With the myriad of grills to choose from in the market today, it can be pretty hard to make up your mind on which one to bring home. Charcoal grills are cheaper and produce the smoky flavor we all look for when eating grilled meat. However, these grills takes a while to heat up and requires some skill to use. Gas grills, on the other hand, are quick to start and easy to clean but lack the “authentic” flavor of a good barbecue. Is it possible to get the best of both worlds without having to buy two different grills? Well, some think so. This is where hybrid grills come in.
So, what is a hybrid grill? Generally, hybrid grills are those that have more than one fuel option like adding a charcoal option in a gas grill. There is one other type of hybrid grill on the market that you might come across – the hybrid infrared gas grill. There’s only one fuel option with this type of grill – gas. In this particular type of grill, the hybrid is because of the burners present. With this hybrid, you get the traditional convection burners on one side and an infrared burner on the other, allowing you to cook foods at lower temperatures when needed as well as sear steaks at high temperature. Now that we got to know what a hybrid grill is, the next question is “can they really do it all?”
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Hybrid Grills of 2017
- 2 Why Hybrid? - Things to Know Before Buying
- 3 Hybrid Grills Reviewed
Why Hybrid? - Things to Know Before Buying
Let’s tackle this question by listing down the pros and cons of owning a hybrid grill. And yes, we’ll be separating these pros and cons according to the type of grill so you don’t get confused when trying to answer the ultimate question.
Pros (Gas/Charcoal Hybrid Grill)
- If you’re in a hurry, you can get your grill going hot within a few minutes with just a push of a button.
- If you’ve got the time to spare and want that smoky flavor, you can opt to use charcoal as your fuel instead.
- Depending on the model and brand, you can use both types of fuel at the same time.
- Also depending on the model and brand, these can be an inexpensive alternative to those who don’t have the space for two grills but can’t make up their mind on which type of grill they’d like.
Cons (Gas/Charcoal Hybrid Grill)
- Aside from the Rolls Royce of hybrid grills (you’ll know it if you Google it), the ones in the market today made compromises in order to provide both fuel options. Some hybrid grills have a special charcoal tray that you place within the firebox, right above the gas burners, so you can only use a single layer of charcoal at a time. You’ll need to keep replenishing your fuel to keep the temperature up. And since there is a lack of vents to control the air flow in your grill (like those found in charcoal-only grills), it’s quite difficult to control the heat. Of course, there are hybrid grills that offer a grill that has one side for charcoal and one side for gas. This design does have vents for the charcoal side so controlling the heat is easier and some models allows you to adjust the height of the tray. However, this design gives you smaller real estate for grilling using only one type of fuel.
- Like in most things in life, you get what you pay for. Since many of these grills are inexpensive, you do compromise on the quality of the material used.
While there are certainly some benefits to owning a hybrid gas/charcoal grill, the pros don’t really outweigh the cons especially when you look at what’s being sold in the market today. In fact, the only one that has consistently gotten rave reviews is as expensive as a car. You might be better off buying two types of grills rather than just going for one.
What about the hybrid infrared gas grill?
Is this a better choice? Let’s see.
Pros (Hybrid Infrared Gas Grill):
- This has all of the benefits of an infrared gas grill: heats up fast, efficient use of energy and time, evenly distributed heat, cooks in any weather, self-cleaning, produces that smoky flavor you get from charcoal, and retains more moisture in the meat.
- More versatile than an infrared grill because it allows you to cook food that requires lower temperatures (fish, vegetables).
- No need to worry about burning your food while cooking because you can opt to use the infrared burner for searing purposes only.
Cons (Hybrid Infrared Gas Grill):
- Really expensive compared to traditional gas grills. This type of grill could cost you well over a thousand.
- Complicated components will require extra care (and also cost a lot to repair or replace) despite being a self-cleaning grill.
This type of hybrid grill definitely has a lot of things going for it. A lot of the drawbacks you get from using an infrared grill is dealt with – mainly burning food and no low temperature cooking. And while it may cost you a pretty penny, it definitely gets the job done in more ways than one.
But back to our question, can hybrid grills really do it all? The answer we would give is “it depends.” If price is no object, you can definitely enjoy the best of both worlds with the Rolls Royce of the hybrid gas/charcoal grills. For those with a limited budget, you might want to steer clear of this type of grill. While a good barbecue grill does require some investment, you don’t always have to break the bank to get it.
Hybrid Grills Reviewed
Char-Griller 5050 Duo Gas/Charcoal Grill
If you can’t decide on whether to go with a charcoal grill or a gas grill, then you might want to check out Char-Griller’s DUO – a combination of a gas grill and a charcoal grill in one.
So, what can this dual fuel grill do? Well, the gas grill works perfectly. The steel body is heavy and solid so the heat is retained well. The burners heat up fast and can reach pretty high temperatures. The grill can also keep the temperature steady as long as you need it (which won’t be long since it also cooks things pretty fast). It’s pretty easy to control temperature because of the independent temp controls for each burner. Each grill has a large cooking capacity so even if you use only the gas grill, you’ll still get a decent amount of food for a small party.
What about the charcoal side? Well, there are good things. The charcoal rack can be raised and lowered to provide better temperature control while cooking. If you buy the optional firebox, you’ll be able to use the charcoal grill as a smoker as well, adding to the grill’s versatility. Unfortunately, the grill is a DIY project for owners. The thick metal and the cast iron cooking grates hold the heat well. However, some customers have found that the lid doesn’t seal the cooking chamber slightly, so heat and smoke escapes. They needed to add some modifications before the charcoal worked perfectly.
Aside from the slightly shoddy construction on the charcoal grill, other complaints have been about the entire grill’s propensity to rust. Some have found that an extra bit of TLC can help prevent rust from happening. Some state that their extra TLC prevented nothing. The statements are contradictory and hard to prove which ones are true. There are a lot of factors that could have helped produce rust in metal – weather, heat, etc. For future buyers, you’ll either risk the chance of rust or not.
Looking at the DUO, you get a real steal with this gas and charcoal combo especially at the price they’re selling it. And a lot of people have been wowed by the results of using the charcoal grill with the optional offset firebox. You have the convenience of a gas grill for cooking meals after a long day at work and the thrill of a charcoal grill for those lazy Saturday afternoons with the family. However, because of the price, you shouldn’t be surprised that the quality of the materials used isn’t like that of a Weber. You might find yourself down one grill in the span of a year. Fortunately, you’ll still have one left to cook with. And for a deal like this, you just may find that the risks are all worth it.
De’Longhi CGH902C 5-in-1 Ceramic Coated Grill, Griddle, and Panini
At this price point, you’d expect a lot more from the De’Longhi 5-in-1. At the very least, the markings on the control shouldn’t fade away just from cleaning it with a wet cloth. Without the markings, you’re left with a very difficult grll to operate as you have no idea what temperature the grill is at. You’ll have to guesstimate how hot the grill is and probably ruin a few meals before getting it right. That’s too much of a hassle for most people.
Faded markings aside, the grease splatter and the lack of attachment for the grease drip containers lessen the impact of having dishwasher-safe grill plates. Also, the grease drips down the back of the grill whenever you use it as a contact grill so there’s that mess to clean up as well. While the plates are easy to clean, having to clean other messes in and around the grill just lessens the “convenience ranking” of this grill.
While the De’Longhi 5-in-1 does remarkably well in cooking various types of foods, there is much to be improved here. There are other grills that cost less but cook the same quality food.