6 Sizzling Budget Grills for Summer Cookouts
Long weekends kindle an urge to kick back and enjoy some sunshine, a cold beer, and a juicy burger. This recipe for a relaxing summer doesn't require a gleaming outdoor kitchen. Backyard cooks can find a good grill for less than $200, whether their tastes run toward charcoal or gas. Fans of the former insist that food cooked over charcoal is more flavorful, and charcoal grills generally cost less up front. Gas grills are more convenient all around: quicker to heat up and easier to control, extinguish, and clean. Cheapism.com's top picks include both types, plus a portable model for picnicking or camping.
This three-burner gas grill is equipped with 438 square inches of primary cooking space, as well as a side burner and warming rack. The main burners put out plenty of heat: 40,800 BTUs, or British thermal units per hour. Porcelain-coated cast iron grates and dual smokestacks promise easy cleaning and even heating. In online reviews, users report they have no problem maintaining an even temperature. The Char-Griller Grillin' Pro 3001 (starting at $169) is also described as a sturdy grill that can stand the test of time, with several users mentioning that it has lasted three years or more.
This charcoal grill carries an iconic brand name and a 10-year warranty, and devotees contend that a Weber kettle will easily last longer. The Weber Original Kettle Premium 22" (starting at $149) has 363 square inches of cooking space and a patented One-Touch cleaning system. Users flip a switch to empty the spent charcoal into a removable ash catcher. Weber also offers a basic 22-inch Original Kettle that's $50 cheaper (starting at $99), although it lacks some of the conveniences reviewers admire in the premium model. The more expensive kettle has hinges on the grate for adding more briquettes while cooking. The ash catcher is removable instead of stationary and keeps more debris contained. Still, the basic model earns similarly excellent reviews.
This compact liquid propane gas grill has 330 square inches of primary cooking space, plus a warming rack, and boasts 30,000 BTUs. The porcelain-coated grates are designed to prevent sticking and rust. Experts praise the cast aluminum body, asserting that it will outlast comparable painted steel propane grills in the same price range. Consumer reviews are mostly positive so far, aside from a few assembly hiccups. On the whole reviewers are bullish on the value for the money and the delicious results of grilling with the Huntington 30030HNT (starting at $165.50).
The Napoleon Rodeo Charcoal Kettle Grill (model No. NK22CKL, starting at $199) has impressed consumers and grilling experts with solid performance and a few standout features, such as a fourth leg for stability and a removable heat diffuser to help cook food evenly. The grill has 365 square inches of cooking space, and the heavy gauge steel grates are hinged for adding more charcoal. A high-capacity ash pan can be removed for cleanup.
The new Char-Broil Kettleman (starting at $129) has several features that separate it from the crowd. Chief among them is infrared technology, unusual for a charcoal grill. Reviewers marvel that it eliminates flare-ups and hot spots, turning out meats that are juicy and tender when seared, grilled, or even smoked. The steel disc used as a radiating heat source also keeps food from falling through and burning up in the charcoal embers. Since the grilling surface sits so close to the briquettes, this grill requires less charcoal than most competitors. The hinged lid is a much-appreciated convenience.
For consumers planning summer camping trips, the Char-Broil Grill2Go (starting at $110) gets stellar reviews. Whereas many portable barbecues burden campers and tailgaters with bags of charcoal, this one relies on a small disposable liquid propane dispenser. It can also be attached to a 20-pound propane tank (with the purchase of a hose and adapter kit). Many consumers consider this model ideal for a small patio or apartment living, as well. Users report that the single burner heats up fast and is quite mighty for its 200-square-inch size. The infrared cooking system delivers even heating and minimizes flare-ups.