Best Infrared Grills – Buying Guide

infrared grillsIf you’re looking for a better way to grill your food, you might be interested in looking at the new favorite of barbecue enthusiasts – the infrared grill. Infrared grills are making waves in outdoor cooking because of the way it cooks food – through radiation. Charcoal and gas grills primarily use hot air flow (or convection) to cook food. Infrared grills, on the other hand, does not need to rely on hot air to cause the food to cook. Placed just above the burners is a plate (glass, ceramic, or metal) that absorbs the heat and then radiates it directly into the food. What’s so great about that? Let’s discuss it more below along with other benefits as well as drawbacks of using an infrared grill.

Why Infrared? - Things to Consider

Benefits of infrared grill

  • Unlike traditional gas grills, infrared grills heat up faster (around three to five minutes). They also produce a higher cooking temperature than convection (averaging about 900 degrees Fahrenheit) which allows you to cut your cooking time in half. This means that you don’t need to slave away long in front of the grill to get a deliciously cooked meal. Everyday can be a barbecue day, not just a weekend event.
  • Aside from saving you time, infrared grills also use up less energy and gas. So you get your delicious steak and keep some money in your pocket to buy a candy for a kid.
  • Since there is less dry air flowing around, your food retains more moisture which means your steak is definitely going to be juicier compared to one cooked in a traditional gas or charcoal grill.
  • Flavor is also better with an infrared grill. Not only do you get to sear your food quickly and get that caramelization you’re after, any drippings from the meat or marinade fall directly on the plate (which is placed quite near the food) and vaporize quickly, going right back to your meat. As an added bonus, there are no flare-ups to worry about.
  • Because infrared grills send the heat directly into your food, there’s no need to worry about cooking with your lid open despite the cold weather.
  • Since  the heating element of an infrared grill is placed directly above the plate (which radiates the heat), there are no hot and cold spots along the grill; you get more evenly distributed heat that produces more consistent results.
  • Many infrared grills are self-cleaning. Turning up the grill to high heat will burn off any food particles and you can use a grill brush to take out any stubborn ones that refused to get incinerated.

Drawbacks of infrared grill

  • There’s a learning curve to using an infrared grill. Because of the intense heat it produces, it’s quite easy to burn your food because it cooks quicker than you expected. You’ll need to watch your food carefully and take note of their cooking times to prevent overcooking.
  • There’s also a health risk to using infrared grills – that is, if you burn your food and still eat it. Should be easy enough to avoid though, right?
  • While we love how high the heat can go, one major drawback of an infrared grill is its lack of a lower heat mechanism. This means that you can’t use your grill to cook low temperature recipes, namely fish and vegetables. Fortunately, some newer grills have come out with dedicated burners that have more heat control, allowing you to cook these delicate foods.
  • Infrared grills are more expensive than traditional gas grills which makes them more costly to buy than traditional charcoal grills. A well-built one could cost you from several hundred dollars to well over a thousand. Additional features such as smokers and a rotisserie rack could boost that cost to $5000.
  • While infrared grills are easy to clean, some models require higher maintenance and care because they have complicated components.

Infrared Grills Reviewed

Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Commercial 3-Burner

$429.994.3 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews – 59
Review Score – 4.3

If you’re in the market for a decent, basic gas grill that will work reliably for several years, the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Commercial 3-burner just might be what you’re looking for. Like the other TRU-Infrared grills from Char-Broil, this commercial grill employs infrared heat to cook food, and it does so beautifully. The meat is cooked evenly and stays juicy. And because the meat has little exposure to direct flame, there’s no chance for flare-ups to occur. The best thing about this TRU-Infrared grill though is that you can dial down the temperature for some low and slow cooking – a feature that a lot of infrared grills are incapable of achieving. And if you want additional flavor, you can quickly put in some wood chips or pellets between the grates to create smoke. The grill comes with stainless steel plates that are placed right below the grate which holds the heat from the burners and spreads it evenly across the grate. These plates enable the grill to reach high enough heat for searing without using up a lot of fuel. Small holes are located on the plates to enable drippings to fall down to the burners and for combustion gasses to go up – two things that add flavor to the meat on your grill.

Aside from its wide temperature range, this grill has several other nice features such as a 500 square inch primary cooking space, a side burner (with a hinged lid) for sauces and side dishes, locking casters for portability, and a warming rack that moves back whenever you open the lid so you can easily get the food laid out on your cooking grate.

Though the quality of the stainless steel could be better (there have been some complaints), this basic gas grill definitely delivers for its price. You get beautifully cooked food with minimal effort and fuel consumption. While the grill probably won’t last a lifetime, it will last for several years. Well worth the cost.

Char-Broil Grill2Go X200

$101.373.9 out of 5 stars
Total Reviews – 692
Review Score – 3.9

If you love tailgate parties or barbecue picnics, then this is the grill for you. The Char-Broil Grill2Go X200 is a tabletop gas grill that uses Char-Broil’s innovative TRU-Infrared design to provide searing temperatures without the flare-ups while producing evenly cooked, moist food. Despite having only one burner, the 200 square inches stainless steel cooking grate (fits 12 burgers) acts as a radiant plate that ensures you reach target temp with minimal fuel consumption. The lid has two latches in front that holds the grate in place while you carry the grill around. This portable gas grill is very easy to use – quick to light, quick to cook.

There are a few drawbacks to this grill, however. While the grill is perfect for cooking burgers and steaks (especially when you want to do some searing), it doesn’t work well with delicate meats that require low temperatures. Most infrared grills have a hard time staying at a low temperature. Another drawback to this grill is the grate which can be a tad difficult to clean after each cookout.

Overall, this “little” grill is still a great choice for BBQ with the boys or back at home.

Infrared grills give a whole new meaning to outdoor cooking for many of us. They’re great for cooking steaks and the like (steakhouse quality, I might add). They’re also very convenient for the working guy or gal who only has a limited amount of time to cook a nice, grilled meal after a long day in the office (or wherever). The pros truly seem to outweigh the cons for a lot of people. Some, however, may feel intimidated by the technology used in infrared grills. Well, don’t be. After all, you’re probably already very familiar with at least one infrared cooking device that’s right inside your home– your toaster.