Monday, May 2, 2016

Product Review: Saber Grills Infrared R50CC0312

While 80% of all grills purchased are under $300 according to the HPBA, it seems like the premium grill market has been taking off.  That or a lot more of our friends are buying high end grills from dealers rather than intermediate level grills from the big box stores.

For the past two years I have included the premium line of Saber Grills in our grilling demos at The Great Backyard Place in Knoxville.  They are the local Saber Grills dealer and wanted us to showcase this elite grill alongside the kamado grill at our demonstrations. 

Isn't this a gorgeous grill?

This year, Saber Grills has sent me my very own 3 burner R50CC0312 for a full review.  I have used it heavily for the past 4-6 weeks and the short version is that this is hands down the best gas grill I have ever used.    

Design, Features, and Claims

This grill is a looker.  The clean, modern design uses the more durable 304 stainless steel compared to the 430 that lower level grills use.  The controls are intuitive and just where you would expect them.  This may seem like a small thing but the control knobs turn smoothly like ice sliding on ice.  You can just feel the quality in the details like that. 

Here are the features that this Saber Grills model boasts:
  • 100% Infrared cooking system cooks with infrared heat instead of using hot dry air (convection) like most grills do
  • 304 commercial grade stainless steel
  • Highly efficient using 30% less propane than traditional units (Pet peeve of mine - BTU's is not a power rating, it's a consumption rating like miles per gallon.  A higher BTU rating just means a grill burns more propane and has nothing to do with how hot or how "powerful" a grill is.)
  • 500 square inches of cooking space with another 175 square inches on the two position elevated rack
  • Side burner with porcelain coated cast iron grate
  • Heavy duty 3” locking caster wheels
  • Heavy duty 1” tube frame provides a stable and secure grill

best infrared gas grill, best gas grill, my favorite gas grill
Opened up and ready to rock and roll.

A quick tour of the Saber's excellent set up.  Far left has the IR emitter and grate off to show one of the burner compartments.  Middle is the infrared emitter which is the work horse - preventing flare ups and creating even, infrared heat.  On the right is the full grate and emitter in place.

Saber Grills provide exceptional temperature control and even heating.
Closer look a one of the 3 burner compartments.  Notice that it is completely sealed off from the others.  This gives exceptional heat control for cooking at different temperature zones.  The short silver stem at the middle bottom of the picture is the temperature gauge probe.

Just to show how well the compartmentalized burners do at zone temperature control, here are readings from the left burner on high and the right burner off - a 600 degree difference!  Don't try this at home but during our demo, I showed guests how I can have the left and middle burners on medium high and still put my hand briefly on the far right burner.  Again...don't do this at home.  

A view of the sleek control panel.  These control knobs operate as smooth as silk and glide effortlessly as you change temps.  The electronic ignition has worked every time.

Slide out drawer of the Saber Grills
Slide out debris tray for anything that falls through, although the emitters pretty much catch and vaporize just about everything before it ever gets here.

As you can see, the temperature gauge is below the cooking grate.  I have heard that causes accuracy problems; however, each time I tested it with either the ThermaQ or a laser non-contact thermometer, they were pretty accurate.  I think the problem is that with the grill being so powerful, it is easy to keep the gauges pegged at 700f if you aren't careful.

As simple as it is, the integrated tool rack is a nice touch that you don't see on a lot of grills.

The grill grates are a thing of beauty.  I hated to season them the first time because they will turn bronze the first time you use them.  But they are meant to be used, not looked at.

Performance and Testing

I’ve already “tipped my hand” and told you what I think about this grill in general but here are the specifics after several weeks of cooking on the Saber Grill.

  • Ease of assembly rating is 0 out of a possible 5 swear words (lower is better).  This was the easiest grill I have ever assembled because it comes mostly pre-assembled in the box and the pieces that do require assembly use the same bolt sizes.  Of course our local dealer assembles them for you.
  • Excellent control of cooking zones.  Each burner is contained in it's own separate compartment which provides measurably better control of using different cooking temperatures.  
  • I love the two piece grate system.  The infrared emitters convert all of the heat to infrared instead of convective heat and the stainless steel bars yield superb grill marks.  
  • Sturdy foundation - the grill's tubular frame provides a rigid "no flex" grill that is a solid cooking platform that feels stable.
  • Speed - The Saber Grill is up to full temp in just about 10 minutes.
  • Powerful infrared heat - despite being highly efficient, this grill cranks out some serious heat (over 700°f) capable of all your grilling needs.
  • Reverse sear machine - The Saber Grill is perfect for using one of the most popular grilling techniques - the reverse sear.

Here are some of our test cooks.  I hated tests in school but love them when it comes to grilling!

The Saber Infrared Grill provides commercial kitchen power and results.
The rugged grill grates remind me of the commercial grills that I have used in professional kitchens - plenty of heat but also temperature control.  Grilling a porterhouse steak just before a late afternoon storm rolled in.  No photoshop effects here - those light beams and the wind swept smoke were all courtesy of the approaching storm.  I take a lot of pictures of food but I LOVE this shot.

The Saber Grill cooks chicken breasts that are always juicy because of the infrared heat.
Here I'm grilling some butterflied chicken breasts seasoned with just taco seasoning, cumin, and salt.  We slice these up for burritos and such during the week.  Infrared grills provide the best grilled chicken because it is juicier.

The Saber Grill creates juicy and delicious pork tenderloins.
We grilled some pork tenderloins that were trimmed and tied.  I seasoned them with Meat Church Honey Hog, grilled for about 26 minutes over medium high heat until they were an internal temperature of 140-145°f.  

Saber Grill's superior infrared technology provides always juicy pork tenderloins.
I sprinkle more of the BBQ rub on the cutting board and drizzle it with BBQ sauce.  That's all the sauce you need, this board dressing is an Adam Perry Lang technique.  

Saber Infrared Grill's have superior infrared heat.
Once you slice the pork tenderloins, their juices mix with the rub and sauce and coats everything so it turns out delicious and seasoned all over.

zi olive knoxville, the spice lab zi olive
We got these USDA Prime cap steaks which are made from the outer rim of the ribeye steak.  The muscle is called spinalis dorsi and I think that is Latin for "best part of the steak".  Two of the strips are rolled up together to form these cap filet.  I seasoned them with my NMT Beef Rub and an ancho-coffee rub that I got from Zi Olive here in Knoxville.  The two rubs work well to create delicious layers of flavor.

The Saber IR Grill is awesome at the reverse sear technique, providing the most flavorful and juicy steaks.
Because these were over 2 inches thick, I went with a reverse sear.  This slow roasts the steaks until they reach an internal temperature for perfect medium rare (127°f) and then finishes with a high temp sear.  

Reverse seared steaks on the Saber IR Grill
I have the center grate and IR emitter out in this picture just so you can get the idea.  The left burner will be on high - providing the indirect heat needed to slow roast the steaks at 250°f on the right side.  If you see the wire above the steaks, that is an air temp probe I clipped onto the upper rack to test the accuracy of the thermometers.

Testing the Saber Grill using the Thermoworks ThermaQ.
I use my ThermaQ as a reference grade thermometer to test out grills.  Here you can see the thermometer on the grill is about 250°f which is close to what the ThermaQ registers slightly above it.  The small difference can be explained by the difference in location.

The Saber Grill excels at reverse sear grilling.
Once the steaks have roasted and then rested until the carryover cooking stops, they go back on the grill for a high temp sear.  Because the Saber Grill used just this one burner on high to maintain the indirect temp, it is already set up to sear without further delay.  

Steaks are always juicy when cooked on the Infrared heat of a Saber Grill.
We served the cap steaks with garlic mashed potatoes, au jus, and a balsamic reduction.

Juicy and perfect medium rare on the inside.

We grilled out on the Saber Grill at our friend's house one Sunday.  We were cutting up and having fun - the way grilling is supposed to be.

How to cook beef tenderloin on a gas grill
We trimmed and tied a beef tenderloin and then seasoned it with the same NMT Beef Rub and the Ancho Coffee Rub.

The set up we used shown before we closed the lid.  Again, only the left burner was on.  Next to the beef tenderloin was some jalapeno poppers that Darrin made for an appetizer.

The Saber IR Grill is a reverse searing machine!
The beef tenderloin resting after the roast.  With reverse sear, it is important to let it rest until the internal temperature stops rising and then actually starts to fall.  This insures you are only searing the outside and not raising the internal temp since the insides are already perfectly cooked.  You are just adding color and flavor to the outside during the sear.

Even veggies come out better with infrared grilling on the Saber Grill.
Darrin had some colorful veggies to cook while the roast rested.  At this point we had all three burners on high.

Adding the final layer of flavor on the grill, the infrared power of the Saber does an excellent job with searing.

beef tenderloin
I didn't get a better plated shot because....well, we were hungry!  But you can see how the outside is nicely crusted but the inside tender and juicy.  I wouldn't try that on a gas grill that isn't powered with infrared heat.

Final Thoughts

I'm a long term, charcoal loving, wood smoking, kamado grill using guy.  But I'm completely enthusiastic about the Saber Grills infrared gas grill (R50CC0312).  The powerful heat, the zone temperature control, its quality construction, and its beautiful styling bowled me over.  I am impressed with how this grill cooks.

If you are in the market for a high end gas grill, you have got to consider this Saber Grill.


Price Point:  depends on dealer but in the $1,000 neighborhood
Where Sold:  Dealers nationwide
Design:  5/5
Performance:  5/5
Value:  5/5

Overall:  5/5

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received this grill for free from Saber Grills for testing and review; however, no compensation was offered or given to influence our opinion. If you think getting a free grill has influenced my opinion, go check one out yourself at a local dealer.  I think you will be equally impressed.