Infrared grills are increasing in popularity, especially over the last few years. Their ability to preheat fast, use less fuel, and cook meat evenly without losing moisture has motivated many grill enthusiasts to take a second look at the advantages of infrared grills.
The ability to reach higher temperatures with excellent searing capability makes them a game-changer for home cooks looking to take their BBQ to the next level. Couple that with the versatility and ease of cleaning you get with an infrared grill and you’ve got a great choice for all your outdoor cooking needs.
If you’re in the market for a new grill for your outdoor kitchen, infrared grills are well worth considering. Whether you’re a pro at grilling and barbecuing or just getting started, an infrared grill can be the perfect addition to your outdoor kitchen.
In this ultimate infrared grill buyers guide, I’m going to give you everything you need to know for buying the best infrared grill so you can choose the right size, materials, accessories, and more. Enjoy this Grilling Life guide to buying the best infrared grill.
What You Can Expect From This Infrared Grill Buyers Guide
If you’re new to infrared grilling, you’re in the right place.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll cover all the pros and cons of infrared grilling. You’ll also learn what to look for in a quality infrared grill and which must-have grilling accessories you need to add to your list.
In This Article, We’ll Explore:
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What Is an Infrared Grill?
Unlike gas and charcoal grills, infrared burners use radiant heat rather than convection heat. They are designed to heat the food itself rather than the air around it.
Infrared grills are especially popular in steakhouses because they are fast-heating and user-friendly. Preheating and cooking take a fraction of the time while retaining the meat’s natural juices. The results are a more even, tender cook.
Why Choose an Infrared Grill?
Every cooking method has its advantages and disadvantages, and infrared grills are no exception. However, for many grill masters, the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks. Consider just a few.
1. Quick preheat. An infrared grill is ready in under 5 minutes so that you can get cooking faster!
2. Even heat. Forget about hot and cold spots with an infrared grill. The grilling surface heats evenly, preventing over and undercooking.
3. Fast cooking. Have dinner ready in a flash and cook more overall in less time.
4. Better tasting food. Cooking on infrared grills results in food that’s more tender and juicier. Compared to other cooking methods, infrared cooking retains up to 35% more natural juices.
5. Restaurant-style searing. Infrared grills reach exceptionally high temperatures that result in signature steakhouse quality sears.
6. Decreased chance of flare-ups. Because there’s no direct flame, there’s less of a chance that grease or food drippings catch fire and result in undesired charring.
7. Less money is spent on fuel. Infrared grills use much less gas than traditional grills because they heat and cook faster.
8. Easy clean-up. Infrared grills get hot enough to incinerate any food particles leftover after you’re done grilling. Simply turn up the heat, then wipe away the residual ash after it’s cooled.
These are just a few of the infrared advantages. You can see more from my guide 14 Surprising Benefits of Infrared Grills
How Does an Infrared Grill Work?
Infrared grills use radiated heat. Invisible wavelengths, when long enough, can be felt in the form of heat.
An example of this is the warmth of the sun you feel on your face on a cold winter day. The air remains cold, yet your body begins to warm up.
It’s the same idea with an infrared grill. Propane or another fuel heat up a grilling panel made of steel, glass, or ceramic and covered in stainless steel mesh.
The panel sits directly between the flame and grates then goes on to heat your food. The air around the food doesn’t heat up. Instead, only the part of the food touching the grate gets hot.
Because food is heated directly with high amounts of heat inside by hot air surrounding it, it heats up faster and with less fuel.
Newer style infrared grills use plates that are layered with ceramic or metal and glass, resulting in more even cooking.
Here is a more in depth look at how infrared grills work: How Infrared Grills Work
What Is Infrared Energy?
You can’t see infrared energy. It’s part of the electromagnetic spectrum and has longer wavelengths than light.
We can, however, feel infrared energy when we walk on hot sand or feel the heat coming in from the window on a sunny day.
The same radiant heat is utilized in an infrared grill to cook food without heating the surrounding air.
Infrared Grill vs Regular Gas Grill
We can’t say one grill style is necessarily better than another because they both have unique advantages and downsides.
One thing we can say about an infrared grill is that, unlike a gas grill, it provides even heat distribution without any flare-ups.
It also heats up much quicker than your traditional gas grill, is safe, and is unaffected by wind or other elements.
Unfortunately, infrared grills are a whole lot more expensive than traditional gas grills. Especially if you’re just getting into grilling, an infrared grill is a heavy investment.
Additionally, suppose you’re planning to use your grill for various dishes, including those with ingredients like vegetables, or like to experiment with making desserts and cheeses. In that case, infrared grills can get overly hot very fast. The result is often burnt veggies and charcoaled treats.
However, if your primary goal with a grill is to produce those steakhouse-quality meats, then the infrared grill is the perfect solution.
Here is a great article for a direct comparison: Infrared Grills vs. Gas Grills: Everything You Ought To know
Main Types of Infrared Burner Systems
Not all infrared grills are created equal. There are several different types of infrared systems and infrared grill configurations on the market.
Before you buy, make sure you’re familiar with the most popular ones.
Ceramic Infrared Burner System
Grills with a ceramic infrared burner are ideal for hot and fast cooking. Typically, the ceramic coats the stainless-steel burner and can reach up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s best for fast searing, thanks to the tiny flames that the ceramic surface produces.
Unfortunately, the extreme heat also makes it more prone to flare-ups than other burner system options. It also doesn’t allow for low and slow cooking, making it best for searing and charring.
TEC’s Radiant Glass Panel System
As the founder of infrared grills, TEC has taken its burner system to the next level with a glass panel design.
The grill sits directly on top of a glass panel, which sits over a stainless-steel burner.
The extra layer in this burner system ensures that heat is evenly distributed and prevents flare-ups.
Another advantage of the glass panel system is its ability to reach up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit while still managing low temperatures of 200 degrees for smoking and roasting as needed.
They may not hit as high heat like the ceramic burners, but they can still perform a quality sear while offering diverse cooking styles.
Heat Emitter System
If you’re looking for an infrared system that’s more budget-friendly, then a heat emitter system is a respectable way to go.
A stainless-steel tube burner sits below a metal heat emitter. The cooking grid then rests directly above the emitter panel and reaches temperatures between 300- and 650-degrees Fahrenheit.
While the temperatures tend to be lower, you can still get plenty hot for a nice sear.
The heat emitter system uses a unique design of peaks and valleys to funnel away airflow, direct heat to the food, and keep the meat moist and tender.
Infrared Hybrid Grills
Infrared grills make it possible to get the best of both worlds without having to choose between quick, hot searing, and low and slow cooking.
These gas grills include both traditional convection burners ideal for vegetables or slow roasts and an infrared burner zone for searing the perfect steak.
This combination allows you to cook all your favorite foods in one place and even transition your seared food to a low temperature for further cooking.
Choose Your Fuel Source: Propane or Natural Gas?
Infrared grills require either propane or natural gas as fuel sources, although some give you both options with separately sold accessories.
If your home is already equipped with natural gas and you don’t plan to use your infrared grill tailgating, camping, or somewhere else, stick with the natural gas option.
However, if you don’t already have natural gas hookups in your home, or if you plan to use your grill somewhere other than the backyard, then propane is the way to go.
It really comes down to how your outdoor kitchen is already set up and how and where you plan on using your infrared grill.
What to Look For When Buying an Infrared Grill
A Heavy Gauge Metal Build | Trusted Brands & Build Quality | Double Walled Grill Hood | Number & Configuration of Burners | BTU Output | The Temperature Range | Ignition System | Total Capacity & Size | You Need Accurate Temperature Gauges | Check for Overall Sturdiness
Some infrared grills are more affordable because they’ve been made with cheap, low-quality components.
Because infrared grills can be on the more expensive side, grilling newbies might be tempted to go in that direction.
Keep in mind, however, that there’s more to consider than just the price of an infrared grill, including the following.
A Heavy Gauge Metal Build
Stainless steel comes in many forms, and you’ll want to choose an infrared grill made of materials built to last.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for either 304 stainless steel or marine grade stainless.
Heavy gauge metal not only decreases the chances of rust but will increase your grill’s overall lifetime.
Trusted Brands & Build Quality
While it might be tempting to cut corners and save a few bucks, you’ll really want to avoid that mentality when you shop for an infrared grill.
The incredibly high temperatures created in an infrared grill paired with all kinds of weather put a heavy strain on the durability of your grill.
Look for grills that have a robust and sturdy frame to start. You’ll also want at least two burners and a tight-fitting lid.
In addition to the general construction of your grill, the burner ignition should also be made with top-quality materials and work properly to prevent any accidents that could occur from gas build-up.
While knockoff brands might save you money upfront, it’s safer and more cost-effective in the long run to stick with reputable brands you know and trust.
Some brands we like, and trust include:
I would start with these brands and widen your search if necessary from there.
Double Walled Grill Hood
If you’re planning on cooking anything other than steaks and burgers, you’ll want to make sure you have a grill hood with plenty of room for large cuts of meat.
The hood should also be double-walled, so heat doesn’t leak out and waste costly fuel.
When looking at the grill hood, double-check whether or not the handles heat up as well. It only takes once to forget to put on your heat-resistant gloves and scorch your hand on a poorly designed grill hood handle to ruin the grilling experience for good.
Number & Configuration of Burners
Multiple burners are imperative when cooking a large meal but even more important for dual zone cooking. Without a hot and cool zone to cook on, you are limiting yourself in a big way.
Read this guide to find out why having at least two burners and zone grilling is so essential for a successful cookout: Zone Grilling Methods – The Most Essential Skill To Master Your Grill
Some have multiple infrared burners, while others like those mentioned above combine infrared burners with conventional convection burners. At least two of the burners should be infrared so that heat is evenly distributed.
A warming rack is a great addition as well to keep food warm while you continue to cook.
It’s essential to measure the BTU of your grill to determine the power of a grill. It’s the standard measure of heat output in the United States but actually stands for British Thermal Unit.
BTU is different from the temperature range in that it measures how much gas a grill uses. The amount of gas implies how hot the grill will get.
For example, the higher the BTU, the more gas it’s using, the more powerful it is, and the hotter it will get.
Since infrared grills don’t require as much fuel as a traditional gas grill but you should still look for one that has at least 8,000 BTUs.
The Temperature Range
The closer an infrared grill can get to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, the better it will be for searing. Depending on how you plan to use your grill, you might also want to look for one that can reach lower temperatures as well.
An infrared grill that can reach high and low temperatures is ideal for pairing vegetables or seafood with your steaks.
Take lighters and matches out the equation with a quick-to-light ignition system. It’s not only safer to use than lighting a grill by hand, but an ignition system will also simplify your overall grilling process.
Total Capacity & Size
Before you swipe that credit card, make sure your new infrared grill will fit in your outdoor space. Whether you have a fully equipped outdoor kitchen or a small apartment balcony, make sure it not only fits but has plenty of free space around it to prevent an accidental fire.
You’ll also want to consider how many people you’re planning on cooking for before deciding on a size. A larger grill is perfect for crowds but may use more fuel than necessary and take a long time to preheat if you’re cooking for one or two people.
Another consideration will be whether or not you’ll have to move your infrared grill regularly.
A small portable one is great for tailgating or camping. While an extra-large one is great for hosting large parties in your backyard year-round.
How, where, and with who you use your grill will significantly impact what size of grill you’ll want to buy.
You Need Accurate Temperature Gauges
Checking the color or poking of your meat doesn’t cut it. And in case you didn’t know, most of the built-in temperature gauges that come with grills are way off. You need a temperature gauge you can trust, so you know exactly how hot the inside of your grill is while you’re cooking your food and the exact moment to take it off the grill.
No one wants an overcooked steak and undercooking some meats can lead to severe food born illness. Make sure you’re using a temperature gauge you can trust.
Check for Overall Sturdiness
The last thing you want to worry about while making dinner is a wobbly grill or one that needs extra stabilization.
Not only will it be a painful fight while you’re cooking, but it could be a burn and fire hazard if a leg or wheel gives out while you’re using it. I wouldn’t even want to think about what will happen to the beautiful steaks that you were cooking.
Give that grill a firm shove. If it feels rickety in the store, then it’s a good sign that you’ll have to retire it early.
Additional Things to Consider Before Buying an Infrared Grill
There’s more to a grill than its outer material and appearance. If you want to invest in a quality grill, check out the little details that will make or break your grilling experience.
Grill Grate Materials
You’re going to want quality grill grates that are easy to clean, resist rust, and are long-lasting. Stainless-steel or porcelain-coated grill grates have the best reputations for durability and great-tasting food.
If you want to add that signature, smokey grill flavor, double-check that your infrared grill comes with flavorizer bars. Most infrared grills on the market come with flavorizer bars, so if you find one that doesn’t, keep shopping.
A Warming Rack
While a warming rack is an excellent addition to any grill, not all grills include one.
However, if you plan to grill multiple dishes at once or cook for a large crowd, a warming rack is imperative.
Keep food hot while you continue to grill so everyone can enjoy each part of the meal at the same time.
Easy Access to Gas Tanks
There’s no reason you should wrestle your gas tank to get it connected or struggle to turn the gas on and off.
A good infrared grill will give you easy access to the gas tank and allow you to gauge gas levels, so you know just how much you’re using and when it’s time to replace it.
Shelving & Storage Space
Shelving and storage space on your grill is a nice luxury to have. You can keep your tools, wood chips, and other accessories with your grill at all times.
It will make your life much easier, having everything on hand and not having to run back and forth into the house for your tools.
Consider These Extra Features
While these extra features aren’t necessary to a great cook, they definitely make it more enjoyable and give you more options while grilling. Bonus features like internal lights, side burners, warming racks, and integrated thermometers give you more freedom to grill your way.
Don’t spend your evening scrubbing away at a dirty grill. It’s time to kick back and relax with your crew, not spend hours maintaining your grill.
Look for grills with self-cleaning properties, easy-to-clean materials, and, if possible, less surface area so you can spend your evening with your guests and not worry about whether or not your get all the grime and gunk off your equipment.
Depending on the size, design, special features, and overall configuration of the grill, it can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Start with your budget, then look for the highest quality infrared grill you can find within that price range. If it means you have to get a smaller but more durable grill, that’s ok.
It’s better to go with a higher quality grill that’s more compact than a large grill that only lasts for a season or two.
Final Steps Before Making an Infrared Grill Purchase
You’ve considered the different styles, price ranges, sizes, and accessories. Now it’s time to buy, right? Well, not quite.
Before you pull the trigger and make a big purchase, there are a few more things you should consider.
The extra time you take to go through these final steps will ensure you get the perfect infrared grill for you and your outdoor kitchen setup.
Check Current Owners Feedback & Opinions
For the most honest feedback about a new purchase, you should always look at customer reviews and opinions.
There’s no item everyone will be 100% satisfied with, but you can get a good feel for a grill’s overall quality and value when you consider unbiased, honest reviews.
If you have a few grill models in mind, online reviews, forums, and social media communities can help point you to the best option. Plus, you’ll find other helpful information like grilling tips and recipes!
Good Customer Support Matters
There’s no way to ensure you’re never going to have a problem with your new grill. If trouble does come up, you need to know that there’s someone that’s going to walk you through it and get back to grilling fast.
Don’t waste your time on companies with bad customer support. The weekends are for good food and relaxation, not sitting on hold just to get your question dismissed or passed on from customer service rep to customer service rep.
The best way to avoid this situation is to research the company beforehand and read reviews about their customer support and availability.
Company reputation matters. It means they believe in their product, and they value you as a customer. Anything less is a waste of your time and money.
Get To Know the Warranty Options Before You Buy
If the company doesn’t offer at least a 10-year warranty, skip it. If they don’t believe their product will last at least ten years, then why should you.
Some companies offer a free warranty, and others will require you to pay for it at your time of purchase. Either way, warranties are a must, especially if you plan on getting heavy use out of your grill.
Small parts and pieces can quickly wear out over time. After a few replacements here and there, your warranty will definitely pay for itself.
It’s even better if you never end up needing it. It’s a good sign you bought a quality product that will last for years to come.
Infrared Grill Tools & Accessory Must Haves
Once you’ve purchased your grill, make sure you’ve got all the essential accessories on hand.
Not only will it make your cooking experience easier, but these accessories will help prevent burns and other injuries.
Some infrared grills can reach up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Think about what that can do to your skin if you accidentally brush the surface with your hand.
Save yourself from a tragic accident with a good pair of heat-resistant gloves. You’ll also find you can cook more confidently without having to worry about burns.
You check out my recommended Heat-Resistant Glove here: Best Heat Resistant Gloves for Grilling
Built-in thermometers only read the temperature of the air around the food rather than the internal temperature of the food itself.
For the best results cooking any meat, you’ll want to invest in an instant read thermometer.
A dual probe thermometer allows you to monitor the temperature of your grill and your food at the same time throughout the entire cook.
Check out my recommended Instant Read Thermometers here: 10 Best Instant Read Thermometers
Check out my recommended Digital, Dual-Probe Smoker & Grill Thermometers here: 10 Best Digital Meat Thermometers
A Good Grilling Toolset
Ideally, you’ll start your grilling journey with a grill toolset to make sure you have all your basic grill necessities on hand.
A good toolset will have a cleaning brush, a slotted spatula, a two-pronged fork, and tongs.
Other grill toolsets come with additional accessories, but only buy one with tools you’ll actually use.
Here are some great Grilling Tool options: Grilling Toolsets
A Good Grill Brush
Whether the grill brush comes in your toolset or you buy it a la carte, you’ll want to look for one that’s bristle-free. Traditional bristle grill brushes can be dangerous as they start to wear down. It’s been known to leave small metal bristles in food, and the last thing you want to do is feed your family metal wires with their steak.
Wire-free brushes and even wood scrapers are the way to go for cleaning and maintaining your infrared grill.
You can see our recommendations for the Best Bristle-Free Grill Brushes Here: 10 Best Bristle Free Grill Brushes
A Grill Cover
Keep your grill safe from the elements when it’s not in use with a good grill cover.
You’ve invested a lot in your grill, and the last thing you want to do is make it age faster or encourage rust because it’s not stored correctly.
A grill cover is an effective yet affordable solution to longer-lasting grills.
Final Thoughts on Our Infrared Grill Buyers Guide
Infrared grilling will take your outdoor cooking experience to another level. Serve up steakhouse-style meats with that mouthwatering sear in minutes.
As you shop for your infrared grill, keep in mind that spending a little extra now will save you a lot of money in the long run while giving you the best results while you cook.
Whichever class of infrared grill you choose, you’ll want to invest in one that is durable and is built with quality materials, Power, good warranty options, and fantastic customer support should play into your decision as well. These main features will help keep your infrared grill ready to use, wherever you want to use it, for years to come.
Don’t forget to invest in accessories like grate cleaners, a quality grill toolset, and heat-resistant gloves. Instant read and leave-in meat thermometers are a must too.
I hope this infrared grill buyer’s guide has given you plenty of ideas as you get ready to shop for your new grill.
If you have any questions we didn’t answer, or if you’re interested in learning more about buying and using an infrared grill, let us know! You can leave us a comment below or email us for more information. We’ll do what we can to get you an answer, and you might even see your question show up in this guide!
The infrared grill with the perfect number of features is out there for you at the perfect price point. So don’t waste another minute. Get to grilling!
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