Welcome to our review of the excellent Char-Broil Professional Pro S, a highly competent three-burner gas barbecue with a separate side burner for searing steaks, fish, halloumi and various vegetation.
This writer’s a big fan of Char-Broil’s TRUInfrared technology and you will be too, once you taste the results. For a gas BBQ, this model ticks all the boxes and is an especially good choice for anyone who likes seared steak.
So, without beating about the bush, let’s hit the ignition switch and see what this silver baby can do.
Looking for more top BBQs? Then be sure to scope out T3's guides to the best barbecues, best gas barbecues and best portable barbecues. We've also got a great feature on the best smokers, too.
Char-Broil Professional Pro S 3 review: Design & features
Char-Broil has a shedload of gas models in its current roster and this model falls under its higher end Professional category. Cast almost entirely from stainless steel, you can be sure this handsome barbecue won’t turn into a pile of rust in a hurry. That said, by its very nature, stainless steel is easily tarnished so you may have to invest in some stainless steel polish at the same time.
The Professional Pro S 3 comes with three stainless steel burners and a backlit control knob for each. Three- and four-burner barbies are usually the best choice for families since more burners equals a bigger grill grate. At 61.5cm x 44.5cm, this model’s cast-iron grate has more than enough cooking space for six ravenous guests – and possibly as many as eight to ten if grilling smaller ingredients like drumsticks and sausages.
However, this isn’t just any old grate because immediately below it is a thin sheet of corrugated stainless steel with thousands of tine holes punched into it. It’s this section that gives this barbecue the TRUInfrared moniker. In a nutshell, this panel radiates ‘infrared’ heat from the burners below, ensuring even heat distribution and high meat-searing temperatures. I vouch that the system actually does seem to make a difference but more on that below. The slight downside to the infrared system is that the corrugated panels (three of them) require regular cleaning and Char–Broil provides a tool for the job. Simply whack all three burners to full for about 15 minutes and all greases will be carbonised. When cool, grab the tool and scrap away all the dust so none of the tiny holes is blocked.
Now, I must admit that I cannot stand side burners, mostly because they’re useless – why boil potatoes or heat up sauces at the BBQ when you can do it on the kitchen hob? – and they add about another 30 minutes to an already lengthy three-hour build. However, in this instance the extra side burner is justified because it’s not a pot boiler. Instead, it’s a rather useful sear station with its own cast-iron grate measuring 29cm x 22cm (enough space for two sirloins or one large fillet of fish). This searer reaches really high temperatures and leaves steakhouse-style criss-cross grill marks, if you like that kind of thing. Me personally? Nah, it’s a bit too Bernie Inn for my liking. But hey, Americans go for that kind of thing and Char-Broil is as American as they come.
The whole thing’s topped off with a tall stainless steel lid with integral thermometer, electronic SureFire ignition, a wide folding side shelf on the left and a large cupboard beneath to house a 5kg bottle of Patio Gas.
Char-Broil Professional Pro S 3 review: Assembly
Gas barbecues usually take the longest to assemble and this one is no different. However, hats off to Char-Broil once again for making all instructions clear and for putting all the screws and gubbins in one easy-to-use pop-out sheet. As usual, the hardest part was fitting the hose to the gas regulator. Nevertheless, it didn’t go too badly after running the hose end under a really hot tap to soften it a bit and rubbing a drop of washing liquid around the funnel-shaped brass pipe.
The finished product certainly looks very stylish but I did notice that the main chassis is quite flexible. Hence, if positioning it on an undulating patio, you may need to shuffle it around on its four overly small caster wheels to ensure that it’s perfectly level and that both cupboard doors line up correctly. I was a bit disappointed in this respect, it has to be said.
Char-Broil Professional Pro S 3 review: Performance
Despite the possibly misleading TRUInfrared term (no, it’s not some futuristic system that uses infrared light), this barbecue genuinely produces surprisingly succulent results. I get the fact that the grill top has fewer cool spots because of the corrugated stainless-steel infrared sheets below it, but I’m still not sure why these sheets should help grill food better than other systems that use standard ‘blue flame’ grilling. Some pundits say that it’s because the sheets below create radiant heat that cooks the food more directly rather than the standard convection system where the heat bounces around the inside of the lid. All I know is that every time I use the Char-Broil system, I’m impressed by how juicy the meats are that come off it. So, in this respect I give it a high five for performance.
Char-Broil Professional Pro S 3 review: Verdict
Granted, this barbecue does flex more than other models I’ve assembled but the build quality is generally very good and all that stainless steel certainly looks very swish, in spite of the fact it attracts fingerprint marks like a magnet. Despite my hatred of side burners, the sear station on this model is a great addition for those who enjoy flame-grilled steaks with criss-cross sear marks. However, this writer would still rather opt for the cheaper two-burner version – Char-Broil Professional Pro S2 – which takes up less room while providing only 14cm less grilling estate.
You can read more about the smaller Char-Broil model in our Weber Genesis II EX-335 GBS Smart Barbecue vs Char-Broil Professional Pro S2 comparison feature.