Is it possible that an infrared grill can taste better than a traditional gas or charcoal grill?
I feel almost disloyal writing about the infrared grill advantages. Back in my day, a good BBQ meant firing up the outdoor grill and washing your clothes immediately afterward to get rid of that smoky smell. Infrared stuff was only meant to come from a microwave, right? A microwave that I wasn’t supposed to look into while it was cooking my popcorn… or else.
Well, I’m here to tell you that
a) you won’t go blind from a microwave (or harmed at all, for that matter)
b) infrared energy in the grill can actually yield faster, juicier, and more evenly cooked results. And it’s far from dangerous.
If I just rocked your world by saying the microwave isn’t harmful, then you may also find yourself wondering, what the heck is an infrared grill? Let’s look into how infrared grilling works before I become so bold as to release some infrared grill advantages on you as well.
Why Am I Just Now Hearing About Infrared Grilling?
Before 2000, infrared grills cost thousands of dollars and were just out of reach for the amateur or hobbyist BBQer. What’s changed? Well, since 2000, TEC’s patent on the infrared burner has expired and several other competitors have since come to market. That’s economic jargon for infrared burners have gone on sale since Y2K. Prices have been going down slowly (although this technology is still not as cheap as your standard convection grills). You can still expect to shell out roughly $500 for a tabletop model or more than $1000 for a free-standing version. But if you can appreciate juicier meat and find efficiency to be the key to life, then this may be the investment you’ve been waiting for.
How Does an Infrared Grill Work?
An infrared grill uses either electricity or gas to heat a hard surface, which then radiates infrared waves into the food that rests on the grill’s grate. These burners ramp up the heat of an emitter plate made of either ceramic or stainless steel that’s located underneath the grates.
How is this different from a gas or charcoal grill? These grilling methods are called convection, which means relying on hot air generated by either charcoal or a gas flame to transfer heat to food.
Because less air is circulated with an infrared grill, the food retains more moisture during cooking. An infrared grill can reach higher temperatures than its electric or gas counterparts, so the food will cook faster and keeps more of its moisture! Jackpot.
What are the biggest infrared grill advantages?
I’ve already been alluding to them, but there are 3 main infrared grill advantages when compared to their gas or charcoal brethren.
A gas grill usually takes about 10 minutes to preheat and a charcoal grill needs up to 20 minutes to get the briquettes to the ideal temperature.
The infrared grill preheats in 3-5 minutes.
In addition to preheating quickly, the infrared grill takes half the time to cook meats because of cooking temperatures that can reach more than 900 degrees. You can have a medium-rare steak seared to perfection in 5 minutes or a chicken breast fully cooked in 10.
Faster results mean that the infrared surfaces are heating 2-3 times higher in temperature than traditional grills, which also means your food can burn more quickly if you aren’t careful! 5 minutes may be all that’s necessary for a steak but grilled vegetables only need a short 1-2 minutes. You need to watch your food carefully while experimenting with cooking times on this grill or you’ll end up with a seriously overcooked vegetable medley.
Because infrared grills don’t cook food by circulating hot, dry air and require less time cooking, food is able to keep more of its juice. The infrared grill advantage to cooking meat is that it can retain up to 35% more of its original juice. This has been the long-held secret by most steakhouses that you can bring to your very own backyard.
More Evenly Cooked
One more infrared grill advantages is that it is able to disperse heat evenly across its surface. This can be done more easily than with that of a traditional gas or charcoal grill and means every bite of your meat is cooked to absolute perfection.
What To Cook On An Infrared Grill
The infrared grill’s claim to fame is juicier meats – so let’s look into some of the top meats that you can enjoy:
Fish: Similar to a great steak, the infrared grill and a nice fish filet are the perfect match as you can achieve an immaculate sear.
Hamburger: Because hamburgers are made with compressed beef, the surface is not as flat as others, resulting in a less-than-perfect sear. I really like these graphics showing how to get those enviable sear lines.
If you’re interested in other meats, check out this great guide for types of meat and cooking time.
What do you think about the infrared grilling advantages? Do you currently own an infrared grill and would like to share your experiences? Comment below or tweet us @CAPPEC_Official.