We’ve been working on building our outdoor kitchen completely DIY for the past 6 months. And even though winter has interrupted our progress and we’re still not finished, the crown jewel of this new kitchen is already a 36” American Renaissance Gas Grill that towers above every other cooking appliance.
In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into the details as well as tell you about our own experience with the ARG 36” Gas Grill and why we think it’s a lock for including in your next outdoor kitchen build.
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American Renaissance Gas Grill Sizes
The American Renaissance built-in gas grill is available in 3 sizes. The model featured in our review is the ARG36.
Cut Out Dimensions
30" Stainless Built-in Grill
28 5/8 " x 10 3/16" x 23 1/4"
36" Stainless Built-in Grill
34 5/8" x 10 3/16" x 23 1/4"
42" Stainless Built-in Grill
40 5/8" x 10 3/16" x 23 1/4"
Like most of the units that we receive and review at The Barbecue Lab, the American Renaissance grill came on a semi truck with a liftgate. The driver called before he dropped by, and pulled up right in front of the house. A pallet jack made easy work of getting the pallet into the garage, and things arrived in perfect condition.
As you can see, the American Renaissance gas grill wasn't the only thing in this order for our outdoor kitchen.
The grill was surrounded by cardboard and styrofoam, and it was packed to ensure it would be safe on the journey across the United States by truck. All of the grill grates and accessories that we needed were packed inside the cooking chamber to keep things safe, and the kids had a blast unwrapping everything as I looked on trying to encourage them that this wasn’t a plaything and they needed to be careful. (Ok, so maybe it is a plaything for me, but you understand what I’m saying. Don’t drop daddy’s toys kids.)
I love it when a grill arrives already assembled without needing to spend 2-3 hours laying on the garage floor staring up at the underside of a grill with a screwdriver in hand. This unit came fully assembled, and I didn’t have to do anything to it until we were ready to slide it into the kitchen countertop frame. This was certainly a relief because DIYing our outdoor kitchen meant we were already doing a ton of work.
The only thing that we needed to do was to take off the metal ties that connected the 3 primary burners to the grill supports. Those are there for shipping, not for cooking, so those 3 ties come off before you light things up. (You can see this at 01:43 in the above video review).
If you’re going to be using a grill liner to support your new grill, we might suggest that you take off the PVC protective film before you set things in place and hook everything up. Seems like a no brainer until you’ve hooked everything up and realize that there’s still a film that needs to be peeled off of every surface that now has a heavy grill sitting on it. Ask us how we know...
Most grills on the market need some type of seasoning or “burn in” process before you prepare your first meal. Renaissance recommends that you light up all three burners and turn them to high for 20 minutes to burn off any manufacturing oils that could be left inside the cooking chamber. After that 20 minutes is up, your grill is ready to go.
The act of grilling is where this unit shines. Our first cook was skirt steak fajitas, and we dedicated half of the grill for the large skirt steak and the other half of the grill for a 12” cast iron pan for our pre-cut fajita veggies.
We burned off the grill as recommended in the owner's manual, and put our cast iron pan on to start getting warmed up. We did the burn off at full power, and then backed down the knobs to about halfway since we were already seeing 700+ degrees on the hood thermometer.
When we opened the hood, the fire bricks were glowing orange and there was a beautiful blue flame coming out of the burners. We dropped the steak directly onto the grates and set a timer for 4 minutes per side. Towards the end of the cook when the veggies were done, we removed the cast iron pan and placed some flour tortillas from the supermarket directly on the hot grates to warm them up. We got some amazing grill marks on the tortillas and they inflated as the fat heated up.
Our next meal to prepare was a couple of boneless thick cut pork chops, and green beans. We used a grill basket to keep the beans from slipping through the grates.
The heat on the American Renaissance gas grill can be just about anything you want it to be. Everything from a blazing sear to indirect cooking is possible. Since these chops were on the thicker side, we started our cook with the far left burner off and turned the right and middle burners to medium heat. This allowed the chops to come up to temperature without worrying about them burning. As we approached the 125 degree range, we kicked the heat up to high and placed the chops right over the heat to sear off the outside and they were delicious.
In our family, the true test of a gas grill is how it performs with our grilled pizzas. And it did not disappoint.
We had plenty of space to fit pizzas for everyone and they all cooked so evenly with no hot spots to worry about.
Searmarx Cooking Grids
The grill grates are unique in that they are square, giving you the maximum amount of metal-to-food surface to generate a very nice sear on anything you grill. PLUs being flat, they are much easier to clean than conventional round grates you see on most grills.
I want to make sure I mention that the American Renaissance gas grill has an optional griddle for anyone who’s having space issues in their outdoor kitchen planning. We built in the 30” LeGriddle as the griddle in our outdoor kitchen, but if we didn’t have enough space I was considering the griddle add-on that RCS has available. It’s called the dual plate stainless steel griddle surface, and it brings the technology of the Le Griddle flattop to your RCS grill.
There’s a stainless steel top (as we all come to expect from griddle add-ons) but what makes this unique is the cast iron plate that’s fused to the bottom of the griddle. If you turn the griddle over, you’ll see a unique looking cast iron plate that’s fused to the bottom of the stainless steel, and it brings heat retention and even cooking to the flat top.
While this accessory is more expensive than the regular stainless steel only counterpart, we love our Le Griddle and the evenness that it has across the cooking surface, so we’re in love with the fusion of stainless and cast iron for this surface.
While gas grills aren’t usually known for their ability to function as a smoker, RCS has put a great deal of thought into how to maximize the functionality of their grills. There are optional smoker trays that you can order with your grill that perfectly fit underneath a single cooking grate and fill the grill from front to back along that entire grate. When the tray is filled with wood chips, you’re bringing a lot of smoke to your cook with the smoldering wood sitting directly over a burner. The ARG version of a smoker tray is still in development, the other RCS models have it.
If you’re looking for even more smoke, pellet tubes are a great solution for getting more smoke flavor on a gas powered cooking appliance. Pellet tubes can even bring cold smoking as an additional cooking method. Simply leave the burners off for a cold smoking session, and light the pellet tube to supply the smoke. It’s a great way to smoke cheeses and other foods that don’t do so well in hotter environments.
We really like that each RCS gas grill comes standard with the elements you need to add a rotisserie unit. The stainless steel wheels where the rotisserie turns are built into each grill, so even if later down the road you decide to add the rotisserie attachment, the grill is ready to simply plug and play.
We weren’t sure that we’d use the rotisserie when we first ordered the grill, but now that we’re many cooks into using the unit, we’re remembering recipes like our tacos al pastor that work really well on a rotisserie. We like that even though we didn’t pick up the rotisserie initially, we have the option to add it in at any point with a quick order from the website.
With this level of stainless steel appliance, there’s not much that you need to do when it comes to storage when it’s not in use. The exterior stainless steel will withstand the elements without a cover, but if you want a cover, they’re available as an option when making your purchase.
We didn’t pick up a cover with our unit because our last stainless steel grill lasted for 15 years outside on the patio without a cover, and it looked just like the day we bought it that many years later. Stainless is simply our favorite material to have grills made of because they take so little work to keep up.
While we’re talking about storage and storing the grill when not in use, let’s talk about the upper warming rack for a second. The top rack folds up so that it’s out of the way when you’re not using it, but not so out of the way that you need a place in the garage to store it when it’s not in use. This is a key point for us and something that differentiates this unit from others in the space.
With most grills, when you want to take the top potato rack off, you need to take it completely out of the grill and find a place to store it. Let’s be honest, having a 36”+ grill grate leaning up against the wall in the garage just means that it’s eventually going to fall over and scratch the paint on the car, so we love that RCS has made it so the top shelf can simply fold up against the top of the grill whenever you’re not using it. It’s a minor thing, but it attests to how much thought goes into these units during the design phase.
ARS series grills are covered by a lifetime warranty.
What We Loved
Made in the USA- Need I say more? We're always glad when we can support a product made right here in the US.
Knob Lights- My favorite of all the features on this grill are the lights. It is so easy to walk outside, press a button and have lights illuminate each of the burner knobs that control the grill. The lights for the RCS gas grills glow a gorgeous blue color, and it really draws attention to the unit in an outdoor kitchen setting when you want to.
Interior lights- The knob lights aren’t the only lights on the unit, there are also two lights on the interior of the cooking chamber that truly provide all of the light I’ll ever need when cooking in the dark. And right now in January in Indiana, I'm cooking in the dark nearly every night.
When I walk out, I just hit the button to illuminate the interior of the grill, and it was like I was grilling in the middle of the day. For years I grew accustomed to grilling via flashlight during the winter months when the days were short. I finished work, fired up the grill, and by the time it was warm enough to put anything on the grill, I couldn’t see a thing. That’s not a problem with the RCS line, and it makes me smile when I walk outside in the dark knowing that I’m about to be able to see what I’m doing.
Fire bricks (briquettes) - Above each burner, there’s a tray of fire briquettes to assist you in each cook. What we love about these trays is that whenever a piece of meat drips onto one of the fire bricks, that dripping will instantly vaporize and return to the meat in the form of flavor. We’ve always thought that cooking appliances designed to cook hot and fast should have this capability, and it’s a great addition to an already great product. Most grills today only include perforated sheets of stainless steel that are bent and they are supposed to help spread out the heat, making it more uniform across the cooking surface. American Renaissance Grills actually stepped back a generation to the older days when pumice briquettes were used. These have gone away in most grills today, due to their cost. Briquettes are preferred however due to their properties of them absorbing SOME grease and return it in the form of smoke which equals flavor! Sheets of stainless cannot do that.
Speaking of uniform flavor across the cooking surface, that American Renaissance gas grills are 10” deep. Why is that important? Because the burners are further away from the cooking surface and that allows the heat to spread out more across the cooking surface than shallower, cheaper grills. This feature, coupled with the briquettes above, give you one of the most even-cooking grilling surfaces out there.
Heats up in a flash - It doesn’t take long for you to go from a cold grill to a grill that’s ready for whatever you’d like to grill. We tested how long it takes to get to the temperatures below in the dead of winter, so you can imagine how fast it would be in the Spring, Summer or Fall.
Large burners - If you’re used to the standard, run of the mill gas grills that you can pick up in a big box store here in the United States, you’re in for a treat. While most of those grills are designed to hit a specific price point for the retailer, corners are cut and heating elements get smaller to the point where it’s hard to get 450 degrees in the cooking chamber. This problem doesn’t plague the American Renaissance gas grill line, as the burners give off incredible heat, reaching well over 700 degrees in the dead of winter with outside temperatures in the teens.
One turn lighting - We can’t even tell you how many times we’ve been standing in front of a grill, turning the knob back and forth hoping that this turn would be the time it decides to light up. With the American Renaissance gas grill, it’s one turn to light up each burner, and I feel like this is the way it should always be. Unfortunately the grills from the big box stores that we’ve had before this unit had me trained to expect frustration at this point, but these burners light up every time with one turn. We hope that long term this will still be the case, and we’re excited about the possibility. The ignition system was developed by RCS years ago and is called their “Sure Strike” ignition. I don’t know much about how it works, I just know that it works without any power or batteries. It’s pretty cool.
Heavy duty grill grates - The cooking grates on this grill are heavy duty, and that traditionally means that the grates are super heavy and unmanageable. The RCS grill grates are heavy, but they’re broken up into 6" wide individual grates to make them much easier to move around, clean and manage. Having the grates in smaller configurations so they’re manageable is a great decision, and makes it easy to pull a single grate out to add in a smoker tray. The mass of metal that makes up each grate also adds to this grills ability to get a great sear as well. To get those grill marks that we all love on steak and other meats, it’s the combination of heat and hot metal that can transfer heat to sear that makes things work. American Renaissance Grill has that in spades with this unit.
Easy to lift lid - The lid on the RCS grill is quite large, and is to be expected on a grill this size. What I wasn’t prepared for though is how light the lid is to open. My last cart gas grill was a 36” grill, and the stainless steel lid on that thing was a beast! There were times that it was difficult to open with one hand holding a plate of meat and gripping a pair of tongs in the other. This lid is very different from the ones I’ve known. It’s light to open and close, which tells me that the hinging and manufacturing are really on point. It’s light enough that my 7 year old can lift the lid easily, and the same can not be said for its predecessor.
Available Grill Liner - If you’re looking to install this grill in an outdoor kitchen, we suggest that you give the available liner consideration. We added the liner to our outdoor kitchen build, and it made things incredibly easy from a build perspective. We simply built the countertop support so that it had dual supports for the grill, and we feel really secure about it staying in place in the build. We supported the bottom of the liner with a few metal studs running across the width of the grill that tied into the metal stud walls on each side. This allowed us to put the liner and the grill in place before we had manufactured our concrete countertops. The liner is designed to rest on top of the countertop and suspend the grill from the counter, but since we ran into winter towards the end of our build and needed to pause until the weather got warmer, we were still able to install the grill and use it over the winter months. Other than that, the liner is a requirement if your outdoor kitchen will be made of combustible materials (wood).
Opportunities for Improvement
Lubrication - The hinges on our model needed some WD-40 out of the box to get rid of some squeaking when we open and close the lid. Nothing a few sprays couldn’t take care of, but in case your grill has a squeak or two, just spray it with a hit from the blue can and you’ll be right as rain.
Available Accessories - We found it difficult to understand what accessories were available for each grill when navigating the website, and would love to see a clear list of everything that’s available. If you’re like me, you want to know all of the options that are available for anything that you purchase, and we found it difficult to understand which accessories were designed for a specific grill.
Cleaning the grates - These grates were designed so they’re easy to take up from the grill to take inside and clean in the kitchen sink. Of course, you could grab a wire brush and scrape them down, but that leaves more residue then we like when starting our next cook. We found that just grabbing the grates and taking them into the kitchen sink to use the green scrubbing sponge works wonders to keep them clean.
Emptying the bottom drawer - The deluxe rollers that hold the cleanout tray work GREAT. Depending on what you cook (fatty foods for example) you may need to clean that a little more often.
Storing the top rack - We aren’t frequent users of any top rack for a grill. There’s just 4 of us in our family, and it’s not often that we need the space or are waiting on something else to finish and needing to keep things warm. We have moved the top rack into the storage position up against the top of the grill, and it’s out of the way when we’re not using it. It’s a thing that’s easy to forget in the design phase, but it’s a difference maker for us, and we love it.
Burner power - before you do your first cook, take off the grill grates, take out the fire brick panels and take some time to learn how your ignition knob controls the flames. This grill doesn’t just have a high and a low setting. I found it quite helpful to take a direct look at the burner and learn how much flame I’m giving things based on where I have the dial.
Don’t walk away - set a timer, set an alarm, set something so you don’t forget and leave your grill on preheating and forget to return… Once you see how hot this grill can get when you leave it at full power on all three burners for any period of time, you’ll want to be careful with how you leave things when you walk away. Just consider this a friendly reminder that this tool has the ability to get molten lava red hot if you let the heat compound without interruption. A great suggestion is when your grill is operating, turn the lights on and turn them off when through, even in the daytime. If later that evening you notice the lights are on, that’s a reminder to go turn it off
Drip pan - don’t use foil, just let things fall in there and empty it every now and then. It’s made to collect things without any help, and foil will just get in the way. It can even create a blockage and divert heat places that you don’t want, resulting in burned up wires rendering the grill unable to start.
The American made Renaissance Cooking System gas grill does not disappoint. From the ability to create a searing heat to the multiple options to smoke, rotisserie and cook indirect, this grill will become the crown jewel in your outdoor kitchen.
It really comes down to the bottom line for us, which is value. The Renaissance Cooking Systems by-line is “Americas Best Value in Outdoor Kitchen Equipment” and we agree. A comparison of other upper-end stainless grills shows these units to be much more affordable and still full of the features you’d expect on more expensive models.
This isn’t even to mention that the ARS grills are made in the United States of America, which brings a whole new perspective to the value of a grill this good at this price point.