We all love the versatility and impressive cooking results of an outdoor grill, but sometimes, there’s just not enough space for everything we want to do, and sometimes, the grill isn’t the best tool for the job. One option that can expand your capabilities is a side burner for your grill.
But what exactly is this add-on appliance, and how can you make the most of it?
What Is a Side Burner?
A side burner is a secondary cooking implement that’s designed to exist on the side of your existing grill. This can be designed to use a variety of different fuels, and it functions much like the burners you have on your indoor stove top. You can use it to do everything that a normal stove can do, such as boiling, frying, or sauteing, greatly expanding the capabilities of your grill while simultaneously giving you more space to work with.
There are many different types of side burners available.
- Cart-mounted grill side burners. Cart-mounted grill side burners are designed to attach to the side of your existing grill. These are typically branded and designed to fit specific models; you can’t mix and match your grill with side burners from other manufacturers, generally. But if you have a grill already, this is a remarkably convenient option. For a singular, relatively low price, you can purchase the side burner, attach it, and gain access to a new world of culinary possibilities.
- Built-in side burners. You can also choose to purchase a grill that already has a built-in side burner. Increasingly, people investing in outdoor cooking equipment are interested in getting access to the widest range of possible cooking options. Having the side burner available from the beginning can be highly advantageous.
- Drop-in side burners. If you have an outdoor kitchen, you might consider getting a drop-in side burner. Essentially, this will allow you to embed your side burner into your countertop, directly next to your grill.
- Searing stations. Searing stations use ultra-hot infrared heat to sear meat; while these are more specialized than typical side burners, they serve a valuable function and are worth considering if you always long for the perfect sear on your meat.
- Single and double burners. Note that both single and double-side burners are available. If you’re interested in more cooking space and more overall potential, and you’re willing to spend a little bit more, purchase the double.
The Benefits of a Side Burner
These are some of the best benefits offered by side burner upgrades.
- Additional cooking space. Most grillers appreciate the additional cooking space provided to them by a side burner. Even if you have a large grill, and plenty of traditional grill space to work with, there are situations that call for more. Having room for an additional side dish, or extra cooking capacity for a large guest list, can instantly make your outdoor cooking adventures more pleasant.
- More cooking versatility. Additionally, side burners offer more cooking versatility. We all love grills, and we all know grills are capable of cooking a wide range of foods in different ways, but there are some fundamental limitations to a classical grill setup. With a burner available, you’ll be able to boil, broil, sauté, and even fry a wider range of different foods.
- A small footprint. Relatively speaking, the side burner doesn’t take up much space. If you have an outdoor kitchen and you want to maximize the counter space available, you don’t have to worry about the side burner absorbing too much space. This fits well with a variety of different setups and designs.
- Relatively low costs. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a side burner. Relatively speaking, this is a minimal expense.
Are There Downsides of Having a Side Burner?
Yes and no. Installing the side burner is going to come with some expenses and compromises. Even if you’re buying a grill with a built-in side burner, the burner itself is likely going to increase the total cost of the appliance. And of course, you may have to sacrifice some cooking space to install something like a drop-in side burner. But if you’re okay with those upfront costs, there’s practically no downside to having this remarkably versatile new cooking option. Most people are happy to make this tradeoff.
The Bottom Line
Side burners aren’t good at everything, and they aren’t a good fit for every griller. But most people interested in having more outdoor cooking options will stand to benefit from at least considering adding a side burner to their outdoor cooking setup. And with so many impressive side burner options available in today’s market, you’ll have plenty of potential additions to choose from.