Commercial barbecue grills

A commercial barbecue grill is an appliance used in food-service and competition cooking. Typically larger in cooking capacity than traditional household grills, commercial barbecue grills also feature a variety of accessories for added versatility. End users of commercial barbecue grills include for-profit operations such as restaurants, caterers, food vendors and grilling operations at food fairs, golf tournaments and other charity events, as well as competition cookers. The industry is represented by manufacturers with multiple products, to small businesses with a single offering. The category lends itself to originality, and many commercial barbecue grills feature designs unique to their respective manufacturer.

Model Mobile-SLPX Commercial Barbecue Grill Shown with Optional Hoods by Belson


Types of Commercial Barbecue Grills

Commercial barbecue grills are fueled by gas, charcoal and wood (chips and logs). Recent innovations such as infra-red and electric heating elements, and wood pellet fuel, have been introduced, but these have yet to make a large impact in the commercial grill category.

Gas Fired Grills

Gas fueled commercial barbecue grills use Natural Gas and LP (Liquid Propane).

Natural Gas is a good fuel source for stationary or built-in pit grills, where a permanent connection can be established.

LP, commonly referred to as propane, is supplied in various sized refillable cylinders. Commercial grills accommodate one, two or more cylinders, which can be mounted horizontally or vertically. Cylinders are usually removable for ease of filling.

Portable propane cylinders are available in a variety of capacities, such as 20# or 40# cylinders which provide long cooking times and ease of transport.[1]

Example of a 20# cylinder

Because of their differing physical properties, Natural Gas and propane are not interchangeable, without retrofitting the grill with compatible burner and regulator valve components. [2]

At the heart of a commercial gas grill is its firebox and gas burners. Most gas grills are square or rectangular, to fit burner configurations. To stand up to continuous, high temperatures, commercial barbecue grill fireboxes are usually constructed of 10 -, 12-, and 14-gauge steel. 304 Stainless Steel is also a popular material, not only for the firebox, but for the entire grill.

For propane and Natural Gas grills, individual burners are arranged to create even cooking across the grill surface. Heat is adjusted by control knobs on the front of the grill. Burners come in a number of shapes: straight bars, "H" shape and ovals. They are usually constructed of hollow steel, with gas inlet holes and outlet ports. Gas is mixed with air in venturi tubes; at the other end of the venturi is the gas valve, which in turn is connected to the control knob on the front of the grill. A metal screen is used to cover the fresh air intake of each venturi, keeping insects from clogging the tube. Burners arrays that can produce up to 150,000 total BTU's are common on commercial barbecue grills as they are capable of generating heat up to 800-degrees F.[3] Lava rocks are often added to gas grill fireboxes to act as a conduit of heat, to catch drippings, and help create a smoky flavor. Other gas grills utilize burner covers and radiants to achieve the same effect. Some gas grills utilize a pull-out drawer, where moist or dry wood chips can be added.

Food Quantity Cooking Time Temp
Steak, 1" thick 35 8 min. H
1/2 Chickens 24 40 min. M
Burgers, 1/4 lb. 60 8 min. H
Franks 150 5 min. H
Brats 120 12 min. H

Gas fired commercial barbecue grills are useful for food-service production cooking, where getting a lot of food on and off the grill in a timely fashion is the goal. Gas grills heat up quickly, provide consistent and continuous heat, and cool down quickly when turned off. Gas grill cooking grates are often cast iron or stainless steel, as well as porcelain-coated and nickel-coated steel. While no size is standard, a good size commercial grate measures 24-inches X 60-inches (10-square feet). When utilizing this configuration, the following chart indicates typical cooking capacities and cooking times.[4]

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal fueled grills are common for competition cooking, as well as catering and charity events where classic barbecue smoke flavor and ambience are also desired. Charcoal briquettes are manufactured from ground charcoal, coal dust and starch. Lump charcoal is a hardwood, such as oak or mesquite, which has burned in the absence of oxygen to create charcoal. Nothing else is added to lump charcoal, the result being non-uniform chunks in size and shape.

Burning charcoal

Charcoal briquettes typically burn at temperatures around 350-degrees F, while lump charcoal burns much hotter - around 650-dgrees F. Because of lump charcoal's higher burning temperature, professional chefs and competition cookers enjoy it for its ability to quickly sear cuts of meat and fish.[5]

PORTA-GRILL® I Charcoal Commercial Barbecue Grill

Commercial charcoal grills are also constructed of 10-, 12- and 14-gauge steel. Rectangular, flat bottoms, as well as rounded, kettle styles are typical. Because of the high heat generated by charcoal, charcoal grill fireboxes are prone to warping. Steel support channels, attached to the exterior belly of the firebox help discourage warping. Because a charcoal grill's temperature is harder to control, adjustable cooking grates allow for more precise heat control. Achieving proper, and consistent, airflow is a key design component for charcoal grills, and those fireboxes typically include draft controls as well as ash cleanout ports.

Charcoal/Wood Commercial Grills

Combination charcoal/wood, and all-wood pit grills and smokers, are ideal for slow-cooking applications. They are commonly used in competition cooking and catering operations. Wood fires are generally hotter than charcoal fires. Woods typically used include mesquite, oak, hickory, hard maple, pecan, dogwood, beech, birch, and ash.[5]

Utilizing similar design features to charcoal grills, charcoal/wood models, due to higher heats generated by wood, will quite often have additional firebox construction features such as inner liners, made of steel, along with fire grates on the bottom of the firebox. Inner liners serve to enhance airflow, and fire grates can be adjustable to better control heat.

Pit Barbecue Grills And Smokers

Commercial Pit Barbecue Grills and Smokers are constructed in various shapes and sizes, from traditional rounded-bottom kettle shape to square and rectangular boxes. These fireboxes are designed to hold charcoal, wood chips and whole logs, and are arranged to provide direct and indirect heat to the cooking surface and/or internal cooking racks.


Commercial barbecue grills can be stationary or transportable. An example of a stationary grill is a built-in pit grill, for indoor or outdoor use. Construction materials include bricks, mortar, concrete, tile and cast iron. Most commercial barbecue grills, however, are mobile, allowing the operator to take the grill wherever the job is. Transportable commercial barbecue grills can be units with removable legs, grills that fold, and grills mounted entirely on trailers. Trailer mounted commercial barbecue grills run the gamut from basic grill cook tops to pit barbecue grills and smokers, to specialized roasting units that cook whole pigs, chicken, ribs, corn and other vegetables. Complete catering trailers as well as other specialized food-service trailers are available, including complete Barbecue Concessions Trailers, and clever smokers/grills built around themes, as illustrated by this football shaped grill, and this train-shaped grill. [6]

Cooking Versatility (Accessories)

A variety of accessories allow cooking flexibility with commercial barbecue grills. [1] Typical pieces include steamer pans, rotisseries (single or multiple), detachable hood covers and wind shields, side and front shelves, warming racks, pancake griddles, extra burners, smoker boxes, and portable fuel tank holders.

Codes and Certifications

While local fire codes regulate location and usage for both residential and commercial barbecue grills, there are no regulatory requirements for the manufacture of commercial barbecue grills. However, testing organizations, such as Underwriters Laboratories (U.L.), Intertek-Warnok/Hersey, and others, provide testing guidelines and certifications for manufacturers choosing to submit their grills. [7] [8] A grill that meets testing standards is identified by labels clearly placed on the barbecue grill. [9]


  1. ^ Retrieved 11-11-11
  2. ^ Yahoo Answers: What's the difference between a propane only grill and a propane/natural gas grill? Retrieved 11-07-11
  3. ^, Grill specifications Retrieved 11-07-11
  4. ^ Grill Buying Guide Retrieved 2011-11-07
  5. ^ a b Sinnes, A. Corte. "The Grilling Encyclopedia: An A-to-Z Compendium of How to Grill Almost Anything". Atlantic Monthly Press, 1992, p. 32.
  6. ^ For castered and towable grill examples,, Retrieved 11-07-11
  7. ^ Underwriters Laboratories Standards Listing Retrieved 2011-11-07
  8. ^ Intertek-Warnok/Hersey Listing Retrieved 2011-11-07
  9. ^ Grill Buying Guide Retrieved 2011-11-07

External Links

  1. Natural Gas and LP Retrofitting
  2. Gas Grill Specifications
  3. Caster and Trailer Grill Examples
  4. Catering Trailer Example
  5. Custom Consession Trailer Example
  6. Custom Football Gril
  7. Custom Train Grill
  8. Acecessory Examples

Additional References

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