Best Infrared Grills of 2018

Danny Chadwick ·
Multimedia & Home Improvement Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

For the past six years we have researched and tested the best infrared grills on the market today. In our most recent evaluation, we focused on models costing less than $500. We gathered six models, assembled them and grilled dozens of pounds of meat. In addition to features and performance, we took into account the quality of construction and the overall grilling experience. At the end of our evaluation, we determined that the Char-Broil Performance is the best infrared grill you can purchase for under $500. It has excellent heat consistency, a spacious grilling area, powerful burners and overall good heat distribution and consistency.

Best Overall
Char-Broil Performance
A full-size infrared grill can cost thousands of dollars. However, you can get similar results with the Char-Broil Performance for a fraction of the cost. It is our best overall choice for this category.
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Best Value
Char-Broil Patio Bistro
If you’re looking for a simple, functional infrared grill, the Char-Broil Patio Bistro is an excellent choice. It resembles a charcoal grill but uses infrared technology to provide a faster, cleaner grilling experience.
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Most Portable Grill
Char-Broil Grill2Go
The Char-Broil Grill2Go is small and lightweight and utilizes the power of infrared heat to cook your food for any outdoor occasion such as picnicking, tailgating, camping, road tripping and more.
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Product
Price
$279.99Wal-Mart
$76.49Target
$2.99GameStop
$106Quick And Slow
$299Amazon
$345.99MyGreenOutdoors.com
OVERALL RATING
8.2
8.2
7.5
7.4
5.8
5.1
Grilling Experience
9.4
10
9.6
7.3
6.7
7.9
Heating
10
6.8
7.3
7.4
7.3
6.7
Grilling Areas
10
3.5
3.1
4.4
2.4
2.6
Warranty
6.3
6.3
6.3
6.3
10
3.8
Experience
A
A
A
B
C+
B+
Construction
B+
A
A-
B-
B
B
Heat Consistency
1
0.9
0.8
0.95
0.9
0.85
Number of Main Burners
3
1
1
1
1
1
Main Burners Btu
27000
9500
18000
13000
14000
11200
Total Burner Btu
37000
9500
18000
13000
14000
11200
Primary Grill Burger Capacity
15
6
5
5
4
3
Warming Rack Burger Capacity
5
0
0
2
0
0
Primary Cooking Area
500
200
180
240
140
162
Burner Warranty
5
5
5
5
10
1
Parts Warranty
1
1
1
1
10
1
Best Overall
Of all the infrared grills we reviewed, the Char-Broil Performance is the only full-size model. It’s difficult to find many full-size infrared grills under $500. Full-size infrared grills can cost thousands of dollars.
At the time of this writing, you can pick up the Char-Broil Performance for less than $300. Which makes it a great alternative to its more expensive counterparts. This infrared grill has three main burners that generate a good amount of heat and distribute it evenly and consistently over the 500-square-inch grill grates. During our testing phase, flareups were minimal and our meat came off the grill evenly and fully cooked. Additionally, this is the only infrared grill we evaluated that had the combination of a side burner and warming rack. The burners are covered by a five-year warranty while the firebox and lid get two years and all other parts are covered for only one year.
Pros
  • Spacious 500-square-inch grilling area
  • Powerful main burners that produce up to 27,000 Btu
  • Convenient side burner for cooking vegetables and other side-dishes
Cons
  • Made with lower quality materials
  • Parts other than the burner, lid and firebox are only covered by warranty for one year
  • Assembly takes at least two hours
US$469Amazon
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Best Value
An infrared grill that doesn’t break the bank is hard to find. They can cost thousands. But Char-Broil has done an excellent job of bringing infrared technology to your backyard at an affordable price.
The Char-Broil Patio Bistro may be small, but it has enough space to cook a meal for an entire family. It costs less than $150, making it a great value buy. The design of this unit resembles an old-timey charcoal grill. It's great for a backyard or apartment balcony or just for people who want a grill but don’t need extras like a side burner or a huge amount of grilling space. However, it does have the second largest grilling area, behind only our top pick. It delivers decent power – the burner can produce a maximum of 13,000 Btu of heat. It distributes that heat evenly and consistently. In our heat consistency test, this grill was again only beaten by our top choice.
Pros
  • Costs less than $150
  • Easy to move, clean and store
  • Excellent heat production, distribution and consistency
Cons
  • Igniter required several pushes to light the burner
  • Parts other than the burner protected by only a one-year warranty
  • Takes longer than other grills to preheat
US$128Amazon
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Most Portable Grill
Of all the tabletop infrared grills we reviewed, the Char-Broil Grill2Go is the most transportable and durable. You can count on it to evenly cook your food and provide a great grilling experience.
The materials used to construct this grill are quite good for a grill this size and price. Its small form factor means you can take it pretty much anywhere, as well as clean and store it with no problems. It’s a good choice not only for outdoor activates like camping and tailgating, but also for people who have limited space for a grill, or who don’t want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for the power an infrared grill provides. However, due to its size, it’s relatively low powered – the burner on this grill only produces a maximum of 9,500 Btu, so it takes longer than most other grills to reach an effective cooking temperature. Nevertheless, it distributes heat across its grill plate relatively evenly and maintains a consistent temperature. Another aspect that makes this grill better than the other tabletop models we reviewed is its larger cooking area. You get 200 square inches to work with. Other tabletop models, and even one freestanding model, only provide between 140 and 180 square inches to grill.
Pros
  • Lightweight, portable design
  • Durable enough to withstand transportation and outdoor use
  • Large cooking area for a grill this size
Cons
  • Underpowered – only 9,500 Btu from the burner
  • Has no room for a warming rack or other accessories
  • Parts covered by warranty for only one year
US$89Amazon
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing infrared grills since 2012. In that time, we’ve sifted through countless reviews, looked at manufacturer specifications and conducted hands-on testing. This year, we purchased or received all the grills on loan and tested them by cooking dozens of pounds of meat. We not only know how they all cook, but the components they use, the quality of their build and which ones provides the best overall cooking experience.

We also reached out to grilling experts and people who use grills regularly to see what they valued in an infrared grill. Antonio Lexerot of Salt Lake City is the chief caterer and member of a Utah outdoors club. They have biannual camps where Lexerot cooks all meals for dozens of people, almost exclusively on outdoor grills. He told us that steady heat distribution and consistency is key when using any grill. “The biggest thing I would look for is indirect heat that reduces the risk of charred food. Infrared ones are less likely to flare up and char your food,” Lexerot said.

But not everyone we talked to finds much value in an infrared grill. Jesse Johnson, a pitmaster for a competition BBQ team and member of the Utah BBQ Association expressed a preference for wood-burning grills. He told us that they add more flavor to the meat and enhance the overall grilling experience – something that gas powered or infrared grills can’t provide. Johnson stated, “The only reason I use an infrared grill is for searing, mostly steaks.” He also added that it’s all just personal preference, “If you can cook, you can cook on anything.”

How We Tested

During our testing phase, we used all of the infrared grills to cook several pounds of meat. And since we did our testing in a public place, we had several onlookers throughout the course of our testing. We encouraged them to inspect the grills, provide feedback and express which ones they would buy for themselves.

To measure heat consistency and distribution, we performed a number of tests. We timed how long it took to preheat each grill to 350 degrees after ignition. Another test was gauging if a grill would remain at the same temperature for long periods of time. We checked the temperature of each grill at seven, 14 and 21 minutes after preheating. We also timed how long it took each unit to return to temperature after we opened the lid for one minute. All of this data was compared, compiled and calculated into one heat consistency score.

Since we personally assembled all the grills, we also have a good grasp on the quality of parts, the quality of the build and the overall stability and durability of each grill. We took the general grilling experience we had into account, considering things such as flareups, ease of use and any frustrations or setbacks we experienced. All of these things were factored into the grilling experience and construction grades.



What to Look For

Size
If you want a full-size grill for backyard parties, or other occasions that require a lot of space to grill, then our top choice, the Char-Broil Performance, is the product that fits the bill. Other full-size infrared grills cost far more than $500. Of the ones we reviewed, it has the most space to cook.

Tabletop models provide great convenience when barbecuing away from home. They’re also a good choice if you have limited outdoor space to store a grill long-term. Of the three we reviewed, the Char-Broil Grill2Go was the best tabletop model we reviewed.

A good midsize grill won’t have the same portability as a tabletop model, or the power of a full-size one, but you also may not have much use for either of those things. The Char-Broil Patio Bistro falls perfectly into that category, and it’s also our best value pick.

Heat
An unevenly heated grilling surface can wreak havoc on a barbecue with some meat coming off the grill well done and some undercooked. Grills with even distribution and consistent temperatures solve this problem. When we measured the heat consistency of each grill, we found that infrared grills do an excellent job of this and the Char-Broil Performance, in particular, scored the highest marks.

Warranty
In our experience, the longer the warranty, the longer you can expect a grill to last. In the case of grills, however, there are multiple warranty periods for different grill parts. The only grill we saw with a lifetime warranty for both parts and burners was the Solaire Everywhere.


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