Unlimited Buying Guide: The Best Infrared Grill Reviews Of 2017
Infrared grills provide faster and higher heats than regular grills, but the benefits go beyond temperature: food cooks more quickly, yet stays juicy and flavorful, thanks to specialized conductive material in between the heat source and grate. There are less smoke and ash than charcoal, and a lower chance of flare-ups than with standard gas. You can even sear steak, chicken, and seafood as effortlessly as a high-class restaurant, right in your backyard.
They’ve become pretty popular in recent years, but are they worth the buzz? Our buyer’s guide will look at infrared grills more in-depth, and showcase a few popular models to begin your search.
Top 4 Best Infrared Grills
What is an infrared grill?
Infrared grills are similar to traditional ones in principle, but instead of cooking food with heat directly from a flame, it uses electricity or gas to heat an infrared component that then cooks the food. Some use ceramic plates as this component, which was the earliest material in radiant grills in the 1980s. Others have glass or metal panels, or some combination of multiple materials.
Infrared models still have grates, just like standard models. You can cook any food on it which you’d cook in any other grill, and even incorporate wood planks or chips for flavor infusions. Additionally, you can purchase combination grills that use only one infrared burner, to produce precise sear marks before the meat or vegetables are cooked on the main surface.
Are infrared grills better than charcoal or flame ones? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
Overall, there’s no real difference in quality between any type of grill; inexpensive and basic ones can cook food just as thoroughly and as well as pricy models with extra features. Here are some pros and cons to each type that buyers should take into consideration:
- Pros: Convenient to light, unlike charcoal; can adjust the temperature to more exact specifications; cleaner than charcoal.
- Cons: Lack of “smoky” flavor, though some prefer this; can usually only reach temperatures of 450 degrees Fahrenheit or so; more expensive to purchase and sometimes to run; more prone to fire accidents than charcoal.
- Pros: Higher temperatures than many gas grills, up to ~600 degrees Fahrenheit (though not as high as infrared); smoky flavor infuses into food; easier to transport; cheaper to buy and sometimes cheaper to run; safer with fewer fires/flare-ups.
- Cons: Takes longer to heat up compared to gas flame and infrared grills; messy clean-up; can’t sear as easily as infrared; difficult for some to light or gauge temperature.
- Pros: Easier clean-up; higher and faster heat (1800 degrees Fahrenheit); shorter grilling times; uses less gas (or none, in the case of electric models).
- Cons: Generally shorter warranties; ceramic and some glass plates can crack with extreme temperature variations; can be more expensive to purchase, and can require propane refills just like gas grills—although many models are electric.
So, which is better? Consumer Reports says there’s no clear difference between any grill type: when used correctly, all will cook your food thoroughly. The “best grill” is very subjective, because some will value the convenience, speed, and searing abilities of infrared enough to invest the extra money, while others would prefer the flavor and cost effectiveness of charcoal. Consumers should ask themselves which elements are more important to them, as well as conducive to their lifestyles and preferences, before making a purchase.
Are infrared grills more expensive?
Yes, but prices are steadily dropping as infrared grills become more in-demand. It’s a bit like any newer technology: at first, prices are extreme, until the idea becomes more popular and well-known, and more manufacturers start producing them for the general public.
Initially, only professional chefs and commercial settings—like restaurants—were purchasing infrared grills, since these models ran for over $2,000. Today, however, even bargain hunters can find infrared options at a price they can afford.
How do I clean an infrared grill?
For the grate and body of the grill, you can clean it exactly the same as any other grill. Heat up the grill as hot as it goes for fifteen minutes; this will burn off any extra food or grease left on the grate. Turn off the grill and wait until the grate is warm, but not too hot to touch. Turn off your gas and disconnect it (or disconnect the electricity source, as applicable) before scraping the grate with a steel grill brush. You can also remove the grates and wash them in the sink or a tub with dish soap and warm water, if it’s been a long time since your grill’s last cleaning.
To clean the exterior of the grill, follow your manufacturer’s specified instructions. Most can withstand some dish soap and water with a sponge or soft rag. If your grill is made of stainless steel, you can also use a specialty cleaner meant for that material. To prevent dirt and pollen build-up on the exterior of your grill, store it in a garage or shed, or use a grill cover when it isn’t in use.
The real differences, of course, come into play when you have to clean the special components of the grill: its infrared plates. Remove the grate and gently brush away any ashes or pieces of food. You can use a gentle cleaner, if needed, although many manufacturers claim their plates simply burn off grease drippings and shouldn’t require chemicals.
Clean your entire grill at least twice a year. Grates are best cleaned after each use.
1. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill, Red
Short on space? Can’t use gas or charcoal in your apartment complex? Enter this little red number, which can cook up a batch of burgers for a summer get-together with nothing more than a standard electrical outlet. It fits perfectly in the corner of even the smallest patio, and features wheels for easy transport.
- The infrared system runs on electricity—no need for propane tanks; convenient and safe.
- 1750-watt electric burner eliminates uneven cooking/hot or cold spots you can encounter with gas and charcoal grills.
- 320 square inches of grilling space; manufacturer claims you can fit 8 to 12 burgers on surface at once. 240 square inches on main surface, 80 square inches on raised grate.
- Very affordable for an infrared grill.
- Compact size and fairly lightweight; perfect for small patios/backyards.
- Stylish red and matte silver exterior; also available in black.
- Temperature is difficult to maintain; food must be flipped quickly and lid shut completely to keep temp constant due to smaller surface area. Common problem with smaller grills; infrared, luckily, reheats quickly.
While most grill enthusiasts lean towards “bigger is better,” you can get just as impressive heat and searing from a small grill like this one. The Char-Broil Bistro is stylish, compact, and boasts all the features you’d expect from a grill twice its size. The only downside, in fact—which is true with most small grills of any type—is that it loses heat pretty quickly when the lid is open. Perfect your burger flip times, though, and keep the lid shut as much as possible, and you shouldn’t have problems.
2. Solaire Anywhere Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill, Stainless Steel
Another small grill with big heat, the Solaire Anywhere grill lives up to its name: this 20-lb. grill runs on propane (which makes it ideal for camping and tailgating), comes with a carrying bag, and can grill up to eight burgers at once. It also features a stainless steel grid that reduces the chance of flares, and features two latches to help it stay shut during transport.
- 14,000 BTU per hour; 61.1 infrared intensity.
- 155 square inches of grilling surface; can fit 8 hamburgers. Push-button ignition.
- Can be used with larger propane tanks, as well as natural gas (requires conversion kits).
- Lightweight at only 20 lbs.; portable; comes with carrying case that can also fit 3 propane tanks (1 lb. each).
- Can be set up on a table or countertop, as well as specific mounting systems. Note: Exercise caution when choosing a surface to set up your grill.
- Stainless steel is easy to clean and fits with any patio décor.
- 1-year limited warranty.
While it runs on the pricy side, the Solaire is still affordable—and its conveniently compact size might be its biggest selling point, justifying that price to travelers, football fans, and anyone in need of a small grill you can set up in a flash. The short warranty is a bit of a disappointment, however, especially at the price Solaire is asking.
3. Char-Broil Performance TRU-Infrared 450 3-Burner Cart Gas Grill
Another option from Char-Broil, this grill is bigger, features fold-out prep space on the sides, and operates on gas instead of electricity. With two more burners than the Bistro option, it has faster heating overall, and will hold heat better when the lid is opened. It also includes a temperature gauge in the lid to eliminate guesswork.
- 450 square inches grilling surface with porcelain-coated warming rack (150 square inches).
- Three burners for more even heating and better temperature regulation/less heat loss when lid is open.
- Electronic ignition system.
- 10,000 BTU side burner for additional grilling space, heating sauces, or cooking sides like vegetables.
- Available in 2- and 3-burner options, as well as cart and cabinet styles.
- Warranty is short (5 years for burners, but only 1 year for components other than lid, which is 2 years).
- Weight is closer to standard grill/heavier than bistro option from this brand; 89 to 132 lbs., depending on variation you choose.
If you’d rather skip the space-saving models in favor of a standard grill, this grill cart from Char-Broil might be the best option. Its price is very fair for an infrared, and only a little bit higher than the compact bistro model. Its infrared grate is stainless steal for easy care; ceramic and glass are effective, but can break easily with improper care or quick temperature changes.
4. Cook@Home 3D Electric Smokeless Bio Infrared BBQ Grill
Sure, the fun of grilling is partially owed to mild nights on the patio or deck, setting up a quick outdoor kitchen to make the magic happen—but let’s face it: sometimes you want to grill when it’s not exactly grilling weather. Or perhaps you want to cook for two, and the effort required by your twenty-person grill outside just isn’t worth it. This option from Cook@Home solves both problems, allowing you to grill right on your kitchen counter. No gas, no charcoal, no smoke—it doesn’t even need a lid, so you can watch your food cook.
- Cyclic “3D” infrared heating design puts the heat source on top; heat radiates downwards to cooking surface, which rotates for even distribution.
- Runs on electricity; can be plugged into ordinary kitchen outlet.
- Can be used indoors or outdoors.
- Oil drains off food into tank at base, which is easily removed for disposal and cleaning after cooking.
- Portable; only 12 lbs..
- Very affordable.
- Fairly small grilling surface; can cook 4 to 6 standard burgers on included griddle platform.
Die-hard grillers won’t consider this model a true grill, but it utilizes the same infrared heat as any other grill in this category—it’s just inverted, for a unique, open design that provides more versatility than a standard option, albeit less surface area. We recommend this to anyone who’s short on (or completely lacking) patio or backyard space, as well as those who love to grill year-round…but would rather not brave the cold to do it.
Infrared grills might seem like a trendy sub-category, but they’ve earned a sizeable following among amateur chefs and professionals alike. Their ability to conduct heat and reach temperatures four times greater than most grills translate to faster cooking, juicier meats, easier clean-up, and masterful sear lines you can’t get from just any grill.