Trying to impress at a cookout when you’re on a budget? It can be difficult to find the right grill when under a budget, but thankfully your budget is a bit more forgiving than others and opens up a range of high performing, sub-$500 that’ll be sure to get the job done.
We’ve looked at the best grills on the market that fall within this budget and have picked our five favorites. We made sure to choose a variety so don’t take the list order too seriously, and don’t worry if our number one isn’t your style because number three might be.
We’ve listed each product’s pros, cons, and explained why we chose them. Not only that, but we’ve also written a buyers’ guide with an attached FAQ so that you can choose the best product for your grilling arsenal. This way you’ll know what to look for, and so your bargain hunting won’t go up in smoke.
Our winner after 35+ hours of research
Got a cookout soon? If you need to get a much-needed grill upgrade soon and can’t spare much time, then we have our top choice here.
Take a look at the Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill, we think that its generous combination of both cooking space and cooking power, whilst fitting neatly into the budget, could be the perfect fit for you. See why we chose it in more detail below:
513 plus 210 square inches across four burners and a side burner/warming rack to make for a total of 723 square inches of cooking area.
Four burners work to 60,000 BTU, equivalent to a lower-powered domestic stove. Also uses angled flame tamers so that cooking power is evenly distributed for perfect grilling.
Is a good-looking grill setup thanks to Clearview glass on the hood, durable stainless-steel body with porcelain-coated cooking grates and LED-lit knobs. Each has their own functions besides being pleasant to work at.
Best Grills Under $500 - Comparison Table
Best Grills Under $500 - Our Reviews
The first product on this list is the Monument Grills 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill, a large grill that combines 513 square inches with 210 square inches of warming rack and side burner to reach a very spacious 723 square inches.
The primary cooking power of this unit is thanks to four burners that can hit a very impressive 60,000 BTU, the equivalent of a lower-powered domestic stove. Those burners are outfitted with angled flame tamers that evenly distribute heat to consistently grill food all over, no more burnt or undercooked spots!
The lid of this grill has a Clearview glass top that lets you check on your cooking without having to open the hood. This way you don’t have to wing it, you can see with your own eyes how close your meats are to being done.
As for the rest of the grill, it has a durable stainless-steel body and cooking grates that are porcelain-coated so that they can hold heat in them for longer and reduce sticking.
The grill looks great thanks to LED lighting on the knobs, but they aren’t just superficial, they’re especially handy for seeing what you’re doing in low-light conditions where the LEDs are more visible than ever.
For the second product on this list, we chose a grill that does its own thing, and is perfect for those who want to grill but don’t have much room for it.
It’s the Fuego F24C Professional Propane Gas Grill, a compact grill at 24x24 inches which makes it perfect for use on balconies or patios. It breaks the mold of box-like grills with a pedestal-style circular design which contains 525 square inches of cooking area and includes 110 square inch warming rack.
This grill trades its cooking power for compactness, however, having a lower BTU for this list at 26,500 per hour.
The domed lid of this grill is made with safety in mind, being designed to open to 45 degrees so that you can avoid having to reach over the grate to close it and potentially getting burned.
Only just fitting into the budget, the Fuego F24C grill’s circular design is sure to stand out at cookouts despite how compact it is.
The third grill on this list is the Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Grill, an option from a known brand that fits snugly into your sub-$500 budget.
This is the grill that’ll get you a lot of surface area for a budget-friendly price tag, hence its place in the list. It has a total of 529 square inches of cooking space that’s spread out over three burners packed onto an open cart grill, and those burners reach 30,000 BTU per hour, respectable under this budget.
These are all part of Weber’s GS4 grilling system that’s been innovated as of late with the improvement of the Infinity Ignition that guarantees every-time ignition and the Grease Management System that ferries droplets away from where the action is.
Part of that GS4 system are the Flavorizer bars which vaporize most droplets before they hit the Grease Management System to create smoke that mixes with whatever’s cooking for that smoky, authentic barbecue taste.
The cooking grates you’ll be working with are cast iron cooking grates with porcelain-enamel coating that holds heat effectively, and thanks to a built-in lid thermometer you’ll be able to tell exactly what temperature you’re cooking at.
Some have said that choosing the pre-assembly option, whilst free, has resulted in needing to assemble it yourself, which can take about three hours.
The next product in our lineup is the Broil King Baron 320, a propane gas grill consisting of three durable stainless steel, dual-tube burners that deliver 30,000 BTU-per-hour to the cooking area.
The cooking area has 330 square foot in burner cooking space with an extra 110 square foot of additional trays and racks for you to make full use of. There’s also a rotisserie that works to 15,000 BTU, so you can spit roast poultry too.
It has some familiar bells and whistles such as their Flav-R-Wave system which vaporizes drippings to create that smoky, barbecue taste in whatever’s cooking. It also has Linear-Flow valves and Sensi-Touch control knobs so that you can get precise settings for your grill, whether it’s roasting, searing or slow-cooking.
It should be said that this grill’s cast iron cooking grates are prone to rusting, and so precautions should be taken to avoid it getting exposed to the weather too much.
The last product on this list is the Weber Q3200 Portable Grill, the perfect mobile option for someone who wants the reliability of the Weber brand whilst enjoying the ability to move your grill to wherever the action is happening.
Featuring two stainless steel burners, this grill is the least in BTU at 21,700 BTU-per-hour and also has less cooking area than other options at a total of 468 square inches. Don’t let this dissuade you, however, as the BTU and the smaller space aren’t so relevant to what you’d want to use this grill for and perform well within their purpose.
Pay attention instead to its lightweight aluminum construction with glass-reinforced nylon framing to make it less cumbersome to move around. The burners are also very easy to start thanks to an electronic ignition system, and when burning you can use this grill’s infinite control burner valves to lock into a temperature so that you don’t go over or under the heat at which you want to cook.
If the grill you’re hunting for needs to be of the portable variety, then this Weber grill should be exactly what you’re looking for.
Best Grills Under $500 - Buyers Guide
What to look for in the perfect grill
In this buyers’ guide we’ll be looking through what makes a good grill, and if you can find one with these features for under $500 then all the better! We’ll be looking at components and features of the grill as well as things to consider about using it practically.
Since it depends what kind of grill you have and how you’ll be using them, we’ll deal with the basics to look for in a grill and qualify where needed. To that end, let’s talk about grate quality, material, fuel, size, temperature and illumination, among other features.
The Grate Quality
Since it’s where the cooking happens, let’s start on the grate quality. Heavy-duty stainless steel and cast-iron grates that are coated in a substance like heat-friendly ceramics, e.g. porcelain, perform extremely well for grilling.
They sear very well too due to the heat they can hold in, and whilst your coated grates will be more resilient to any challenge, the cheaper cross-iron non-coated grates rust at a higher rate. You’ll want to get coated grates whenever possible but it’s not a requirement
A grill’s main body is usually cast iron, cast aluminum, or stainless steel, to list them from roughly least to most expensive. As you no doubt know, stainless steel is very widely used in many appliances and kitchenware but can still have a hefty price attached for how prevalent it is.
Grills are generally powered in two ways, by propane gas or by natural gas. These aren’t compatible as natural gas requires a gas just like domestic ovens do, whereas propane gas grills are powered by tanks.
Grills made for one cannot be run with the other. Propane is therefore the option for those who want a more portable grilling setup.
This means both grill size and the size of where you want it set up, you must consider both. Grills can range from very compact to very large depending on whether the products value portability over space and performance, or vice versa.
Size is correlated with the surface area, so a bigger grill is always the best bet if you need a lot of space. This sacrifices maneuverability but that may not be something you’re interested in, it’s up to you.
Cooking surface area is one of the most important things to consider, and we’d advise finding the sweet spot between surface area and mobility if that’s what you have in mind.
Lastly, with size you also need to consider where you’re setting up your grill. A gas-powered grill rooted into your garden is one thing but if you have plans for cookouts or tailgating then you’ll want a grill that can fit into the party space without sacrificing too much cooking area.
The heat that burners create is measured in BTU by the grilling industry. If you’re a newcomer looking for a budget grill to get started, then this measurement may not be familiar to you.
It stands for British Thermal Unit and is a measurement of the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water by one-degree Fahrenheit. In the context of grilling, it’s used as a conversion of gas into heat and this takes into account heat created, the grill’s size and the distribution of said heat, and as such isn’t as valuable as a quantitative metric of heating superiority that you may have assumed.
It should definitely not be the only factor you base your purchasing decision on.
That said, the higher BTUs are generally better when considering similar grills of similar sizes or of the same brand, but don’t fall into the trap of forking out over a domestic grade BTU grill (60,000 to 80,000 BTU) when you would have better suited a sub-30,000 portable grill.
Heat is heat, and as long as you get a quality grill in terms of its construction and other features then you shouldn’t have to worry about BTU rates so much.
First of all, illumination on your grill can be aesthetically pleasing to the majority of us, whether it’s lights affixed to the hood of your grill or LED configurations built into the knobs and control panel.
That’s not reason enough to go for illumination on your grill, and there are practical reasons that illumination can be used. If you’re planning on going to, or hosting, cookouts then you may very well be grilling past dusk.
In low-light conditions like nighttime, features like hood lights and LEDs can make your grilling experience much more convenient. It’s not necessary, but something to keep an eye out for if you think you’ll be night-time grilling a lot.
This is where you must ask yourself what you want to be able to do with your grill to suit your needs, and the needs of who you may be accommodating. You can see examples of these features in the products above, such as infinite control valves that allow you to be so precise in your grilling that you can cook different types of meat at once.
Warming racks, which are becoming more standard in grills nowadays, allow you to slow cook your meats whilst side shelves and side burners let you keep ingredients or a side dish cooking away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to cook with rust on my grill?
If a grill has minor surface rust then you can take steps to remove it, but if the rust is loose then that is definitely a health hazard as it can get stuck to food and ingested, which can cause you and your intestines problems if done consistently.
How do I remove rust from my grill?
Got a rust problem? Grill maintenance is essential and, assuming it isn’t terminal, there’s a variety of ways you get the rust off. You could go the old-fashioned soap and water route or pay out for a commercial rust removing solution.
We prefer the homemade solutions for how inexpensive they are, since you’ll probably have the ingredients lying around the house. You can use a pairing of the classic vinegar and baking soda or lemon juice and detergent with water, and whichever one you pick they’re applied in roughly the same way.
Mix them until you have a consistent paste, then apply and let it sit, 30 minutes if using vinegar and overnight if using lemon juice, and then scrub it with a soft sponge and rinse off with warm water.