Ready to buy a grill but having uncertainties if you should go for an infrared or gas grill? We understand the dilemma. So, we’ve created a guide with everything you need to know about the difference between infrared and gas grills. Curious? Keep reading.
This may not be obvious for some, but the temperature is one of the main differences between an infrared grill and a gas grill.
Compared to traditional burners, infrared grills produce much higher temperatures. Many infrared burners can reach 700°F, and some products can even exceed that.
This temperature peak makes it ideal for cooking steaks and other tough cuts of meat. If you’re looking forward to cooking this kind of dishes at your cookout, then an infrared grill would be the best choice.
As for gas grills, the temperature is sufficient for most types of grilling, although it’s much lower than what infrared grills can provide.
In a gas grill, the temperature would be highest at the burners. However, please know that it’s not likely for you to find a gas grill that can get past 600°F in maximum temperature. Read more on our guide on the right temperature to grill steak on a gas grill.
In the heat source aspect, infrared and gas burners are similar. They both use gas to power up the equipment. There are propane options and natural gas options in the market.
But while majority of infrared grills do use propane or natural gas as a heat source, there are some that can be powered by electricity. There are also electric grills.
Another major difference between an infrared burner and a gas burner is how they cook food.
Let’s talk about conventional gas grills first. These grills cook with the convection method which involves heating up the air around the flames. This hot air then circulates within the grill and transfers the heat to the food. You can think of convection like a fireplace, where the hot air or heat is transferred around the room. Or, in this case, the meat.
While convection is pretty simple to understand in grills, there’s one disadvantage to this. Convection heating breaks down the moisture barrier of the meat. The convection type of heating causes food to dry out instead of being juicy on the inside.
However, it's less likely to encounter the same problem when grilling with infrared grills. The infrared burner type uses radiation instead of convection for transferring heat. Instead of heating the air (like in convection), infrared grills heat ceramic plates or metal plates which then transfers the heat to the food.
In an infrared grill, the ceramic plate or grid is placed between the gas flame and the meat, so you’re not directly exposing the food to the heat of the fire. Usually, the ceramic plate has holes that contribute to further intensifying the heat that the food gets from the gas flame. Since the ceramic plate used on the grill serves as a barrier, the food will be heated evenly.
(Ceramic is also commonly used in kamado grills, but not in the case of the Blaze Kamado grill that we reviewed.)
And because this technique doesn’t mess up the moisture barrier on the meat, you’ll have higher quality, much juicier meats with infrared cooking.
Do you prefer cooking your food faster or slower? When you’re feeding a large crowd in the backyard, faster is the obvious best choice. Also, you don’t want to spend your energy standing near the grill for a longer time.
In this case, using infrared grills would also be your best bet vs a gas grill. It’s been previously mentioned that infrared grilling involves higher temperatures compared to a gas grill, and it’s exactly for that reason why you can cook food quickly with this burner.
It will also please you that preheat times are much quicker in an infrared grill. So you can save your time and energy and start cooking quickly in 7 minutes or even less.
Then again, you'll learn that the high temperature of an infrared burner may not be for everyone. If you know you want smoking and slow cooking, then you'll find that a gas grill is the better choice compared to infrared heat.
Gas grills do a great job of grilling different kinds of food, and this heating is suitable if you don’t mind waiting a little longer for the food to cook.
Plus, for many newbie grillers, it’s easy to make mistakes on infrared grills. There’s a possibility that you can overcook the food because everything will sear and cook faster due to the high temperature in an infrared burner.
So while you won’t have any problems cooking ribs and steaks, it will be challenging to cook seafood and vegetables. In a conventional gas grill, these dishes will be much easier to make.
While you have some lower temperature control options that come with an infrared grill, a gas grill would be better if you prioritize low temp cooking.
Let us elaborate a little bit on the temperature controls on an infrared grill. Yes, you'll learn that infrared grills are much more flexible when it comes to controlling the temperature. You can make necessary infrared heat adjustments depending on the food you’re cooking.
So whether you’re searing, grilling, roasting, or barbecue cooking, an infrared grill could get the temperatures just right. If you’re keen on getting your temperatures correctly, an infrared grill would give you that option.
On the other hand, the heated energy in conventional gas burners can’t be controlled as much because the food is exposed to the heat of an open fire. So in this aspect, the infrared grill will provide better control.
On infrared burners vs gas burners, even heat is achieved by the former. Since infrared grilling doesn’t involve direct contact between the food and the fire, heat is more evenly distributed throughout the cooking surface.
Meanwhile, the flames in gas grills directly come into contact with the food, so the distribution of heat can be a little wobbly. There are hot and cold spots on a gas grill, which may cause inconsistencies when searing the food.
So if consistency is your priority when cooking food, infrared cooking gives you a good heat distribution on the surface.
Both have two fuel options: propane and natural gas. The question is, which grill uses less fuel?
The answer: infrared grill. This happens due to a few reasons.
For one, infrared grills don’t have the flame exposed to the air. And as you already know, the gas grill is the opposite of this.
So when you open the lid of an infrared grill, the heat temperature inside does not drop as much. Whereas when you open the lid of a gas grill, the heat escapes due to the air.
As a result, the gas grill needs to re-heat in order to reach the appropriate temperatures again. And with this, more fuel is used because there’s more heat loss.
Secondly, the high temperature of an infrared burner also comes into play with fuel efficiency. Because it takes less preheating and cooking times, less fuel is used as well.
In a nutshell, a gas burner consumes more fuel while an infrared grill is fuel efficient when heating.
Grills are notorious for flare ups or those sudden outbursts of flame while you’re cooking. This compromises your safety, so keep in mind that you should be careful when you’re grilling food.
It’s easy to think that because of the high temperatures infrared burners are capable of, these grills may be more prone to flareups. However, the opposite is true.
The common things that cause flare-ups in grills are when liquids from the steak drip on the flame, and when it’s windy out.
The heat in infrared grills is much more controlled compared to a gas grill, particularly because the flames are below the ceramic plate instead of openly exposed to the air.
Furthermore, the grates in infrared grills have a concave shape holding the liquid and juices that drip from the food while grilling. So, the fluids and sauces don’t drip on the actual fire when searing.
Whereas in a gas grill, the flame is exposed to the air, increasing the risk of flare-ups when you sear meats.
To reiterate what’s been mentioned before, the taste of the food is better when you use an infrared grill. That relates back to the cooking method that grills use.
The convection method in gas grills heat the air and break the moisture barrier on meats, causing it to dry out when grilling. On the other hand, infrared grills directly heat the meat through the heated ceramic plates, trapping the fluids inside and resulting in a juicier steak.
And since gas grills are more prone to flare-ups, charring or burning can easily happen with heating, which will give the food a bitter taste.
As is most of the time, price is something that many people consider when buying a product. In this aspect, however, the gas grill wins due to its affordability.
Infrared burners have a more expensive price tag. That’s one of the reasons why many people like to choose a gas grill over an infrared grill.
Got your heart set on an infrared grill? The TEC Sterling Patio FR 44” is a solid choice.
Equipped with two stainless steel burners, this cooking equipment gives you a temperature range of 200°F to a whopping 900°F. To reach that peak heat, it only takes 10 minutes with the hood down.
TEC grills are great additions to any home. With this particular model, you get 592 square inches of cooking surface, making it easy to cook 32 hamburgers at the same time.
Plus, this grill has radiant glass panels that sit above the burner. Aside from the radiant panels, the cooking grids also offer fast recovery time so the sear marks are even when you turn your food.
Best of all, you'll like that this BBQ grill infrared burner has a self-cleaning mechanism so you won’t be stressed out with cleaning out the grill after use.
If size is a consideration, these 2 burner gas grills are also great.
If you find gas grills more appealing, check out this grill from Blaze.
Equipped with 4 burners, the Blaze 32” built-in produces impressive heating power. In addition to the 4 burners, you also have a rear infrared burner with this one.
The 740 square inches of cooking space is enough for most cookouts. And if you’re cooking different meats, there are heat zone separators on the burner to cook in different temperatures.
What’s great about this gas grill is the flame thrower primary ignition. We like that it has flash tube ignition and crossovers in case you need backup.
See how a 4-burner like this competes against a 5-burner, and figure if you need something larger.
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