Cooking over charcoal is the traditional way of grilling a burger or steak in your backyard. Gas grills are becoming more popular, for their ease of use and consistency. Infrared grills, though, may soon be more popular than both. These grills can achieve the high heat of a charcoal grill, while being as easy to use as a gas grill.
Up till now, infrared grills have been prohibitively expensive for most people, and so the benefits of infrared grilling have been limited to professional chefs. However, the price has come down enough that they are comparable to gas grills. Infrared grills are, in many ways, superior to both gas and charcoal grills.
How Do They Work?
Infrared grills are not like microwaves. They use flame, usually from gas, to produce heat. However, unlike gas and charcoal grills, infrared grills do not directly use the heat from the flame to grill. A ceramic surface is heated with gas flames or an electric element. The ceramic element then radiates low spectrum infrared rays to heat and cook food.
Gas and charcoal both use convection to cook food. They heat the air and then the air heats and cooks the food. This can have the effect of drying out the food. The hot air moves over the food and then away, taking moisture with it. Infrared grills use conduction. The ceramic surface is heated and the food is cooked directly. That means that food cooked on an infrared grill is often juicier.
Another advantage of infrared grills is their ease of use. Charcoal grills can take 20 to 30 minutes before they are ready to use. Infrared grills are ready to use in just a few minutes.
Things to Be Aware Of
The downside of infrared grills is their high heat and the speed with which they get hot. Gas grills don’t get very hot, but for most types of grilling, you don’t need a very high heat. Infrared grills have the potential to burn what you want to cook.
They may also be best suited for grilling steaks and other red meat. Vegetables may end up burned, and fish or chicken may get black on the outside, while still being underdone inside. Each type of grill requires a unique approach, and if you switch to an infrared grill you should be careful or expect to burn a few meals.
Infrared grills can be a little difficult to use, but they produce an even, easy to manage heat. They are poised to become one of the more popular types of grills on the market.