Gas Grill Troubleshooting Guide: Side Burners

Grill Troubleshooting Guide: How to Adjust & Repair Gas Grill Side Burners

Everything's better with a sidekick. Batman has Robin, Mario has Luigi, Shrek has Donkey, and a main grilling grate on a gas grill has a side burner.

Sure, the main or primary grilling grate gets all the love with its mouth-watering T-bone steaks, juicy burgers, and fancy lobsters, but let’s face it, a main dish doesn’t taste quite as good without something on the side.

gas grill with meat on main grill and a sauce or side dish on side burner

Enter the Side Burner

The gas grill side burner is the unsung hero of the grilling world. It might not be the star of the show, but it does the little, behind-the-scenes things that will make your cookout shine.

Always cooking to the beat of its own temperature control, the side burner makes every backyard chef look good. It also offers convenience – and major time-saving benefits.

Cooking with just a single grilling grate is akin to a fighter pilot without a wingman. Trust us, when it comes to gas grilling, you don’t want to go it alone.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about this super-useful grilling sidekick.

What are side burners for and how do they work?

The purpose of a side burner is simple: it allows you to cook other, smaller dishes and sauces on the side while your meats and main ingredients bask in the heat of the main grill grate.

potatoes cooking on grill side burner

Benefits of grilling with a side burner

Side burners are all about convenience. Your kitchen stove wouldn’t be quite as useful if it only had one burner, would it?

Having extra burners on your grill allows you to multi-task and prepare your meal with greater efficiency and ease. Here are some of the top benefits to having a gas grill side burner at your disposal.

A side burner will save you time

This is the most obvious benefit. With all your burners in one place, you’re able to tend to each dish’s needs simultaneously. Do you really want to be running to the kitchen to make that garlic-butter sauce while the shrimp sizzle away outside without supervision? Of course not!

A side burner offers separate temperature control

Is it possible to cook a variety of different items on the main grill grate? Sure. But there’s a lot of room for error once that grill gets crowded and you need those bell peppers to be cooking at a completely different temperature than your steak.

Having a dedicated cooking surface with separate temperature control allows you to isolate individual dishes and cook them to perfection at the desired temperature.

A side burner lets you cook foods separately

You probably have a vegetarian or two in your circle. For understandable reasons, vegetarians don’t like their food to share the same cooking surface as meat. A side burner solves this problem and allows you to accommodate all your guests’ dietary preferences at your dinner party.

A side burner lets you keep things saucy

There’s no finer example of a side burner’s usefulness than its ability to cook sauces. Sauces require cooking at a much different temperature from meat. This makes a side burner’s separate heat control function ideal at any barbecue.

Bonus: Imagine your sauce right within arm’s reach, ready to be drizzled at a moment’s notice.

Side burners are energy savers

We’re not just talking about the human energy that you’d expend running back and forth between your kitchen and gas grill, trying to juggle five different dishes at once.

Cooking everything in one place means you don’t have to fire up the oven, or heaven forbid, the microwave, and send your energy bill through the roof.

Side burner safety tips

When it comes to side burners, there are certain safety precautions to keep in mind to ensure your cookout doesn’t go up in flames. Here are a few things to consider:
  • Avoid using side burners in very windy conditions. Side burners don’t sit in the same firebox as your main burners, so their flame is more vulnerable to the wind.
  • Never leave side burners unattended (the whole point of having a side burner is that you don’t have to leave the grill).
  • If the side burner‘s flame goes out, turn it off at the control knob and wait for the gas to dissipate before you reignite.
  • When not in use, always make sure your side burner's gas supply is turned off.

How to maintain your gas grill’s side burners

Did you know that dirty or clogged up burner orifices can cause excessive heat on a grilling surface?

Regular grill maintenance is important if you want your side burner to function at an optimal level and avoid premature gas grill side burner replacement.

A simple gas grill maintenance routine can ensure your grill - including its side burner - keeps running smoothly and efficiently for longer.

Clean your grill well after every use

Keeping the entire gas grill clean is a good way of preventing leftover food or debris from collecting inside and outside your grill. Fat and other food debris stuck to your grill burners can wreak havoc when you fire the grill up for a barbecue.

Keep your grill’s burners clean

When your grill is cool, remove its cooking grates and use a steel grill brush to scrape away all accumulated buildup.

Burn off excess residue

After a few uses, it’s good practice to fire up your grill to a high temperature for 20 minutes and let it incinerate any stubborn food debris. Then scrub down as usual.

Troubleshooting gas grill side burners: Reasons why your side burners may not be working properly

It’s happened to the best of us. We have all our food prepped, the company has arrived, the cold beverage is cracked, and then disaster strikes.

The most common reason for a gas grill’s side burner not working properly is blockages in the burner openings. 

If you like to cook your food with lots of oil or butter, this could be making the problem worse, as doing so will cause your grill to burn hotter overall, making its burners more prone to blockages.

How to check your gas grill side burner for blockages

  1. Your first step should always be to consult your grill model’s owner manual, regardless of the issue you are troubleshooting. Instructions will vary between grill models, so always look up your grilling issue in your grill’s owner manual first.
  2. To check your gas grill’s side burner for blockages, check to see if your grill’s side burner connections are attached properly. If the igniter appears faulty, attempt to manually ignite the side burner to see if gas is flowing through.
  3. If there is no ignition, check the ignition connection point for any tape remnants left from the original packaging. If there are tape remnants, remove and reconnect the igniter to the control panel.
  4. Check the side burner’s gas orifice for blockages. If a blockage is apparent, clear it with a pin or needle. Remember to consult your grill’s owner manual for this process as well.
  5. Warning: If your grill’s side burner does not ignite after 4-5 seconds, turn the burner knob to the “off” position and wait five (5) minutes for the gas to dissipate before trying to ignite the side burner again.

How to replace your gas grill’s side burner

As always, the first step to take is checking the instructions for burner replacement in your grill’s owner manual. Burner replacement is a very common occurrence, and you will find detailed instructions on how to do this in the manual that came with your gas grill.

Replacing the burner on a gas grill side burner: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Find and order the correct burner part for your grill model on My Grill Parts.
  2. Disconnect your grill from its gas source. Turn all knobs to the “off” position. Lift out the cooking grate.
  3. The burner component inside your grill, below your side burner’s cooking surface, will now be fully visible and reachable. Follow the instructions in your grill’s owner manual to remove the burner from inside your grill.
  4. Insert and secure the new burner part for your grill’s side burner, again carefully following the instructions in your grill’s owner manual.
  5. Replace your grill’s cooking grate, reconnect your grill to its gas source and turn the side burner knob to “on” to test that it is working properly.

side burner knob

You can find just about any gas grill part that needs replacing on My Grill Parts – including side burner components for your specific grill model. Just enter your gas grill’s model number (you can also search by manufacturer), and you’ll be getting back to grilling in no time!

Find Gas Grill Side Burner Replacement Parts Here

Make the most of the grilling season

Life doesn’t get much better than gathering with great company, relaxing in the yard, and enjoying a cold one with the delicious aroma of grilled foods wafting through the air. To make the most of the grilling season, be sure to maintain your gas grill - including its side burner - as instructed in your owner’s manual. Doing so will extend its lifespan and keep it running in tip-top condition.

Happy grilling!

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