Infrared Grills and regular propane and natural gas grills both use gas for producing heat. The main differences between the Infrared and conventional grills is how they use the heat to cook the food.
The cook can take advantage of these differences in order to prepare and cook food differently with an Infrared Grill than when using a conventional gas or charcoal grill - this often results in a much better tasting meal. The control and variety of grilling techniques may be the biggest advantage that Infrared Grills have over conventional grills.
Infrared vs Convection Heating Makes a Difference
Regular gas grills use convection - the flame heats the air, the air then transfers the heat to the food and the food is essentially being cooked by hot air.
Infrared Grills on the other hand use flames to directly heat a ceramic plate, this ceramic plate doesn't heat the air, but directly sends infrared heat waves to the food - in this case the grill doesn't use hot air to cook the food, the food is heated directly by the ceramic plate underneath by infrared radiation.
Higher Cooking Temperatures
The heat being radiated by the ceramic plate is much more concentrated then in a grill that depends on the hot air to cook the food. Because of this, higher cooking temperatures are reached on an Infrared Grill than can be achieved with a conventional gas grill.
Greater Temperature Control
While there is much greater temperatures available in an Infrared Grill, there is also much greater control over those temperatures.
Because there is no open flame, there is almost no chance of a flare-up or accidental grease fire due to fat and oil dripping directly onto the gas burners.
There is also greater control over how the heat is spread over the entire cooking surface. Instead of hot and cold spots appearing and disapearing across the grill during cooking, once the ceramic plate is pre-heated, there is an even and steady heat available at the cooking surface with no cold or hot spots - this allows the cook to ensure that the food is cooked to perfection every time.
Efficiency of Infrared Grills vs Gas Grills
Infrared Grills are more efficient in many areas of the grilling process - and also easier on your wallet in the long term.
** Infrared Grills take a shorter time to heat up, so grilling can be started more quickly
** Because the food is cooked quicker and the heat is transferred more efficiently, there is less propane or natural gas used
** No hot or cold spots means there is less time and effort in finding the 'sweet spot' to cook the food evenly and thoroughly
Taste is probably the most subjective aspect to grilling. Some grillers claim that infrared grilling is the perfect blending of the taste of grilling over an open wood fire, while maintaining the simplicity and ease of use of gas grills.
The higher temperatures that Infrared Grills reach also help to sear meats more quickly, sealing in the tasty natural juices - the higher heat also cooks food more quickly, which means that food doesn't dry out and keeps more of its delicious flavors.
The Bottom Line
While there are some old-school grilling purists that wouldn't ever dream of using a gas or infrared grill instead of their beloved charcoal and wood fires, the fact is that Infrared Grills are the perfect blend between the convenience of cooking with gas while retaining the taste and flavor of charcoal grills.