4 Amazing Infrared Gas Barbecue Grills: Char to Perfection
Finding a Great Infrared Gas Grill: Reviews and Best Options
Barbecue season is almost upon us! If you're as impatient as me, you might have already started grilling. There's nothing quite like a good BBQ meal in the heat of the summer. I'm a bit of a grilling nerd, and as such I like to keep up with the latest technology. One interesting new advancement in the last 15 years has been infrared gas grill technology.
Infrared BBQ grills are pretty similar to traditional barbecues, but they have a distinct advantage: you can cook things much faster, under a much higher heat. This allows you to prepare a meal much more quickly. Not only that, it's a great way to get that charred, caramelized exterior that everyone seems to love.
If you're trying to track down the best infrared gas grill review, you're not alone. Since its inception in the early 2000s, infrared grilling has seen a surge of popularity, and there are a ton of brands vying for your precious dollar.
I'm hoping to help make that selection process a little bit easier. I've built hundreds of grills of all types over the years as part of my work. I know them pretty well, and I know which ones tend to come back to the store! This article will serve as a review of some great infrared gas barbecue grills. I'll go over the pros and cons of each product.
I'm going to be reviewing them by size, starting at the smallest and working up to the largest, so scroll down if you're hunting for something bigger.
What the Heck is an Infrared Gas BBQ Grill, and What's the Big Deal?
This is a common question I get. The technology is pretty unfamiliar to most folks, and there's a lot of confusion as to what constitutes an infrared grill as opposed to a conventional setup. Here's the scoop.
Infrared is a type of electromagnetic wave, just the same as light and microwaves. Infrared waves move at a lower frequency than light, just slow enough that we aren't able to see them. Infrared is a useful technology that you probably use on a daily basis: your television remote control uses it.
The type of infrared wave that we feel as heat is called a far infrared wave, on the slower end of the spectrum. As a matter of fact, all grills produce some amount of infrared heat: it's emitted by the hot metal of your grill. However, the majority of the heat is still produced by air convection.
An infrared grill bbq element is designed to eliminate convection. The solid element is heated up, and it produces 100% infrared as a by-product. These elements are usually made out of stainless steel or ceramic.
Char-Broil Grill2Go: A portable, camping style infrared BBQ grill
Char-Broil is one of many companies that has jumped in on the infrared craze, and they have many product lines that are pretty good. I'm starting with the smallest first, but don't let the small size delude you: this is a capable little BBQ.
It's obviously a portable model. My main issue with most portable 'cues is that they don't produce enough heat to cook a proper meal. You're either waiting forever for the meal to be done, or you're eating a half raw burger. With the Grill2Go, that is not the case!
Because the heating element is separated by a metal plate from the grilling area, it produces copious amounts of infrared heat. You'll be impressed by how quickly this portable BBQ grill gets hot. The burner produces 9,500 BTUs of heat, and that heat is nicely distributed across the surface, so you don't get the hot and cold spots that other portable barbecues seem to suffer from.
The grill surface is stainless steel, and most of the rest of it is cast aluminum. It's pretty light and stable on a picnic table or tailgate. It runs on those portable propane cylinders. Overall it's a capable little infrared BBQ grill with great reviews from customers.
An inexpensive patio infrared BBQ grill by Char-Broil
You've probably seen these grills before, or something like them. They're extremely popular due to their efficiency, their low space requirements, and their attractive good looks. On the whole (as long as you manage your expectations) this is an infrared BBQ that reviews well and should make you apartment dwellers very happy.
The first thing you'll notice is that this is not a multi-burner BBQ. That might not suit your tastes, but remember that infrared heat cooks and operates differently than a conventional barbecue does, so the single temperature control isn't a bad thing. Besides, it's cleaner and easier this way.
The product claims to have 320 square inches of cook space, but in reality it's around 240 because they use a raised second tier. As you probably guessed, it folds up to a relatively small size, so you can store it away in the colder months.
The fit and finish is pretty good considering the price. All the metal pieces are nicely powder coated and the thing looks pretty snappy on a modern apartment balcony.
The utility is fantastic: just hook up your propane cylinder and you're grilling in minutes. The infrared burner heats up in minutes, and it's great for burgers and steak. Be careful with faster cooking meals like fish: this grill is hot! It's very easy to overcook things.
The cook surface produces a very even heat, and you'll be able to utilize the vast majority of the grill area with pretty even cooking all around.
It's a portable BBQ, so don't expect it to match up to a full-sized. That being said, it's a strong choice for anyone with limited outdoor space. Perfect for the patio or balcony. This is one of the best small infrared gas barbecue grills around, and it's worth your time to check out.
There is an electric version of this grill.
Bradley Grills: An affordable gas BBQ grill with infrared augmentation
Remember how I was mentioning earlier that many grills use a hybrid system? This is a good example of that. This attractively blue barbecue is one of the best infrared grills for the price tag, and it's got all the capability and charm of a conventional BBQ to boot.
It's well-sized too: a respectably sized backyard barbecue that can feed your family with room to spare (it has just over 900 square inches of cooking space). The total heat output of this propane BBQ is around 84,000 BTUs, including the heat provided by the searing element.
It has a total of 5 conventional convection style burners that you can control independently. In addition, it has a separately controlled infrared burner (ceramic) that's embedded underneath the cooking surface. Anything cooked in that zone will sear beautifully and cook much faster.
There is also a handy small side burner that you can use for veggies or what have you.
On the whole, and for the price, this grill is quite well made. The hood is protected with an enamel type coating (the blue sheen that you see). The rest of the grill is either powder coated steel or stainless steel. The overall effect is that the grill seems much more expensive than it really is.
As with all full-sized gas BBQ grills (infrared or otherwise), I'd keep this one in a covered spot so that it's out of the rain and the elements.
Napoleon Prestige: Among the best infrared grills with multiple elements
Napoleon is a barbecue brand that I really like. They put a lot of care and attention into the finish and fit of each of their products, and it shows. I've built a lot of them over the years, and one of the best sellers is the Prestige series.
I'm listing one of the higher end Prestige grills (the P500RSIB) because I wanted to show what a big bbq grill with infrared burners looks like. This product is definitely one that your neighbours will be envious of!
The first thing you'll notice when you open up the lid of your finished grill is the wavy grid pattern of the cooking surface. The whole grill feels very solid and the lid slides up smoothly and without tons of effort.
This grill comes equipped with 4 standard gas burners, one in each section of the main heating area. But wait, there are 6 knobs, right?
The two other knobs control the infrared capabilities of this bbq grill. One controls the rear 'sear zone', which is an area towards the back of the grill. It uses infrared heat from above to help you sear your meal: keeping in the moisture and flavour while getting it nice and caramelized. You'll wonder how you lived without it.
The other smaller knob controls the side 'sizzle zone', which is a side infrared burner. The side surface is actually quite expansive, and you can fit up to 8 burgers on it. It heats up really quickly and it's a nice feature to have. You can even lower the surface and use it as a cook top for pots and pans!
This is a gorgeous barbecue, definitely one of the best infrared gas grills around. You and your family will fall in love with it.
There are some less expensive infrared versions of the Prestige line. The P308RB has a rear infrared burner and rotisserie, and it's a great choice as well at around $800.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Infrared Gas Barbecue Grilling
Infrared technology has a few key advantages that make it a popular choice these days. You'll find them in a lot of high end grills. But what are the main reasons for this renown?
Quicker Cooking Time: An infrared gas grill reviews as one of the fastest ways to cook. They're able to heat up very quickly (often in 3 to 5 minutes) and they heat up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, much hotter than a conventional BBQ. They also cook a lot more quickly, and you can cook a steak to medium rare in around 5 minutes!
Searing Capability: A main advantage of an infrared style BBQ grill is the way you can sear meat and veggies. The temperature is high enough that it cooks the exterior to crispiness, but it doesn't overcook the centre. For meals like a medium rare steak, it's a no-brainer.
That searing ability also means that you can caramelize anything with a sugar based sauce. So good!
There are a few things to consider here. The high heat means you need to watch your meal like a hawk. No really! It will cook so quickly you might end up burning your first attempt. On average, it takes about half the time to cook, though I'd still caution you to use a thermometer and check the internal temperature of any meat you cook.
Infrared barbecue grills will review very well for things like steak and burgers, but they aren't so great for anything that needs to be slow cooked. You'll have to mind your temperature and keep things quite low, or risk overcooking it.
Fortunately, many of the larger infrared gas grills on the market come with multiple burner options, and you can use both conventional and infrared heat at your disclosure.