The 2013 Model 304 Costco KitchenAid Grill is a great looking outdoor appliance, but how well does the cooking and overall performance of this expensive beast measure up to it’s attractive appearance? Since we had a larger deck built this April, I figured it was time to splurge on a bigger and better grill to take advantage of the extra room. I looked at the heavy, durable Weber Grills for $600 at Home Depot and Lowes, but was disappointed that they only had 3 + 1 burners. For $700, the Costco Kitchenaid Grill has a total of 5 burners, including the side unit and looks and feels every bit as rugged, durable and sturdy as the Weber grills. The Kitchenaid is an attractive grill made with heavy-gauged, brushed, stainless steel.
Costco KitchenAid Grill
At 130 lbs, this was by far the biggest and heaviest grill I’ve ever owned and it was no small task loading into our Home Depot rental truck and taking it home. The grill is well packaged inside a crate. Fortunately, the wheels made it possible to move it even while it was still inside the box. It took as long getting the grill unpackaged as it did assembling it. The Costco Kitchenaid, for the most part, is pre-assembled. You only need to add a few knobs and a couple of hoses and attach your propane tank and you’re ready to grill. The downside of a preassembled appliance is that you really will need a truck or van to take it home. Costco does not offer delivery. With the grill assembled, I was anxious to fire it up and test all of the burners.
Operation and Features
Unlike other many other grills, the KitchenAid does not have a separate igniter button for lighting the main burners. Each of the four burners lights by turning it to the left from the off position and pushing down. With the gas on, they all lighted instantly as I began firing them up, one by one. The KitchenAid Model 304 provides 40,000 (10K x 4) BTUs through it’s main burners plus an additional 12K BTU from the side burner for a total of 52,000. The intensity and rapid acceleration of the heat was impressive. With the lid closed, getting the round temperature gauge past the 500 degree mark takes less than 10 minutes. I was pleased until I attempted lighting the side burner. With the dial turned to the left, I pushed down, heard plenty of sparks, but had no luck starting it. I turned all of the other burners off and tried again without success. I was quickly able to start with a lighter so I knew it was getting plenty of gas. Eventually, I was able to solve the problem by pulling the igniter contact closer to the burner by some prying a flat-head screwdriver. It now works every time without delay. The two-door enclosure is roomy and nice for storing cooking tools and keeping the propane out of the sun and rain. Unfortunately, such a big grill has little room for setting down a tray of food before you put it on the flames. There is a just a little bit of room on the left-hand side to set things down and that’s it. By the way, the Universal Rotisserie from Walmart works great with this grill.
The Costco KitchenAid grill generates a great deal of evenly-spread heat in a short period of time. This is great for cooking a thick steak to perfection, but there are other times when you need low heat for cooking delicate foods slowly, while you sit down and relax with your beer or martini. If you try this with the KitchenAid Grill, even with the heat turned all the way down, you better enjoy your meats black and charred. With all four burners turned down to the lowest setting it is a real challenge to get the grill temperature below 400 degrees. In fact, I quickly had to learn to turn one or more burners off and cook via indirect heat to avoid burning things. Surprisingly, when I read other user reviews, there were no other complaints about the heat being too high. In fact, the biggest, most common complaint was that the stickers were hard to remove. One other user had the opposite complaint of mine; it doesn’t get hot enough! Fortunately, the manual does provide a method for adjusting the flame of each burner. I have not yet tried it, but will report back when I do. I did have one other issue; The last time I changed propane tanks, the gas hose that attaches to the grill was leaking gas profusely. I was able to get it to stop by positioning it a certain way. I inspected it carefully, hoping the leak came from one of the fittings where it could be tightened, but to no avail. The leak appears to be between the hose fitting and nozzle which cannot be tightened. Fortunately, it’s a short, section of hose that is easy to replace with a wrench. I will see about ordering this part.
Bottomline: Is the KitchenAid worth $700?
Costco’s KitchenAid Grill is a notable upgrade from my previous $300 Charbroil grill. One thing about its attractive appearance: Friends have told me that stainless steal is prone to getting rust over time and becomes very unattractive. I’ve noticed the expensive, Weber grills are painted in attractive, high-heat enamel colors. That is something to consider when choosing an expensive grill. My impression to this point is that this is a 4-Star product. Since I’ve never paid anywhere close to $700 for a grill before, I’ll reserve the final rating and judgment for a later time, based on how long it holds up through the course of a few summers and winters.