Summer Grills That Won't Burn Your Budget (or Burgers)

Weber QI am in serious mourning for the loss of the huge terrace in our old apartment. It’s where we used to grill almost every night. And when I say “we,” I think we all know I mean “my husband.” Now that his super-special outdoor kitchen is no more, I’ve gone back to doing most of the cooking -- not because he’s not willing to do it, but because I frankly like my cooking better, except for his amazing grill skills. Waah!
But if you’re lucky enough to have space for a grill and you’re in the market, well, here’s a guide to some of this season’s best buys in backyard ranges -- some of them, anyway.


Word on the street is -- local stores are having amazing sales right now. Some may even have stock left over from last year. Go, check out what’s available, then come home and compare reviews online. When we did this last year, I decided that it was worth it to spend more for a portable Weber because it had more space on the actual grill than a cheaper model, and we were completely pleased with the purchase (even more so because I used the browser on my smartphone to get them to price-match a sale at Sears!).
When balancing values and prices, keep in mind that you may want to pay extra for a grill with:

  • Burners made of stainless-steel, maybe with a warranty
  • Stainless-steel or cast-iron grates, which resist rust better (porcelain can chip)
  • Welded joints (rather than nuts and bolts)
  • Wheels
  • An electric igniter (rather than a push-button version)

The Best Huge Gas Grills

There’s been a bit of a trend toward “outdoor kitchens,” or back-patios that are so decked out, they really serve the purpose of an extra room. If you’re lucky enough to have the space and the shade, it’s worth it to get a high-end, full-service gas grill. Though Consumer Reports liked several models, including an $800 Weber and a snazzy-looking Jenn-Air at Sam’s Club, the overall winners hovered around $400 for four to five burners, plenty of extra room, and lots of bells and whistles.
Kenmore 16135
$399 at Sears

Kenmore 16135 
Brinkmann 810-8501
$379 at Home Depot

Brinkman Big 
The Best Mid-Sized Gas Grills

Again, though the Weber Genesis is the object of lust in this category, it tends to run up to $850. The winner again was the Brinkmann, this time available in a heroic red hue. Frankly, you’re not giving up much by going down a size: there’s still room for pots and pans. For the lower price, you probably won’t be able to get fancy grates and good burners -- you’ll have to choose one or the other.
Brinkmann 810-2545
$220 at Walmart

Brinkmann Mid  
Kenmore 16134
$350 at Sears (possibly also at Sears Outlet)

Kenmore Mid  
The Best Portable/Small Grills

Yep, just as I found last year: While high-end Webers blast themselves out of most people’s price ranges, the Q delivers enough bang for the buck to make it a CR Best Buy. But there are other options, too, including options labeled “urban,” which I guess means “small enough for you, terrace-dweller," but makes me feel like a rap star! The good news is your smaller budget means you skimp on space, not quality.
Char-Broil Red Patio
$270 at Home Depot

Char-Broil Red  
Huntington 666664
$250 at Lowe’s
 Huntington Patio

Which of these grills tickles your fancy? What kind do you have, and what features do you love most?

Images via,, Home Depot,,

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