Cooking With An Infrared Gas Grill: Hamburgers.

Grilling with Infrared is Hot Cooking.

Cooking with infrared gas grills can be tricky the first time Although the technology was invented at TEC decades ago, many of my clients are buying their first infrared gas grill. Often we will build an outdoor kitchen as part of the backyard design renovation and a homeowner will ask me what type of book to buy to learn how to cook with their new infrared gas grill. Unfortunately there is not a book that I know of that provided step by step cooking instructions for using a gas grill with infrared technology.

Infrared gas grills cook very fast and very hot but the heat is directional.  Heat does not surround the food but directly cooks at the grilling surface.
Infrared gas grills cook very fast and very hot but the heat is directional. Heat does not surround the food but directly cooks at the grilling surface.
The burner through the grates shows the size of the infrared burner and spaces in the grates.
The burner through the grates shows the size of the infrared burner and spaces in the grates.

The important thing to remember with infrared grilling is the heat. Yes, of course you know it is hot but a well-built stone oven can also be hot. If you could get your kitchen oven up to 1500 degrees, would your steaks cook faster and taste better? Of course they would. Infrared is different though. One of the important features with infrared grills is keeping the hood open when you cook. This is because the gas creates pressure in the burner so the fire is much hotter than simply running through a pipe burner. The infrared burner gives off tremendous heat without closing the hood to allow heat to conduct through the air trapped inside the hood.

The result of this burner is an enormous amount of heat rises directly off the infrared burner.  The heat is radiant heat and is directional.  This means the heat moves mostly straight up.  The cooking grates actually create a serious impediment to the heat because the heat is moving straight up, not conducting in the air.  Some of the heat will conduct through air and you can feel it while you are cooking but the infrared direct heat that instantly sears the outside of your food is too hot for that.

In Florida, we use infrared grills on boats because they cook great even in severe winds.  This publicity shot from Solaire is from a demonstration of infrared cooking in snow.
In Florida, we use infrared grills on boats because they cook great even in severe winds. This publicity shot from Solaire is from a demonstration of infrared cooking in snow.
After only :15 seconds you can clearly see the different effect of high radiant heat where the cooking grates are and are not.
After only :15 seconds you can clearly see the different effect of high radiant heat where the cooking grates are and are not.
This image shows the infrared burner design.  The stainless venturi continues as a pipe burner into the casing.  Ceramic tiles filled with thousands of tiny flames heat all together.
This image shows the infrared burner design. The stainless venturi continues as a pipe burner into the casing. Ceramic tiles filled with thousands of tiny flames heat all together.

Notice the image above of the hamburger.  This burger was frozen solid when it was placed on the gas grill cooking surface.  The space between the cooking grates shows a different reaction to the heat than the part of the burger protected by the cooking surface. This is after :30 seconds The same thing will happen regardless of what is on the infrared grill.  What I do is give the food 30 - 45 seconds and then turn it.  I do not turn it over but shift the position by turning it a quarter of a circle, or ninety degrees.  This allows the section of the burger (steak, swordfish, etc) that is not getting the direct heat to get the direct radiant heat from the infrared burner.

The timing changes because of heat conducted in the air.  For instance, while the strips in between the cooking grates are getting blasted with the direct heat from the infrared grill, the section of the food covered by the grates is still getting residual heat transferred by atmosphere and through the food itself.  At fifteen seconds, the burger will look striped with strips of cooked and uncooked areas affected by the cooking grates.  At :30 seconds the phenomena is less evident because heat is conducted through the air, through the food and conducted through the stainless grates.  The areas covered by the cooking grate become somewhat cooked.  With 1400 degrees blasting the area right next to it, the covered areas of food should still be getting 500 degrees of indirect residual heat.


The quarter turn technique ensures a perfectly sealed sear -- and makes a criss cross pattern if you cook your food as long as i do.
The quarter turn technique ensures a perfectly sealed sear -- and makes a criss cross pattern if you cook your food as long as i do.
Outdoor Kitchen with built in infrared gas grill hybrid.  Commonly called infra-vection this BBQ is a convection cooker, smoker, rotisserie and infrared grill all in one.
Outdoor Kitchen with built in infrared gas grill hybrid. Commonly called infra-vection this BBQ is a convection cooker, smoker, rotisserie and infrared grill all in one.

Depending on how long you will cook the food to get the desired consistency and flavor, do the same thing on the other side of the food.  I generally give one minute and thirty seconds per side to make sure the food is completely seared.  This is difficult in the pictured example because hamburgers are made of compressed ground beef.  The surface is not really flat and it is difficult to completely sear.  Other foods like steaks and fish filets are easier to cook and obtain a perfect sear.  I eat everything medium well so once the three minutes of searing is complete I lower the temperature and close the hood.  This allows indirect heat to surround the food conducted in the trapped air under the hood and cooks the inside of the food.

Cooking with infrared is more similar to using a frying pan than it is to using a barbeque because true grilling is done at the cooking surface.  Many grills use porcelain briquettes, lava rocks and rods to conduct and radiate heat just below the grids.  The invention of infrared technology and its use in gas grills allows a shorter warm-up period and more consistency while cooking.  I just tell clients to do what you normally do but do it faster.  The rest comes with practice.

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Comments 8 comments

sbyholm profile image

sbyholm 6 years ago from Finland

Another great review, I get so hungry reading about your grills that I almost start planning for an outdoor kitchen. Luckily the snow will keep me inside for a couple more months.


grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 6 years ago from florida Author

Thank you. I forget how fortunate we are in the tropics. I cannot even imagine being stuck indoors for months.


debbie mcmahon 6 years ago

lots of great information..thanks!


Rjstuff 6 years ago

My grill doesn't cook at all like this - what am I doing wrong? I bought a char broil quantum grill (1 week ago) but it takes about 4 times more time to cook anything and the food doesn't taste very good. My old gas grill (with heated briquets) used to cook in about a fourth as much time as this infra red grill! Too bad I gave it away. Do I have to throw this grill away as useless (even at $400) and buy a regular gas grill? Help anyone!


grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 6 years ago from florida Author

RJstuff: Thanks for commenting. The "new" version of infrared is not like "infrared grills. Charbroil through the importer Nexgrill has been using a version of a new design by TEC with a single blue-flame burner that is supposed to magnify heat production with a parabola-shaped heat shield. I do not use one of these but customers have given good feedback. If your grill is not getting hot, I suggest you read this article, the problem is probably your tank. I get 5 - 6 calls a week about this safety feature because clients think their grill is malfunctioning. Read the article at:

http://www.grill-repair.com/blog/2009/propane-safe...

We repair grills all day every day so if you have any questions, let me know.


Rjstuff 6 years ago

Thanks; but the grill does get hot (to almost 700 - the highest setting); it's the food that doesn't cook fast enough (it takes at least 3 or 4 times what my old gas grill took). Is there a basic guide to cooking with this sudo-infra-red grill? A Colombian chef had shown me how to cook on the old gas grill but this one I haven't figured out how - any help? I just need the basics from which I can then extrapolate any special grilling that I do.


grillrepair profile image

grillrepair 6 years ago from florida Author

I use a Solaire and I really love it! Solaire was started by some of the original member of the TEC team that invented infrared burners twenty years ago. On my site there are some instructions that come with the Solaire grills. You can find it at:

http://www.grill-repair.com/grill-infrared.html

That should help. It contains exact cooking times and specific foods grilled with a Solaire Infrared gas grill.


Ruth 4 years ago

My son and I did not know what we were in for when we bought an Infrared grill. He does most of the grilling and he loves it, I love the food that comes off it.

It cooks the meat, vegies, faster and they taste better also.

We have bought a smaller one than our old regular one was and it is GREAT. Plenty of room for 3 people, and also room when there are more.

I can't say it enough ~~ WE LOVE IT ~~ we would NOT exchange it.

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