In the heat of summer, nothing is more fun than taking the cooking outdoors to grill in the open air. Although there are several different kinds of grills available, there is a new style that has recently come onto the market for the average consumer: the infrared grill. Infrared grills have been available only to commercial customers until recently, but with the expiration of their patent in 2000, the technology behind these grills has become available for use by the Average Joe.

Infrared grills work on a very simple premise: propane or natural gas is used to heat a slab of ceramic tile to very high temperatures, around 1600F. Because the tile is so hot, it begins to emit infrared radiation, which cooks the food directly. This is very different from gas grills, which only heat the air around the food to bring it up to temperature. Although charcoal grills also use a small amount of infrared radiation to cook, only 25% of the cooking power is there, while the other 75% is in convection - i.e., heating the air.

Because they utilize infrared radiation, infrared grills can also reach higher temperatures than either gas or charcoal grills - between 450F and 900F - and can reach the desired heat in 15 minutes or less. Because of the higher heat, food also often cooks faster, and the infrared cooking also dries the food out less. Since there is only one heat source in an infrared grill - a solid block of ceramic - the heat is very even, and food will cook more thoroughly and completely; you won't find pieces that are over or undercooked compared to the rest. This also makes the entire cooking process more predictable and easier to control, since the overall heat of the grill doesn't change easily.

And because there is such high heat, these grills make beautiful char-marks on the food, very much like you would see at a restaurant. Many people have also found that because of the very high heat, it's easy to steam vegetables in the grill, and you can add a smoke flavor to the food by simply throwing a few wood chips on the ceramic. They will begin to smoke the food immediately, and with much less wood than you would expect.

Some early models of these grills were quite difficult to clean, since drippings would fall onto the ceramic and sear on, but there have been many advancements in this area, and almost all manufacturers provide an option to catch drippings, so that there is very little cleanup necessary. With infrared grill technology, it's easier than ever to enjoy summer cookouts. With extremely high heat and quick pre-heat times, these Infrared Grills are an amazing, quick, and very efficient way to cook your food. Add all that to the ease of smoking and the impressive char-marks you can attain, and these grills really add up to be a great option for everything you need from a grill.