What is an infrared grill?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 4, 2022

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In conventional gas grills, the grates are directly heated by flame. Infrared grills, on the other hand, come with an infrared element between the flame and the grates.

This means, the gas heats the infrared element, which in turn radiates the heat needed for grilling.

Basically, the infrared grill cooks the meat directly and doesn’t heat the air. A convection grill heats up the air, which then heats the food.

What is an infrared grill

What Is An Infrared Grill?

An infrared grill is a gas grill that employs infrared technology as the heat source. In a traditional gas grill, the flame heats the grate directly. In an infrared grill, however, an infrared element sits between the flame and the grate.

The gas first heats the infrared element before radiating intense heat to the food. There are several advantages of infrared grilling

First off, you can get extremely high temperatures using an infrared grill, enabling you to cook your food fast without drying it out. It helps to retain the meat juices inside, which keeps your steak, chicken, or other types of meat tender and juicy.

With an infrared grill, the heat is more even, making it easy to regulate the temperature and cook your food more evenly and adequately.

Upsides of infrared grills

Below I present the key advantages of a grill with the infrared technology.

Higher temperatures and evenly spread heat – Infrared burners are characterized by much wider temperature ranges. They can achieve really high temperatures while maintaining evenly spread heat. For that reason they are great for very hot and fast grilling.

Convenience and time – There is probably no faster type of grill, the infrared technology stands out by achieving the right temperature for cooking very fast. It also maintains the same high level of convenience as with gas grills for example.

Small amount of flare ups – The metal plate located between the grates and the burners effectively limits the food’s contact with flare ups.

Lower fuel consumption – Achieving high temperatures very fast has an impact on the speed of cooking and efficiency. You can cook much more food in a much shorter time.

Downsides of infrared grills

Like every type of grill, this one also has certain downsides to keep in mind.

It’s easy to burn the food – Intense heat is great for fas​the simplest charcoal grill​​​t grilling but you have to be careful. One moment of distraction, just a few seconds, and your food can get burned, which is why you shouldn’t get discouraged at first if you fail. It’s a completely different technology and cooking style than in a regular grill, it just requires some experience.

Lower versatility – The consequence of problems with achieving a fixed lower temperature is lower versatility. The problem arises with very delicate food or too thick pieces of meat. 

Price – Compared to the simplest charcoal grill, the price is very high. It looks just as poorly when compared to gas grills. Sadly, infrared grills are among the more expensive grills, which is why their popularity is relatively low.

Benefits of using an infrared grill

Faster Grilling Time

This is the major benefit of using an infrared grill. It’s important to note that infrared grills produce far much greater heat than conventional grills. In fact, the grilling temperatures can reach up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

This allows you to have the flexibility that you need for that quick barbecue. You will never spend much time standing next to your grill so long as you have an infrared grill.

Energy Efficient

Infrared grills have a reduced reheat time since the food is usually heated directly through the infrared radiation—and this means you will always enjoy faster cooking time and lots of energy efficiency.

You will always use less fuel with an infrared grill—as a matter of fact, these grills use around 30% less fuel compared to conventional grills. This means you will be saving money on fuel.

Even-Heat Distribution

In terms of heat distribution, conventional grills have lots of inconveniences. However, infrared grills will always give you even heat distribution, which means you shall be enjoying evenly cooked food.

These grills produce fewer flare-ups, thus eliminating cold or hot spots.

Tasty Food

Infrared grills use radiant heat for cooking food—and you will not worry about drying out your food. The infrared heat penetrated the moisture barrier of your food, and the food won’t lose any moisture. In addition to this, the fluid and nutrient content of your food will be retained.

Easier To Clean

Infrared grills will not give you a hard time when cleaning them. Most of the grills come with removable grates and panels, which make cleaning the grill an easy task.

However, you also need to understand that no cooking equipment is perfect, and infrared grills also have some drawbacks.

Drawbacks of the infrared grilling system

Temperature settings

So far, this is the greatest challenge of infrared grilling—you won’t get an option for low-temperature settings.

For this reason, infrared grills produce extremely high heat, which makes them not the ideal grills for fish and vegetable recipes.

As well, there is a learning curve that comes with using an infrared grill. Since the grill produces very high heat, it can burn food in an instant if you’re not careful. The first few times you use the grill, you need to watch over it carefully to prevent overcooking.

But once you learn the cooking times, you’ll become a pro griller.

Health risks

Since infrared grilling involves extremely high temperatures, the possibilities of charring and burning your food are very high. Burned food, on the other hand, increases the risks of cancer, as well as other health conditions.


Not many infrared grills are portable. This means, once you install your grill, it will be a challenge to move it around—especially because of their bulky structure. Even though you can find portable infrared models in the market, they are not ideal for your regular usage and BBQ parties.


There is one thing that makes infrared grills expensive—the technology behind their configuration. This makes them far much expensive compared to other conventional grills.

Also read: Pit Boss grills that will take your BBQ’ing to a new level

FAQ’s about Infrared Grills

Since infrared grills are still relatively new to the BBQ world, many people have a lot of questions about this type of grilling system. With so much misinformation going around, we thought we’d answer your most frequently asked questions.

Is an infrared grill better?

The infrared grill doesn’t use hot air to cook food and since it removes the hot air, food, especially meat retains about 35 – 40% more of its natural juices. The end result is more succulent and juicy meat which makes it taste amazing.

This type of grill cooks food evenly because the burner uses uniform radiant energy and that’s the energy which cooks your food, not hot air. Since it doesn’t rely on circulating hot air to penetrate the food, an infrared grill cooks your dishes much faster and meat is juicer.

Therefore, it’s up to you to decide if the infrared grill is better, but compared to other grilling equipment, it does make meat softer and more tender.

Are infrared grills better than regular gas grills?

There is no clear evidence that an infrared grill is any better than a gas grills. It comes down to personal preference and the way the meat cooks. If you want succulent tender cuts, you’ll prefer the infrared grill. But, if you like to smoke the old fashioned way, you’ll probably love the gas grill more.

In all kinds of tests, both types of grills cooked in a similar way, and uniformly.

What is the advantage of infrared grilling?

Let’s break it down into three main advantages. First of all, an infrared grill heats the food (meat) and not the air. So, you’re cooking your food directly without an open flame, thus it doesn’t get charred and scorched quickly.

Second, when you use an infrared grill, you maximize the flavor of the meat and allow it to retain its natural juices.

Third, you maximize energy and convenience because you are not wasting and wood, gas, propane, or charcoal, since the infrared system cooks food faster. As well, it’s convenient because you spend less time at the grill.

Are infrared grills hard to clean?

No, these grills are quite easy to clean and the grill does most of the cleaning work. With some other grills, you have to do lots of scrubbing after you use it.

For an infrared grill, the best way to clean it is by using the BURN OFF METHOD.

After you use your grill, you need to burn off the excess grease and food debris left behind on your grill. First, turn your grill on HIGH HEAT and close the lid. Let it “cook” for approximately 15 minutes. During this time, the grill turn any debris into ash. After 15 mins, let it cool down and use a nylon brush to clean the ash and dirt off.

Once you’ve removed all the ash and debris, coat your grill with a thin layer of high-heat cooking oil. This ensures the food won’t stick to the grates the next time you grill.

Is infrared cooking healthy?

There is plenty of debate around EM (electromagnetic energy) and the effects of radiation. However, infrared cooking is considered healthy. Here’s what you should know.

When you cook with an infrared grill, it is similar to cooking with a microwave oven because they both use EM to heat up the food. It is generally agreed upon that high-energy forms of electromagnetic radiation can pose a cancer risk. But, you’d need to be exposed to a lot, or at least an X-RAY amount of EM to be affected.

Cooking devices such as infrared broilers, microwaves, barbecues, and other small infrared object don’t have nearly enough power to harm the body or cause DNA alteration. Therefore the information that infrared grills are bad for health is a myth.

Why does my infrared grill smoke so much the first time?

The first time you use your new infrared grill, it will generate a lot of smoke, which you may find worrying. But, there’s no need to panic. That smoke when you use it the first few times is just the manufacturing residue burning off. But, this is not a toxic substance so it doesn’t harm you in any way.

Is it normal for my infrared grill to smoke a lot?

The occasional flare-up here and there is very normal. When you grill, you need to adjust the temperature to the food you are cooking. So, it should not be on high heat, unless necessary. Instead, adjust the temperature for whatever it is you want to grill. That should diminish the smoke.

How do you cook on an infrared grill?

An infrared grill works best when you make the most of its cooking zones. You can use grill combinations to get the best flavored food. There is an infrared searing zone and there you sear meats on high heat for approximately one minute per side.

There is also an infrared rotisserie where you can make delicious kebabs or grilled chicken.

Finally, you can use ceramic briquettes which use a lower temperature, meaning that the food cooks more evenly because the briquettes retain heat for longer and offer an even cooking surface.

Use a combination of the three cooking zone and you’ll ensure you have the best cooking session every time.

How do you season and infrared grill?

The stainless steel grates of the infrared grill must be seasoned before use to ensure they don’t cause the food to stick. It also optimizes cooking performance of the grill, inhibits rusting, and makes it easier to clean.

Coat all grates with a high-heat cooking oil using a brush or spray bottle. Then, wipe down the whole system with a cloth or paper towel, this step is essential! This process ensures an even coat.

Next, turn the heat on for about 15 minutes until the oil burns off and the grill stops smoking. You should see a dark brown or bronze color on the grates. The more you season the grill, the better it perform and it cooks more evenly.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.