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Top Five Portable Infrared BBQ Grills | Reviews 2015

Updated on June 17, 2015
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Portable Infrared Grills & BBQs Have Arrived!

Not long ago, infrared grilling was a new and expensive technology only found on the higher end grills. Recently, however, the technology has become widely available and portable infrared grills and BBQs have started to arrive. The technology is totally awesome. Often called the 'microwave' of the barbecue world, infrared heating has nothing to do with microwave technology. It utilizes pure, radiant heat to cook faster and sear food to perfection.

There are a ton of portable infrared BBQs out there all of a sudden. Some are pretty decent, and others leave a lot to be desired. It's a technology that's still being perfected, and since it only became widely available in 2000, some have mastered it and others have not. It's pretty important to do your research, because you can get a lot for your money, or very little.

To help you find the right infrared portable grill for your needs, I've written this article. We'll take a close look at a few of my favorite small barbecues utilizing infrared technology, and list their pros and cons. Hopefully this will help you narrow down your options and find the perfect one. I'll also chat a bit about infrared technology, how it cooks, and how that pans out in a portable capacity.

How A Portable Infrared BBQ Grill Works: - And how that affects you and your food.

In case you don't already know about how infrared heat technology works, here's a brief introduction. Basically, infrared burners isolate the heat source away from the food, and tiny holes in a ceramic filter allow the heat through. This results in a radiant heat rather than utilizing hot air currents. What does that mean? Well, a portable infrared grill will cook your food much quicker, heats up much faster, and is capable of 'searing' or 'charring' your food quicker than a conventional burner can.

What does that mean for you? Here are a few tips:

  1. Your portable infrared grill will require an adjustment period. The cooking is so much faster than you're used to, you'll probably need to watch your food closely to ensure it doesn't burn or scorch. You'll also have to watch the temperature carefully, since they can easily exceed 700 degrees fahrenheit in mere minutes. That's awesome because even thick steaks will cook extremely quickly.
  2. Your grill will be wonderful for searing. That happens when the heat is high enough, and it essentially chars and caramelizes the natural sugars on the exterior of meat and veggies. It results in an awesome BBQ taste, but it must be done carefully. Searing in this way means that a portable infrared BBQ grill can cook a steak that's seared on the outside and medium rare on the inside.
  3. You have a choice of fuels. You can find small, portable infrared grills with both gas and electric burners. Most gas grills will use propane as the fuel source, but some can be converted to make use of your home's natural gas. Electric grills have a lot to recommend them too, the heat and searing is almost identical. The only drawback with a portable electric infrared BBQ is they aren't really camp friendly, since they need to be plugged in.

Char-Broil TRU Infrared Portable Infrared Gas Grill

An infrared portable BBQ that reviews well

Char-Broil was one of the first companies to jump on board the infrared technology bandwagon once it came out of patent and was available. This handy little grill has a lot to recommend it, and it's useful on the patio, garden space or balcony.

It may look small, but it's rated at 13,000 BTUs, making it compete with some much larger barbecues. It's a searing machine and produces excellent quality flavor. The 320 square inch grilling surface is good for burgers, steak or even salmon, so don't discount it due to its small size.

This handy little infrared BBQ grill is available in both gas and electric versions.

Napoleon Freestyle Portable Infrared BBQ

A portable tabletop BBQ with infrared technology

Napoleon is a great brand. It's well build and always ahead of the technological curve. They have also gotten into infrared grilling in a major way, and this is a surprisingly great little grilling machine for such a reasonable price point. It's built to work with the portable propane cylinders you can get at hardware stores, but you can retrofit it to work with full sized standard tanks. It's a beautiful grill in stainless steel, must be seen.

Even though it's portable, Napoleon built this one to operate as well as its larger, freestanding barbecues. The heat is totally even, and there's a lot of space for grilling, over 300 square inches. Long lasting, high end, perfect for trips, camping or small apartments.

Solaire Everywhere: A Portable Infrared Grill

A small, portable but powerful infrared grilling machine

The Solaire Everywhere is one of the smallest grills I'm reviewing, but it's powerful and worth every penny. Believe it or not, this little portable infrared grill produces 14,000 BTUs of heat with its powerful burner. The grilling surface itself is around 155 square inches, and it heats up in minutes and cooks even thick steaks and burgers in a flash. It's great for searing food with the high heat output of the grill.

You'll have to be careful when cooking thinner foods, like veggies, chicken and fish, make sure to keep the heat low since it's deceptively hot. The lid locks up with latches for transportation, and the adjustable feet keep it stable on any surface. With a push ignition and simple propane setup, I do recommend this one for campers.

TEC Cherokee Portable Infrared Grill

The original infrared BBQ grill, portable style

If you're not familiar with TEC, you should know that they're the originators of infrared grills. Their patent ran out in 2000, and so it became open to other manufacturers. Before that time, if you wanted an infrared grill, portable or not, you'd be buying a TEC. Anyone who owns one becomes obsessed with it, and they have a huge fan following.

This one is called the Cherokee. It's awesome for fishing, camping or a tailgate party, or just occasional use on your patio. TEC's heat distribution is so powerful and even, this little grill can keep up with free standing units several times its size, and the grilling quality is mouth wateringly good.

The Cherokee works with small propane cylinders like those reviewed above.

Char-Broil TRU Portable Infrared Grill

A versatile, affordable infrared portable barbecue grill

The Char-Broil TRU is a truly affordable offering in this category. Obviously it's ultra portable, easy to travel with integrated legs, but that's only the beginning of the great features. It's one of the smallest BBQ grills reviewed here, and the cooking surface is a mere 200 square inches. That's OK, because it is super capable! It will handle a couple of steaks with no problems, and burgers, chicken and veggies are a snap too.

Because it is an infrared BBQ grill, you don't have to worry about a standard flareup (no open flame to contend with).

The cast aluminum box, sturdy construction and integrated handles make this a perfect choice for grilling on the go. It's great for tailgate parties or camping trips. One of the smallest and best infrared barbecues around, the TRU is worth looking at.

Accessories and Portable Grilling Stuff:

Here are a few other things you might be in the market for if you're looking for a portable bbq grill.

Solaire Tripod for Solaire Anywhere Grills
Solaire Tripod for Solaire Anywhere Grills

This tripod works well with Solaire style grills, and may work with other brands as well. It puts the grill at working height.

 

Questions about any of the grills reviewed here?

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