Gas grills equipped with a side burner or a sear station look like a professional outdoor gas kitchen. This type of solutions is most likely to be found in much more expensive models of gas grills.
A side burner and sear station have their upsides and downsides.
They are certainly another interesting features in gas grills that increase their convenience and functionality.
Gas grills have many more interesting features, which is why you should learn everything about the side burner and sear station before purchasing a new gas grill.
First let’s talk About the side burner
A great feature which is sadly expensive but it gives us plenty of opportunities – if price doesn’t matter to you then you will certainly be satisfied.
It works like the gas stove you have at home. There are plenty of times when a need arises to prepare food additions ( such as sauces ) that require cooking on a pan or in a pot.
In such case you have to walk to the kitchen in order to be able to prepare the additions or other food on the stove.
If your grill is located close to the kitchen then there is no problem, but plenty of times the grill is far away from the kitchen which forces us to cross large distances all the time.
It is especially annoying when you have to be watching out for the food on the grill not to get burned and preparing sauce on the stove in the kitchen at the same time.
For that reason the side burner was created, which as the name suggests is located on the side of the grill, in the side shelf to be exact. I really like how it was designed. In most gas grills, the side burner is hidden under a special lid. That way you gain some working area on the side shelf when not using the burner. If you wish to heat up food then all you have to do is open the lid and you’re ready to go.
The side burner works great for preparing different kinds of food when grilling. It can be used to swiftly and quickly heat up food, sauce or some vegetables like beans. All that is needed is to put a pan, wok or pot directly over the burner.
But if you don’t want to spend extra cash on a side burner then you can put a cast iron skillet on the grates and heat up a sauce or some other food this way.
What is a Sear Station and how to use it?
Weber gas grills have their own innovative feature called sear station, which works similarly to a side burner with few differences.
Sear Station is located on the main cooking area. These are three sear burners located close to one another, their purpose is to create an area on the grill that will quickly become much hotter than the rest of the grill.
That way you can quickly make the grates hot enough for searing. Of course you have to remember that you can sear on a grill without using a sear station, but it will be much harder and more time consuming.
Start the sear station by turning the knob adequately and wait for it to heat up, then put the meat directly above the sear burners and cook for a specified time. After the time passes, move the food to a place with lower temperature and finish cooking.
Plenty of people use the Reverse Sears method that consists of cooking food on the grill at a lower temperature first, then moving it onto the sear station right before the end of cooking in order to sear it.
What is searing ?
It significantly changes the appearance to more interesting and tastier by creating classic grill marks on the surface of your food ( such as a steak or burger ).
It creates a contrast in the texture and flavor between the inside and the skin which makes for a very interesting taste.
Therefore, the above features ( side burner and sear station ) are certainly useful when cooking food on a grill, but they are not something mandatory that you must have.
Sadly they are mostly present in much more expensive gas grills which means they are toys for those with thicker wallets. Remember that it’s not something significant that impacts the choice of a gas grill.