A propane grill can be a great addition to your backyard.
Whether you’re a fan of throwing BBQ parties or just a steak lover, I’ll help you buy an awesome propane grill that won’t cost you more than $500.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Propane Grill?
If you are looking for a budget grill, you’ve probably come across some pretty cheap charcoal grills.
While charcoal grills are significantly cheaper than propane grills, they have many disadvantages that you won’t have to deal with in case of propane grills.
Here are some of the reasons why a propane gas grill is your best bet:
Propane grills take up significantly less time and effort to start up. When using a charcoal grill, you’re likely going to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to start it up.
Maintenance & Ease of Starting Up
It could even take up to one hour depending on the weather. Charcoal burns slowly, and it’s even harder to maintain it while cooking.
On the other hand, propane grills are much easier to start up and there’s no charcoal to deal with.
Simply turn on the gas flow, light the grill, and you’re good to go.
Propane grills require less maintenance. In addition to the huge amount of time it takes to start up a charcoal grill, you also have to spend even more time cleaning up after your barbeque. The ashes of burnt charcoal are a pain to clean.
With propane grills, there’s little to clean after grilling. In fact, you can even turn your grill off, stop the propane supply, and let it cool off.
You don’t need to clean your propane grill every time you use it. You can clean it once every now and then to keep it shiny.
Price & Costs
Propane is more affordable than charcoal. The cheap price of a charcoal grill may seem attractive at first, but you should keep in mind that charcoal is expensive.
A small bag of charcoal costs around $5-$20, which is just enough for one time. Propane is much cheaper than charcoal, not to mention that it’s better for the environment.
Temperature control is much better on a propane grill. With a charcoal grill, controlling temperature can be a hard task.
You’ll have to keep adjusting the airflow and sprinkling water to cool the coal. You could also end up throwing away a few burnt meat pieces.
With a propane grill, things are different. All you have to do is adjust some controls.
Additionally, you can monitor the temperature during cooking if your grill comes with a built-in thermostat.
How to Choose the Best Propane Grill Under $500?
Here a few tips to help you choose the propane grill that’s suitable for your needs, without exceeding a budget of $500.
Size of Cooking Area
The first thing to look for in a propane grill is the size of the cooking area.
The cooking area is usually measured in square inches or square cm. The minimum cooking area for the average family is 400 square inches (68 cm x 38 cm). A three-burner propane grill should have around 400-500 square inches of cooking area.
Number of Burners
If you’ll frequently prepare food for a large group or family, you’ll probably need your grill to have at least two burners.
In simple terms, choosing the size of your grill should be based on your cooking needs.
Moreover, you should make sure that the overall size of the grill is suitable for your backyard.
Nature of the Grates
The grates are some of the crucial parts of your grill.
Well-designed grates must be thick and heavy so they can retain heat efficiently.
They should also have minimum space between them, to prevent meat pieces from falling through them.
The Material of the Grill’s Body
Grills are usually made from stainless steel, cast iron or cast aluminum. A well-designed grill should be able to retain heat while also keeping the stand cool.
Stainless steel grills require almost no maintenance at all, while cast iron grills provide more heat, but they usually need to be cleaned after use.
The handles should be made from an insulating material, such as wood.
Best Propane Grills under $500 Reviewed
With so many propane grills brands and models to choose from, things can get confusing.
That’s why I’ve reviewed four of the best propane grills under $500 to help you make a decision.
The Char-Broil Performance 300 has a lot to offer.
For starters, the burners deliver up to 24000 BTUs/ hour, allowing you to cook large amounts of food in no time.
The cooking space is 300 sq. in., which isn’t really the best I’ve seen at this price range but it’s definitely sufficient.
One notable feature in the Char-Broil Performance 300 is the cast iron cooking grates.
They’re coated with porcelain, so you don’t have to worry about your food sticking on the surface. Not to mention that the porcelain coating prevents the grates from wearing out for years to come.
Another good feature is that there’s a place for you to properly hold the propane tank. Additionally, the grill comes with a 100 sq. in. warming rack that is ideal for toasting buns.
You also get foldable side shelves, which provide extra prep area.
What I Like
- Electric ignition
- Equipped with a temperature gauge
- Two Stainless steel burners with up to 24,000 BTUs
- Durable, porcelain-coated grates
What I Don’t Like
- Somewhat bulky design
A high-performance full-sized grill doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.
The Char-Broil Performance Gas Grill features four stainless steel burners that have a maximum output of 36,000 BTUs, in addition to a side burner with 10,000 BTUs.
The side burner is ideal for preparing sauces or sides when you’re grilling. When it’s not used, it folds down to protect the burner and give you even more prep space.
The electronic ignition system allows you to start up the grill conveniently with the push of a button.
The Char-Broil Performance grill is equipped with a lit-mounted temperature gauge, allowing you to monitor the heat when you’re grilling.
Furthermore, you get a good heat distribution thanks to the heat tents that come with the burners.
Just like the burners, the side shelves are made of stainless steel and provide you with adequate prep space. There’s a removable drip tray which makes cleaning up pretty easy.
Another good feature is the 150 sq. in. warming rack, which you can use as a secondary prep area for sides and toasting buns
What I Like
- Huge prep space
- Side shelves give you extra prep space
- Lid mounted temperature gauge for continuous heat monitoring
- Easy startup thanks to the electronic ignition system
- Great value for money
What I Don’t Like
- Assembly requires some effort
- The frame isn’t very stable
- The tank storage rack isn’t sturdy enough
This grill is very affordable, while also having a ton of features to give you the ultimate backyard grilling experience. Featuring a 360 sq. in. grilling space, the Char-Broil allows you to cook food for your whole family.
It’s got three stainless steel burners with a total of 30,000 BTUs to get the perfect steaks you love. Another notable feature is the 170 sq. in. warming rack that you can use to warm buns or keep the brats hot for serving.
It’s got two grates that are easy to maintain thanks to the porcelain coating.
Just like the grates, the steel firebox and lid are porcelain-coated to provide protection in different weather conditions.
The grill stands on two wheels to make it more portable when you need to move it around. Additionally, there are two fixed legs to prevent the grill from rolling, in case someone bumps into it.
Some grills can be hard to start up, especially when they age, but the Char-Broil Classic isn’t one of them. It’s got a Piezo ignition system which ensures a reliable burner start-up with the push of a button.
What I Like
- Enough grilling space to cook food for your whole family
- Easy to move around
- High cooking power of up to 30,000 BTUs
- Equipped with a warming rack
- Easy maintenance
- Affordable price
- The piezoelectric ignition system for easy burner start-up
What I Don’t Like
- Temperature control isn’t that good
- No tool hanger
- Assembly may take some time
The design and performance of this grill will blow you away.
The E-210 Sapphire has all the features you’d expect from a reliable propane grill.
This grill uses what Weber calls a “GS4 Grilling System”. Basically, what it means is that you get a reliable ignition system, flavored bars, two powerful burners, and a grease management system, all to provide you with the best grilling experience.
The ignition system allows you to easily start up your grill for years to come, while the flavored bars are designed to catch the drippings from your food, which will then start smoking to give you that “smoky flavor”.
Moreover, the two burners are tube-shaped to improve heat distribution and give you 26500 BTUs.
The grease management system reduces the risk of flare-ups.
The grill also comes with foldable side tables for extra prep area to the already huge 450 sq. in. of grilling space, in addition to a warming rack.
You also get a propane gauge that shows you how much propane is left in your tank.
What I Like
- The grill has an impressive design
- Flavored bars
- Adequate grilling space
- Easy cleanup
- Propane gauge
- Lots of space to store your grilling equipment
What I Don’t Like
- Complicated assembly
My top pick as the best propane grill under $500 is the Char-Broil Classic 360.
With such a high cooking power, three burners, wide cooking space, and a piezo-electric ignition system, it’s hard not to recommend this grill. The price alone is a good enough reason to buy it.
Another good alternative is the Weber Spirit II E-210 Propane Grill. The unique GS4 grilling system makes this product a great option for those looking for a feature-rich propane grill.