Infrared grill is the new favorite among the barbecue enthusiasts, and for a good reason--it’s just the better way to grill meat. It has been making waves among those who want to cook outdoor because of this unique way of cooking food which is through radiation.
Other grills like charcoal gas grill used the convection process, that is the flow of hot air, to cook food. Infrared grill, on the other hand, does not rely on the flow of hot air, rather, on the radiation of heat towards the food. A hot plate is placed above the burner. This can either be glass, ceramic or metal and it absorbs the heat which it then radiates to the food.
Advantages of Infrared Grill
Fast heat up
Infrared grill heats up really fast. This means that preheating is cut off to around 3-5 minutes. It also produces higher cooking temperature compared to convection grills. Just about how high the temperature can go?
Well, the average is around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and this translates to half the cooking time if you’re using the traditional grill. If you want to grill every day, it can be done because you don’t have to slave away during cooking time.
Less energy consumption
Aside from the fast cooking time, infrared grills also use up less energy and gas. Not only do you get really delicious grilled steaks, you also save a lot of dollars on the fuel. This is a deciding factor for a lot of people because grilling not only eats up more time, it also eats up a lot of resources.
Food is more moist
Since infrared does not rely on convection, there is less dry air flowing around. Your food retains a lot of its natural moisture and the steak is definitely juicier compared to the one in traditional grills.
Another thing that contributes to the moist is the fast searing which is not attainable with traditional grill. With traditional grill, searing takes time and by the time it’s done, the meat is partially dried up already.
Superior food flavor
Due to the faster searing time, you get faster caramelization too. The dripping from your meat and marinade goes directly to the plate underneath which is vaporized quickly back to the meat.
Cooks better even in cold weather
Due to the fact that infrared grills send heat directly to the food, there is no need to cover it with its lid even when cooking in winter. This another advantage of high-temperature ranges that are not possible with traditional grills.
Even Heat distribution
Due to the fact that the heating elements are directly below the food, this radiates heat evenly and there are no cold spots on the grill. This results in consistent cooking of meat because heat is properly distributed.
Easy to clean
Infrared grills are virtually self-cleaning. All you need to do is turn up the heat and whatever food particles that stick on the grill are instantly incinerated.
Disadvantages of Infrared Grill
- Difficult to operate
- No lower heat mechanism
- More expensive than regular grills
- Some models are high maintenance
There is a learning curve when using an infrared grill. Since it can reach up to really high-temperature ranges, it’s easy to burn or overcook your food.
You need to watch over your food and know its cooking time. There are also some health concerns with cooking with really high-temperature.
While it’s good to reach high-temperature ranges, one major problem with infrared grill is that it doesn’t have a lower heat mechanism. This means that you can’t cook foods that require lower temperatures.
This, however, is changing fast because a lot of the high-end grills can now be adjusted to attain lower temperature ranges. Some tried to work around this by designing hybrid grills, that is, it’s infrared and convection at the same time.
If you’re willing to spend more dollars, an infrared grill is yours. You will definitely spend more money on this type of grill compared to traditional ones.
A decent infrared grill can range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. If you put in additional features like smokers, this could reach to over $5,000.
While infrared grills are generally easy to clean, some models require higher maintenance than others due to more delicate and complicated components.
Types of Infrared Grill
To achieve infrared cooking, different infrared grills use different technologies. The different grills reviewed here used these different technologies and it helped me discover its strengths and weaknesses. Some of the grills that you will find use a combination of these technologies blurring the distinction. Still, others combine infrared with traditional grill all in one machine. These are hybrid machines which have their own merits as well.
- Ceramic burners
- Glass panels
- Sear plates
Ceramic is the most common material used for grilling system. You can find this in most infrared grills including the top rated ones in the market today. The design of ceramic sear burners is basically just a slab of ceramic materials which transfer extreme heat to the food using fewer open flames.
I have observed that ceramic burners attain the highest temperature among the grills I reviewed. This is a good thing but it also requires some skills to operate because even in low settings, the grill is still extremely hot. On top of that, it’s easy to clean because the extreme heat just incinerates all the meat drippings.
Although I did not review a grill using glass panels here, let me just mention it because this is a unique technology for infrared grills. With a special burner, the glass is heated up which sends blistering heat to the entire grilling surface without any open flame. Since glass easily heats up, you won’t find any cold spot in your grill.
The even heat distribution produces amazing results consistent regardless of what food you cook. Since it doesn’t quickly pre-heats like the rest of the infrared grills, cooking with glass panels is easier to master. It’s also easier to clean compared to other sear plates.
Sear plates are metal plates with holes which operate under the same principle as ceramics. It has the same strength as ceramic namely, even heat distribution although it’s not as hot.
This produces two drawbacks namely: production of heavy smoke and difficult to clean drippings since it’s not able to incinerate it.
Last update on 2017-09-21 PST - Details
My Top 7 Infrared Grills
There are basically three ways to cook: conduction, convection, and radiation. Radiation is the new way of cooking and this review is the result of my own entry to it. Here are my top seven infrared grills.
Char-Broil Professional TRU 4-Burner Cabinet
Inviting the neighbor over for cookout is easy with the Char-Broil Professional TRU 4-Burner Cabinet. With a 525-square inch cooking space, it can easily handle huge feast. After cooking the food, you can allow it to rest at the 200-square inch porcelain-coated warming rack.
The Surefire Electronic ignition system ensures that there is no start-up failure in every burner and the four top-ported 443 stainless steel tube burner delivers lasting performance and reliable temperature control.
- Reliable electric ignition
- Equipped with powerful 13,000 btu side burner
- Equipped with 443 stainless steel tube burner
- A bit difficult to clean
Solaire SOL-IR17MWR Marine Grade Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill
Highly portable and real infrared and stainless steel burner, the Solaire SOL-IR17MWR is just a superlative cooking implement. It sports a 140 square-inch cooking area, suitable enough for 6 4-inch burgers. This grill will now shy away from ribs and other steaks with its ceramic and stainless steel burner. The v-grate form factor of the grill improves flavor and you can observe really minimum flare ups.
To make operation easy, it comes with a variety of accessories including a tripod, tank adapter, portable stand, low-pressure propane kit, mount adapter plate, natural gas conversion and grid scraper. The entire grill is around 20 pounds, portable enough for most outdoor cookouts with the neighbors.
- Really juicy meat cooking result
- Very portable at 20lbs
- Comes with a variety of accessories
- A bit expensive for a portable grill
Char-Broil Electric Bistro 180
Char-Broil Electric Bistro 180 is your best option when gas and charcoal are not good options for outdoor grilling on your patio, deck and balcony. This grill is even portable enough for away-from-home cookout.
TRU-infrared technology truly delivers juicier food and almost absent flare-ups and even heat distribution without any cold spots.
It has removable dial which you can plug to any 120V power outlet which will give you a 1,500 Watts of grilling power. The 245-square inch cooking area is wide enough for medium cookouts and the porcelain grilling grate is just perfect for meat and vegetable alike.
- Small portable form factor
- Electric powered
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor grilling
- Not suitable for thick steak
Char-Broil Big Easy
The most unique among the grills reviewed in terms of form factor, the Char-Broil Big Easy will grill, smoke or broil you food inside a cylindrical structure. A 25-pound turkey of a large cut brisket is no match for this grill with its TRU-infrared technology which proves to deliver evenly cooked and juicy food without flare ups.
It can accommodate a maximum capacity of 25 pounds for roasting and 180-square inches of grilling area. If you want to add flavor, you can use the smoker box.
This is one serious cooking implement. It has a temperature range of 9,000 to 18,000 btu. What I like about this product is that it’s not a single purpose one. It can double as a broiler, smoker and an oven at the same time.
- Affordable as far as infrared grills go
- Consistently juicy result
- The grilling area is a bit limited
Magma Products, A10-918-2GS Newport 2 Infra Red Gourmet Series Gas Grill
This product from Magma allows you to view the food as it cooks with its tempered glass viewing window. Proudly made in the US, its dynamic combustion system ensures even heat distribution even in heavy winds.
The infrared technology called "Anti-Flare" produces intense heat, reduces flare-ups and immediately incinerates meat drippings giving your food a great smokey flavor. This makes this machine ideal for outdoor cooking.
Its electronic ignition system ensures failure-free start-ups. With a grilling area of 162-square inch, it’s perfect for grilling chicken breasts, burgers, steaks or fish.
- Made from mirror polished stainless steel
- Foldable legs allow for greater portability.
- Heat level is controlled by enclosed thermometer
- Temperature is displayed in colors but not in degrees
TEC G-Sport FR Propane Gas Grill On Stainless Steel Pedestal
This review won’t be complete if we don’t include an infrared grill that sports a radiant glass panel burner. This is a unique technology from TEC at the moment, it uses glass panels to radiate the heat instead of ceramic or the standard sear plate.
It sports a whoping 22,000 btu rated infrared burner with radiant glass panel that won’t shy away from anything you want to cook. The cooking area is 309-square inch which is bigger than anything reviewed so far. Despite its huge power, this grill is totally portable. My only gripe against this grill is that it’s too expensive.
- High-temperature range
- Radiant glass panel
- Wide cooking area
- Too expensive
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is a unique product in the sense that it is the only charcoal powered infrared grill in this review. This machine is for those who want to experience infrared cooking but still want to retain the smokey flavor of charcoal. This grill will give you the best of tradition and high tech.
With a 360-square inch of cooking surface, you can cook anything with this grill. The 22.5-inch cooking grate is coated with porcelain prevents flare ups. While charcoal may not provide stable temperatures compared to gas and electric, it’s easy to monitor with its hinged lid with a mounted temperature gauge. For easy cleanup, this grill sports a removable ash bowl.
- Wide cooking area
- Porcelain coated grate prevents flare-ups and distributes heat evenly
- Highly affordable
- Uses less coal than regular charcoal grill
- Needs something to kill the coal after cooking
The clear winner in this review is the Char-Broil Professional TRU 4-Burner Cabinet. The wide cooking area and the table on both sides are the deciding factor for me. The features are great and the price is reasonable. Despite its size, it’s still portable enough for outdoor cookouts.
If money is not an issue, the TEC G-Sport FR Propane Gas Grill On Stainless Steel Pedestal is the best pick. It is the most high-tech of all the grills in this review but the features come with a great price. I’m not sure I’m willing to pay that price for a grill, infrared or not.
If you want infrared cooking but wants to remain true to tradition, the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is the best compromise. Another advantage of this grill is that it’s unbelievably affordable. Although it lacks the features that a more expensive grill would have, this thing works. So if you’re into a more minimalist setup, this is the grill to go.
What is your experience with infrared grilling? Have tried grills other than the ones reviewed? Share a word or two in the comment section below.