Best Infrared Grills Under $500 in 2020

Infrared grills are all the rage now, and there are some good reasons to spend the extra money to get them. Unfortunately, they are often very expensive.

Well, we have some good news for you. There are a few great mid-range options available and we have picked the best infrared grills under $500 in this guide.

This article will also cover the benefits of this technology and some things to keep in mind when shopping for a new infrared rig.

Our recommendations for Best Infrared Grills Under $500:

6 Best Infrared Grills Under 500 Dollars Reviewed

We took our time to research dozens of infrared grills available in this price class and chose the best ones for this guide. All of the models included here have something special to offer, be it portability, extremely high heat, or versatility.

Here are the reviews of 6 best infrared grills that you can get for under 500 bucks.

Note: Below you can find a few more guides that we think you will find interesting:

Best Overall: Char-Broil Performance TRU-Infrared 3-Burner Stainless Grill

Char-Broil has several infrared grills that fit the bill, but the Performance series models are some of the best out there. 

The three-burner version features a large 450 square-inch cooking grate for big cookouts. Porcelain-coated grates, a fast electric ignition system, and a sharp stainless steel finish round out a pretty impressive grill.

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 3
  • Additional Burners: 1 lidded 10,000 BTU side burner
  • Total BTU: 34,000
  • Primary Grilling Area (sq.in): 450
  • Warming Rack Area (sq.in): 150
  • Weight: 106 lbs
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 54.10″ x 23.40″ x 45.50″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

When it comes to extra features, this grill also has a fold-away warming rack and a 10,000 BTU side burner.

Char-Broil’s TRU-infrared technology uses a stainless steel burner underneath a special metal shield that runs the cooking area’s length. The shield heats up and emits infrared heat evenly over the entire cooking surface eliminating hot and cold spots, along with flare-ups.

Some users report that the heat shield that makes these grills so unique is challenging to keep clean. Everything is modular, however, so the parts can be removed for careful cleaning.

What We Love

  • Great value for money
  • Heats up fast
  • Provides even heat
  • No flare-ups
  • Large cooking area
  • Comes with a side burner

What We Don’t

  • Cleaning the heat shields takes some effort

Best for Super-High Heat: Northfire Inferno Single Burner Propane Infrared Grill

Northfire says that this grill can get up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (815 C), and there’s no reason to disbelieve. The German-built Inferno is a cabinet style grill, with one 8,500 BTU infrared burner mounted above the grill grate.

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 1
  • Total BTU: 8,500
  • Grill Plate Size (sq.in): 66
  • Food Tray Size (sq.in): 66
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 17″ x 10″ x 14″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

The grate slides out, and you can control the temperature and cooking time by how far from the grill you put the grate. There’s a drip pan for easy cleanup, and the whole grilling rack can be removed and washed in a dishwasher.

The grill weighs only 32 pounds and is about 14 inches tall. It comes with a 6″ x 11″ grill plate and a food tray that is 7/8″ deep.

This is grill is perfect for cooking meat fast and with a proper sear. So if you want to make steaks like the real steakhouses do, then this is a great choice!

What We Love

  • Gets really hot
  • Great for cooking steaks
  • No flare-ups
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight and compact

What We Don’t

  • Can’t be converted to natural gas

Best Budget Infrared Grill: Char-Broil Grill2Go x200

Another great option from Char-Broil is this little portable model. It’s made of steel and cast aluminum, with a 200 square inch cooking grate. 

This grill uses the same TRU-infrared technology that the Performance line of standalone grills does. For their portable model, the infrared plates double as the cooking grates.

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 1
  • Total BTU: 9,500
  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 200
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Build Materials: Steel and cast aluminum
  • Dimensions: 23.7″ x 15.0″ x 13.6″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

The x200 is designed as a tabletop grill, so it stands on sturdy built-in legs with unique carry handles. 

It also takes one-pound camping gas cylinders available at any big- box store. Of course, with an optional adapter, you could connect it to any size propane tank, depending on how you want to use it.

The only issue with this grill is that some users have found that the grill gets too hot with the standard regulator, so it’s hard to cook anything else than steaks or burgers. You can solve this problem easily by getting a new regulator like this Bayou model.

This unit only weighs 20 pounds, so carting it on your next adventure will be a breeze. Pay a little extra and you get a handy travel case along with the grill.

It’s great for tailgating, camping, or beach-going but could do double-duty as an excellent home grill too.

What We Love

  • Affordable
  • Gives a nice sear
  • Easy to take along for a trip

What We Don’t

  • The included regulator is not very good

Most Versatile: Char-Broil The Big Easy Smoker, Roaster, and Grill

If you’re looking for versatility, The Big Easy is about the most robust combination cooker you could ask for. First and foremost, it is a roasting cabinet grill. 

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 1
  • Total BTU: 18,000
  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 180
  • Smoking and Roasting Basket (in3): 1200
  • Weight: 50 lbs
  • Build Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 23.4″ x 23.4″ x 36.2″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

You can put big items, like whole turkeys or slabs of ribs, in the roaster basket. For extra flavor, there is also a smoker box.

If you’re looking to grill hamburgers or steaks, The Big Easy will do that too. An infrared grill grate goes on top of the roaster basket, giving you 180 square inches of grill space. The roaster basket can hold up to 25 pounds of food.

The biggest detractor for this 3-in-1 roaster/griller/smoker is that it doesn’t do any of these three things exceptionally well. The roaster is a good size and does its job well, but the smoker box is ill-fitting, and the grilling grate is on the small side. 

This unit is perfect if you do mostly roasting or slow cooking and only occasionally want to grill. 

However, if you want to do a lot of smoking, many other options will give you better, more consistent results. The smoker box in this unit is there to add a little more flavor to your roasting.

What We Love

  • Good price point
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Great for roasting ribs, turkeys, and chicken
  • Compact and lightweight

What We Don’t

  • The build quality could be better
  • Not really good for smoking

Best Portable Infrared Grill: Magma Newport 2 Gourmet Series

When you need a good grill for a small space, the marine-built Magma Newport 2 is a classy option. It’s mirror finish marine-grade stainless steel construction is as beautiful as it is durable.

 

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 1
  • Total BTU: 11,200
  • Grilling Area (sq.in): 162
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Build Materials: Marine grade stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 22.5″ x 11.63″ x 11.63″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 1 year

At less than 20 pounds, this grill is easily portable yet still manages a 162 square inch cooking grate. It has fold-down legs for tabletop use, or you can purchase many other mounting accessories directly from Magma.

Relatively unknown outside of the boating community, Magma grills are one of the higher-quality options. Their components are robust and long-lasting.

Its simple, no-frills design is purely practical. This grill gets the job done with style, and it will last years.

What We Love

  • Gets hot fast
  • Made in the U.S.A
  • Constructed of 100% marine grade stainless steel
  • Great for camping, boats, and tailgating

What We Don’t

  • Small grilling area

Best Compact Standalone Option: Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Grill

If you need a standalone grill for small spaces, the Patio Bistro Grill from Char-Broil is an excellent alternative. Its small single-burner design still manages to work in an impressive 320 square inches of cooking area. 

Specifications:

  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Number of Main Burners: 1
  • Total BTU: 13,000
  • Primary Grilling Area (sq.in): 240
  • Warming Rack Area (sq.in): 80
  • Weight: 40 lbs
  • Build Materials: Enameled steel + porcelain-coated steel grate
  • Dimensions: 24.40″ x 25.20″ x 38.20″ (L x W x H)
  • Warranty: 5 years for stainless burner + firebox and lid, 1 year for other parts

Like other Char-Broil options, the TRU-infrared burner grate covers the entire cooking area with uniform dry heat, making it very efficient. The sturdy cart holds a standard 20-pound propane tank and includes a convenient towel bar that can also hold tools.

The Patio Bistro grills are made from enameled steel, so don’t expect them to last forever. Some users report that they’ve had various problems with these grills over the years, but that they’re so easy to cook on and produce such great results they’ll keep buying them. 

In short, be sure to take care of it and keep it clean, and it should last quite a while.

What We Love

  • Compact and easy to move around
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Adequate grilling area

What We Don’t

  • Not the most durable grill

What Exactly Are Infrared Grills?

Gas grills come with two different burner styles, and when you plan on buying one, understanding the differences is essential. 

Infrared grill burners are gaining popularity every year. TEC Grills patented the technology in the 1980s, and this type of burner has only recently become popular in consumer grills.

It has been the favored type of grill used by steakhouses for a long time, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

infrared grill

Infrared energy (or light) is electromagnetic radiation that has a longer wavelength than visible red light. When infrared waves hit a surface, their energy is released as heat.

Grills can produce infrared radiation by heating up a metallic or ceramic surface to a high temperature. These special types of grates transform the direct heat into infrared heat.

On the other hand, traditional gas grills have cast or tube burners with a few dozen orifices along with their parameters. These emit the classic gas grill blue flame, which doesn’t get as hot compared to infrared burners. 

The traditional gas burners mostly work by heating their surroundings slowly and distributing heat throughout the grill using flame caps, lava rocks, briquettes, or grates.

Types of Infrared Grills

Infrared grills have two main types of configurations.

There are grills that use only infrared burners and hybrid models where the infrared burner is an addition to the regular main burners.

The hybrid models often have one fixed infrared burner for searing or for rotisserie cooking. There are also grills where the regular burner can be changed for an infrared burner when higher temperature is needed.

Next, let’s take a look the different types infrared burner technologies available.

Ceramic Infrared Burner Systems

Most of the infrared burners on the market are rectangular ceramic pieces, made with hundreds of tiny pores. The propane is fed through the pores and combusts at each spot.

That makes the heat uniformly distributed over the entire burner, and each pore gets very hot. The flames emitted are red hot with just a hint of blue hue from the propane.

The problem with these types of burners is that they have a limited temperature range (about 600-1000°F) and are prone to flare-ups.

TEC Systems

TEC is the pioneer of infrared burner technology. Their burners are distinctive looking, with a glass panel and a stainless steel cooking grid, and typically have a temperature range of about 350-850°F.

There is also a never system that utilizes a conversion burner for a wider temperature range (200-900°F).

Heat Emitter Systems

Heat emitter infrared burners utilize stainless steel tubes with metal heat emitter panels over them. The advantage is even heat and no flare-ups but they can usually only reach temperatures up to 650°F.

Benefits of Infrared Grills

Once you understand what infrared burners are and aren’t, their strengths and weaknesses become apparent. 

Infrared burners get really hot, so they’re great for searing.

Many manufacturers are adding one infrared burner to their traditional gas grills as a “sear burner.” 

This hybrid approach gives grillmasters a little more versatility, but beware that many entry-level grills use dressed up regular burners instead of true infrared designs.

seared rib eye steak
Infrared burners can give your steak a nice sear

Infrared burners emit heat by direct radiation, so the heat goes directly into your food. 

Traditional blue-flame burners use convection for cooking; they heat the air around the food which circulates to cook. All that hot, dry air moving around dries out your food quickly. It also leads to grill hot spots and uneven cooking.

The main advantages of infrared grills are:

  • Higher Temperature: The ultra-high heat put out by infrared units gives a nice sear and cooks your meat fast without drying it.
  • Heats Up Fast: These grills are ready to cook on in just a few minutes since there isn’t much warm-up time required.
  • Provides Even Heat: The heat produced is even and predictable.
  • Fewer Flare-Ups: Flare-ups are no longer a concern since any drippings are instantly vaporized.
  • Easy to Clean: Just run the burner on high for a few minutes, and everything will burn off.
  • Lower Fuel Consumption: Since these grills cook directly and quickly, they often use less fuel than cooking the same food with a traditional grill.
  • Works in Windy and Cold Weather: When you are cooking outdoors there could be occasions when it’s cold and windy. With a regular gas grill, this can slow down the cooking process or even ruin the whole meal. Infrared grills can cook and sear those steaks in more difficult weather conditions.

Possible Drawbacks of Infrared Grills

With all of these benefits, there are also some downsides. 

Besides the fact that infrared burners are more expensive than traditional burners, it’s important to realize that there are cooking differences as well. 

It will take experienced grillers some time to learn the intricacies of cooking on infrared. You might have a few burned steaks in the early days because things happen fast on infrared.

Also, slow cooking recipes are more difficult without the traditional convection of a standard grill. If you roast, bake, or smoke in your gas grill, an infrared burner is of little benefit. 

Infrared is best used for fast, direct cooking.

Infrared Grill FAQ

How infrared grills work?

Infrared grills have burner systems that heat up metallic or ceramic surfaces to a very high temperature. This enables them to transform the direct heat into infrared radiation.

Are infrared grills worth the price?

Infrared grills are often more expensive compared to regular gas grills. If you like to cook food like steaks and burgers, that require searing and high temperatures, then you should definitely consider buying an infrared grill.

What are the benefits of infrared grills?

Infrared grills have several benefits over regular gas grills. They heat up faster, get to higher temperatures, and provide more even heat. This makes them excellent for searing steaks.

How to clean an infrared grill?

One of the best ways to clean your infrared grill is to burn off the excess food particles and grease stuck on the grates. You can do this by turning the grill on high heat and closing the lid for about 15 minutes. After this, you can just brush off the ashes.

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Joonas!

As soon as I learned to walk, I started to assist my dad and uncles with grilling and smoking. I always loved helping them and later took over the role of the grill master in my family.

My goal is to cook tasty barbecue food, enjoy it with family & friends, and help others do the same!

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