The infrared grill is one of the hottest new things in outdoor cooking, and I mean hottest! Although the technology has been around for a long time, TEC invented them in the 60’s, the patent recently ran out so now you are seeing more and more gas grills with infrared burners by many different producers.
What is the infrared type of grill?
It is a special burner which focuses the flame from a gas burner onto a ceramic tile, converting the heat into infrared energy which radiates off the tile and onto your food. What is the point? This supplies a pure, intense and super hot heat source! Hotter than a typical gas grill, natural gas grill or charcoal grill, the infrared burner supplies over 700 degrees (Fahrenheit) of direct heat to your grill surface.
Most infrared burners are incorporated into other standard gas grills, either as a side burner or as one half of the grill cooking surface. Other smaller models and portable models are available which just supply an infrared grill without a standard gas grill as well.
Check out our choice for best infrared grills in the market.
What is the point of these types of grills?
Because the infrared burner produces such intense, high heat, it allows you to cook some things faster and better than is possible with other heat sources. For example, at lower temperatures, your food cooks more evenly, allowing time for the center of the meat to heat up as the surface cooks. While in some cases this is desired (such as when cooking chicken or other larger roasts that need to cook throughout), in some instances slow cooking is not ideal. For example, a perfectly done rare or medium-rare steak is cool or barely warm in the middle. But you would still like a nice caramelized, charred surface to develop those beautiful flavors on the surface. On a cooler grill, by the time the surface is grilled nicely, the inside of the steak is already cooking, maybe too much for your taste.
An infrared grill is so hot that it can cook and caramelize the outside of your steak while the inside is still cool or just slightly warmed. This locks in the juices and flavors of your rare meat while creating tasty caramelization on the surface.
Some of the newest infrared grill models have quite a temperature range as well, allowing you to turn that blazing heat down a bit for foods that require a more gentle touch like fish steaks or fillets.
Do you need an infrared grill?
It depends. Besides TEC, many grill producers now offer infrared burners on their gas grills (Char-Broil, TEC, Lynx, etc.). While their prices were initially high and not affordable for most of us, they are coming down all the time and are becoming standard on many high-end gas and natural gas grills. If you love a good grilled steak and you love it on the rare side, then an infrared burner will take your cooking to a new level. If you prefer more well done foods, or like to cook slower cooking roasts, then an infrared grill may not be perfect for your cooking style. The nice thing is that most grills can have an infrared burner on one side and regular grill burners on the other, giving you versatility of cooking styles and techniques.
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