Do I Need a Side Burner On My Gas Grill?

If you’re a food connoisseur who loves barbeque dishes, it’s likely that you’ve been thinking of whether or not you need to add a side burner to your grill. Perhaps you know the fun, ease, and great taste of grilling, but do you know the benefits of adding a side burner to your grill? This blog post will explain how a side burner can enhance your grilling experience.

So, do I need a side burner on my gas grill? Well, it depends on the type of food you’re cooking. The side burner adds extra cost to the gas grill. So, you should decide whether there is a need for an additional burner attached to your gas grill. If you’re using your gas grill primarily for barbeque, you may not need a side burner. If you’re cooking multiple dishes at once that take longer time to cook than the others, a side burner on a gas grill will help you speed up the cooking process. For instance, you can put chicken breast or beef pieces on the main burner of the gas grill while simmering sauce, sautéing vegetables, or cooking rice on the side burner.

Also read: Gas grill gets too hot on low setting

A Brief Overview about a Side Burner

A side burner is a propane or natural gas-powered independent cooking surface that sits on the side of a gas grill. A side burner works same as the normal gas stoves in our kitchen i.e. you can place a pan or cooking pot on it and cook your desired food by controlling the temperature through the independent controller knob of a side burner.

There is one NG or LP connection in a gas grill that goes to a side burner and main burners. From a point where the hose from the propane tank connects with the hosing leading to the burner valve, there is a branch connection from where the hose of the side burner valve emerges. So, you don’t need to keep the main burners of the gas grill on to use the side burner as the side burner has its separate knob to turn it on or off.

gas line of a side burner of gas grill

Compared to the surface area over the main burners of a gas grill, the area of a side burner cooking surface is quite small. You can only put a saucepan, a small grill pan, or a cooking pot on a side burner of a gas BBQ grill.

On a side burner, there is a trivet, which acts as a heat barrier. However, instead of having a circular shape, side burners of several gas grills have a rectangular shape to fit cast iron grill pans or griddles. The size of a side burner trivet of Weber 67006001 Genesis II Gas Grill is approximately 12 x 10 inches. You should make sure that the size of a pot, pan, or skillet should not exceed the dimensions of the trivet of a side burner. If the frying pot is large enough and exceeds the dimensions of a side burner, it will not perform well for deep frying.

trivet of a side burner of a weber gas grill

The side burner of There is also a cover on the side burner, which acts as a lid. So, when the side burner is not in use, you can put the lid on and use it as the table to place grilling or cooking tools.

Side burners of gas grills are usually rated from 8000 to 12000 BTU which is sufficient to sear a small piece of steak. However, the heat of a side burner is not sufficient to cook food in the wok. So, if you are fond of cooking stir-fry dishes in a wok on high flame, then it is difficult to do so with a single burner.

Reasons and Benefits of Using A Side Burner On a Gas Grill

A side burner is good for anything that stinks, smokes, or has a lot of greases that could accumulate on your cabinets. The reason behind the use of side burners is that it helps you to cook your food without going back and forth.

Imagine, you are stepping out the door to enjoy a delicious outdoor barbecue on your gas grill, but don’t have time to go indoors and check the progress of the side dishes on your kitchen stove! You can cook all items (main dish and side dish) at once and at the same place if you have attached the side burner with your gas grill.

You can use a side burner on a gas grill as an extremely hot, direct heat surface (searing of meat) or slowly cook over indirect heat by placing aluminum foil underneath something placed on top of the burner grate. It’s also helpful for keeping cooked foods warm until all members at your party are ready to eat at the same time. Other than grilling and barbecuing, using it as a stove is its most common use.

Here’s a comment I found in a subreddit in which the person is describing how he uses a side burner of his gas grill.

A side burner allows you to keep things such as water boiling, eggs cooking, sauces heating, frying chicken or fish, and even slow cookers working all at once. Side burners can also be used to keep food warm while you’re grilling the main course on the gas grill. If you’re looking for efficient multitasking between preparing dinner and entertaining guests, then getting a grill with a side burner will solve your problems.

Also, we often don’t like the stinky smell of the smoke from frying items diffused throughout our house. So, you can fry items outside on the side burner of the gas grill using a cast-iron skillet to avoid any smell. Moreover, frying items outside on a side burner will also prevent grease spatter all over the kitchen in the house that makes things smelly and dirty.

So, in short, by adding a side burner to your gas grill, you’ll have more flexibility in what you can cook and how you can cook it.

Is There Any Difference Between Temperature of Main Burner and Side Burner On a Gas Grill?

Turning on all main burners of a gas grill produce more temperature compared to a side burner. Although the BTU of each main burner and a side burner on a gas grill is the same (depending on the model), the relatively higher temperature on main burners is achieved when all main burners beneath the grill grate are on.

On the main burners of a gas grill, all set to the full setting, you can achieve a temperature up to 600 Fahrenheit if the lid is closed for more than 15 minutes.

Since the main burners are equally spaced beneath the grill grate, its temperature is uniform on all sides. But, on the side burner, the temperature of a cooking food depends on the size of a skillet or pan you are placing on it. If the pan is extending the side burner flame, the temperature will be less.

In short, the temperature on a side burner, no matter if it has the same BTU as the main burner, will be less as the lid of a pot or pan is not closed all the time while cooking the food on the side burner. Furthermore, the ambient temperature and the material quality of a pan or skillet will also affect the temperature of food being cooked on a side burner of a gas grill.

The side burner has a separate temperature knob to control the gas flow and adjust the temperature. The knob of a side burner has only two settings i.e. high and low. There is no medium heat setting or a gradient level on a side burner like the main burners on a gas grill.

So, if you turn the knob of a side burner to high heat, you can use it for deep frying items and searing a breast piece of chicken or bacon. The high heat setting of a side burner is also suitable for boiling the water. If you can set the knob of a side grill to a low setting, you can use it for keeping your main food warm or simmering the sauce.

How to Light the Side Burner on Weber Grill?

Here are the steps to light the side burner on a Weber gas grill.

  • To light a side burner, first turn on the gas to the grill by rotating the valve on the propane tank. Make sure that the valve of the tank is fully opened and low-pressure regulator is attached to the hose. Also, make sure that the burner knob is set off.
  • Next, rotate the knob of a burner anticlockwise to the full setting. A flame should appear within seconds. If it doesn’t, check that the propane tank is connected properly and there isn’t any obstruction in the hose.
  • Once the burner is lit, set your cooking pot or pan on top and wait for it to heat up to cooking temperature. Don’t forget to adjust the heat knobs to get things just right.

Note: Make sure that the side burner on the gas grill is seated properly. Otherwise, it will either not light up or flash out.

You can check out the video below in which the guy is starting the side burner of a Weber gas grill and cooking rice in the frying pan.

Reasons of a Side Burner Not Igniting

If the side burner is not lightning/igniting, there can the following reasons:

  • Burner holes are clogged due to grease buildup
  • Spider webs are blocking the air in the venturi tube (where air and gas mix) at the beginning of a side burner

Side Burner vs Sear Burner

Sear burner is located between the main burners on the gas grill bed. For instance, for Weber 61006001 Genesis, the sear burner has a smaller knob that is second from the right knob. The sear burner has a 9000 BTU/hr rating, while a side burner has a 12000 BTU/hr rating. Sear burner has only a high heat setting, while the side burner has high heat and low heat setting.

When sear burner is on along with the main burners of a gas grill, the temperature inside the gas grill can cross 600 Fahrenheit when the lid of the grill is closed. This is because more heat is focused across a smaller area that imparts high-temperature searing marks on the meat.

That searing marks cannot be achieved with a side burner as the heat intensity decreases due to its distribution over a larger area. With the high heat setting of a side burner, you can sauté vegetables, simmer the sauce and stir fry chicken pieces.

What To Cook On Grill Side Burner?

Side burners are used for side dishes and this usually consists of cooking pepper and onions, as well as barbecuing Italian sausages. But if you’re wondering what to cook in a smoker, here are some ideas that will inspire your next meal.

  • Pan Fry: You can pan fry chicken breasts, fish fillets, and beef chops on the side burner by keeping the smell of meat smoke out of your house. Cast iron skillet imparts great sear marks on the fish and chicken fillet. Make sure to marinate the fish or chicken with butter and black pepper seasoning to get a nice crust.
  • Simmering Sauces or Glazing Vegetables: Side burner has a low heat setting on which you can simmer the sauce for your steak with a nice consistency. You can also glaze the vegetables in salt and pepper on the high heat of a side burner to serve with the steak. You can also cook sausages on the low heat of the side burner.
  • Boiling Rice: You can even boil rice on the low heat of a side burner by placing the cooking pot on it.

Are There Weber side Burner Add-ons?

Weber grill strictly avoids attaching or removing the side burner from the Weber Gas Grill. If the Weber Grill comes with the side burner, you should not remove it. If the Weber grill, such as Weber 45010001 Spirit II E-310, does not have a side burner, you should not try to attach a side burner with it. For safety reasons, modifying the Weber grill in any way will void its warranty.

That’s why Weber does not supply any side burner add-on to attach with its grills. Each Weber grill is designed for a specific rating. So, any modifications in the design features of a gas grill can pose a threat.

Is There Any Con of Side Burner?

The only con I observed in having a gas grill with a side burner is its use in windy weather. The wind may carry the heat of the burner away from the grilling surface, due to which the cooking process may get delayed. Apart from this, there is no other disadvantage of having a side burner in a gas grill.

On the other hand, the pros of having a side burner in a gas grill are plenty. It can be used to cook a variety of food items such as vegetables, meat, sauces, and more. So overall, I think having a gas grill with a side burner is a great addition, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new grill. Thanks for reading!