3 Burner vs 4 Burner Grill – Which one suits your grilling needs?

3 burner gas grill

Gas grills have grown in popularity, and are in most cases preferred to electric grills. Outdoor gas grills use propane or natural gas as their fuel and they are super effective when it comes to grilling due to the power that direct flames deliver.

If you are in the market for a good outdoor gas grill, there will be several factors that you’ll have to pay attention to. That’s in consideration that each one will play a major part when it comes to influencing your buying decision. Not only that, but each of these factors will, without a doubt, affect how well your grill performs or suits your grilling needs.

3 Burner vs 4 Burner Grill – Head-to-Head Comparison

To make it easier for you to make the right decision when choosing between a 3-burner and 4-burner grill, here are the main points that you must know about:

Total cooking area

cooking area on char broil grill

It’s almost obvious the more burners that you have on your grill, the more the cooking space will be. A 4-burner grill is supposed to have more cooking space compared to a 3-burner grill – As such, what you should be thinking about is how many people you will be serving.

A 3-burner grill would be perfect for medium-sized gatherings, such as when you have your friends and family over for a backyard cookout. Such a grill will handle the steaks, burgers, and side dishes with relative ease.

On the other hand, a 4-burner grill is better suited to preparing meals for a larger crowd. In that light, you’d be better off choosing a 4-burner grill if you are planning to host BBQ parties. That’s in consideration that you will be hosting a larger quantity of guests as compared to a medium-sized party.

Even if you are not planning to host BBQ parties, a 4-burner grill is a good choice since you can cook enough food so that you won’t have to worry about running out of dishes.

How much food will fit?

One thing that you ought to keep in mind while in the market for an outdoor grill is that there are varying sizes of 3-burner and 4-burner grills.

The majority of 3-burner gas grills have a cooking space of 300-550 sq in, while most 4-burner gas grills are in the range of 550-700 square inches. However, several brands feature significantly larger cooking spaces. As such, it’s a matter of finding the one that best suits your needs.

If, for example: You had a 3-burner gas grill with a total cooking area of 550 sq in, it would be enough for 10 chicken pieces, 5 steaks, 10 hotdogs, and 12 burgers.

A 4-burner gas grill with 700 sq in would be perfect for 16 chicken pieces, 8 steaks, 12 hotdogs, and 16 burgers.

Fuel consumption

5lbs propane tank

Grills will typically consume different amounts of fuel. The exact amount that your grill will consume is determined by its British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating.

The BTU of a grill, in simple terms, refers to the total amount of heating power that it can put out. If your grill has a higher BTU rating, except that it will deliver more heating power at the cost of more fuel per hour.

Having said that, it’s good to keep in mind that a 4-burner gas grill will have a higher fuel consumption compared to that of a 3-burner gas grill. The main reason why that happens is that each burner adds to the BTU rating of your grill. As such, the extra burner in a 4-burner grill will make it consume more fuel so that it can deliver more cooking power.

It’s important to keep in mind that a high BTU, while appealing, doesn’t necessarily mean that your grill will be hotter. Try to think of it in the line of efficiency ratings. One grill might have a lower BTU compared to another but since it has features such as even heat distribution and a good temperature range, it will be hotter, hence more effective when it comes to cooking.

How much gas is required?

The total amount of gas that your gas grill will consume per hour will depend on a range of factors, the most important being the BTU rating. To calculate the amount of propane that it will consume in an hour, you will have to know how much BTU your propane reserve holds.

Once you have the total BTU of your propane, you should then divide the BTU of your gas grill by the BTU of your gas reserve.

For example, You have a 5 lbs propane cylinder (our recommendation) and you want to use it on a 3-burner gas grill with 30,000 BTU.

Here is the amount of propane that your grill will burn in an hour and how many hours it will last:

if 1 lb liquid propane produces: 21,591 BTU

then, 5 lbs of the tank will produce: 107,955 BTU’s

Burn rate per hour=  30,000/107,955 = 0.277 BTUs/hr

Total Burn Time = (Liquid propane BTU/Gas grill BTU)

107,955 BTU/30,000 BTU = 3.59 hours

In total, the 5-pound propane tank gives you around 4 hours of burn time, if you run it at full all the time, and will consume 0.277 BTUs/hr.

Your best bet to determine exactly how much gas you will use per hour is to have a look at the information provided by the manufacturer.

Temperature control

One of the most notable differences when it comes to choosing between a 4-burner and 3-burner gas grill is how you can control the temperature. In the majority of cases, you can set the temperature of the burners independently.

For 3-burner gas grills, you have the flexibility of setting two of the burners to low heat while one of them runs on high heat, which is perfect for direct grilling or searing. Low heat, on the other hand, would be perfect when you want your food to cook deep and slow. Keep in mind that the heat settings can be reversed so that two burners run on high heat while the other one runs on low heat.

4-burner gas grills offer more flexibility since you can set the temperature of two different burners or the temperature of each burner individually. This usually comes in handy when the food that you are cooking has to be prepared at a specific temperature. If that does not define the types of meals that you will be cooking, then temperature control should not be much of a concern to you.

Budget – How much do you want to spend?

The cost of the gas grill of your choice will certainly determine whether it’s feasible for you to buy it or not.

3-burner grills typically cost less compared to 4-burner gas grills, mostly because they don’t have as large a cooking space as 4-burner grills, not to mention that they also have lesser features.

The main factor that should guide you when it comes to choosing between a 4-burner grill and a 3-burner is the convenience that you get from either. If the cooking space of a 3-burner is enough for your needs and the grill does what it’s supposed to do effectively, then you’re good to go with it.

On the other hand, if the convenience that comes with having a larger cooking area and additional grill features is something that matters a lot to you, then you will want to go with a 4-burner grill even if it’s a little bit more expensive.

Direct vs Indirect cooking: Which is better?

There are two main types of cooking methods used in gas grills. On any given occasion, you will have direct and indirect cooking to choose from. These two methods are discussed further down below to help you make the right decision:

Direct cooking

Direct cooking, also referred to as grilling is a type of cooking where the heat source is usually directly beneath the food that you cook. This cooking style is mainly common where food doesn’t need to cook deep, such as in searing. The main advantage of direct cooking is that it’s quite fast, with food not taking more than 15 to 20 minutes to prepare.

The main foods prepared using this method are chops, hamburgers, and steaks. If direct cooking is the most ideal method in your situation, a 3-burner gas grill should get the job done.

Indirect cooking

Indirect cooking, on the other hand, is a method of cooking where there is no direct heat under the food. The food cooks using heat that comes from the surrounding burners through natural convection. The foods prepared using this method typically take longer to cook since the heat is not direct.

If your meals should be prepared using this method, be sure to pick a 4-burner gas grill, since there are more burners, which means that sufficient conventional heat is produced. That way, the cooking process will be faster.

What is the best 3-burner grill and 4-burner grill?

With lots of brands and models to choose from, it’s not a wonder that you might find yourself wondering which are the best 3 and 4-burner gas grills in the market.

Best 3-burner gas grill

The most ideal 3-burner gas grill for your outdoor kitchen will vary depending on your needs and preferences. When looking for a good 3-burner grill, the Weber 45010001 Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Liquid Propane Grill should be among your top-most considerations.

That’s in consideration that this grill heats up pretty quickly, distributes heat evenly across the grilling surface, is easy to put together, among other benefits.

Best 4-burner gas grill

Just like with the 3-burner gas grills, it’s always vital that you take your needs and preferences into consideration. If you don’t have a specific brand and model in mind, the Char-Broil 463377319 Performance 4-Burner should be among your top choices, if not your best choice. This grill is easy to use, features an effortless setup process, has several useful programs, is easy to clean, and other benefits.

Which type of BBQ burner is the best?

When choosing the ideal gas grill for your outdoor kitchen, you should pick the one with reliable burners for the best cooking performance.

Cast stainless steel burners are the best choice, they do a great job when it comes to resisting rust, not to mention that, since they are thicker than your standard stainless-steel burners, they distribute heat more evenly and last longer.

In summary

When all is said and done, the final decision of whether to pick a 3-burner or 4-burner gas grill will be yours to make. The grill that you pick should meet your individual preferences and needs. The main takeaway here is that gas grills with 3 burners are cheaper to buy, whereas 4-burner gas grills have more cooking space to utilize.

Whether you choose to go with a 3-burner or 4-burner gas grill, don’t forget to pay attention to other factors such as the type of gas that the grill uses. Considering that natural gas is cheaper and more environmentally friendly compared to propane gas. Also make sure to pay attention to the quality, since durability is a major factor when buying kitchen equipment.