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What Is an Infrared Grill?

A steak cooked on an infrared grill.
Grilled zucchini.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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An infrared grill cooks food directly, unlike other grills that use an indirect method of cooking. This kind of technology was primarily used in the commercial industry, but manufacturers are now targeting homeowners by making these grills suitable for residential buildings. The method of cooking was previously patented in certain countries, which expired and allowed other manufacturers to take up and refine the technology. An infrared grill is usually more expensive than a typical gas or charcoal grill. Its advantages include a greater ability to cook meat evenly and a more efficient use of power.

Ordinary grills heat the air around the meat or vegetables, slowly cooking the food like an oven. An infrared grill heats the rack the food sits on, resulting in the food being cooked directly. The food is cooked more quickly, more evenly, and with more prominent sear marks. Some restaurants use this type of grill because of its quickness and how obvious the sear marks are to customers. An infrared grill is sometimes the secret of success when it comes to restaurant steaks, because customers cannot easily duplicate the results at home.

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One advantage of using an infrared grill is that it can help the meat retain a lot of its juices. Other types of grills suspend the meat in the air over a flame or heating element with large gaps in the material holding it in place, so there are a lot of opportunities for meat juices to be lost. Infrared grills can cook meat without large openings for meat juices to escape. Furthermore, these grills can cook faster than many other types of grills. Many people believe the combination of faster cooking and a grilling process that does not dry the meat results in higher-quality food.

An infrared grill is usually more expensive than other grills, only partly due to the advanced technology used to make it. In the United States, the patent on the technology did not expire until the early 2000s, so one manufacturer had a monopoly on making and selling infrared grills. Since the expiration, more manufacturers have added infrared grills to their assembly line, ultimately resulting in cheaper but still relatively expensive grills. Besides their expense, infrared grills are difficult to repair, and their installation usually makes them hard to remove from a site. Before purchasing an infrared grill, a person needs to seriously consider their upfront cost and long-term maintenance.

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