“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap BBQ Grills
  2. BBQ Grill Reviews
  3. Charcoal vs. Gas BBQ Grills
  4. Grill Size, Temperature Control, and Grates
  5. Finding Grill Deals
  6. Discount BBQ Grills Features Comparison Table

Cheap Grills Buying Guide

To many people, a warm evening, a nice patio, and the delectable smell of dinner cooking on the grill approaches perfection. With one of the cheap grills on our list, you can partake in this beloved backyard ritual.

What are the best cheap BBQ grills under $250 this year? Our picks include two cheap gas grills -- the Char-Griller Grillin' Pro 3001 (starting at $186) and the Brinkmann Grill King (starting at $199) -- and two cheap charcoal grills, the Char-Griller Wrangler 2123 (starting at $110) and the Weber One-Touch Gold 22.5 (starting at $149).

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One model that didn't make our cut is the Char-Broil Two-Burner Gas Grill (starting at $80). It draws consumer complaints about assembly and durability, and reviews also raise questions about safety.

Whether you're shopping for a cheap grill for the first time or looking to replace a well-used model, the first thing to consider is what kind you want: charcoal or gas. In general, charcoal is cheaper than gas up front but lacks the convenience, heat control, and cooking speed. On the other hand, fans of charcoal grilling report there is no comparing the taste; gas just can't match the authentic grilled flavor you get with charcoal.

Several other factors are worth keeping in mind when you're shopping for a budget grill. One is the size of the cooking surface. While both gas and charcoal models generally fall between 200 and 700 square inches, the higher end of that range is typically reserved for gas grills. It is important to note that any side burner or warming rack is often counted in the cooking surface area listed in the specs. Gas grills are best for heat control, as they let you adjust where and how high the flame is. It's harder to control the temperature with a charcoal grill, although some come with grates that can be lowered closer to the flame and vents that help with heat control. Finally, look at grate composition. Cast iron allows food to cook evenly, while porcelain prevents food from sticking.

High-end gas models can cost upward of $1,000, and high-end charcoal barbecues range beyond $700. On the low end, the price range for gas is anywhere from $80 to $250. Prices for cheap charcoal grills start at just under $50 and top out at $150. The main difference between cheap BBQ grills and their upmarket counterparts is durability. Pricier grills are typically made of durable stainless steel, while budget grills are often painted or plastic and not quite as sturdy. Higher-end grills also typically have more durable materials inside, whereas a cheap grill may be made from materials that tend to chip, peel, or rust. There are things you can do to make a budget grill last longer, such as storing it in a covered area, using a grill cover for protection, and making sure the grate is oiled and cleaned after each use. Users of high-end grills swear that the features, build, and durability are worth the high price tag. But our research indicates that the best cheap barbecue grills can stand the test of time and satisfy many users with their features and performance.

Review continues below

One thing to note when looking for a grill is that vendors tend to favor a few particular brands or carry only exclusive models. So when you find a grill you like, chances are you'll have a limited choice of where to buy it.

by Raechel Conover (Google+ Profile)

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Best Cheap BBQ Grills

Char-Griller Wrangler 2123
Gold Medal

Char-Griller Wrangler 2123

The Char-Griller Wrangler 2123 impresses users with a cooking surface of 435 square inches, cast-iron grates, adjustable grate height for better heat control, and a warming rack (not often found in cheap charcoal grills). Users sing the praises of this grill and enjoy the tasty end results.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Char-Griller Grillin' Pro 3001
Gold Medal

Char-Griller Grillin' Pro 3001

The Char-Griller Grillin' Pro 3001 is a gas-burning crowd pleaser with amenities such as 630 square inches of cooking space (including a warming rack), three burners with separate controls, and two smoke stacks for even heating. Users say this grill cooks food quickly and evenly and outperforms more expensive models.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good Cheap BBQ Grill

Brinkmann Grill King
Gold Medal

Brinkmann Grill King

The Brinkmann Grill King is a propane gas grill that boasts a total cooking surface of 638 square inches: four main burners, a side burner, and a warming rack. Reviewers seem impressed by how easy this grill is to use and clean. They say the porcelain-coated cast-iron grates heat up fast and cook evenly.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Weber One Touch Gold 22.5
Gold Medal

Weber One Touch Gold 22.5

The Weber One-Touch Gold is a round charcoal grill with 398 square inches of cooking surface, an exceptional 10-year warranty, and a patented cleaning system. This grill gets high marks from users, who say it's durable and easy to use.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Don't Bother

Char-Broil Two-Burner Gas Grill

This basic budget grill has an even smaller cooking surface than some of the charcoal grills we looked at, measuring just 300 square inches. Reports of flare-ups seem to dog this grill and reviewers warn of cheap construction.

Read more »

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