9 Best Grills Under $300—and 1 Worth a Splurge

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GRILLING ON THE CHEAP

Summer kindles an urge to kick back and enjoy some sunshine, a cold beer, and a juicy burger. This recipe for a relaxing evening doesn't require a gleaming outdoor kitchen. You can find a good grill for less than $300, whether your taste runs toward charcoal or gas. Fans of the former insist that food cooked over charcoal is more flavorful, and charcoal grills generally cost less up front. Gas grills are more convenient all around: quicker to heat up and easier to control, extinguish, and clean. Cheapism.com's top picks include both types. This roundup also includes a portable model for picnicking or camping, plus an electric grill and a smoker -- all under $300.
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

GOOD CHEAP GAS GRILL: HUNTINGTON 24025HNT

Price: $167, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • Cast aluminum body eliminates rust.
  • Higher-quality parts than many other grills in this price range.
  • 10-year warranty on cast aluminum parts, five years on the stainless steel burner system, and two years on all other parts.
  • Users and some experts praise the quality in online reviews.
  • Reviewers appreciate that Huntington grills are made in North America.

Cons:

  • Relatively small for a gas grill; just 240 square inches of primary cooking surface.
  • Some gripes about complicated assembly.
  • Some experts say the design doesn't retain heat very well.
  • Hard to find except on Amazon.

Takeaway: With comparatively sturdy parts and a 10-year warranty, the Huntington 24025HNT may last longer than competitors. Reviewers seem pleased with this model's ability to grill a decent burger. That said, it's on the smaller side, so don't expect to feed a crowd quickly. Consumers willing to trade steel side tables for heavy-duty plastic can take a chance on the even cheaper Huntington 630114 ($99 at Home Depot). Aside from very slight differences in build, company representatives say the grills are identical.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

SLIGHTLY BIGGER GAS GRILL: HUNTINGTON 30030HNT

Price: $180, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • Durable cast aluminum body and cooking chamber that prevents rust.
  • 10-year warranty on cast aluminum parts, five years on the stainless steel burner system, and two years on all other parts.
  • 30,000 BTUs of heating power for 300 square inches of primary cooking surface add up to a powerful grill.
  • Users find it easy control the heat, cook evenly, and clean up.
  • Huntington earns praise for keeping manufacturing in North America.

Cons:

  • Some users find the assembly instructions hard to follow and illogically sequenced.
  • Some reports of missing parts.

Takeaway: The Huntington 30030HNT provides plenty of power to the burner system. This model doesn't come with a lot of frills, but at least one expert vouches for the solid construction and users admire the grill's performance.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP GRILL FOR FEEDING A CROWD: CHAR-BROIL QUICKSET 3-BURNER GAS GRILL 463722315

Price: $160, Buy it at Charbroil.com

Pros:

  • 3 main burners plus a side burner and swing-away warming rack.
  • 545 square inches total; 370 square inches of primary cooking space.
  • 36,000 BTUs for the main burners and 12,000 BTUs for the side burner.
  • Easy to put together, according to reviews.
  • Capable of basic grilling and even cooking.
  • One of the least expensive models from a brand known for quality and innovation.

Cons:

  • Experts suggest it may be worth paying more for a model with sturdier construction, better heat output, and a longer life expectancy.

Takeaway: With three burners and 545 square inches of total cooking space, the Char-Broil Quickset 463722315 is an impressive size for the price. While experts aren't wowed by the Quickset 3-Burner line, users report that this grill is easy to set up and performs well for the price, even if it may not last for the long term.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP STAINLESS STEEL GRILL: DYNA-GLO DGP350SNP-D 2-BURNER GAS GRILL

Price: $245, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • Porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates.
  • Comes with a grill cover.
  • Attractive stainless steel and cast aluminum body gives the grill a solid, high-quality feel.
  • Easy to start, cooks evenly, and achieves high temperatures, according to reviews.
  • 467 square inches of total cooking surface, with a 350 square-inch primary cooking area, in a space-saving compact body.
  • Widely available.

Cons:

  • Flare-ups seem to be a real problem for some users, although others claim no issues whatsoever.
  • Some users gripe that the plastic knobs seem chintzy and fit poorly.
  • Many report receiving models that arrived damaged.
  • Only a 1-year warranty, and some users complain that the brackets holding the heat tents in place rust quickly.

Takeaway: The Dyna-Glo Smart Space Living 2-Burner Gas Grill packs a lot of cooking space into a small footprint. Although pricier than our other top picks (and some other Dyna-Glo models that are more inexpensively made), it provides a lot of bang for the buck, with a sleek appearance and many other perks usually reserved for higher-end models. Buyers seem overwhelmingly pleased with the performance and ease of use.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP CHARCOAL GRILL: WEBER ORIGINAL KETTLE PREMIUM 22"

Price: $149, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • Hinged cooking grate makes it easy to add more charcoal or reposition coals.
  • Durable porcelain-enameled steel lid.
  • One damper and four air vents for heat control.
  • One-Touch cleaning system makes cleanup quick and painless.
  • Warranty extends to 10 years on some parts.
  • Weber brand is universally admired for durability and ease of use.

Cons:

  • Most Weber grills exceed our $300 budget, and this one is at the top of the range for charcoal grills.

Takeaway: You pretty much can't go wrong with a Weber grill, and the Original Kettle Premium 22" is one of the few options available on a budget. Consumer and expert reviewers are hard-pressed to find flaws in the design, quality, or cooking ability of this charcoal grill. Sacrifice some of the conveniences, like the built-in thermometer and removable ash can, and you can save about $50 with the classic model ($99 on Amazon).

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP INFRARED CHARCOAL GRILL: CHAR-BROIL KETTLEMAN TRU-INFRARED 22.5"

Price: $96, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • TRU-Infrared technology provides concentrated radiant heat for even cooking, moist food, less burning, and easy searing.
  • Users praise the performance and report that this model uses less charcoal than most charcoal grills.
  • Hinged hood for added convenience.
  • Can be used as a smoker with no additional parts needed.
  • Ash catcher is easy to remove and empty.

Cons:

  • Some complain that the single hood damper and configuration of the air vents don't provide ideal air circulation control.
  • Unique cooking system requires some acclimation to achieve optimal results.
  • Reports of chipping and blistering on porcelain-coated cooking grates.

Takeaway: Experts rave about the infrared cooking technology and hinged lid on the Char-Broil Kettleman 22.5". Overall this charcoal grill is a solid choice for consumers who don't want to spring for a Weber and have the patience to get the hang of the heat control.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP PORTABLE CHARCOAL GRILL: WEBER SMOKEY JOE 14" CHARCOAL

Price: $30, Buy it at Walmart

Pros:

  • 10-year warranty on bowl, lid, and center ring; 5 years on cleaning system and plastic parts; 2 years on all other parts.
  • Easy-to-use One-Touch cleaning system.
  • Experts report that this portable model works as well as a full-size Weber.
  • Consumers find it very easy to use.

Cons:

  • No handle to make moving the grill easier.
  • No hinged lid or place to hook the lid.

Takeaway: The Weber Smokey Joe is a compact grill (147 square inches of total cooking surface) with no frills that earns rave reviews from both experts and users. It suits consumers who live in apartments, typically cook for just two people, or want a good grill for camping or tailgating.

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP OUTDOOR ELECTRIC GRILL: CHAR-BROIL PATIO BISTRO 17602047

Price: $200, Buy it at Charbroil.com

Pros:

  • TRU-Infrared technology.
  • Porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates.
  • Folding side tables for easy storage.
  • Removable warming rack.
  • Easy and convenient to use -- once assembled.
  • Users particularly admire how well this grill cooks vegetables -- not an easy task on many other models.
  • Less fire risk than a gas or charcoal grill.

Cons:

  • Limited expert reviews.
  • Some users gripe that the grill doesn't get hot enough and takes too long to cook food.

Takeaway: Although the cooking performance of this electric grill may not compare to that of gas and charcoal grills, users appreciate the infrared technology on the Char-Broil Patio Bistro model, the savings on fuel, and how easy it is to use an electric grill -- just plug it in and go. Many are also drawn to the color choices: red, black, and graphite. An older model, without side tables, is still widely available for those who want to spend even less ($110 on Amazon).

Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BEST CHEAP SMOKER: PIT BARREL COOKER

Price: $289, Buy it on Amazon

Pros:

  • Arrives assembled and reportedly works perfectly upon unboxing.
  • Large-capacity 30-gallon drum and 240 square inches of cooking surface on the steel grate, plus eight hooks for hanging meat.
  • Experts report even cooking regardless where the meat is positioned in relation to the hot coals.
  • Users and experts agree this model makes it easy to walk away for hours and come back to a perfect slab of smoked meat.

Cons:

  • At the very top of our $300 budget.
  • 1-year limited warranty.

Takeaway: While the Pit Barrel Cooker isn't the cheapest or prettiest on the market, reviewers say the design is virtually flawless and holds enough food to feed a crowd. This smoker is described as a joy to use, and meat turns out mouthwateringly juicy from top to bottom.

Photo credit: Courtesy of homedepot.com

WORTH A SPLURGE: WEBER SPIRIT E-310 GAS GRILL 46510001

Price: $499, Buy it at Home Depot

Pros:

  • Porcelain-coated cast iron grates and porcelain-enameled steel hood to prevent rust.
  • 529 square inches of total cooking space.
  • Three stainless steel burners with individual controls.
  • Two stainless steel side tables.
  • Fuel tank gauge.
  • 10-year warranty on cookbox, lid, and burners; 5 years on grates and flavorizer bars; 2 years on all other parts.

Cons:

  • Several users take issue with design changes (the burners are attached differently) in this model compared with older models.
  • A few users report premature rust spots.

Takeaway: This entry-level Weber model outshines comparable gas grills and lives up to the brand's name. Several users even assert that the Spirit E-310 holds its own against the much higher-priced Genesis line. Users appreciate that this grill is built to last, and the fuel gauge means never getting caught with pink meat and not enough propane.