatile and enjoyable experience with infrared side sear burners, steakhouse-level cooking stations that pump out ultra-high heat while also freeing up valuable space on the main grilling surface. And in terms of convenience, higher-end models in this class have full-width, pull-out drip trays designed to simplify cleanup.

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*with proper care, use, cleaning, and maintenance


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