Infrared grills may be a latecomer in the grilling market, but they sure are formidable game-changers. As people crave for more convenience without sacrificing quality, grill manufacturers find ways to satisfy their demand. This leads to the birth of a plethora of indoor infrared grills, each claiming to be one of the best infrared grills out there.
Whether you are a grilling expert who wants to look for the best equipment available at your disposal or just a newcomer who is curious what the fuss is about indoor infrared grills, let this guide enlighten you about the subject at hand.
But first, a story.
How did indoor infrared grills come to be?
To know how infrared grills birthed, we have to look at Bill Best. In 1961, this founder of the Thermal Engineering Corporation invented an infrared burner that can help dry paint jobs in automobiles fast. Infrared, if you do not know, emit heat so high that anything can be cooked to a crisp in only a matter of minutes. Or, in the case of Best, eases industrial work in tire and oven manufacturing.
But he did not stop there. Being a grilling enthusiast, Best used the technology in his grilling moments by inserting a small ceramic infrared burner below the metal grates of his grill (which he also invented). The result of his invention is grilled meat that is moist and tender, produced in just a short amount of time.
Because of the efficacy of infrared burners, Best patented this indoor infrared grills and sold it exclusively to restaurants and steakhouses－the only institutions who can afford such luxury. When the patent expired in the 2000s, other grill manufacturers started copying and improving the product specifications, giving consumers back then a wider variety of choice when it comes to indoor infrared grills.
In 2010, Consumer Reports estimated that 63 percent of Americans who either have indoor infrared grills or borrows a unit claim to use the device often when cooking.
What is an infrared grill?
Now that we know how indoor infrared grills came to be, you are probably asking: What is it in the first place?
Indoor infrared grills use－you guess it－infrared heat to grill food items on top of metal or Teflon grates. Infrared heat is present every time the temperature goes more than the absolute zero, which is equal to about -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Infrared heat is present in all types of grills. Remember that charcoal grills can emit temperatures of up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit while gas grills can go all the way to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Both are definitely higher than the absolute zero value.
How much heat do indoor infrared grills emit? Thanks to infrared heat, they can reach between 900 degrees to as much as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is so hot that it can melt rudimentary rocks that can only be found near the Earth’s core. It is more than enough to cook your food as well.
You might be worried that the heat from indoor infrared grills is so hot that it can kill you. Trust us; it won’t. These appliances emit infrared heat just enough to become useful for human consumption using devices and modern technology. The infrared heat you can sense from indoor infrared grills is the same temperature you feel when you are near a lit fireplace, or when you are walking under the sun sans the sunblock.
How is it any different from other types of grills?
If you have been following our articles now, we introduced different types of grills: charcoal, wood, gas, and electric. But for the sake of this post, we will briefly discuss each one.
This type of grill uses charcoal to kindle a fire, which can then release the heat that would help grill the meat. The downside of charcoal grills is that it would take tons of patience plus a bit of expertise to start the fire from the coals until it is hot enough to handle grilling. Also, charcoal grills are only good enough for backyard grilling. You cannot use it indoors because of the amount of smoke it emits. Not to mention that cleanup is a significant hassle after cooking.
Wood or pellet grills may be the best grill for those who want to have that authentic smokey, sweet, and savory flavor of the true grilled meat. Depending on what type of hardwood you would use, your food would have the additional aroma and taste. Unfortunately, this type of grills is hard to come by. They are also as expensive as a superior quality gas grill.
The gas grill is the most common backyard grill you can find in American households. It promises convenience (it only takes 15 minutes to preheat) and ease of use; even the most inexperienced grilling person can produce something edible using a gas grill. But because of its size, you need to have ample amounts of space and a gas line or tank to make it work.
All you need is an outlet to make an electric grill do your bidding. While it can produce a fair amount of grilled meat, it takes quite a while to preheat. Also, it gives the least desirable quality of grilled food since there is practically no trace of any smokey flavor in the electric-grilled meat.
Unlike the other types of grills, the indoor infrared grills do not use hot air to cook the food. Instead, they use either an electric or gas as a power source. The power gets converted to radiation or infrared waves which would produce the heat needed to grill the food that is sitting on top of the indoor infrared grill grate.
Because indoor infrared grills emit little to no smoke, the grilled meat retains its moisture and juiciness. This type of grill is a perfect choice both for homeowners and apartment dwellers, particularly those who have limited time to cook.
Pros and Cons of Indoor Infrared Grills
To further know if indoor infrared grills are the right choice for you, here are some advantages and disadvantages you can factor into your decision.
It gives your meat a seared look.
Searing is a response from the Maillard reaction and caramelization that occurs on the surface of the grilled meat. Perfectly seared meat has the right balance of sweetness and savory in the overall flavor. It is also pleasing to look at.
Because infrared heat travels to different directions, you can be sure that your meat gets cooked evenly no matter what place you put them on top of the grate. Uneven heating is commonly a problem in charcoal and pellet grills since most grilling people concentrate the heat in the middle while ignoring the sides.
Also, because it emits high amounts of temperature, your grilled meat gets to have that most coveted seared look. This is something that only pellet and charcoal grills can do.
The moisture and juiciness remain.
As previously mentioned, indoor infrared grills emit little smoke, just enough to cook the meat surface that is not in contact with the grate, but not too much that it dissipates the juice. Studies revealed that indoor infrared grills could retain at least 35% of the moisture during the whole cooking process, making infrared-grilled meats soft, tender, and juicy to the palate.
The cooking time is efficient and quick.
Because it produces a high amount of heat in just a short time, indoor infrared grills are efficient in using fuel. Depending on the unit you have, you can get your energy source from gas or electricity. In just a short amount of time, you can produce tons of grilled food which can feed a lot of people in a gathering.
Also, unlike other types of grill, you do not have to wait long in preheating it. The best infrared grills out there can produce acceptable grilling temperatures in just 3-5 minutes. Compared to the preheating times of charcoal grills (about 45 minutes) and gas grills (30 minutes), it is a huge advantage!
Infrared grills pose little to no fire hazards.
Because it does not rely on smoke or open flame to get heat, indoor infrared grills are safe to use even within the confines of your kitchen. You can be sure that your fire alarm won’t go off, and your place won’t smell of grilled fish.
The intense heat can damage some food.
Delicate food items like fish, vegetables, and starchy products like potatoes can easily get overcooked and damaged while being cooked on indoor infrared grills. Unlike red meats like beef and pork, fish and vegetables benefit more on slow and low to medium-heat grilling temperatures.
To avoid overcooking these items, pay extra attention to them while grilling. Do not leave them unattended or you may end up with burned food for dinner.
It takes a while of getting used to.
Because it offers a different mechanism than other types of grills, we do not recommend indoor infrared grills for first-time grilling people. The heat intensity it emits plus the tendency of getting food overcooked can fend off some curious individuals who would like to give grilling a try.
It is costly.
Because it uses sophisticated technology, indoor infrared grills are more about two times more expensive than other grills. Some cheap but good quality tabletop units can already cost you about $500 at a minimum. At that amount, you can already buy a superior quality gas grill or about 25 units of cheap charcoal grills.
Are infrared grills worth the price tag, though? That really depends on how you define “value for money” and what you prefer in your grill.
Tips on Buying an Indoor Infrared Grill
With so many units available out there in the market today, it can be stressful and overwhelming to find the one suitable for you and your family’s needs. To ease this burden, here are some tips you can adopt as you go and look around on numerous catalogs of indoor infrared grills.
Have a budget range and stick to it.
Like we said before, indoor infrared grills can be tremendously pricey. The more sophisticated and the more numerous the additional features, the more expensive a particular model is.
Thankfully, because indoor infrared grills are becoming more in-demand, most manufacturers decrease the price to be able to stay in the competition. It is pretty much the same with other technologies like smartphones and laptops. As newer, more sophisticated models get released, the prices of old units get lower.
That is why there is a likely chance that you can get a decent indoor infrared grill for as low as $300. That is if you know where to look.
To avoid falling into the trap of sales talk and the power of having “more” features you do not really need, have a budget range you can work on as you scour through some appliance stores. Setting a budget can help narrow down the list of potential indoor infrared grills you can check out.
Have some non-negotiable features in mind.
Most of us have this mindset when buying a particular item or stuff: the more features, the better. Or at least, that is what we perceive. We want more features because we think that maybe someday we would need it.
But do you, really? Do you really need the side burners, warming rack, and wooden shelves in your indoor infrared grill if your kitchen countertop is wide enough to accommodate the various food you want to grill? Are you sure that you need a bigger indoor infrared grills if only one or two people use it most days?
Do remember that the more features added to the product, the more expensive it becomes. To avoid paying extra for stuff or features you do not really need, know what you and your family prefer with their grilled meat. Do they like the consistent searing look? The juicy flavor? The quick meal? By knowing what exact features can accommodate your family’s preference, you can avoid buying a unit that would not be able to deliver the desired results.
Once you have a list of non-negotiable features in mind, look for models who have all of them (no exceptions). Once you find about two to three potential choices, start weighing them based on your budget range and other factors. You can even consider some additional features, too.
Don’t buy into the “more features equals better” mindset and pay a high price for it.
Know how big your storage space is.
Another thing you have to consider when looking for the best infrared grills is the space where you will put it. If you live in a condominium unit or apartment, chances are you have minimal space. Thus, standalone indoor infrared grills are out. You can opt for countertop indoor infrared grills instead.
But if you have tons of space in your kitchen or backyard, then feel free to leave the size factor out of the equation.
Study the craftsmanship.
Some burners in older models of indoor infrared grills tend to crack easily when forced into tremendous pressure pretty fast. If you plan to buy the previous editions of indoor infrared grills, make sure to look for warranties in case you got one that has a fragile infrared burner. Unfortunately, this can be tricky since most manufacturers have short warranties to their indoor infrared grills.
Our Top Recommendations for Best Infrared Grills
To help you start looking for some of the best infrared grills out there, take a look at these two best-rated indoor infrared grills we found. Do note that both of them are countertop grills so both homeowners and apartment dwellers alike can check them out.
|Philips Indoor Infrared Grill||Tenergy Life Indoor Infrared Grill|
|Preheating Time||1 minute||6 minutes|
|Warranty||Not stated||2 years|
|Special Features||Has patented no-spattering technology||Has built-in overheat protection|
This indoor infrared grill from Philips (yes, the lightbulb manufacturer) boasts about the time needed to preheat it. In only 1-2 minutes, the temperatures are high enough to let you start grilling. Plus, it can maintain that high temperature (about 446 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the cooking period.
The grates on top of the Philips indoor infrared grill offers a non-stick coating which means that marinated meats can be rotated on each side easily. It can also give the searing criss-cross pattern that you can commonly find in grills that uses metal grates as a framework.
As for cleaning, you can quickly detach the grates and toss it on the dishwasher. The tray underneath the grates which catches the fat dripping from grilled foods is something you can quickly wipe clean.
This unit costs about $223.95 on Amazon.
The Tenergy Life indoor infrared grill emits 80% less hot air than other indoor grills available in the market today. This makes them the best indoor infrared grill for any dweller.
Like the previous recommendation, this indoor infrared grill has a grill rack on top and a tray that catches drippings at the bottom. The difference lies on the grill rack－Tenergy used metal as the primary material for it. Both the grates and the tray are dishwasher-friendly as well.
What makes this model shine brighter than the Philips model is its built-in overheat protection. If the temperatures reach more than 446 degrees Fahrenheit, the indoor infrared grill automatically shuts down until such time it cools off. This makes it safer to use for apartment dwellers who have to follow strict fire regulations.
The disadvantage the Tenergy indoor infrared grill has when compared to the previous model includes the preheating time. It would take about six minutes before you can start grilling using this product. If you are running late or too tired to cook, this amount of time is a huge difference.
This unit costs around $179.99 on Amazon.
So what is the best infrared grills out there? It really depends on your family’s preference when it comes to grilled food. But one thing is for sure－indoor infrared grills offer convenience and good quality food at the same time. Despite the price point, we personally think that indoor infrared grills are more than just a marketing hype. It really is a good investment. Thus, we encourage you to give this one a try!