Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Earlier this spring the folks at SABER® Grills provided me one of their infrared gas grills to review. While I've historically not been a "gas guy", I must say that this grill has blown me away and it now occupies a prominent place in my grilling arsenal. Granted, I had to give an older grill away to make room on the patio, but this the only gas grill I need.

SABER® was formed in 2011 as a stand-alone company under W.C. Bradley, the parent company of Char-Broil®. Their sole mission was to engineer a better gas grill, so they wiped the slate clean of all preconceived notions and spent two years doing just that. The line consists of eight grills (including two built-in models) with a price range of $799 to $1699. They are distributed and sold through the independent specialty outdoor retailer channel.

I'll be very honest and say that based on my prior experience with Char-Broil products I was ambivalent about the SABER® line at first. However, that ambivalence was quickly dispensed as I opened the box and started to assemble the grill. First, the packing was so well done that it was almost a work of art. I know that may be an odd observance to some, but it really did make a great first impression. As I continued unpacking it the outstanding engineering and build quality became very apparent. They tout easy an easy 12-step assembly process that takes less than an hour and that was exactly what I experienced. I did fail to get the igniter wire positioned properly which caused a little backtracking, but that was the only bump in the road.

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Here are some of the features (full specs here):

  • 500 square inches of primary cooking area
  • Only commercial kitchen grade non-magnetic 304 stainless steel is used (including the burner tube, infrared emiters and grates)
  • Welded tubular cart and firebox frames
  • Sturdy side tables (bolted through the frame)
  • Separate self-contained heat zones
  • Electronic ignition at each burner
  • Full-size front access drawer-style drip pan
  • Heavy duty locking casters
  • Even pure infrared heat
  • Uses up to 30% less gas than similar gas grills

OK, enough about the technicalities, let's get down to how this bad boy cooks. Infrared has been "the new cool thing" in gas grills for a few years now. I've always thought it was overblown and largely a marketing gimmick, that is until now. In short infrared grills work by using a standard gas burner to heat an emitter (glass, ceramic or metal) that sits below the grate. The heat is dispersed across the emitter and the resulting radiant heat is transmitted to the grate. In the case of the SABER® the emitter is a perforated piece of stainless steel and the grates fit on top of the perforations such that you can't even see the burners below.

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Why is this important? Well, it's almost a sealed cooking surface so the drippings that would normally fall through the grate and hit the burner are vaporized on the emitter. Also, the hot air that would normally come up through the grates is vented out of the front and back of each grate so that it doesn't dry out your food. The result is efficient even cooking that produces a juicier finished product, with absolutely zero flare-ups.You can also add wood chips or pellets between the grate rails to add smoke flavor.

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Infrared also allows higher cooking temperatures. How high? How does nearly 700º in about 10 minutes grab ya? High heat means better searing, and this thing sears like nobody's business! Check out this flank steak.

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Because each cooking zone in independent you can cook at various temperatures side-by-side. This allows you cook more hearty and delicate foods at the same time. However in my testing there wasn't all that much difference in the heat of the zones. I set one burner to high, the next to medium and the last to low as shown below (15 minutes with the lid closed) and my temperature readings at the center of each grate were 680º, 620º, and 516º, respectively.

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

As you can see, the temperature gauges are woefully inaccurate, as is the case with old-school dial thermometers. The first two read over 700º and the low one read about 600º. A grill of this quality really should have more accurate gauges. That, and the fact that it's hard to cook at low temperatures are my only real complaints.

Another area where this grill shines is in ease of maintenance. I cooked on it heavily (3-5 times a week) for two months solid and really put it through its paces. The evidence of my heavy use looked like this:

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

I wanted to see how much effort it would take to get the grill back to near-new condition. I simply sprayed the emitters and grates with oven cleaner and let them soak in a plastic bag for a few days. I rinsed them with a hose and hit them with a steel scrubber and voila!

Review: SABER® Infrared Gas Grill (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Pretty cool, huh? That tool comes with the grill and is what you use to scrape the grates and emitter channels between cooks.

The bottom line here is that if you're in the market for a premium gas grill without the super-premium price tag, look no further. This thing is beautiful, it's built like a tank, and it cooks like a dream. Find a local dealer and check one out in person.

Disclaimer: I was provided this grill free of charge for the purposes of this review, but the thoughts expressed are solely my own.

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24 Comments:
Blogger Chris said...
The grate system alone is spectacular, everything else is icing on the cake.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Yup, this thing is all that and a side salad! :-)
Anonymous Robyn said...
JOhn, I thought your review of this grill was spot on. I also really enjoy cooking on it. It gets hot super quick- almost so quick it catches me off guard!
Anonymous Robyn said...
John- your review is spot on. Really digging this grill! it is my new go-to gas grill in the backyard.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Robyn - Thanks. It is a sweet rig, indeed.
Blogger Darrin Stryker said...
I bought one of these grills 6/13 and WOW does it cook good. I agree the temps at Hi, Med & Low are not much different but it does give you some flexibility to work at different temps. I've also found that you can grill just as well with the lid open. I love my new grill. I cooked biscuits for breakfast the 2nd day I had it. Worked great. Cooked them in a cast iron skillet on med with a cover. Takes a while but they were great. Great review John.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am thinking about buying this grill. A few questions I have is how well does it smoke and how well does it slow cook? I want to be able to slow roast a boston butt. I do that now on my old weber grill at 225 degrees for 10 hours, throwing a smoke box full of apple chips in at the start. I have seen the video of wood chunks smoking on top of this grill but I want to know if this is for real. Seems like it wouldn't get hot enough. And if it did, then the whole grill would be too hot to slow roast a boston butt.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - I've not tried smoking or slow cooking on it, as I have better cookers for barbecue. However, I have absolutely no doubt that I could cook low-n-slow on it if I desired. Just turn one far burner on low, throw a smoke pot/bomb on the grate and go.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks John. It truly is a different kind of design, and as an engineer, I fully understand why it is the way it is, and why it works. Makes me wonder why they all aren't designed that way. I really like the idea of the air from the gas combustion getting routed away from the food. And I'm anonymous because I didn't know how else to post.
Blogger John Dawson said...
No worries!
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have had mine since April 2013 and I agree with all of the above.

Would like to reiterate how good the zone cooking is. We are empty nesters and probably do 90% of our grilling on a single zone or with one burner on. Not possible with my previous "W" grill where I needed two burners on just to cook a hot dog and generally turned on all burners because you had too. We grill all of the time and are still on the first tank (also left it on one night......) so it is very fuel efficient.

It does cook hot but the key is to put it all the way to low a couple of minutes after starting if you don't need high heat. If you need different temps and don't need the entire grill, leave the middle one off. As mentioned, cooking with the lid open does work if it gets too hot.

Also no mention above of the 18,000 BTU side burner. Not as hot as a wok burner but certainly much more hot and functional than the traditional 12,000 BTU found on most grills that from my perspective are worthless.

I also have a pellet smoker and have found that throwing on few pellets will give you a smoke flavor (not a smoke ring).

Was not sure when I bought this how it was going to work but I could not be happier.
Anonymous Matt said...
John, I'm as curious as Anonymous about the slow cooking. Can you do a test for us, and see if you can get the Saber grill to maintain 225 Fahrenheit with one burner on low? If it'll do that, I'm sold!
Blogger John Dawson said...
Matt - Because you asked I conducted an experiment today. I found that I can get the Saber to maintain really low temperature (about 100*F) if I turn only one burner on low. I then turned the two outer burners on low and left the center off and I was able to maintain about 285*F. That's low enough for me, but far above the 225* that you're looking for. I should mention that I preheated the grill with all three burners on low for 15 minutes and I placed a Thermoworks ChefAlarm probe at 1/2" above the grate.

I hope this helps.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
What I've not found is info on the burners themselves, ie warranty, longevity, maintenance prevention, etc. Being stainless they should last awile longer coupled w/ the fact that it looks like they are very protected from drippings, but they aren't cast SS burners and would indicate CharBroil's cheaper influence. Any thoughts? Other than that, looks from the outside like a very well thought out system that should outlast me!!

oledawg
Blogger GourmetGal said...
Are you able to use a standard wire BBQ brush to clean it each time you cook? I've been looking/shopping for a new grill and went to ACE Hardware today and was very impressed with this new SABER BBQ.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Yup, but you need to use the special tool to scrape between the grid rails.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
My saber is 1 year old today. It's the best grill I have ever owned. Slow and low can be achieved with indirect cooking. I've cooked everything from pizza, beer can chicken, vegetables as well as the things that everyone cooks on a grill. It does cook different than coals and traditional propane grills, but after a few cookouts, it is easy to master how to use it with terrific results. I live in bear country, and not needing a drip pan is a big selling point for me.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
We have our BBQ on a deck on the 4th floor condo. We have had numerous complaints about the horrible smoke smell that come from the bbq as it burns off the small pieces of meat from hamburger or chicken skin. Smells like I am cremating the food. I have even gone so far as to put foil on the grill to try to eliminate the very large amount of smoke and horrible smell associated with it. Do anyone have any ideas of how to control this ? Any ideas would be appreciated.
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - Just use the grate cleaning tool that came with the grill then remove the grids and dump/vacuum out the gnarly charred bits. A clean grill is a happy grill. ;-)
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for your reply but I have tried that also. We just get large amount of smoke that smells very bad. Anyone else have an idea my neighbours are ready to tar and feather me
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - I'm at a loss then. I use my Saber at least weekly (and often several times a week) and I've never had the problem that you describe. Have you cleaned the grease drip tray? Have you checked for small rodents nesting in the grill? :-)
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Nothing ever gets to the grease try and I also use my grill numerous times per week during the summer. Does you grill produce a large amount of smoke the instant the meat hits the grill as mine does?
Blogger John Dawson said...
Anonymous - Searing meat will produce some smoke, but I wouldn't call it "a large amount". You can see the amount of smoke in the flank steak picture above.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am at a loss Mine smokes three times that amount to the point of ridicules. I will just have to keep trying different methods Thanks for your help Stan

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