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Top Five Infrared BBQ Grills | My Reviews & Picks for 2015
The Best Infrared BBQ Grills: My Picks and Personal Favorites
The barbecue is a classic way to prepare a meal. There's nothing quite like meat, fish or veggies grilled on a high quality grill to bring out the flavor and bring people together. Infrared cooking is a newer and exciting way to cook that has big advantages over conventional methods. Infrared BBQ grills can often cook meat and fish a lot faster and gives you options for new cooking styles, such as searing and caramelization.
You'll see infrared BBQ grills showing up all over the place. There's a lot of misinformation about what they are and how they work, and a lot of manufacturers don't exactly make it easy for you to understand. Beyond that, not all BBQ grills labeled infrared will work that well, and you need to buy carefully to make sure it stands up to the test of time and gives you plenty of grilling for years to come.
This article takes a close look at five of my favorite infrared barbecue grills on the market today. We'll take a peek at each of the models I recommend, with a short review of the features and why you might choose them. We'll also talk briefly about the fundamentals of infrared gas grilling, how it works, and what you can expect a good quality infrared BBQ grill can do for you and your cooking.
How an Infrared Barbecue Grill Works:
...And what it can do for your cooking
Infrared BBQ grills work differently than you might expect. They've been referred to as the microwave of the barbecue world, but they operate quite differently. Rather than bathing the food in microwaves, the infrared grill burns much hotter and heats up much quicker than a conventional grill.
The idea is that rather than using hot air to cook the food with convection, the infrared BBQ grill uses purely radiant heat. The heat source is fully separated from the food except for microscopic holes, generally by isolating it within layers of steel or ceramic. The result is that the food cooks with infrared heat much more quickly and sears it for a unique flavor.
Here are a few things you should know about how a BBQ grill using infrared works and what it can do.
- They Cook Extremely Fast:
These infrared barbecue grills will heat up and cook whatever you have on the grill much faster than you're probably used to. Be prepared for there to be a bit of adjustment to get used to the accelerated speed and cooking qualities. This can be easier to manage with thicker cuts of meat, but with vegetables, fish, chicken and thinner cuts you'll have to be quite vigilant in order to cook it right. Seared vegetables can be awesome, but make sure they don't burn.
- Searing / Charring Qualities:
Because the surface temperatures of infrared BBQ grills is so high, it cooks the food differently than conventional BBQs. They tend to sear or char the exterior. Searing is a type of external caramelization, and it has a unique and enticing flavor. They are really good for producing a steak or fillet that is charred on the outside, and rare or medium rare on the inside. Obviously you can vary the temperature, but they're intended for this purpose.
- Side or Main Burner:
Due to the fact that people like having flexibility, many modern infrared gas grills combine a traditional grill in the main burner with an infrared BBQ side grill for when you want to utilize its searing and quick cooking qualities. There definitely are dedicated infrared barbecues out there, but it can be nice to have both options available to you.
Char-Broil TRU: The Best Cheap Infrared Patio Gas Grill?
A patio sized grill for portable infrared barbecue cooking
This grill was designed as the next generation of the 'Patio Caddy' style of grills made by Char-Broil. Don't be fooled by the small size and low profile, this is a powerful and efficient grill due to the infrared technology it uses. This one includes an integrated barbecue lighter that makes ignition easy and painless.
The grill itself is actually pretty large and spacious, and can easily accommodate a couple of decent steaks, a salmon, or some burgers with no difficulty. It's an inexpensive and space efficient infrared BBQ grill that's perfect for smaller spaces or apartment balconies.
It also comes in an electric version, if you prefer that over gas or propane.
Napoleon Freestyle Portable Infrared BBQ Grill (Gas)
A portable, tabletop infrared grill with positive reviews
The Napoleon Freestyle is a wonderful grill that's portable, affordable and durable. It can heat up to an incredibly high temperature in minutes, allowing you to sear or char to perfection without overcooking, and cook even a thick steak in mere minutes. It's made from full stainless steel which is easy to clean and long lasting.
Even though it's a portable grill, it has 320 square inches of grilling space, so you can actually cook food for a lot of people with this one. You can purchase separate mounts for your car, your patio, your boat and more, all compatible with this grill.
If you've ever used a Napoleon before, you'll know why this is one of the best infrared BBQ grills you can buy: they are top notch.
Char-Broil TRU Infrared 3-Burner BBQ Grill with Side burner
A top quality, mid-sized barbecue grill with infrared burners
The Char-Broil 3-Burner Grill is a nice choice for anyone seeking a mid-sized 'cue that can fit easily on a patio, porch or anywhere in the back yard. Like the others here, this BBQ grill utilizes 3 infrared burners that in combination produce upwards of 30,000 BTUs of heat.
The really nice thing about this grill is that despite its low price, it avoids the 'cold spots' that some other grills can have. The temperature is consistent across the grill, and it cooks a lot quicker than older style BBQs. The main grilling area has 500 square inches of space, and there's an upper cooling rack.
In addition, there's a conventional side burner for anything else you need to have going. In stainless steel with dual fuel capability (propane but convertible to natural gas), it's attractive and practical.
Weber Genesis E-330 BBQ Grill with Infrared Sear Station
A well-rounded, high end barbecue by Weber
Weber is a well respected name in this realm. Their products are well thought out, efficient and attractive. This is a barbecue grill with infrared qualities and a lot of options. It comes with 3 standard gas burners that heat the over 600 square inches of grill nicely.
When you want to sear or up the cooking temperature, just switch on the 'Sear Station' infrared burner, which amplifies the heat and adds that char or searing you'll love. There's also a useful flush side burner located on one of the two spacious side tables.
Convenient and well thought out features like the built in hood thermostat are helpful. I should mention that it comes with a 5-year warranty from Weber, so you're covered. It's among the best infrared gas grills for the home.
Prestige I Gas Grill with Rear and Side Infrared Burners
A good top end infrared combo BBQ grill by Napoleon
This is one impressive infrared grill! BBQ with confidence with the Prestige I by Napoleon. It's got a lot of awesome features, including a really intelligently designed combination burner set that combines traditional burners with a rear infrared burner in the back.
You can run the infrared burner and the four conventional ones independently of one another, or both at once for searing and overall cooking. Constructed out of beautiful and durable stainless steel, this is a grill you'll want to show off! It's super easy to lite and requires only a single press to ignite all the burners.
The ceramic infrared side burner is perfect for isolated searing of meat or vegetables while you're cooking something else. With convenient side tables and tons of grilling space, this is a jewel of an infrared barbecue grill and one of my favorites.
Some other great infrared barbecue grills you might like.
If none of the grills listed above are exactly what you're after, I can recommend a few others. I do suggest that you stick with brand name manufacturers and read owner reviews carefully. There are a lot of unbranded products available online today, but the problem with those grills is the lack of customer support. Most major brands worth their salt will offer at least a multi year warranty in case anything happens, and they're great about replacing parts.