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I’m all about looking good, but buying a grill just because it’s “all shiny and pretty” leads to serious buyer’s remorse. Don’t do it. Instead, buy a grill the right way. Pay attention to the basics like its size and features, and of course price. Then you can be sure you’re getting the perfect grill for the right price. Here’s what you need to know.
(You can find a ton of grill options out there, like smokers, built-ins, natural gas, electric, and pellet grills. I’ll focus on charcoal and propane grills because you can find them easily and at great price points.)
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1. Consider your grilling style.
Before you throw down some bucks on a grill, think about your cooking style.
Are you more about cooking burgers, hot dogs, and steaks, or were you thinking pancakes, eggs, and bacon? This will help you decide whether you should go with a grill (grates) top or a griddle (solid cooking surface). Some grills offer a combo like the Blackstone 1819 Griddle and Charcoal Combo, which I found on Amazon for about $400.
If you want both or if that Blackstone Grill is out of your price range, buy a regular grill with grates and plop a griddle pan on top of the grates. Here’s a griddle pan you can grab on Amazon for less than $60:
2. Weigh the pros and cons of charcoal and gas grills.
You also need to decide whether you prefer to work with charcoal or gas, because gas grills are generally more expensive. Here are a few pros and cons of each:
- Reaches high temps (about 700 degrees) for a good sear
- Adds a rich, smoky flavor to food
- Cheaper than gas grills
- Takes longer to heat (about 20-30 minutes)
- Messy to clean up
- You need to keep adding charcoal to maintain heat for long cooking sessions
- Cooked meats can contain high levels of carcinogens from the charcoal
- Quick start-up time of around 10-15 minutes
- Easier to maintain temperature
- Adjust heat easily and quickly without having to move hot coals around
- No smokey flavor, which can be a con, too (unless you add a smoke box)
- Complicated to assemble
- More parts to clean and replace
3. Determine the best size grill for your needs and space.
While you might want the biggest grill with all the bells and whistles, your wallet may be telling you to be a bit more frugal. Here’s what you can expect to spend based on the grill’s cooking area at Home Depot. (FYI, a four-inch burger patty needs about 20.25 square inches of cooking space.)
Small (363 square inches or 18 burgers):
Medium (511 square inches or 25 burgers):
Large (1012 square inches or 50 burgers):
Small (429 square inches or 21 burgers):
- Nexgrill Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Black and Stainless Steel Main Lid, $164.89 regular price
Medium (623 square inches or 31 burgers):
- Dyna-Glo Five-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Matte Black with Sear Burner and Side Burner, $249 regular price
Large (802 square inches or 40 burgers):
- Royal Gourmet Six-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Stainless Steel with Sear Burner, $329.99 regular price
4. Compare different grill features.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to the cost of a grill. The more features, the more money. Here’s a quick look at what a difference they can make:
Compare these two charcoal grills at Home Depot:
- Nexgrill 17.5-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Shelf, $99 regular price
- Dyna-Glo Heavy-Duty Charcoal Grill in Black and Stainless Steel, $205.06 regular price
The price jumps up more than $100 for a couple of side shelves, two adjuster dampers, and a temperature gauge.
Here’s another look at the prices at Home Depot between gas grill features:
- Dyna-Glo Two-Burner Open Cart LP Gas Grill in Stainless Steel and Black with Side Burner, $149 regular price
- Nexgrill Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Black with Side Burner, $199 regular price
- Monument Grills Four-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Stainless with LED Controls, Side and Side Sear Burners, $399 regular price
- Royal Gourmet Five-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Red with Rotisserie Kit, $559 regular price
The difference in price between the first grill and the last is over $400. The difference in features is a few extra burners, a paint job, and a rotisserie kit.
5. Shop for the best grill deals in the fall.
You’ll find plenty of deals ahead of grilling season; think Memorial Day and Father’s Day. However, after the 4th of July, you’ll start to see sales ramp up at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and other retailers. Once fall comes around, you can find the deepest discounts, like these from Walmart in October 2020:
- Masterbuilt Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker, (
reg. price $497), $367 sale price
- Blackstone Table Top Portable Grill, (
reg. price $84) $69 sale price
- Weber Charcoal Grill, (
reg. price $74), $51 sale price
Before you read on, be sure to bookmark the KCL Home Depot Deals page to stay informed about all the deals.
6. Buy a used grill and save money.
Find a decent-looking used grill (with no rust on the body) for a fraction of the price of a new one? I say snatch it up if you’re wanting to save money on a grill. I got a free Weber gas grill with a full propane tank on Craigslist. I replaced the grates for $50 and got a cover from Home Depot on sale for $11. Look at how little you can spend for a couple of the most common parts.
- Weber Charcoal 22-inch Cooking Grate $20.99 regular price at Weber.com or on sale at Amazon.
- Weber Igniter Kit – Performer Platinum and Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill $28.99 regular price at Weber.com.
Save more money when you buy generic or off-brand replacement parts.
Compare to $97.99 at Weber.com or $74 in savings
Compare to $59.99 at Weber.com or $71.99 in savings
TIP: Manufacturer warranties don’t typically carry over to new owners.
7. Pay attention to the company’s warranty.
Speaking of warranties, make sure your grill has a good warranty. You’ll find companies don’t have a lifetime warranty covering the entire grill, but rather various warranties for different parts of a grill, like the exterior housing, burners, ignition, cooking grids, paint on the exterior, and valves. Here are a few examples to give you an idea:
- Weber Q 1000, 2000, 3000 Series gas grills have a five-year warranty on their cookbox, lid assembly, burner tubes, cooking grates, and plastic components.
- Weber Charcoal grills have a ten-year warranty on the bowl and lid, a five-year on its One-Touch cleaning system and plastic components. All remaining parts have a two-year warranty.
- Broil-King offers a lifetime warranty on their cookboxes, while grids and burners have a 2 to 15 year warranty.
8. Read online grill reviews and ratings.
Whether you’re shopping on Amazon, at Home Depot, or any other retailer, always check out the product ratings and reviews. These can give you a good idea of how well the item works in the real world. Here are a few top-rated (4+ stars) grills from Amazon:
- Char-Broil Performance Four-Burner Cart Style, Liquid Propane Gas Grill, Stainless Steel, $299.99 regular price
- Cuisinart 54-Inch, Full-Size Four-Burner Propane Gas Grill, $274.99 regular price
- Char-Griller Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black, (
reg. price $88), $79 sale price
- Masterbuilt Gravity Series 560 Digital Charcoal Grill + Smoker, Black, $497 regular price
9. Buy a portable grill for extra cooking space at home or on the go.
While the above tips apply to portable charcoal and gas grills, you may not find many features in smaller styles. However, that shouldn’t stop you from grabbing one (when on sale) and using it as a second grill at home or when you’re camping or on the beach (when allowed). Here are some worth checking out:
- Amazon: Weber Q1000 Liquid Propane Grill, Chrome, $189 regular price
- Amazon: Cuisinart Petit Gourmet Gas Grill with VersaStand, Red, (
reg. price $179.99), $132.32 sale price
- Home Depot: Nexgrill One-Burner Portable Propane Gas Table Top Grill, Black, $79 regular price
- Walmart: Cuisinart Deluxe Two Burner Portable Propane Gas Grill, $147 regular price
- Amazon: Weber Jumbo Joe Charcoal Grill 18 Inch Black (
reg. price $79.99), $74.99 sale price
- Amazon: Cuisinart Portable Charcoal Grill, 14-Inch, Red (
reg. price $39.99), $20.99 sale price
- Home Depot: Char-Griller Portable Charcoal Grill or Side Fire Box, $69 regular price
- Walmart: Char-Broil 190 Portable Tabletop Charcoal Grill – Black, $29.99 regular price
That’s all I’ve got for grills, but if you have any more ideas, let me know in the comments!