Lately, I’ve noticed that more and more people seem to be wondering if they should shell out extra cash for a Weber grill that includes a sear station. The ones who aren’t asking the question might just be too embarrassed to admit that they don’t know what that is.
Is Weber Sear Station worth it—as in, worth the money and the hype? Or is it just another one of those features that you won’t really use? Our guide will help you decide for yourself.
Is Weber Sear Station Worth It?
Weber grills that include a sear station are worth the extra cost as long as you make regular use of the feature. The station consists of three burners grouped closely together to create a hot zone. You can achieve the same effect with the regular burners, but it will take a lot longer for the grill to get hot enough to really sear the meat.
What Is a Sear Station?
Weber’s sear stations are made up of three burners tucked closely together. The idea is to create a zone that gets very hot very quickly, thereby making it ideal for searing.
That’s not to say that you can’t sear ingredients on a regular gas grill. You can, but it will take longer for the zone to get hot enough to create that tantalizing mahogany crust on the meat.
To use the sear station, you light the burners, close the lid, and wait about 15 minutes. At this point, the area should have reached a temp of 500 to 550 degrees—easily hot enough to achieve a great sear.
Perfectly seared meat has a texture and flavor unlike anything else you’ll encounter. Once you’ve impressed your family and friends by using this technique, you’ll never want to stop.
Sear Stations vs. Infrared Burners
If your grill already comes with an infrared burner, you might be asking yourself if you really need a sear station. Isn’t that just another name for the same feature?
Not exactly. An infrared burner contains an infrared element between the flame jet and the cooking grate. The flame heats a ceramic tile that’s peppered with microscopic holes, which release their infrared energy into the food.
If this sounds confusing, know that infrared energy is a type of electromagnetic radiation that’s perceived as heat. A traditional grill functions like a flashlight with a wide cone, cooking the food with diffused heat. The infrared burner is more like a pointed laser.
Unlike regular grills, infrared energy isn’t affected by the wind. That makes grills that include infrared burners an invaluable asset when cooking outdoors on blustery days.
Is Weber Sear Station Worth It?
When you invest in a Weber grill that includes a sear station, you’ll be dropping a lot more money. The company charges several hundred extra dollars for units that include this feature—although to be fair, there are usually other perks that come with owning these models.
Let’s talk about the pros first. Obviously, it makes searing meat a convenience rather than a hassle. You won’t have to wait around for half an hour or more for the grill to get hot enough to sear your meat.
The sear station is also easy to use, even for beginners. All you have to do is preheat the grill and light the appropriate burners, and you’ll be ready to go.
As an aside, I’ll point out that the station might be a bit too easy to operate. The first time I tried it, I didn’t realize how quickly the flames would do their work, and came dangerously close to overcooking the steaks. You only need to leave the meat in place for 1 to 5 minutes per side.
Now let’s talk about the downside. We mentioned the cost, but it’s worth repeating, because not everyone will be able to afford this type of grill. Don’t consider buying a grill with a sear station if you don’t think you’ll make regular use of the feature.
Another consideration is that Weber grills are well-built models to begin with. Most will get hot enough to sear your food even without the extra burners—it will just take longer.
Again, think about how often you employ the reverse sear technique—or take the time to sear the food at any stage of the process. The sear station won’t be worth the extra money if the burners stay cold most of the time.
Which Weber Grills Come With Sear Stations?
Assuming you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a Weber grill with a sear station, your next step is to learn more about which models include this feature.
The Sear Station is available with most Spirit, Genesis, and Summit grills. There are several elements that distinguish these options from one another, with the key difference relating to their size.
Spirit models are the smallest of the three, and as such they tend to be less expensive. The Genesis series offers mid-sized to large grills, while Summit models are more impressively sized—but there are a few exceptions.
For example, a 4-burner Genesis is actually larger than some Summit grills. The Genesis is also set at a lower price point, which is interesting. However, the Summit series offers more features for the money—the sear station is only one of the perks.
Understand that while these three series all include the sear station option, the feature isn’t the same on every unit.
Since the Spirit grills are smaller, the sear station only puts out 7,500 BTUs. That might be sufficient for smaller cuts, but you could have a hard time getting a nice char on a ribeye or porterhouse steak.
Grills in the Genesis lineup fare a lot better. Depending on which model you choose, the BTU output for the station could range from 9,000 to 13,000. What’s more, we believe that the sear stations for the Genesis series work best out of all three options.
The Summit’s sear stations crank out 10,600 BTUs. While that makes them more powerful than the grills in the Spirit series, it’s not all that impressive for units as large as these.
If the sear station is your top priority, we would suggest limiting your search to grills from the Genesis series. These are excellent units in most respects, so you won’t be disappointed.
How To Use a Weber Sear Station
Your first step is to light the burners. Make sure the regular outer burners are set to either off or low, and then ignite the sear station burners. Close the lid and wait for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the section is very hot.
After adding the meat, keep your eye on the clock. Smaller and thinner cuts should achieve the right texture after just a minute or two per side, but larger ones could take as long as 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
It’s up to you whether to sear the food rapidly at the outset, or to employ the reverse sear method. The latter is a good technique to use with extra thick steaks or cuts that need to be tenderized beforehand, because you can cook them to within a few degrees of your desired internal temperature before giving them that all-important sear.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone who buys a Weber grill will think the sear station is necessary, even those who cook outdoors on a regular basis. It all comes down to how often you crank up the burners to char the outside of your steaks, pork chops, and other grilled meats.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!