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Best infrared grills 2019: technologically enhanced grilling

Best Infrared Grills 2019 - Reviews of Ultra High-Heat Grills

The best infrared grills combined the primal connection we feel from the open flames of a gas grill, with our desire to play around with high-tech gadgetry. We have reviewed a selection of infrared grills, so those backyard chefs who want to evolve their grilling style to caveman 2.0 this summer know how to find the best infrared grills. We only reviewed grills that cost under $500 dollars, as some of the bigger full sized grills can cost over a $1000. 

Infrared grills have many advantages over gas grills when it comes to enhancing the cooking process. They have faster cooking times, use less fuel, provide better heat distribution, and as there are less flare-ups or wasted heat, the flavor is locked creating tastier, juicer food. If you, like most of America, are looking for a way to perfect your grilling technique for the ultimate burger patty, an infrared grill might be a good way to enhance the flavor. Get the best out of your infrared grill and impress your guests, by using our buying guide to find the best infrared grill features and brands. 

For the past six years we have researched and tested the best infrared grills on the market. 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.

ProductPriceOverall RatingGrilling ExperienceHeatingGrilling AreasWarrantyExperienceConstructionHeat ConsistencyNumber of Main BurnersMain Burners BtuTotal Burner BtuPrimary Grill Burger CapacityWarming Rack Burger CapacityPrimary Cooking AreaBurner WarrantyParts Warranty
Char-Broil Performance Infrared Gas GrillView Deal4/54.7553.2AB+13270003700015550051
Char-Broil Grill2GoView Deal4/553.41.83.2AA0.91950095006020051
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared 3-in-1 Roaster, Smoker and Grill w/Rib Hooks4/54.83.71.63.2AA-0.8118000180005018051
Char-Broil - Patio Bistro Gas Grill - BlackView Deal3.5/53.73.72.23.2BB-0.95113000130005224051
Solaire SOL-EV17A Everywhere Portable Infrared Propane Gas Grill, Stainless SteelView Deal3/53.43.71.25C+B0.911400014000401401010
Magma Newport A10-918-2GS 2 Gourmet Series Grill - InfraredView Deal2.5/543.41.31.9B+B0.85111200112003016211

Best Overall

Char-Broil Performance

Char-Broil Performance

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
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

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.

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Best Value

Char-Broil Patio Bistro

Char-Broil Patio Bistro

Costs less than $150
Easy to move, clean and store
Excellent heat production, distribution and consistency
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

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. If you like to grill and don’t need extras like a side burner this grill is a great choice.

This small infrared grill had the second largest grilling area, finishing second to 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.

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Most BTU

Char-Broil The Big Easy

Char-Broil The Big Easy

It has a smoker roaster.
Poor heat consistency.

This is one of the most unique grills in our comparison. It grills, nothing outside of the ordinary there, but it also includes a smoker roaster for cooking more than just burgers or chicken.

This large roasting basket can cook a large rack of ribs, turkey or any other meat that fits on the grill surface. Other grills in our tests had better heat consistency across the surface of the grill, but on The Big Easy, heat tends to change across the surface of the grill over longer periods of time. However, to get a grill and a smoker combo for $148 is a great steal.

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Most Portable Grill

Char-Broil Grill2Go

Char-Broil Grill2Go

Lightweight, portable design
Durable enough to withstand transportation and outdoor use
Large cooking area for a grill this size
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

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 activities 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.This grill has a larger girlling area than other tabletop models we reviewed. You get 200 square inches to work with. Other tabletop models, and even one freestanding model, only provide between 140 and 180 square inches grills.

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Best Warranty

Solaire Everywhere

Solaire Everywhere

It features a lifetime warranty.
It’s expensive.

This is the only grill we tested that features a lifetime warranty. That is fantastic because you’re covered if anything happens to your grill.

This grill is also portable, so you can easily take it camping or to a picnic for a tabletop cookoff. We did encounter some problems with the grill. The propane tank needs to dangle off the edge of your cooking surface requiring you to put your grill on the edge the cooking surface, which isn’t the safest place.

With the portability also comes size restrictions. We were only able to fit four burger patties on the grill at one time, so if you’re cooking for several people, it takes longer to cook all your food. Finally, at $300, it is one of the most expensive grills.

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Why trust us

We’ve been reviewing infrared grills for over seven years. 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,  we also considered things such as flareups, ease of use and any frustrations or setbacks we experienced. All of these things were factored into the grilling and construction grades.

How much does an infrared grill cost?

Grills vary widely depending on price. Based on our research and testing, the infrared grills we compared cost $125 to $400. Our top choice, the Char-Broil Performance is towards the top of the price line at $359, but it wasn’t the most expensive out of our group.

Size of the grill

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 consistency of infrared grills 

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.

How much heat does an infrared grill produce? 

The infrared grills we reviewed vary widely in the amount of heat they produce. Our top pick outputs up to 270,000 BTU when all the burners are on, which is great for making a dozen of burgers at once. Generally, the amount of heat a grill can output directly correlates with the number of burners it has. So, large grills tend to be much more powerful.

Is an infrared grill vegetable friendly? 

Many people worry that due to the high heat levels, infrared grills are great at searing steaks but not as good at cooking vegetables. Most grills will let you adjust the heat levels, to make sure your vegetables are evenly cooked. 

How easy the grill is to assembly

Take note of how much assembly the infrared grill you buy requires. Small tabletop models, such as the Magma Newport and Solaire Everywhere, come completely assembled. However, larger models, such as the Char-Broil Big Easy and Performance, have detailed instructions you need to follow.

In case you don’t want to build your grill yourself, some stores sell pre-assembled models. If you buy through Amazon, you can add its home installation service.

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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