PROS / Char-broil harnesses its patented U-shaped troughs into a superior grilling experience.
CONS / No wheels on the grill make the unit somewhat difficult to maneuver from place to place.
VERDICT / The Red has all the characteristics of a steak house style infrared grill at a backyard value.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Char-Broil has been in the grilling game since the late 1940s. In 2008, the company unveiled a new line of infrared grills to the consumer market. The Red infrared grill line harnesses all the expertise, experience and innovation Char-Broil has gathered in their six decades of dedication to outdoor grilling.
Char-Broil designed The Red to be powerful and affordable. Dollar for dollar you won’t find an infrared grill with as much power or as many features as you find in The Red. It provides the best feature-to-value ratio of any infrared grill we reviewed.
The key to the Red’s success is Char-Broil’s patented infrared grilling technology. In the primary burning area of the Red and you will find an isolated a set of infrared burners under a metal shell that keeps hot air out of the cooking area. Because hot air dries out food, the elimination of the hot air on the cooking surface produces a juicier, tastier result.
Another benefit to Char-Broil infrared grills is their short preheat time. The Red heats to 600 degrees in about 10 minutes. This speed gives you several benefits such as quick turnaround time and the use of less propane per barbecue. You can also slow-grill at low temperatures. It’s an impressively versatile product.
Char-Broil doesn’t market the Red as a smoker. However, you can easily convert it into one by adding soaked woodchips into the pan. It makes the Red ideal for cooking smoked ribs. This method produces perfect smoke lines and texture on ribs.
Temperature & Power
This four-burner infrared grill possesses clearly marked temperature knobs for each burner. The primary burners are stainless steel and can utilize up to 37,000 BTUs to reach temperatures up to about 700 degrees. This kind of heat allows you to cook meat to perfection quickly. For example, a 2-inch rib-eye steak cooks to medium rare in just over three minutes per side.
The infrared technology used in the Red eliminates hot and cold spots on the infrared grill’s cooking surface. Situated above the infrared burners are two U-shaped troughs. The burners heat the troughs, which in turn heat the cooking surface. This patented cooking method keeps a good amount of excess hot air away from your meat. This locks juice and flavor into meat.
Everybody likes a handsome sear mark on steak and pork chops. These marks show that a cut of meat has been thoroughly cooked but not burned. The Red heats to temperatures of between 600 and 700 degrees in about 10 minutes. These high temperatures allow you to achieve sear marks on any cut of meat in just minutes.
Flare-ups on The Red do occur. However, they are far less frequent than on a conventional gas or charcoal grill. The flare-ups that occur are short and relatively mild and carry a very low risk of burning your meat.
Grilling is all about heat, but do not be fooled by high temperatures and BTUs. The Red is perfectly capable of slow-roasting meat at low temperatures. You can also convert The Red into a smoker with relatively little effort. Just add soaked woodchips to give that smokey flavor to grilled foods.
The primary cooking area measures 580 square inches. If you are cooking burgers, that calculates to about 35 burgers cooking simultaneously. Given how fast this infrared grill cooks meat, you could serve a small army a delicious meal if they happened to be camping out in your backyard at chow-time.
Additionally, because of the amount of control you have over the temperature of each burner, you can cook burgers on one burner at one temperature and steaks on another burner at a higher temperature.
The side burner on the Red provides 200 square inches of cooking area and 13,000 BTUs of cooking power. The side burner is perfect for cooking vegetables or other side dishes while you simultaneously cook the meat of your barbecue.
If you remove the porcelain-coated cast-iron grate grill from the Red, you’ll find two U-shaped troughs. As we mentioned before, these troughs prevent hot air from rising to the cooking surface. They facilitate the infrared cooking process. Char-broil designed these troughs specifically for easy installation, removal and cleaning when your barbecue is over.
The Red has a number of niceties and embellishments you can choose to add onto your infrared grill. Arguably the most useful and fun of these is the rotisserie. You have to buy this accessory separate, but it’s worth the extra cash if you want to slow-cook a chicken or kebab to perfection.
Another small feature worth mentioning is the infrared grill’s lights. The Red comes equipped with a small extension cord, which allows you to illuminate the inside of your grill for nighttime cooking. This is terribly convenient because it means you do not need an exterior light source to avoid grilling in the dark.
On a final cosmetic note, we were impressed with how handsome the two slide-out drawers looked when filled with barbecue paraphernalia. In addition, the racks and shelves built into the stainless steel hood share the same elegant yet rugged look and feel of the entire grill.
You can buy the Red purchase preassembled at your local hardware store. However, in most cases you’ll need to assemble the infrared grill yourself. If you do happen to buy a pre-assembled grill, make sure you tie it down before you drive out of the parking lot. You would be surprised how many customers will dump their brand new grills right onto the pavement minutes after buying it.
The grill comes with some of the most detailed, easy-to-follow instructions we have seen. There are a couple of bolts that hold in the side drawer that may give you trouble. Other than that, it is a simple operation. The grill itself takes anywhere between one hour to 90 minutes to assemble. If you follow the instructions precisely, you should not have any problems getting your infrared grill up and running.
Char-Broil chose to construct the Red out of almost entirely stainless steel. During prime barbecue months, this should not be a problem. However, in the winter and early spring rainfall and snow can cause the grill to rust if left unprotected. We recommend purchasing a quality cover for the Red to protect it from the elements. Otherwise, the construction is sturdy. Unless you drop an anvil on it, the grill can withstand just about anything you throw at it.
The Red weighs in at just less than 200 pounds when fully assembled. When you attach a propane tank to the grill, that number naturally goes up. While it’s not easy to move, it’s not impossible. Just take care when you do move it. It is definitely a two-person task.
Warranty & Support
Char-broil excels at making their website accessible to everyone. Navigation between product lines and grill models is intuitive and pain free. We can’t say that about some of their competitors, where sometimes you feel like you’re on a treasure hunt without a map.
The company makes all the manuals and guides for all their products and models available on their website. They also provide detailed information about each product’s warranty and the availability of spare parts. Since you’ll probably have this grill for the better part of a decade, the abundance of spare parts is very important.
As far as residential grills go, Char-Broil’s The Red is almost as good as it gets, even without its infrared technology. Add in their patented infrared cooking system and you get a grill that heats up quickly, sears food fast to lock in flavor and juice, and has enough cooking surface to feed every member in your family and their children. We would have liked to have seen wheels on this grill for added mobility. We especially like this infrared grill’s easy construction and short pre-heat times that provide a fast, delicious outdoor cooking experience.