The 8 Best Gas Grills Under $200
8. Smoke Hollow 205
7. Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane
6. Char-Griller 3001 Pro
5. Dyna-Glo Smart Space
4. Weber Q1200 Liquid Propane
3. Coleman Road Trip
2. Char-Broil Classic 405 4-Burner
1. Char-Broil 475
Why A Gas Grill Under $200 Is A Great Investment
The classic American image of a grill master faithfully flipping burgers at his or her grill usually contains one of two grill types. In the first image, we see the kind of behemoth gas grills that can cook a dozen steaks with room for a complement of corncobs and a grill basket full of veggies. In the second image is a smaller, charcoal grill in the traditional shape, not quite big enough to hold all that food, but certainly capable of cooking for a large family.
But what if you want to cook for a small number of people, and you prefer the ease and safety of gas grilling over the tedium and fire risk associated with charcoal? You could still invest in an enormous gas grill and keep only one or two burners lit, but if you’re using indirect heat to cook anything in there with the lid closed, there’s going to be a lot of wasted energy radiating in empty space. What’s more, those giant grills may be too big for your space or too expensive for your budget.
In cases like these, smart customers turn to less expensive gas grills. These units offer all of the amenities of their bigger cousins, but they tend to come in sizes that can cook less food at once. That’s really the only major sacrifice. In some cases you’ll see models without the external temperature gauges common on more expensive grills, and these smaller models usually don’t have additional implements like large side shelves for prep or burners to fry alongside your grilled meals.
While we’ve mostly focused on the image of the grill in a backyard, one of the benefits of a smaller, less expensive grill is the potential for portability, meaning that these units can come on the road with you. If you’re a regular camper with a taste for grilled cuisine and a favorite camping spot that prohibits fire building, you may be allowed to take your grill to the site and use it to cook. You can also easily bring many of these models to a friend’s house to help feed small parties.
The best part about these grills, however, is the savings. If you’re a simple griller with only a few mouths to feed, there’s next to no need for you to spend all that extra money on a grill you might not use to its full potential. These smaller, more affordable options will provide you with just enough grilling power to satisfy a few hungry customers, and they’ll do so while burning less fuel.
How To Choose The Right Grill For Your Needs
The options among gas grills at a price no higher than $200 aren’t quite as limited as you might have thought. There are models out there that rival the sizes of some much more impressive units, which might make some of you wonder what people are really paying for at the higher end.
One of the things that higher-end grills boast, which we discussed above, is the area of the grilling surface. More money usually buys you more square inches, but that doesn’t mean that you’re terribly limited in this category. Still, surface area is probably the most important variable you can take into account. The easiest thing to do is ask yourself how many people you usually cook for, and how much space their foods will occupy. Make sure you get a grill with a little bit of extra space, in case you have a guest or you just want to make a backup burger.
The next consideration will be between cabinet and tabletop grills. Cabinet grills have cabinet-style storage for a full-size propane tank beneath the grilling unit. These are generally the largest gas grills in the price range, and many offer compelling features like smokestacks or thermometers. These units also usually have some form of side shelving for plates and tools.
Tabletop grills generally have less surface area, and few can cook effectively with their lids closed, making slow cooking and the use of indirect heat much more difficult. They usually don’t have any shelving because it’s assumed you can use the tables on which they sit. The primary advantages of tabletop units are their small footprint and portability. These options are easy to pack up and take with you to a campsite or vacation home, and they fit much more comfortably on a small deck or patio.
A Brief History Of Grilling
Grilling is one of those things that reaches back well beyond the beginning of recorded history, as you could essentially consider anything cooked over an open flame to be grilled. Some archeologists and primatologists are pretty confident that humans harnessed fire for cooking as many as one million years ago, and that the introduction of cooked meats into our diet allowed us to radically advance as a species.
Fires in the wilderness provided the vast majority of grilling sites for the better part of human history. That changed after WWII, when the growth of the middle class led to an increase in various backyard leisure activities, including grilling. The grills of the early 1950s provided too little access to the flame, however, and weren’t shaped in such a way to facilitate the fastest, most even cooking.
A man named George Stephen would change all that, however. He inherited a metal spinning company known primarily as a maker of harbor buoys. Stephen cut one of these buoys in half, added a grate to the center portion, and gave birth to the Weber grill.
Early gas grills arrived on the scene not long after this. These units, first marketed under the moniker Lazy-Man, burned gas to heat up lava rocks as an intermediary to the heat of the flame, allowing for a process much akin to that of charcoal grilling, but without the difficulty in setup and maintenance.