There’s a relatively new technology in grills that can provide all of the advantages of traditional grilling while eliminating many of its flaws. It’s called infrared grilling, and it allows for more even heat distribution, cuts down on flare-ups, and even helps you save energy. In this article we’ll cover the technology behind infrared grills, the advantages over traditional grilling, and which models you should consider before choosing the best infrared grill for your needs.
Quick Summary - Top 5 Infrared Grills
- Our pick for the overall best infrared grill on the market is the Char-Broil Signature TRU-Infrared 420. It provides a huge amount of cooking space, durable cast iron grates, and a 13,000 BTU side burner, all wrapped up in a sleek, stainless steel exterior.
- If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor cooking space at your home, check out the LEX 605 by Napoleon, which is specifically made for building into a kitchen area.
- If charcoal is your fuel source of choice, the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill is the one for you.
- The most convenient grill on our list is definitely the Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 240, which simply plugs into a standard outlet.
- If you want a small, light, and portable infrared grill, go for the Solaire SOL-EV17A, which weighs in at a mere 15 pounds.
What Is an Infrared Grill?
With a traditional grill, flames heat the grates through direct contact. An infrared grill makes use of an infrared element, which is found between the grates and heat source. This element is in direct contact with the fuel source, and it then radiates that heat evenly to your food. If you’re interested in the technical side of things, this video by a Char-Broil engineer does a great job of explaining how infrared grills work:
Advantages of Infrared Grills
Infrared grills are becoming more popular each year – and for good reason! They have several advantages over traditional grills:
Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Infrared Grill
Infrared technology is more accessible than ever, but not all infrared grills are created equal. Play it safe and stick to reputable brands: here we’ve gone mostly with the manufacturer of the greatest number of infrared grills on the market, Char-Broil. However, don’t count out Solaire, which is an older, family-operated manufacturer. All of the grills in our list are excellent and worth purchasing, but depending on your own specific needs, some may fit your life better than others.
Foremost for many prospective purchasers is size – no matter how perfect a grill, there’s no point of purchasing it if it won’t fit in the space you have. And even if a grill does fit, you shouldn’t purchase a behemoth of a grill if you typically cook for yourself or one or two other people. Not only do larger grills take up more space, but they also take longer to preheat. And if you need to store away your grill in the wintertime or move it for whatever reason, that’s going to be much more difficult with a large, heavy grill.
Another hugely important consideration is what fuel the grill uses. There are three types to choose from in this list: gas, electric, and charcoal. If you live in an apartment or community with rules regarding grills, be sure to choose a grill that won’t get you in trouble.
Ease of Use
While none of the grills on this list are especially complicated, some are more simple than others. If you really value ease of use, know that the electric Patio Bistro 240 just needs to be plugged in before you’re ready to get cooking. The TRU-Infrared 420, LEX 605, and the Solaire SOL-EV17A are hardly more complicated, utlizing propane gas. The Kettleman takes the most time and effort to get cooking, since you’ll have to light up charcoal. However, we know a lot of folks prefer the taste of charcoal, and that’s why we included this grill in our list.
If you’re craving more in-depth information about each of the grills in our top 5 list, check out our detailed reviews:
1. Char-Broil Signature TRU-Infrared 420 Review
Char-Broil’s Signature TRU-Infrared 420 is our #1 overall choice for best infrared grill. If you’re looking for a large, beautiful grill with all the bells and whistles for your deck or patio, this is the one for you.
This grill features a 420 square inch cooking surface, which is the largest area on this list, as well as three individually adjustable burners, giving you even greater control. It also has a 155 inch warming rack. For perspective, the area of the warming rack is larger than total grilling area of the portable Solaire model at the end of our list. As a bonus, it also has a smaller side burner hidden underneath a cover on one of the side shelves, ideal for preparing sides and sauces.
This grill operates on of a full-sized propane tank and has the ability to be converted to natural gas. Its cast iron grates are incredibly durable. It also has a spacious cabinet area for storage underneath the grill.
The main drawback of this grill is that it’s just not the right fit for everyone. At just over 130 pounds, it’s easily the largest on our list – and some folks just don’t need that. However, if you often grill for friends and are looking for a large, visually impressive, feature-rich grill, this is an ideal model.
2. Napoleon LEX 605 Built-In Grill with Infrared Rotisserie
Need an infrared grill for your outdoor kitchen? Napoleon’s LEX 605 is the grill for you. It’s a “built-in” model, meaning that you literally build it into a counter area. These kinds of grills typically use natural gas or propane tanks, and this one conveniently works with propane tanks.
The LEX 605 has a huge 850 square inches of grilling space. To heat up that space, there are five different burners, including a 16,000 BTU infrared burner, in addition to another rear infrared burner and tube burners.
It comes with handy sear plates, which are made of stainless steel and serve a couple purposes: first, they stop grease from falling on the burners. Second, they prevent flare-ups, which can be dangerous and ruin your food. While you can use a rotisserie kit with this grill, it is not included as an accessory.
For more information on built-in grills and some other top picks, check out our guide on the best built-in grills on the market.
3. Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Review (Best Charcoal Infrared Grill)
The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Kettleman Charcoal Grill, which also makes an appearance on our ‘Best Charcoal Grills’ list, is the only grill on this list that is fueled by charcoal. This makes the Kettleman a must-have for charcoal fans, but don’t immediately discount it if you’ve tried charcoal in the past and not been the biggest fan. The infrared technology helps to soften some of the negative aspects of using charcoal grills. For example, it uses far less charcoal than the traditional alternatives, and it will radiate a much more even and controllable heat.
Even with infrared technology and adjustable vents, the Kettleman will still be a bit more finicky when finding and maintaining the correct temperature compared to its gas-powered alternatives, but it can also provide higher heat and a smokier taste than any of the other grills on this list. And note that the hinged lid does have a temperature gauge to help you monitor the heat level.
It has a removable ash pan, but the grates may be harder to clean than the easily adjustable gas and propane grills. This grill ranks high on performance, but even for an expert, it won’t be as straightforward as the alternatives. It really comes down to whether or not you’re a fan of charcoal. If you believe grilling means taking the time to light up charcoal rather than simply burning propane, then this is the infrared grill for you.
4. Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 240 Review (Best Electric Infrared Grill)
With a retro clam-shell design, the Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 240 is one of the most distinctive looking grills on the market. It is unique among this list for being an electric grill. That means no fussing with propane gas or charcoal – just plug it in and use a simple knob for temperature control.
The grill’s cooking surface is 240 square inches, making it large enough to handle burgers and hot dogs for a crowd, or a few large items, like whole chickens or a rack of ribs. It also features a handy warming rack just above the main grate, allowing you to manage multiple foods with different cooking times more easily.
The folding side shelves give this grill a generous amount of space for preparation and storage. The grates are made of porcelain-coated cast iron, which are both tough and easy to clean. Underneath the grill you’ll find a handy grease tray, which is removable for simple clean-up.
If you want an electric infrared grill, the Char-Broil TRU Infrared Electric Patio Bistro 240 is the obvious choice, and for the fuel-agnostic, its middle-of-the-road size and simple controls make it an attractive option for anyone.
5. Solaire SOL-EV17A Review (Best Portable Infrared Grill)
The Solaire SOL-EV17A Everywhere Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill may be small, but don’t underestimate it – what it lacks in size, it makes up for not only in its quality of construction, but in being one of the easiest to use infrared grills on the market. All you need to start cooking is to attach a 1-lb propane cylinder to the table-top grill, hit the ignition, and wait less than five minutes. Open up the lid, and you’ll have a 140 square inch stainless steel cooktop fully preheated and ready to go.
While the Solaire is the smallest grill on this list, it still has easily enough space to make burgers for six, or other medium-sized foods for about three or four. Plus, its small size brings portability: when you’re done, just close and lock the lid, and it’s ready to travel with you. Before you pack it away, though, here’s a trick for cleaning: when you’re done cooking, turn up the heat. The quick and powerful heating capabilities of this and many other infrared grills will turn any stuck-on food to ashes in a snap, leaving them easy to scrape off.
The Solaire has some flexibility when it comes to fuel choices, too: though they don’t come with the grill you can also purchase accessories that enable it to run off of full sized outdoor grill propane tanks, natural gas, or low-pressure propane systems (such as those in an RV). If you want a grill you can easily put away after cooking, or one that you can take with you while camping or travelling, choose the Solaire SOL-EV17A Everywhere Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill.
Summing Things Up
While the impressive size, modern design, and seemingly endless features of Char-Broil’s Signature TRU-Infrared 420 make it our top recommendation, I hope that this article has demonstrated that the best infrared grill really depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re a charcoal fanatic, go for the Kettleman. If you like to grill on the go, the Solaire is what you want. Or if you just want to plug in your grill and never worry about replenishing gas or charcoal, opt for Char-Broil’s Patio Bistro 240. It all depends on what you want in a grill!
Lastly, please leave any comments, questions, or suggestions below! What do you think of infrared grilling technology, and do you have experience with any of the grills on our list?