In Consumer Reports’ recent Ratings of more than 100 gas grills, models from Weber’s Spirit line were among the highest scoring.
In the tests, the top-rated, mid-sized Weber Spirit SP-320, $600, and small-sized Weber Spirit E-220, $450, preheated quickly and evenly, and were superb at high- and low-temperature evenness.
And both have electronic igniters and long burner warranties, which are among Consumer Reports’ desirable features for gas grills.
In the large grills category, top performers included the KitchenAid 720-0709C, $800, and the Master Forge 3218LTN, $650.
The KitchenAid, available at Sam’s Club, was quick to preheat and capable once it did, while the Master Forge, available at Lowe’s, offered fine performance, mostly stainless-steel styling, a folding prep table and lots of storage at a relatively low price.
Five features that count
More grills now have convenient features such as electronic igniters, fuel gauges, illuminated control knobs for nighttime grilling and fold-down shelves for food prep.
Here are five gas-grill features to consider when buying:
• Electronic igniters are usually easier and more reliable than a rotary or push-button starter.
• Rounded edges are safer than sharp ones, especially if kids are afoot.
To test a grill’s sturdiness, nudge it in several places and press down on the side shelf to see if it will support a heavy pot.
• Burner warranties of 10 years or longer are a plus since burners are the most frequently replaced part.
• Stainless steel or coated cast-iron grates tend to be better for searing, though stainless is more durable.
• The cooking surface should be big enough to fit enough food to feed a griller’s usual crowd.
Larger grills usually have bigger cooking areas, but not always. Keep in mind, Consumer Reports doesn’t count warming racks and searing burners in its measurements, but manufacturers might.
Great grilling gadgets
Consumer Reports also tried out grill gadgets – including veggie, fish and rib cookers and pizza stones.
Here’s what testers found:
• Master Forge grill wok 25375, $17 (Lowe’s). Keeps smaller batches of vegetables or small fish such as shrimp or scallops from going overboard due to its deeper sides and bowllike shape.
But Consumer Reports’ testerfound that a large amount of food might cook unevenly if it’s piled up.
• Brinkmann flexible grilling basket 812-9012, $18 (Home Depot). Cooks large quantities of thin fish fillets such as sole or tilapia, or vegetables cut flat.
All food must be the same thickness or thinner items may fall out when the 24-by-16-inch basket is flipped over.
Its large size also made it awkward to flip, open to remove food and wash.
• Weber original rib and roast holder, $20. Cooks full racks of ribs upright on large grills.
Testers cooked a roast, turning it once, and it came out just as well as one cooked on a grill spit.
But testers couldn’t close medium-sized grill lids when they placed this big holder front-to-back to hold full racks of ribs because it stuck out.
• Weber Style pizza stone 6430, $50. Cooks one large pizza or several personal-sized ones.
A handle allows users to easily move the stone from the grill or rotate during cooking to adapt to hotter spots, and a holder elevates the stone so it’s not as likely to crack if placed on a wet surface – for example, when it’s removed from the grill.
However, the metal holder, like the stone, will be burning hot when moved from the grill, so Consumer Reports recommends using oven mitts and exercising caution.