Best Cheap Grills
We scanned countless expert and user reviews of charcoal and gas grills to find the best grills for your budget. We landed on 11 for less than $300, including models with infrared technology, a smoker, a kamado grill, two portable grills, and an electric grill. We even review a Weber gas grill that’s worth a splurge.
What We Considered
While many expert reviewers and consumers swear by the fancy features, luxury designs, and long-term durability of top-end grills, those looking to partake in this beloved backyard ritual without burning thousands of dollars have plenty of options. Our research found a variety of outdoor grills — charcoal, gas-fueled, portable, and even electric — that fall at or below the $300 mark, come with desirable features, and deliver solid performance. Of course, they may not survive for decades, but they should serve for a few summers, at least.
We Looked At
For this buying guide, we researched primarily freestanding gas grills that run on liquid propane, sometimes known as LP models. Gas grills, which can cost from less than $100 to well over $1,000 for commercial and high-end models, are popular because they take little time to heat up and provide more precise control over the flame and, thus, the cooking temperature. Many gas grills, including cheaper models, come with features such as side burners, side shelves, and warming racks to make preparing food easier. They generally have two to five burners under the grilling grates, ideally with individual controls. Within the same model “family” — that is, grills with the same features — prices rise with the number of burners. Natural gas grills are an increasingly popular option — they’re more environmentally friendly and burn cleaner than liquid propane grills, and they can save quite of bit on fuel costs in the long run — but a nearby gas hookup is required. Many grill models will come in both liquid propane and natural gas versions, although the natural gas versions frequently cost a little more than their LP counterparts.
Infrared technology has been around for a while and shows up in some product lines. While gas and charcoal grills rely on heated air to cook the food, infrared grills direct heat toward a solid surface that sits below the grates, radiating infrared waves to the food above. This barrier allows the grill grates to sit closer to the direct heat source for super-quick searing and minimizes charring caused by flare-ups. Meats and vegetables tend to retain more moisture because of the reduced reliance on airflow, which can dry out food. Infrared grills also claim to prevent hot and cold spots, cooking food more quickly and evenly. They are almost exclusively fueled by gas. While these models were once much more expensive, several infrared models now fall into the Cheapism price range.
The modern descendant of an ancient Japanese cooking urn, kamado grills are egg-shaped and very well insulated. The ones on the market these days are most often made from ceramics and sometimes steel. Their high domes catch the heat and redirect it to the food cooking below, while an insulated shell helps hold temperatures steady. Kamado grills are fuel- and oxygen-efficient — they use less of each than traditional grills — and can produce very low and very high heat. Leftover coals (be sure to use natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes) can be reused, and with less air circulating, meats stay juicy and tender. These grills excel at smoking, roasting, and baking, and are available at all price points. Big Green Egg is perhaps the best-known maker of kamado grills, with prices starting at about $500 for a mini version.
The size of the cooking surface depends on both price and grill type. Less expensive grills typically measure between 200 and 700 square inches; the higher end of that range is generally reserved for gas models. It's important to note that a side burner or warming rack is often counted in the cooking surface area listed in the specs, so look for distinctions between measurements for total cooking surface and primary cooking area.
On gas grills, knobs attached to each burner can modulate flame levels and the heat directed at different surface areas. It's a pretty basic setup that affects how evenly food cooks. All our picks offer individual control over each burner.With a charcoal grill, heat regulation is more difficult. It depends how close the grates are to the coals, as well as the configuration of the damper and air vents that control how much air circulates during cooking. Users open the damper to let in additional oxygen to fuel the fire and close it to lower the heat.
As noted above, infrared grills require less fuel to achieve higher heats. Learning to regulate the temperature on these grills may take some getting used to. Once mastered, however, many users assert that the results are well worth the trial-and-error learning process. Most new grills have lid-mounted thermometers that ideally let you monitor the heat, and adjust it if need be. Experts caution that they're notoriously inaccurate and suggest using an accessory thermometer.
Every model has its quirks, but for the most part, it's not difficult to get the grills on our list up and running. That said, user feedback indicates that some may be tougher to assemble than others. Problems tend to arise from missing screws or bolts, poorly drilled holes, or parts that just don't align correctly.
According to the reviews we read, the instructions drive some people to distraction. Grill assembly instructions often are conveyed through visuals, but many consumers express frustration with the diagrams and make a plea for written directions that provide logical and clear sequencing. Figure on a good hour or two, and possibly more, when setting up a gas model. Some retailers will assemble your grill for free or for a small fee.
Nexgrill 4-Burner 720-0925 Review
There's a lot of value built into this inexpensive Nexgrill gas grill, according to reviewers. There’s no side burner — a noted absence — but the four main burners and fairly large cooking surface give cooks plenty of room to work with. While it may not be as sturdy or last as long as more expensive models, complaints are relatively few; in fact, the most common gripes refer to difficulty with assembly as opposed to flaws in performance. Given the incredibly low cost, the majority consensus is that this Nexgrill four-burner delivers pretty impressive results, and many owners say they don't regret stepping down from pricier brands they've used in the past. There’s a five-year warranty on the burners and one year on the rest.
Grill temperature is easy to regulate and maintain, according to users, and there's plenty of heat.
4 10,000-BTU stainless steel burners.
562 square inches of cooking surface (480 square inches plus a 159-square-inch warming rack).
Cast iron grates are coated with porcelain.
Convenience features include electric (battery) ignition, a temperature gauge, and side shelves.
Several users complain of missing or damaged parts.
Assembly can be a bit tricky and time consuming, according to some owners.
Weber 22" Original Kettle 741001 Review
An all-time favorite, the Weber 22-inch Original Kettle 741001 arguably sets the standard for charcoal grilling. It delivers top-level performance with straightforward operation and comes tagged at a modest price. It's a must for old-time cookouts and can be used as a smoker, as well. Some users say build quality has deteriorated compared with older units, but the vast majority wax enthusiastic over this no-frills Weber charcoal grill. The same design is available in 18-inch and 26-inch sizes. Those looking for a few more bells and whistles, or more color choices, might consider upscale Weber kettles like the Premium or the Weber Master-Touch.
Simple, effective, and time-tested; reviewers tell of excellent results with all kinds of foods, from burgers and hot dogs to pizza and turkey.
22-inch diameter provides a relatively generous 363 square inches of cooking surface.
Heavy-gauge steel grate for charcoal; plated steel grate for cooking.
Porcelain-enameled bowl and lid with integrated holder; rust-resistant damper for oxygen flow.
Removable ash catcher; One-Touch cleaning system.
Easy to assemble and clean, users report; two wheels help with transport.
10-year warranty on the bowl and lid; 5 years on the cleaning system and plastic parts; 2 years on the remainder.
Scattered grousing about rust spots and weakness in small components, like screws and handles.
Occasional reports of missing parts in the packaging.
Cooking grate height cannot be adjusted; no temperature gauge.
Char-Broil Classic 3-Burner 463773717 Review
While experts haven't been especially wowed by the cooking power of previous versions of this Char-Broil gas grill, they agree that this line of grills has a lot going for it given the incredibly cheap price. Small and simple, this Char-Broil Classic model has three burners and a good amount of cooking space for less than $150. Satisfied users praise its low weight, ease of use, and overall performance. Even if it may not last for the long term, users say the low cost makes replacement no big deal — it also makes this grill a good choice for a vacation home. The warranty extends five years on the burners, two years on lid and fire box, and one year on all other parts.
One of the least expensive models from a brand known for quality and innovation.
Provides 530 square inches of total cooking surface: 360 square inches of primary cooking space and 170 square inches on a swing-away warming rack.
3 10,000-BTU burners offer just enough heat to adequately cover the cooking area.
Steel cooking grates and inner lid are porcelain-coated.
Electric (spark) ignition and 2 side tables.
Easy to put together and clean, according to reviews.
Light weight and easy to transport.
No temperature gauge.
Experts suggest it may be worth paying more for a model with sturdier construction and a longer life expectancy.
Dyna-Glo DGB390SNP-D Smart Space Living Review
This Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living gas grill is a basic, compact three-burner that should appeal to both newbies and more experienced outdoor cooks. It's just the right size for a deck or small yard, while its cooking surface is big enough to feed a small group. Burgers and steaks cook to perfection, users say, and the combination of good looks, a higher-quality build, and a relatively modest price is hard to beat. The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty on the burners and a limited one-year warranty on parts. Supplies may be limited for this highly rated model, however, and it tends to sell out quickly. The bronze-colored version seems more likely to be in stock but also more expensive (est. price: $289; buy it from Walmart).
Quick to heat, with good heat retention, according to experts; users praise the responsive temperature control.
3 relatively powerful 12,000-BTU stainless steel burners.
507 square inches of total cooking surface (390 square-inch primary cooking area plus a warming rack) in a compact design.
Sturdy, cast iron grates are porcelain-coated to prevent sticking; double-walled lid for heat retention.
Temperature gauge, electric (battery) ignition, single-door cabinet, drop-down side tables with utensil hooks and towel bars, and 4 wheels (2 with locks).
Easy to assemble and clean, according to reviews.
Experts at Top Ten Reviews report hot and cold spots in testing.
Scattered concern about limited durability.
Nexgrill 5-Burner 720-0888N Review
This Nexgrill five-burner gas grill provides a lot of space for the price. Five main burners plus a side burner offer a range of meal-prep options, and both owners and expert reviewers laud the generous cooking surface, high heat output, and versatility of this grill. A stainless steel lid and stainless steel side tables add a sleek appearance to an already attractive package. At this price, the grill may not last forever, but it's still a good choice for budget-minded consumers looking for a model that will serve for at least a few summers' worth of cookouts. It comes with a five-year warranty on the burners and one year on the remainder.
Quick preheating, even cooking, and decent heat consistency, according to experts.
5 11,000-BTU stainless steel burners; 12,000-BTU side burner.
Large cooking surface totals 639 square inches (480 square inches plus a 159-square-inch warming rack).
Cast iron grates are coated with porcelain.
Electric (battery) ignition, a temperature gauge, and stainless steel side tables.
Some user and expert concern about build quality and limited longevity.
Flare-ups and issues with food sticking to grates in expert testing by TopTenReviews.
Many owners complain about difficult assembly.
Char-Broil Performance Tru-Infrared 3-Burner 463280019 Review
Char-Broil has a loyal following for their relatively inexpensive, yet reliable gas grills. This infrared model is one of the company’s newest, meaning few reviewers have weighed in yet, but feedback was very strong for an older version, and we expect this grill to perform equally well. Char-Broil’s proprietary infrared technology is praised by many outdoor cooks, some of whom say they’ve left charcoal grilling far behind after trying it out. Although the unique design is intended to minimize cleanup — juices are supposed to vaporize once hitting the grates — some owners of earlier models say grease and marinades accumulate in the grate troughs, interfere with cooking, and require lots of effort to remove. Still, owners like the efficiency and value price. The grill’s warranty covers five years on the burners, two years on the lid and firebox, and one year on the remainder.
Infrared cooking technology produces even, intense heat, prevents flare-ups, and keeps food moist.
3 8,000-BTU stainless steel burners reach high heats quickly; there's also a 10,000-BTU side burner.
Porcelain-coated cooking grates cover a generous primary cooking area of 450 square inches; warming rack adds another 150 square inches of cooking space.
Convenience features include a built-in temperature gauge, electric (spark) ignition, and side work areas.
Too new to have accumulated owner reviews.
Grates on similar models are hard to clean, prone to rusting, some users say.
Char-Broil Kettleman 22.5" Tru-Infrared 16301878 Review
The Char-Broil Kettleman Tru-Infrared proves its mettle as both charcoal grill and smoker, reviewers write, producing lip-smacking meats, whether beef, poultry, or pork. While the infrared technology may take a bit of getting used to, many even say they prefer this product over the vaunted Weber grills. Consumers love how quickly this grill heats up, faster than other charcoal models. It’s worth noting, however, that some otherwise-satisfied owners complain that the grill doesn’t handle low temperatures or smoke foods well.
Retains heat well and cooks evenly, with impressive searing, no flare-ups, and speedy, tasty results, according to expert and user reviews.
Infrared technology provides concentrated radiant heat for even cooking, moist food, less burning, and easy searing.
Easily reaches high temperatures; uses charcoal efficiently.
22.5-inch diameter and 360 square inches of cooking surface on porcelain-coated grates.
Hinged lid with temperature gauge and latch; adjustable charcoal grate; removable ash pan; two wheels for transport.
10-year warranty on the bowl and lid; 5 years on the ash pan; 2 years on the remainder.
Oversize hood damper for controlling the heat is hard to adjust, according to reviews.
Unique cooking system requires some acclimation to achieve optimal results.
Design of the grate can make it hard to clean.
A few reports of chipping and warping.
Weber 18" Jumbo Joe 1211001 Review
The Weber Jumbo Joe is a compact version of the brand’s signature kettle grill. It’s small enough to take to a picnic, a tailgate party, or campout, as well as a great option for people who want to grill at home but don’t have the space for a full-sized grill. Like its larger sibling, the dampers make it relatively easy (for a charcoal grill) to find and maintain the desired cooking temperature, although some reviewers say a good meat thermometer is a worthwhile investment, too. And while a handful of owners complain about build quality that’s a bit flimsier than the full-size model, these small gripes are outweighed by the abundance of 4- and 5-star reviews. For grillers willing to sacrifice some of the versatility along with a good bit of cooking surface, there’s an even more demure, 14-inch version, the Weber Smokey Joe (est. price $35; buy it at Target).
Good size for family meals and for portability, with excellent searing and tender, moist results, reviewers say.
18-inch diameter with a generous cooking surface (240 square inches) for its small size.
Plated steel cooking grate, porcelain-enameled bowl and lid, and heavy-gauge steel charcoal grate.
2 rust-resistant dampers for air flow.
Removable ash catcher; One-Touch cleaning system.
Heat-resistant handle and lock for the lid.
10-year warranty on the bowl and lid; 5 years on the cleaning system and plastic parts; 2 years on the remainder.
No built-in temperature gauge.
Some grousing that grill can't match quality of previous Weber models.
Cuisinart Petit Gourmet CGG-180T Review
The Cuisinart CGG-180T Petit Gourmet is a dependable and practical choice for tailgating, picnicking, and camping, reviewers write, but they caution that the 13-pound grill may be a bit much to haul on hikes. Also, while many buyers are fans of the standard red version, some suggest that the black or stainless steel units might be a better bet as the red lid is more prone to discoloration or chipping. Aesthetics aside, for those willing to pay a bit more to avoid the smoke and comparative hassle of our top portable pick, the Weber Jumbo Joe 18" charcoal grill, we'd say this Cuisinart portable gas grill is the way to go.
Surprisingly strong performance and generous cooking surface for small, portable grill, reviews say.
Stainless steel gas burner delivers 5,500 BTUs and heats to more than 500 degrees.
145 square-inch cooking surface is a good size to feed a family of four, users say.
Designed for simple transport with folding legs, lid latch, and carry handle; sits easily on a picnic table.
Porcelain-enameled cast iron grill grate and porcelain-coated steel body.
3-year warranty is quite good for a cheap portable gas grill — many competitors have warranties that top out in 90 days to a year.
Scattered reports about clogged burners and electric-charge ignition that doesn't always catch (keep matches on hand).
Can be a hassle to clean if food is very greasy, according to some users.
Some grousing about lack of replacement parts.
Char-Broil Patio Bistro 17602066 Review
The 1,750-watt Char-Broil Patio Bistro electric grill is a decent compromise for frugal consumers keen on outdoor grilling but prohibited from, or disinclined to use a gas or charcoal grill. Although the Patio Bistro's cooking performance may not compare to traditional grills, users appreciate its infrared technology, the savings on fuel, and how easy it is to use — just plug it in and go. Users particularly admire how well this grill prepares vegetables — not as easy a task on other models — and many are also drawn to the overall aesthetic and color choices; this model comes in graphite, black, and red, but graphite is more readily available.
Compact, convenient, and user-friendly electric alternative to gas and charcoal.
Infrared technology minimizes flare-ups and distributes heat evenly; leaves meat tender and well-seared, reviewers say.
Steel lid, bowl, and V-shaped grates and grease tray are all porcelain-coated.
Built-in temperature gauge; temperature-control knob lights up for easy reading.
Warming rack, folding side shelves, storage rack, and 2 wheels for transport.
Lower fire risk than a gas or charcoal grill.
Relatively small 240 square inches of primary cooking surface.
Takes a long time to heat, users report; some say it fails to reach levels sufficient for optimal grilling.
Assembly and cleanup can be difficult, according to reviews.
Short 2-year warranty on the fire box and lid, and just 1 year on all other parts.
Char-Griller Akorn Kamado 16620 Review
The Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker is a good introduction to the world of kamado grills. It's a versatile outdoor cooker with very high heat for rapid grilling and searing and low heat for long, slow smoking -- producing moist, tender results either way. Even better, while kamado grills typically cost far more than this version, some fans rank it on par with those high-end models. There's some grumbling about units that arrived with dents and dampers that are finicky (making it hard to regulate the heat), but, overall, this Char-Griller kamado satisfies users' hunger for smoked ribs, roast turkeys, and perfectly seared steaks. The manufacturer offers a five-year warranty on fire box and one year on parts.
Kamado grills offer fuel efficiency, heightened charcoal flavor (natural lump charcoal only), and extreme heat range.
Diminutive, 20-inch diameter egg-shaped dome has 314 square inches of primary cooking surface and 133 square inches on its (removable) warming rack; grates are cast iron.
Enthusiastic users say this unit's triple-wall steel shell with powder-coated exterior and porcelain-coated interior does an excellent job of holding heat in; top and bottom adjustable dampers help with heat regulation.
Includes 2 folding side shelves, easy-dump ash pan, and 2 locking wheels in addition to a locking rear caster.
More of a learning curve for heat control compared with traditional grills.
Some complaints about build quality.
Pit Barrel Cooker Review
The 18.5-inch Classic Pit Barrel Cooker isn't the cheapest or prettiest smoker on the market, but experts and the many consumers who give it 5-star ratings say the design is virtually flawless, operation is pretty simple and straightforward, and meat turns out mouthwateringly juicy from top to bottom. And, while it's small enough to transport, it's meant to feed a crowd: The drum can handle a whole turkey, two pork butts, or eight slabs of ribs plus vegetables on the grill grates. True, the warranty period on the Pit Barrel is pretty limited, but a product composed of little more than a metal drum with some rods and charcoal thrown in may not need as much coverage.
Delivers consistently delicious results with fire-it-up-and-forget-about-it operation, according to expert and user reviews.
Allows users to use cooking grate or hang meats for more even cooking on all sides.
30-gallon steel drum with 18.5-inch diameter has porcelain enamel coating and comes with 8 hooks, 2 hanging rods, charcoal basket, grill grate, hook remover, and stand.
No assembly required.
Hard to regulate temperature, say some reviewers.
Scattered pushback on price for a product that could possibly be made DIY.
1-year warranty is relatively short.
Weber Spirit II E-310 49010001 Review
Part of Weber's newer Spirit II line, the 49010001 is the natural gas version of the E-310, which is also available as a liquid propane grill. Spirit II grills boast several updated features, including a redesigned cook box with grease-management system, reversible cooking grates, more robust ignition, compatibility with a smart device that monitors internal temperature and food readiness, and a longer warranty; not to mention the new look and many color choices now available. The reviews that have come in thus far for this model indicate users are thrilled with its performance, and experts agree that Weber seems to have gotten it right again — and gotten even better — with these entry-level grills. Both the liquid propane (Weber Spirit II E-310 45010001) and natural gas models carry the same price tag.
Meets all expectations and then some, reviews say, with solid performance, easy cleanup, and perfect results.
3 10,000 BTU burners with heat diffuser efficiently and evenly distribute heat.
Porcelain-enameled "flavorizer" bars guard against flare-ups and impart smoky essences from drippings.
Offers a large amount of cooking space, with a 424-square-inch primary cooking area and 105-square-inch warming rack; cast iron porcelain-coated cooking grate is uniquely designed to tackle both large and small food items.
Cook box diverts grease/drippings to easy-access catch pan.
Convenience features include electrical (battery) ignition, built-in thermometer (also compatible with iGrill proprietary app-connected thermometer), 1 permanent side shelf and 1 fold-down shelf with utensil hooks, and 2 wheels for transport; 10-foot hose for gas hookup included.
Natural gas grills may cost more for the initial setup, but will save money in the long-term and eliminate the need to constantly replace fuel tanks; they're also a little better for the environment.
10-year warranty on entire grill.
Lifting arrangement using side table as handle is awkward, users report.
Other Products We Reviewed
Nexgrill 4-Burner 720-0925 Review
This low-cost Nexgrill gas grill provides a lot of bang for the buck, with a sleek appearance and solid specs. There’s no side burner — a noted absence — but the four main burners and fairly large cooking surface give cooks plenty of room to work with. While this grill may not be as sturdy or perform as flawlessly as more expensive models, complaints are relatively few, the most common being a tendency for occasional flare-ups when grilling fatty foods. There’s a five-year warranty on the burners and one year on the rest. For grillers on a budget who need even more burger space there’s also a Nexgrill 5-burner model (buy it from Home Depot); the Nexgrill 720-088N costs only about $30 more, and is popular with both users and professional testers for its overall cooking performance. It also adds a stainless steel lid and stainless steel side tables to an already attractive package.
Weber 22" Original...
Weber 18" Jumbo Joe 1211001
Nexgrill 5-Burner 720-0888N
5 main burners