Spirit II (Natural Gas) grill won't sear.... (warning: Manifesto!)


 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member

Spirit II E-310 Gas Grill (Natural Gas) $639.00

My original review to Weber (hey, they asked!) :

Not great for searing, does other stuff well.​


Bought this grill in late June, 2022 from a local small hardware store after doing lots of online research. Assembly went smoothly, and the construction seems pretty solid. The grill did have one bent leg, which may have occurred in shipping, but I was able to get it straightened out adequately after a few minutes.

It's a good looking grill. Controls work smoothly, fit and finish are good, and the features are about what I'd expect for a grill at this price point.

It starts up easily and heats to temp in about ten minutes. It'll max out the thermometer, at about 600 degrees.

My only gripe about the grill is that it doesn't sear well. Actually, in the technical sense, not at all.

The grill will get very hot, and it's good for cooking chicken, hot dogs, burgers... But it won't put even a slight char on a piece of meat.
-Sure, you'll get darker marks from the grates, but the rest of the meat doesn't get any char (between the lines).
Three different times now, I've cooked a nice pork tenderloin in a sous vide, and tried to finish it by searing on this grill. The grill just won't sear it. I COULD get it to char if I left the meat on there longer, but then it overcooks.

-Additionally, when grilling corn on the cob, if you like some nice charred spots, forget it, unless you are willing to leave it on the grill for awhile, and don't mind the corn overcooked.

I'm going to hazard a guess that the flames are just to far away from the grate to be able to sear, so you get more of a high-heat baking effect. When searing pork tenderloins on my charcoal Weber, where I can get the coals as close to the meat as I'd like, results are perfect.

I've also tried just cooking a ribeye (1.25" thick) on the grill - and while I get brown grate marks, the rest of the meat doesn't brown before the ribeye is done.
This is probably a decent grill for cooking burgers, chicken or other things that require indirect heat, but it's not ideal for more direct heat applications.

Recommends this product

✘ No
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Weber's response was to make sure the lid stayed closed and preheat for 15 minutes.
-OK, so I understand that some people need these instructions. The same ones that need you to tell "not to stand on aluminum ladder, in a pool, with an extension cord in your teeth."

A few days later I got an email from Weber telling me they'd like to help, so I sent them similar, but expanded information from my review. As follows:

"Hello,
I'm having an issue with my new (Purchased in June 2022) Weber grill. I've tried to work with Weber customer service, but have not received timely answers. My ticket number is 2854***

I'd like to speak with a technical rep, or anyone else in customer service who may be able to help.

The problem I'm having centers around the grill not being able to sear at all. I believe it's a design issue. I'm not satisfied with this grill and would like your assistance in coming to a resolution.

Rob Smith
robs************.com

Original ( and second) email to Weber:
"-I read the Weber response on the website about my review, and it suggested keeping the lid closed and pre-heating for 15 minutes.

I was already following that procedure, and in addition, I ensured that the grill was turned up as high as it would go to get the most heat (600+ degrees, according to the thermometer in the grill). Still no satisfaction on getting a sear on meat. Please note, I have used this grill about 6 times now.

The burners are just too far away from the grates to get any kind of actual sear. (And I'm really not talking about a serious "Burn-it-up" type char...just a nice searing to make the meat look browner and a little crisp to it.)

So, having spent almost $600 on this grill, I can't really just go out and buy another- better one. I'm kind of stuck with what I have, unless your customer service team can come up with another idea.

And then I could write a review about the awesome Weber Customer Service!

By the way: Sous Vide cooking (What I was talking about in my original note) is really gaining popularity, and it invariably requires a cast iron skillet, charcoal, or gas grill to finalize the process and sear the meat (as it comes out of the sous vide kind of grey).
-And yes, I dry the meat with paper towels before throwing it on the grill because wet meat won't sear well.

Since more and more people are using this method to create a very nice dinner - often on expensive cuts of meat - I might suggest having Weber designers take a look at this, and all their grills, to ensure that they can sear well, otherwise you can probably expect more reviews like mine... from less than satisfied customers.
Looking forward to your response.
Feel free to contact me if you come up with other ideas, or would like further.
Rob"
-------------------------------

After not hearing from them for over a week, I found their customer service number and called. I reached a nice young gentleman who looked up my ticket number and said they'd never received my response email and indicated that their servers were down the week before, so a lot of emails didn't get through. We talked for a few minutes, where he repeated the advice to keep the lid closed and preheat for 15 minutes....and from what I could understand, said he'd get my complaint to a person more technical so I could get a proper response. I was having dificulty understanding because English IS my only language, and he didn't vocalize words I'm familiar with very well.

Over the last couple weeks I've gotten two other emails from Weber. One asking me to rate how well they solved my problem, and another stating "Thank you for your reply. What temperature does the grill reach with all the burners on high for 15 minutes?" Response time from them is very slow, and to date, very unhelpful.

I've gotten a little pre-advice from a couple others on this forum (Thanks much!) but at this point, I'd rather not modify my grill, or stick to cooking things that don't need to be seared.

To sum: The grill seems to heat to proper temp -in a normal time (600+ degrees, verified with an oven thermometer in addition to the Weber thermometer). The grates get hot enough to leave brown stripes, but the meat will not sear - unless left on the grill way past the "well done" stage".
So. I'm just about to the point where I give up being nice, and lay out some reviews on different sites to let more people know that this grill won't sear.

I'm also to the point where my displeasure with Weber customer service is going to leak into the reviews.

Apologies for the enormity of this post, If you've stuck with me so far, give me a holler. You and I can be best friends and I'll buy you a beer next time you're between Daytona and Orlando ;)

Cheers!



 

DanHoo

TVWBB Honor Circle
Welcome Rob.

Not sure what direction you want this to go.

If it is how to get a better to sear with what you have, I'm sure we can offer some suggestions.

If the goal of the thread is to decide if the grill is cooking correctly or not, I'm not sure I'll be much help, but others might.

I'm not experienced on the spirit II 310, but your description of its heat output and searing ability sounds similar to other 3 burner grills I have cooked on.
 

LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Proper cooking (even a decent crust "sear") does not require insane temps. I regularly get wonderful results without even approaching near full heat on my Genesis. Good cooking does not require insane temps
 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member
Welcome Rob.

Not sure what direction you want this to go.

If it is how to get a better to sear with what you have, I'm sure we can offer some suggestions.

If the goal of the thread is to decide if the grill is cooking correctly or not, I'm not sure I'll be much help, but others might.

I'm not experienced on the spirit II 310, but your description of its heat output and searing ability sounds similar to other 3 burner grills I have cooked on.
Thanks for the response, Dan.
As to the direction I'd like this to go - Foremost, I'd love it if someone came up with a post that said "I had the same problem! All you have to do to fix it is, "X"".

'Course, that never happens. So maybe advice about how to get a better response to customer service requests, or maybe a number for a guy who knows a guy who can fix this for me. I think this grill is working as designed, but I think it's not a design that will do what I want it to. (sear)

Posting my issue was kind of a shot in the dark. A lot of you folks have more experience with All Things Weber, and I'm hoping I can tap into that as a resource.

Cheers,
Rob
 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member
Proper cooking (even a decent crust "sear") does not require insane temps. I regularly get wonderful results without even approaching near full heat on my Genesis. Good cooking does not require insane temps
Thanks for the post, Mr. Michaels.
I fully agree with you. Higher temps won't solve the non-sear issue I'm having.

I think the heat DOES need to be closer to the target meat to get a sear though. I've had a number of gas grills in the past, and I don't recall having one with the burners set so low in the frame before.

I think the burner --> grate distance is too great for a sear.

If that sounds nuts, I'd certainly listen to alternate opinions!

Cheers,
Rob
 

DanHoo

TVWBB Honor Circle
Depending on the cut, getting it to flare up can also help with the sear. Rib Eye steaks come to mind.

Or put a little butter on the steak to get it to flare up. Direct fire does a great sear, but these grills are designed to avoid flare up so there's the conundrum.
 

Scott Smith

TVWBB Pro
Have you tried skipping the sous vide cooking process for comparison purposes? I don't believe that sous vide is mentioned by Weber in their literature or practiced by very many here. I wonder if this is the source of your concern because it is the one thing that sticks out to me as "different".
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
They don't want to admit it, but I suspect Weber knows this is a known issue with their grills. They try to address it on some Genesis grills by adding the Sear Station feature, which sandwiches another burner between two existing burners to really crank up the heat in a small zone on the grate.

I think cast iron is your solution, either a skillet or a griddle. I do it on the grill to keep the inevitable smoke outside of the kitchen.


 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Because Barb and I will split a steak I use a 12" cast iron skillet on the E320 all three burners on high get the pan super hot. Do a reverse sear then
two burners down to med and finish the steak indirect. Nice crust and med/rare.
 

LMichaels

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
IDK, honestly wish I had taken photos. I didn't. Just did a cowboy ribeye on my dad's old Genesis this afternoon. Had perfect crust nice interior color, perfect temps. All while keeping it quite low. Center burner off, front and rear medium. Delish!
 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member
Have you tried skipping the sous vide cooking process for comparison purposes? I don't believe that sous vide is mentioned by Weber in their literature or practiced by very many here. I wonder if this is the source of your concern because it is the one thing that sticks out to me as "different".
Hey Scott,
I tried that on a couple pieces of meat, yeah. I tried a ribeye. Thinking that the fat may drip, flare, and help with the sear.
-Pulled the meat out of the fridge and let it come to room temp on a little grate in the kitchen.
-Dried it off, salted it, and threw it on the grill after it had heated on high for 20 minutes, and closed the lid.
- Flipped it after the regular alotted time for medium rare (for this thickness, about 1.25")
-It had brown grate marks, but the rest of the meat was just kind of tan.
-Pulled the steak off the grill (cussing) after a few more minutes and took it inside.
It was done correctly in the middle, but it only had brown stripes (Like the painted stripes on the chicken breast in your MREs!). The rest of the meat was like a tan color.

While I did get some flames, they weren't really touching the meat...that "Anti-Flare" feature just works too well on the grill. Also tried some pork chops with less stellar results.

I also tried cooking corn-on-the-cobs (shucked). They did cook, but they only had little areas of char. I mean teeny. Looked almost like you'd pulled them out of the boil-pot - after ten munutes. (Yes, I left them on too long, trying to get a little char on them!)

Thanks for the ideas!

Best,
Rob
 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member
They don't want to admit it, but I suspect Weber knows this is a known issue with their grills. They try to address it on some Genesis grills by adding the Sear Station feature, which sandwiches another burner between two existing burners to really crank up the heat in a small zone on the grate.

I think cast iron is your solution, either a skillet or a griddle. I do it on the grill to keep the inevitable smoke outside of the kitchen.


Hey, thanks Chris.
I think you're right about the sear station thing. I used to live in a condo where they had a grill that had a sear section, and BOY was that great!
Wish now that I'd considered that a Weber without a sear station couldn't cook a steak the way I want it. Hindsight is 20/20!

As to the cast iron skillet method... I agree that it's a great way to get a sear. Second best to getting one on a gas grill, and third best to doing one on a charcoal grill!

Right now though, I just can't give up fighting the fact that I spent $600 on a gas grill that is unable (or unwilling) to sear a piece of meat, or char a corn cob a little bit.

Cheers,
Rob
 

Scott Smith

TVWBB Pro
Thanks for the ideas!

Best,
Rob
Well, my first idea was no help, so lets try something else. What I hear you describing is too much "bake" and not enough "broil". This could be a very easy workaround. Try cooking at full power to get the "broil" part as strong as possible while leaving the lid up or part-way up to reduce the "bake" that is cooking your meat before it gets crusty. This will take longer and waste some gas, but you may be happier with the results.
 

RobSmith

TVWBB Member
What I hear you describing is too much "bake" and not enough "broil". This could be a very easy workaround. Try cooking at full power to get the "broil" part as strong as possible while leaving the lid up or part-way up to reduce the "bake" that is cooking your meat before it gets crusty. This will take longer and waste some gas, but you may be happier with the results.
HA! I actually planned to do that this afternoon with some burgers!
-your description of "too much bake, and not enough broil" is spot on, I think.
 

Mack Manning

TVWBB Fan
As others have said, you'll need a heavy chunk of metal to store heat for the sear. Could be a cast iron pan you already own, or a griddle made to fit the grill.

I used to sous vide steaks, but family prefers reverse sear now. I put the griddle or pan on the hot side of the grill to preheat and the meat on the cool side for slow cooking, then finish on the pan or griddle.

Weber certainly knows this disappoints some buyers. They addressed it by increasing the sear burner BTUs in the 2022 Genesis.

Consider your steak seasoning as well. I've been using Lawry's salt lately and the sugar content makes everything brown faster. Anything with a little sugar would help.
 
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