You are currently viewing 3 Burner Vs 4 Burner Grill: What’s Better?

3 Burner Vs 4 Burner Grill: What’s Better?

We’ve got a big family so having a grill that can handle all the BBQ is important. So what’s better, three burners or four?

A 3-burner grill is ideal for a family of four. However, if you have a larger family or often BBQ for friends and family, then the added heat zones of a 4-burner grill would be better. 3-burner grills are also a bit cheaper than 4 if you’re on a budget.

Let’s dive down into the topic of 3 burner grills vs 4 burners in more detail, and discover the relative merits of both…

What is the Difference Between a 3 and 4-burner Grill? (Apart From the Obvious)

S​ure, the difference between a 3 burner grill and a 4 burner grill is one burner. Duh. But there are more differences than that.

If you are wondering how many burners you need, ask yourself these questions: how many people do you routinely grill for? How often do you grill? How much space do you have for a grill? Do you love to grill giant slabs of meat? And, finally, how many bucks are in the grill budget?

In general, the more burners the BBQ has, the more grill surface available for meats and vegetables. The greater number of meats and vegetables, the greater number of friends and family you can cook for.

I​f you love grilling, and you grill often, then you might truly appreciate one more burner. The more burners you have, the more versatile your grill will be. Another burner will give you space for another grill zone for vegetables or bread.

A​lso, three burner grills are smaller in size than four burner ones. If you live in an apartment or condo with a small patio space, consider measuring your space before making a decision.

I​f you love cooking giant slabs of meat, like ribs, legs of lamb, whole turkeys, or brisket, you know you need grill space.

T​hen, consider your budget. Yup, 3 burners are cheaper than 4.

What Type of Burner is Most Efficient For Cooking? (Does Size of Burner Matter?)

B​urners are an important grill element; maybe the most important. Before you buy a grill, consider checking out three things: what is the burner made of, what shape it is, and how much heat it can generate.

B​urners can be made of stainless steel – cast, stamped and tubes – cast iron, aluminized steel, cast brass and ceramic. Stainless steel burners are very common, but the quality will vary. Cast stainless steel burners absorb and distribute heat very evenly. Cast burners are typically made of a thicker steel (304), so they will last longer.

Stamped stainless burner pieces are stamped together. Stamped stainless is generally a lower-grade steel. While it will distribute heat well, it won’t last as long as a cast burner. U-shaped stainless steel tubes are very popular in higher-end grills. They are made from food-grade (304-grade) steel that will deliver heat evenly across the grill and they will weather well. 

Cast iron burners are prone to rusting but can cast ones can last for years. They are particularly good for high-heat grilling. Cast brass is found in the highest end grills and is an excellent burner. Ceramic burners won’t rust and are excellent for conducting heat evenly. However, ceramic burners are prone to chipping.

O​ur final word on burner materials is to check out the burner warranty. The best burners will be warranted for up to 15 years, while the lower-end ones will be warranted for a single year.

M​ost grill burners are shaped as straight, single bars or shaped like the letters H or U. The key here is heat distribution. Choose the shape that distributes heat evenly over the entire surface of your grill. No gaps. No back of the grill hot spots.

Finally, let’s talk about BTUs. S​teak grilling is fast grilling. For fast grilling, most experts agree that you need a minimum of 75 to 100 BTUs (BTU stands for British thermal unit, which is a measurement of energy) per square inch of grill space.

F​or example, let’s look at one of the top 3 burner grills listed below, the Char-Broil American Gourmet Classic. It has 360 square inches of grill and the 3 burners can deliver 30,000 BTUs of heat. S​o, that grill can deliver just over 83 BTUs per square inch of grill, well within the expert guidelines.

How Many Burners Should a Grill Have? (Is 3 Burners Enough on a Grill?)

W​e checked in with grill manufacturers. They said that for a single-person or a two-person family, then two burners should be enough. If you have a family of three to six, then go for a three-burner grill. 

Three burners will allow you to have at least two – maybe three – heat zones, depending on the size of your cuts of meat. You even have room for some indirect cooking. Just light one burner on low and then put your large cuts of meat over the two burners not turned on.

Is a 4-Burner Grill Worth It? (Do Bigger Burners Get Hotter?)

A​ 4 burner grill is worth it if you often cook for lots of people, or if you like to cook several meals at a time or grill large cuts of meat. T​o find out whether a four-burner grill gets hotter than a 3 burner one, you’ll have to do some math.

At first glance, most 3-burner grills have lower total BTUs than 4-burner ones. But don’t be fooled. 4 burner grills are also physically larger grills, so when you calculate BTU per square inch of the grill, most 3 and 4-burner grills have the same amount of heating power.

So, while they may have the same heating power, a 4 burner grill will use more gas, because it’s just a bigger grill. The total amount of BTUs is a good indicator for how much LP gas you will use. The higher the total BTUs, the more gas you’ll use for every cookout.

How Many Burners Should a Family of 4 Have?

F​or a family of four, most experts agree that a 3 burner grill should meet your needs, unless you love to cook large cuts of meat (more on that later) or if you want to smoke stuff on your grill.

I​n terms of grill space, you should look for grills around 400 square inches or more. A good rule of thumb is 100 square inches per person. Most 3-burner grills have between 400 and 500 square inches of the main grill.

If you have a family of four or fewer but you routinely cook giant slabs of lamb, pork, beef, or entire turkeys, you may need a larger grill – like a four burner or even more, depending on the average size of your meat slabs.

The reason is that giant slabs of meat are often cooked over indirect heat – low and slow. Indirect heat on a BBQ grill means that meat isn’t directly over a lit burner but to the side of it. If you enjoy this type of cooking, you’ll need the grill real estate to be able to move your meat slab off the lit burners. Some folks even like to have lit burners on both sides of the meat for better convective heat.

Here’s the rule of thumb for indirect grilling: if meat is heavy enough to take longer than 20 minutes to cook, then indirect heat will yield the best results. Note that steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs all cook faster than 20 minutes.

I​f your BBQ tastes run too small cuts of meat, then 3 burners will be perfect for your family. Don’t go less than 75 BTUs per square inch, though, or your steaks may take a long time.

We love this video on how to smoke a brisket on a 3-burner gas grill. You can spend lots of money on a smoker or use a simple foil pan or pack.

What is the Best 3 Burner Grill?

We looked at Amazon for the 3 best-selling 3 burner grills. We didn’t include sponsored products and only used reviews from real people, not professional reviewers…

1. Char-Broil American Gourmet Classic Grill:

T​he best rated 3-burner gas grill was the Char-Broil American Gourmet Classic grill. It has 360 square inches of grill space with 3 electronically ignited burners that deliver 30,000 BTUs of cooking heat.

In addition to the cooking surface, the grill has a swing-away warming rack that measures 24 inches wide and 7 inches deep (168 square inches).

The burners are inline, stamped stainless steel. The grill lid and firebox are constructed of porcelain-coated stainless steel. The grill rolls on two 6-inch wheels and has two 12-inch by 13.5-inch shelves on either side of the grill.

What we like:

  • Small footprint. Ideal for small spaces.
  • H​andy side shelves.
  • S​wing-away warming rack.

What we don’t like:

  • No built-in temperature gauge.
  • Shallow grill base and lid.
  • 1-year warranty.

Over 3,000 r​reviewers gave the Char-Broil American Gourmet Classic grill 4.5 out of 5 stars. Positive reviewers had been looking for a compact grill that was easy to put together and worked well. The majority of reviewers were happy with this “no-frills grill”.

N​negative reviewers didn’t like the quality – it was hard to put together and then it was wobbly. Other reviewers said the grill wouldn’t light with the button and it didn’t get hot enough to cook properly. Others complained that the grill pan was too shallow – when small amounts of grease dripped down, they would ignite and the food would burn.

2. K​enmore 3-Burner Compact Pedestal Style Grill

Another top grill choice is the Kenmore 3-Burner Compact Pedestal Style gas grill. It has 381 square inches of primary grill with a rating of 30,000 BTUs. The three inline, stainless steel burners ignite electrically. The grill grates are porcelain-coated cast iron. 

There are two side shelves that fold down, a grill tool holder, a built-in thermometer, and four caster wheels. The LP canister is hidden inside the pedestal.

W​hat we like:

  • Classically styled and comes in five colors.
  • F​ive year burner warranty.
  • C​ompact size can get even smaller with the fold-down side shelves.

W​hat we don’t like:

  • S​wivelling the grill to turn the LP canister on and off in the back.
  • P​ricey for a compact grill.
  • G​rease cup is small and awkwardly located in the back.

Almost 300 reviewers gave this Kenmore grill 4.5 out of 5 stars. R​eviewers loved how quickly it heated up, the heat distribution and the heat control on this grill. They thought it was sturdy and easy to clean. Reviewers loved the way it cooked and that each burner has its own igniter.

N​egative reviewers complained about the too-small drip cup and its inconvenient location. Others saw rusty spots after only a month. Other reviewers said that the Kenmore quality was not there. One grill caught on fire.

3. M​aster Cook 3-Burner Grill 

T​he last 3-burner grill is the Master Cook 3-Burner grill. It has 339 square inches of primary cooking space with an additional 133 square inches of warmer rack.

The 3 inline, stainless steel burners deliver a total of 30,000 BTUs. It has two caster wheels, a built-in thermometer, an electric ignitor, and two fold-down side shelves.

W​hat we like:

  • C​ompact size that can get smaller with the fold-down shelves.
  • C​lassy black and stainless look.
  • G​ood price.

W​hat we don’t like:

  • V​ery light weight.
  • O​ne year warranty.
  • Side (not front) access for propane tank.

O​ver 2,600 reviewers gave this Master Cook grill 4.2 stars out of 5 stars. Positive reviewers said it heated up fast and cooked great. They felt it was good value for the money, was simple and the perfect size for their small family and patio. They said it was fairly easy to assemble.

N​egative reviewers thought it was OK but not great. A little flimsy but decent enough. Many negative reviewers complained that the electric igniter never worked.

What is the Best 4 Burner Grill?

W​e looked at Amazon for the 3 best-selling 4 burner grills. We didn’t include sponsored products and only used reviews from real people, not professional reviewers…

1. C​har-Broil Performance 4-Burner Cart Style Grill

T​he top 4 burner grill on Amazon is the Char-Broil Performance 4-Burner cart style grill.

This sleek grill features four electrically ignited, inline stainless steel burners that deliver a total of 36,000 BTUs over the 425 square inches of porcelain-coated primary grill. 

In addition to these features, this Amazon-exclusive grill has a lidded side burner that adds another 10,000 BTUs of heat. It has a 150-square-inch swing-away warming rack, a built-in thermometer, and two wheels to move it on.

W​hat we like:

  • E​asy to clean with a removable grease tray and pan.
  • Good price.
  • 5 year warranty for burners.

W​hat we don’t like:

  • F​ront panels don’t open, so propane tank access is on the side.
  • P​ropane tank is visible.
  • A​ll stainless steel look.

A​lmost 3,500 reviewers gave this Char-Broil grill 4.6 stars out of 5 stars. They loved the grill because it was great value for the money, it was sturdy, easy to clean and had good temperature control. Most reviewers thought the grill was heavy duty.

M​any negative reviewers thought this grill was hard to assemble and even badly designed. Several thought the build quality was cheap. Reviewers said that, with the lid up, the burners wouldn’t heat up enough to grill burgers.

2. C​har-Broil Performance 4-Burner Cabinet Style Grill

T​he Char-Broil Performance 4-Burner Cabinet-Style grill is a sleek stainless steel grill that rolls on four wheels and has easy access front cart doors.

The four inline stainless steel burners heat the 435 square inches of porcelain-coated, cast iron primary grill space with 37,000 BTUs of heat. In addition, this grill has a 10,000 BTU lidded side burner and another 130 square inches of swing-away warming rack.

T​his grill has electric ignition for the LED-lit burners, a built-in thermometer, an easy-to-clean design and additional storage space inside the two-door cart.

W​hat we like:

  • E​asy access to propane tanks and extra storage through the double front doors.
  • Convective cooking system.
  • 5 year burner warranty.

W​hat we don’t like:

  • A​ll stainless steel look.
  • Only has a partial back panel.
  • S​ingle electronic igniter for all four burners.

5​50 reviewers gave this Char-Broil grill 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. Reviewers liked the heat distribution and output. They said the quality was solid and it was well worth the price.

N​egative reviewers said not all the burners heated up evenly. One reviewer claimed that there was no porcelain coating on their grate. Most reviewers said the assembly was “non-trivial”. Some reviewers said that their grill didn’t heat up in really cold weather.

3. C​uisinart CGG-7400 54 Inch 4-Burner Gas Grill

L​ast, but not least, is the Cuisinart 4 burner gas grill. The four gas burners deliver 44,000 BTU’s to the 443 square inches of primary, porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grates with an additional 167 square inches of fixed, porcelain-coated warming rack.

I​n addition, this grill has a built-in thermometer, two wheels to move the grill, two fixed side shelves for prepping food, and the twist-knob burner ignition system allows you to ignite one burner at a time.

W​hat we like:

  • 3-year limited warranty.
  • C​ommercial grade stainless steel construction.
  • E​asy to clean.

W​hat we don’t like:

  • F​ront panels are stationary so LP bottle access is from the side.
  • N​o shelf for the LP bottle, so it sits on the ground, making moving the grill awkward.
  • S​ide shelves are stationary.

O​ver 1,500 reviewers gave this Cuisinart grill 4.3 stars out of 5 stars. Positive reviewers loved that it was easy to clean, had great heat distribution and heat output. Many reviewers said it was easy to assemble. They loved the price and thought it was excellent value. One reviewer said the temperature control was better than their old Char-Broil.

N​egative reviewers said that although the grill was hot, it wasn’t so good at keeping low temperatures. Another common negative was that the igniter stopped working. Many negative reviews were about the packaging – their grills arrived with dents. Other negative comments were about the cheap materials that didn’t last.

What are the best 3 and 4 burner grills?
What are the best 3 and 4-burner grills?


As a family of five – including me at 6′ 1 and my boys at 6′ 3 and 6′ 2 – we definitely need a big 4-burner grill for all the burgers, steaks, dogs, chops and ribs we put away.

We promise to save some for my wife and little girl too!

And we might even get some corn cobs and grilled veggies on there as well; just for some balance!

Mark H.

Homeowner and property investor Mark H. aspires to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >