Buying a new gas grill - advice?

We’re ready to buy our first gas grill and we’re overwhelmed by the range of options out there.

One we really liked online, and which got great reviews from Consumer Reports and from buyers, is a Char-Broil “Infrared” grill. When I went to see it in the store, though, it seemed weird to me, because it’s got a big shield of metal covering up the burners, with the grates for the grill on top of that, meaning that flames will never ever touch my food. “Infrared heat”, from what I can tell, means it’s like an oven. I don’t think I want an outdoor oven… I want my hotdogs to be charred and my steaks to have good sear lines! But maybe these do that too?

Can anyone shed some light on these infrared grills and/or advise me on a good choice for a midsized gas grill, somewhere in the under-$500 range?

The searing comes from the grill and the intense heat, not flames. You don’t want flames on your meat. That burner design sounds very good to me, you do want to make sure the burners put out enough BTUs, often inexpensive BBQs don’t have enough heat.

I can’t recommend the Char-Broil infrared model. We bought one this spring and it’s a maintenance nightmare. EVERY time you use it, you have to soak and scrub the grills AND the pans that are underneath. A pain in the butt! And I do use oil as per the manual, to no avail. Any juices from what you’re grilling will end up on the perforated pan below the grill and burn on. That clogs up the holes, and they must be scrubbed after EVERY use.

I have a huge case of buyer’s remorse on this one. If I were Gordon Ramsey, I’d call it the donkey of grills. My old Kenmore grill was a breeze to use.

I’d stay far far away from anything Char-Broil. I had one a few years back and had nothing but problems with it. At one point I had to clean the gas tubes out due to spiders. Why it didn’t have spider guards, I don’t know. Either way, instead of the tubes just sliding out, I had to dismantle quite a bit more then I should have to gain access to the burner assembly. Customer support was useless, no answer when I would call, and the email links on their website (which appears to have since been updated) didn’t work. After I got the burners cleaned out I had a few other problems.
I’ll tell you what I tell other people. Pony up the extra money and look at Webers. They’ll last much longer then the other brands and they just seem to be better grills all around.

We have one of these. Or at least, that’s the closest in their current model line. Ours is six years old, and we probably average 2-3 times per week usage. It’s the most reliable and trouble-free grill I’ve ever owned. The stainless pan between the burner and the grill can also be filled with water for steaming crab legs, etc. It can be difficult to find a dealer, and make sure you’ve got help to move it (they’re very heavy). Ours was just under 500.00 when we bought it. Don’t know the prices now, though. [on edit: website shows $499]
Every other brand I’ve owned rusts out after a few years. Cleaning on this one is simply running a wire brush over it once it heats up. I’ve had to pressure wash it once since I’ve had it.

Weber, Weber, Weber.

This x 2

We’vehad a Weber Genesis for 15 years - still going strong (only thing you’ll need to do is replace the grate and flavorizor bars every few years - I think I’m on my 3rd set) BTW - This grill gets used year round, 3-4 times per week

Char-Broil can’t hold a candle to Weber

The only reason that I hesitate to buy an expensive Weber is that I know I won’t be using it multiple times a week due to my work schedule. It would be weekends only, since I only get home after midnight on weekdays. But then, if it lasts 10+ years, maybe it’ll see me through a change of work shift and I’ll get to spend more quality time with it! I’ll look into the Weber models and see what might be doable… but the ones in the size we’re looking at are around $700, which is breaking our budget.

Just in case we can’t scrape together the money for the Weber, does anyone recommend a less expensive grill? Even if it’s one that’s likely to need replacing in 5 years?

The thing is, on some of the cheaper models (like a Brinkmann), it’s not just the grill that’s the problem. The structure becomes an issue. We have one of those at work. We’ve had it for about 3 years and the “cart” for lack of a better word is falling apart. Both wheels have broken, the feet are missing from the other two sides and the whole thing is wobbly. If you touch it, it sways several inches back and forth and threatens to collapse. The only reason we still use it is because it’s in the middle of a big concrete and asphalt area and if it were to collapse it really wouldn’t be a big deal. It would suck, but it wouldn’t set anything on fire or hit anything on the way down. I sure wouldn’t use it near my house.

My dad’s Weber is about 13 years old and the one he had before that was 7 or 8 years or so old. The only reason he got a new one was because when he moved the new house had natural gas outside so he got a new grill that worked with natural gas. My uncle has the same gas grill that my dad originally had and it may show it’s age but it still works great. All three of these grill get used multiple times per week, summer and winter. Both of my dad’s grills get dragged in and out of the garage each time they get used.

Also, that’s something else to consider. Will it stay in one place or get moved around? As I mentioned above, the Brinkmann we have at work is falling apart. I’d imagine if it stayed in one place, it would have lasted a bit longer (maybe another year), but if it’s going to get moved around a lot, a more robust frame will be worth it in the long run.

I have a Ducane grill that I bought used on Craigslist. I wasn’t sure how often I was going to use it but I didn’t want to get too cheap a new grill in case that it would’nt work right and put me off grilling.

I’ve had it for a two years and I use it a few times a week year round. I will need to replace the lava rocks next year and I’ve had to give everything a good cleaning, but it still works well.

We bought our Weber last year when a friend said his parents are still using the same one they bought 20+ years ago. We love ours. It’s this one, which is in your budget if you don’t count the propane tank. But there are lots of smaller models well within your budget if it’s mostly going to be for the two of you; we wanted something we could use for entertaining, or, say, a whole leg of lamb or turkey if we wanted.

Here’s the thread I started on a local foodie board when I was shopping last year - it got merged into an earier thread. Some good advice there.

One of the only things I don’t like about the new line of Webers is the move towards four casters instead of two bigger wheels. My driveway isn’t level which means if I don’t lock the wheels it rolls away so I always have to fight with that and getting in and out of my garage involves going over a small bump and there’s no good place to grab it to lift the casters over the bump.

Can I throw something out there? Whatever you get, budget in 20-30 bucks for a grill cover. If you are religious about putting the cover back on, your grill will last forever.

We have had our CharBroil for over 10 years and no complaints here!

If I were to buy a new one, I would like one of those side burners to keep a pan hot/warm for things like corn, or a sauce or whatever.

I just had the opportunity to cook on my grandparents’ new CharBroil Infrared grill. If you want charbroiled food, do not get this grill. It’s basically an oven. It made good juicy burgers, but there were no charred bits on the outside. I can’t imagine that hotdogs would be any good. If you are looking for something that will be easy, yet compare to charcoal cooking, this isn’t it.

We bought a bottom of the line $100 Char Broil and were not very happy with it. My biggest problem was the uneven heat - there were hot spots, but not large ones, and large cool spots where nothing would brown properly.

We since replaced it with a $700 Weber Genesis (I think that’s the one we ended up getting) and are much more impressed by it.

I have a Blue Ember grill similar to what the OP described. The “infrared” feature has been a big marketing gimmick for a few years. It is not oven-like performance but rather an additional burner above the grates that provides radiant heat when using a rotisserie spit. It’s great for broiling chickens, which I do regularly about once every 18 months ;). There was a thread or two on the infrared topic within the last 1-2 years.

The covers over the burners on mine lift right off if you want to cook over direct flame. I like to get the grates hot but the covers do make the grill perform more like an oven.