Ultimate Gas Grill Buying Guide: Choosing Your Grill Size

This is Part 6 of GrillSpot’s Ultimate Gas Grill Buying Guide, where we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to buy a gas grill, from what factors you need to consider to detailed guides dedicated to everything from budget to grill size to BTUs.

When choosing your grill, one of the most important considerations is grill size. The size of a grill and how much cooking space it offers impacts how much you can grill at one time, where you can set up and store your grill, as well as your ability to use indirect cooking methods.

All of these factors may not seem critical, but they can limit your grilling capabilities, reduce time spent with guests, and affect yard aesthetics, as well as impact your overall grilling experience and enjoyment, making size an important factor when selecting your grill. In this section of the Ultimate Gas Grill Buying Guide, we will help you determine which size of grill you should get by looking at:

  • What grill sizes are there and how are they determined?
  • What size grill do I need?
  • How many burners do you need on a grill?
  • How to calculate grill surface area

Let’s dig in.

What Grill Sizes Are There and How Are They Determined?

There are typically three grill size classifications:

  1. Small grills
  2. Mid-sized grills
  3. Large and extra large grills

1. Small grills

Small or compact grills typically have 1-3 burners, a maximum cooking surface of 400 square inches (typically between 20 to 26 inches wide), and, according to Consumer Reports, can hold 18 or fewer burger patties.

Small grills often offer no or limited storage space and fewer bells and whistles than larger grill sizes. However, they also tend to be a bit cheaper, typically ranging in price from $100-$1,000, depending on the quality of components, construction, and additional features.

2. Mid-sized grills

Mid-sized or medium grills usually have 3-4 burners, a maximum cooking surface of 520 square inches (around 27 – 33 inches wide), and are large enough to hold between 18 and 28 burger patties using the Consumer Reports sizing metric.

Medium grills offer a wider range of features, better quality components and construction, as well as increased storage. In this size range, you will find price points up to $3,000, but as low as $150. They are the most popular grill size, offering larger cooking space without taking up too much physical space in your yard.

3. Large and extra large grills

Large and extra large grills are grills with over 520 square inches (around 34 inches wide and larger). They typically house at least four burners but can have up to eight, and hold 28 or more burger patties at one time.

Due to their increased cooking size, they typically also have more storage space than other grills. Depending on the construction, quality of materials, and included features, prices for large and extra large grills can range well above $3,000, but some can be found for under $400.

Because of their size and increased number of burners, they also offer more cooking options, such as multi-tasking by cooking several meal components at once, using heat zones, and cooking with indirect heat.

What Size Grill Do I Need?

When choosing the right grill size for your needs, you’ll need to consider:

  • How much space is available for your grill: This is a big one—there’s no point in getting a larger grill if you do not have the space for it.
  • How many people you routinely cook for: And, how often. If you regularly grill for more than 4-6 people, it may be worth investing in a larger grill with a larger cooking surface to save time and speed up cooking.
  • What type of grilling you like to do: Indirect and multi-zone grilling requires more space and burners.
  • Your budget: To an extent, your budget affects the size of grill you can get. A larger budget can mean a larger grill, but there are some reasonably sized barbecues that won’t break the bank. Read our grill budget guide to learn more.

So, how big of a grill do you need?

Most people’s grilling needs are met by a small or medium grill (something between 400 and 500 square inches), but there are a few additional to keep in mind:

You should get a small grill if…

  • You have limited space for storage.
  • You only regularly grill for 4-5 people.

GRILL SPOT TIP: If you are really limited by space, you may want to consider a charcoal grill. Because they don’t require tanks or hoses to operate, you can typically find a smaller grill body without sacrificing cooking area.

You should get a mid-sized grill if…

  • You have more space for placing and storing your grill.
  • You regularly grill for 4-12 people.

You should get a large grill if…

  • You have a lot of room available for placing and storing your grill.
  • You have the budget for it.
  • You regularly grill for a large number of people.
  • You routinely host cookouts and other outdoor parties.

How Many Burners Do You Need on a Grill?

Grill size has a direct impact on the number of burners a grill can handle. Most grill models have between two and six burners, but larger models can have up to eight.

The larger the grill the more burners it will typically have, but adding a burner does not necessarily mean a huge increase in cooking area. More burners typically means easier multi-zone cooking, so if you prefer to cook multiple meal components at once, utilize indirect heat, or smoke or slow roast items, choose a grill with at least three burners.

How To Calculate Grill Surface Area

Calculating grill surface area is as simple as multiplying the length of the cooking surface by the width. If your grill has secondary cooking areas, it is the same process: multiply the length by the width, then add the two numbers together to get the total cooking surface area on the entire grill.

For example, say you have a grill with a primary cooking surface that is 25 inches wide and 16 inches long. It would have a surface area of 400 square inches total. If the same grill also has a secondary cooking area, such as a warming rack or dedicated griddle space that is 148 square inches, your grill has a total cooking surface area of 548 square inches.

Wrapping Up

Unless you are really tight for space, most home grillers are happy with a medium-sized gas grill. Their reasonable price range and wide variety of available features make it easy to see why they are the most commonly purchased grill size. Smaller grills are ideal for people with limited storage space or who cook only for a few people, while larger models are recommended for committed grillers who routinely cook for multiple people and have the yard space to accommodate a large grill.

Keep Reading the Ultimate Gas Grill Buying Guide: