What Is An Infrared Grill (Pros – Cons and How It Works)

To explain what is an infrared grill we have to get a little technical. But I like to use easy and plain English to tell what I found out about what is an infrared grill.

There are probably better ways to explain it, but this is my way, after reading a bunch of technical stories about radiation heat, and infrared stuff.

Regular gas or electric grills

In the regular gas grill or electric grill, the flame or heating element heats the cooking grates.
The hot air from the gas or element heats the air between the cooking grates and cooks the meat.
The hot cooking grates give us the nice grill marks we all like to see on our meat.

Infrared grills

In an infrared grill, however, in between the flame or electric element and the grate is a so-called infrared element.
This infrared element absorbs most of the heat and then releases the heat to the grates where our meat is.
This means that there is less or hardly any gas or electrically heated air touching our meat.
I still got a little technical, but I hope I made it a little clearer.

Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words, so here we have one to explain it in a picture.

what is an infrared grill

What is infrared grilling technology?

First, a little history of how it all got started.
In 1961, Bill Best, founder of Thermal Engineering Corp., patented the first infrared burner. This burner was only used for industrial machinery.

Bill Best was also a backyard griller and built an infrared burner in one of the barbecues he had built to use for himself. This was when he found out about the faster cooking and all the other benefits of an infrared grill that we mentioned here.

All right, here we go with my explanation of the whole infrared technology. I hope you understand!
Gas and electric grills use hot air to cook our food. A dryer also uses hot air but this is used to dry our clothes.
This means that the gas grill dries out our meat and that is a complaint you hear a lot.
And that is one of the reasons why we inject and marinate our meat. To keep the moisture inside.
These grills have no infrared or radiant heating at all.

Charcoal is already a little better because it has about 25% infrared heat and that is why the meat stays moist and not too much dried out like on a gas grill.

Infrared cooking provides mostly radiation heat and this gives a better result.

Many commercial ovens and grills have used this technique for a long time, but now it is affordable for backyard grillers like you and me.

The Char Broil company is most known for its infrared grill for backyard grills.
That is why I have added some videos from their YouTube channel to maybe explain it better than I can.

Technical video about infrared on Char Broil and YouTube

YouTube video player

How to use an infrared grill and is it better?

I have read many times that you have to get used to how to use an infrared grill. The cooking time is most of the time less than when a regular gas or electric grill is used.

For the rest, it is used as any grill and there are no special cooking methods that I could discover anywhere.

Most new users write that their meat cooks faster and is moister than with their old grill.

Flare-ups are almost things from the past with an infrared grill.
The reason is that the strong airflow that comes up from the burner vaporizes the drippings before they hit the burner.

There is no real contact between the gas burner or electric element to start a flare-up or grease fire. The higher temperature sears the meat faster and the heat is supposed to be more evenly distributed to the grilling area.

Should I buy an infrared grill?

That is a question I hear and see a lot.
It is not easy to answer this question, because it all depends on your specific situation.

The average price is a little higher, but the quality of the cooking is better.
With so many options available to choose from electric patio grills to 3 or even 5-burner full-size outdoor kitchens, I think there is an infrared grill available for every grill master.

But look at your style of cooking and decide if infrared will make it easier or improve the quality of your food.

Click here for all the reviews of Char Broil infrared grills on our website.

Disadvantages of an infrared grill

Looking at the infrared pros and cons I can only tell you this from my own experience and after using my Char Broil grill2go X200 (Read the review here) for a few years now I have found only one disadvantage in grilling on an infrared grill and that is cleaning.

Since the infrared grill grates come with small holes they get clogged up and cleaning is sometimes a pain in the you know where.

In my experience, it is best to turn the grill too high and let it warm up as hot as possible. This basically burns all the left fat and that makes it easier to brush it off.

I found out that using a high-quality grill brush is a must-have for an infrared grill.

Many infrared grills come with a special type of forked device that you can use on stubborn holes in the grill grates.

For more tips, you can read my how to clean a BBQ article here.

Here is a video from CharBroil about their infrared grills.
Although it sounds a little like a sales pitch for their grill, I still think it adds value to this article to try to explain what an infrared grill is.


That leads us to the final question. What is the best infrared grill on the market? This is also impossible to answer because it all depends on your personal situation. cooking for a large group requires a large infrared grill like the Charbroil gourmet series or even larger.

For tailgating or to use as a grill for the campground I suggest one of the portable infrared grills because of the size and low weight.

It is important to buy the right size infrared grill. This will make sure that you do not run out of cooking space or heat a large infrared grill and just use a small area and waste a lot of propane gas.

One thing I like to share is that I ate the best Thanksgiving turkey ever and to my surprise, it was cooked on an infrared turkey grill. You can find the 3 best infrared turkey fryers in this review.

Feel free to leave a comment or your personal story or experience with any kind of infrared grilling.

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken brings years of experience from running a full-service restaurant, where he honed his skills with all types of kitchen equipment. His expertise extends to mastering the art of outdoor cooking, utilizing the right recipes to enhance flavors on grills and smokers. Eddie’s in-depth knowledge allows him to provide comprehensive grill reviews and valuable outdoor cooking tips, helping enthusiasts make the most of their grilling adventures. You can read more on the¬†About page for Eddie van Aken

11 thoughts on “What Is An Infrared Grill (Pros – Cons and How It Works)”

  1. Tried infrared grill for first time and didn’t get grill marks on the steaks. Is this common? It doesn’t seem to have that sizzle when steaks are placed on the grill

    1. I bought my 1st IR grill in 2007, and would NEVER go back to a conventional grill.
      I have cooked many different steaks to perfection, from Filet Mignon to Top Sirloin (my favorite all around cut)
      You probably are not setting your flame high enough or not letting the grill heat up enough. One minor problem with my IR grI’ll is cleaning the IR grate holes. I can go 1 or 2 uses before having to clean it with a small wire brush. If a prior use involved a bbq sauce or something with very high residue, it will require cleaning before the next use!

  2. Hello Eddie,
    I also concur with Lawrence about your very clear explanation of what an Infrared grill is and is not. Thank you very much. But I do have a question that I don’t see being asked. I would like to know if Infrared grills are a fire hazard? I live in an apartment and there is a rule that if you want to grill out, you must put the grill out away from the apartment at least 15 feet. Is this true for infrared grills?
    Thank you in advance for your help,


    1. Hello Teri,
      Thank you for your compliment.
      To answer your question I would say yes it applies to the same rule.
      The basic difference between a regular gas grill or an infrared is the grill grates and I don’t see why this would be less of a fire hazard.
      I hope this helped you.
      Happy grilling.

  3. On my char broil infrared, one side has the plate with holes in and on the other half, the plate has no holes. Why is that?

    1. Gary,
      Without seeing a picture is hard to answer this question.
      However, I guess that one side has infrared grill grates and the other side does not.
      Don’t know if this is the way it should be for your model.
      If in doubt contact Char-Broil at 1-866-239-6777 and I am sure if this is a mistake they will send you replacement grates.
      Let me know if this helped.
      Have a great day and Happy Grilling.

  4. Thank you for this great explanation and the videos. Have been looking for an easy way to find out what infrared grills are and your way is the best I have found. Now I can start looking for the grill I would like to buy. Will use your reviews as a reference. Great informative site.

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