Traditional gas grills require about 10 minutes to preheat, and charcoal grills need about 20 minutes for the briquettes to reach an ideal cooking temperature. Infrared grills, however, can reach top temperatures within three to five minutes [source: Hunter].
The high temperatures of infrared grills cut the cooking time of proteins by about half when compared to their cooking time on traditional gas or charcoal grill grates. The result is a medium-rare steak in about five minutes or a fully cooked chicken breast in about 10 minutes.
To prevent food-borne illnesses, grilled proteins must be cooked to the correct internal temperature. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recommended temperatures include:
- Whole poultry: 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius)
- Ground poultry: 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73 degrees Celsius)
- Pork, ground veal and ground beef: 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius)
- Pork or beef roast, beef or lamb chops and steaks: 145 degrees Fahrenheit (62 degrees Celsius)
"The best way to measure the internal temperatures of foods on an infrared grill is using a thermometer," said Richard Wachtel, the founder of Grilling with Rich, an online magazine that specializes in educating competitive grillers. As of 2011, you could purchase a probe-style digital thermometer for less than $20 in most places where cooking equipment is sold.
Even with a thermometer to measure food temperatures and a home library stocked with cookbooks, learning how to create culinary masterpieces on an infrared grill takes practice. Because infrared surfaces heat to between two and three times the temperature of traditional grills, foods can burn much more quickly than you may expect. While it may take five minutes to sear a 2-inch-thick tenderloin, for example, grilled asparagus requires only a minute or two. Watch food carefully the first time you try cooking it on an infrared grill.
For some people, however, the real challenge begins when the grill's work is done. After spending hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars on an infrared grill, caring for it reaches a whole new level of importance. On the next page, we'll share some tips for maintaining your infrared grill.