Which Side Burner Class is Right for You?
We know how you feel about side burners: no outdoor kitchen is complete without one! Which type of outdoor burner, though? That’s a different story. This is a large category of products that includes single and double conventional gas burners, power burners, and infrared searing stations. Additionally, products across this category share many of the same features and designs, making it easy to get overwhelmed in the sea of side burners.
Fortunately for you, we’ve built a figurative flotation device by sorting our outdoor burner offerings into 3 clearly separated classifications — Luxury, Premium, and Practical. We carry mainly Luxury and Premium models that don’t skimp on quality, whereas Practical designed to meet low price points are typically available only in big-box stores. How did we decide which outdoor kitchen side burner went where, you ask? Our experts spent hours evaluating every model’s quality, performance, and features before placing them in the appropriate class. They’ve done all the hard work so you could have the fun of finding out which one is right for your outdoor space!
Luxury Side Burners
- Built to last for years of enjoyment and use, even in the harshest outdoor environments
- Constructed from 304, commercial-grade stainless steel at minimum for extreme longevity
- Some lifetime warranties from trusted brands like Lynx, Alfresco, and Viking
- The only outdoor burner class to give you the option of freestanding units
- Powerful, high-BTU burners let you stage low-country boils, greatly expanding versatility
- Convenient features like LED-lit control knobs and pull-out drip pans come standard
- Many models have stainless steel covers for protection from weather, enhancing durability
Luxury outdoor burners are built using nothing less than 304 stainless steel, which is the standard for longevity in outdoor settings. Some even include varying degrees of brass and aluminum, neither of which can rust, along with stainless steel lids to keep the elements at bay. Though side burners generally have shorter warranties than gas grills, burners from Lynx, Alfresco, and Viking offer lifetime coverage on stainless steel bodies, housing, and grates.
On top of their high BTU counts, Luxury outdoor burners are designed to channel heat for max efficiency and are built with wind guards or recesses to protect their flames from wind. The result is serious power — some models can heat vessels that contain up to 40 quarts! This is also the only class with freestanding units (the DCS Liberty 30-inch propane burner comes to mind). Still, many Luxury outdoor kitchen burners must be plugged into a grill from the same brand for the lights and ignitors to function properly. If you’re mixing brands, verify that the side burner can operate independently.
Pull-out drip pans, which simplify cleanup and the removal of excess grease that could ignite if ignored, are a standard feature in this class. Most brands also have LED-lit control knobs that match their grills and outdoor kitchen products for a luxuriously unified look. Hestan outdoor burners, meanwhile, go the extra mile with color options to let you make a stylish statement in your space. And if packing as many features into an outdoor burner was a contest, the Lynx Professional double burner with built-in cutting board and storage drawer would be a strong contender.
Top Luxury Side Burner Brands
Practical Side Burners
Practical outdoor kitchen burners are, by design, much more limited than Premium and Luxury models. In fact, most of them must be bought alongside a Practical grill at purchase and aren’t available as aftermarket accessories. The lone exceptions are the Camp Chef Sidekick and Sear Box attachments, which are available as plug-and-play accessories for the Camp Chef Woodwind Wi-Fi pellet grill. The Sidekick is truly a one-of-a-kind outdoor burner — it’s cart-mounted, has a stainless steel body, and can operate as a power burner, griddle, and pizza oven.
But, again, that’s the exception. Practical built-in side burners are usually available only from large outdoor chains or big-box retailers, which is why they’re designed to meet specific price points for those markets. To reach those price points, brands sacrifice quality of materials and construction while providing little to no warranty. Practical outdoor kitchen burners don’t last as long as those in higher classes, so it’s often more cost-effective to purchase a Premium or Luxury model for an outdoor kitchen install instead of replacing several cheaper products year after year. We know what we’d do, but the choice is ultimately yours.
- Built using mixed materials, including non-stainless steel components, affecting durability
- Quality varies greatly between manufacturers, making it tough to tell what you’re getting
- Built-in Practical burners have shorter usable lifespans before they need replacement
- Products have short and more limited warranties, leaving you with little coverage
- Most Practical grill brands don’t offer aftermarket side burner attachments
- Weber, Napoleon, and others offer Practical grills with permanent cart-mounted burners
- Smaller heat range than outdoor kitchen burners found in higher classes
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