Welding goggles not included.
To paraphrase Justin Timberlake from his boy band days, Kenmore must have spent a little more time on the "Elite 3-Burner Dual Fuel Stainless Steel gas grill" (and its best name ever). Dressed in sleek stainless, this Kenmore Elite's all-metal aesthetic seems would class up any deck or patio—though it is quite the fingerprint magnet. To paraphrase Justin again, this grill is also like it's a mirror, staring back at us. But while that design idea may have seemed like a bright idea on paper, it's a blindingly bright idea in practical use in the mid-summer sun. A timeless thermometer adorns the lid, adding a tiny splash of color into the field of monochromatic metal.
Three burners with electric-ignition supply heat under 500 square inches of porcelain-enameled cast iron grate. Aside from the warming rack suspended above the main cooking area, there aren't a whole lot of features. The cabinet below allows for safe storage of a propane tank (only one should be in there at a time!), and there are plenty of hooks and tray space—though no side burner. Though calling this grill "dual fuel" might be slightly misleading, there's a simple conversion kit sold separately that will allow you to hook the grill up to natural gas.
This Kenmore Elite might win over some people with looks, but we doubt the performance will satisfy the grillmaster. The grill does alright on low power—showing relative uniformity throughout the cooking surface—but just isn't strong enough to handle the demands of all grillers. Set on high, the grill couldn't get hotter than a 430°F average in our test. This probably isn't a hot enough temperature for everyone's steak. Most broilers can easily hit 600°F, so we expect grills to at least get close. At lower temperatures when the grill relies more on indirect cooking, the grill does a better job keeping temperature uniform.
It's going to take a bit more to justify the high price.
Though the Kenmore Elite 3-Burner Stainless grill looks snappy and can easily accommodate propane and natural gas, its performance just doesn't justify the heavy price tag. However, Sears frequently cuts down the prices significantly—dropping $200 or more— so if you see that $749 MSRP eroding, it might be worth considering, if you want a pretty stainless grill. But until then, you should probably look elsewhere.
To properly test a grill, we use thermocouple sensors to collect data for us to analyze. The Kenmore Elite turned out to be underpowered, having trouble preheating and firing satisfactorily on full heat.
Underpowered and unimpressive.
This three-burner Kenmore Elite timed out in our preheat test, failing to reach 625°F. In fact the temperature plateaued around 418°F, which is way too low for a grill or broiler's high setting.
An uneven surface, littered with hotspots.
Across the grill surface, the temperatures were far more even when the burners were on low. At an mean temperature of 250°F, the sensors were an average of 61°F from that mean. When the grill was averaging 418°F the average variation was 125°F, which is indicative of some severe hot and cool spots. Hotspots aren't the end of the world, but they mean that you're going to have to be shuffling food around the grill surface a bit more than you should.
The handle won't burn you.
Surprisingly, we recorded handle temperature between 82°F and 100°F, so there's a good chance that the handle will actually feel a tad cold to you, you 98.6°F human. Pretty impressive, considering that this handle is made of metal. The body temperature was higher, as one might expect, but maxed out at around 242°F, which is hot, but pretty reasonable as far as grills go. It's a cool design.
Meet the tester
Ethan writes reviews and articles about science for Reviewed.com, and edits the Science Blog. He's originally from Vermont and thinks the bicycle and guitar are examples of perfected technology. Prior to Reviewed.com, he studied furiously at Middlebury College.
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