Buying Guide: Char Broilers

Buying Guide: Char Broilers

Char broilers are designed to bring the taste of the backyard grill inside by producing deep, smoky flavors. There are a couple of ways to produce products with those tell-tale grill marks and the undeniable flavor of the grill: radiant heat or with char rocks. The radiant or char rock acts as a storage bank of heat. The more cold products you throw on the broiler, the more heat is drawn from the heat bank. Heavy duty cast iron radiants store more heat, recover faster and cook faster. Stainless steel radiants are less costly to manufacture, but don’t produce quality results. Char/Lava rock type broilers are really only for light duty applications and are prone to flare-ups. In order to make a more informed decision on which model is right for you, let's take a closer look at the differences between char broiler types. 

Radiant Char Broilers

Radiant heat char boilers use angled pieces of metal or iron, called radiants, with the gas flame beneath them. The heat produced by the flame is directed up toward the grates and food, while the radiants protect the flames from grease drippings and flare-ups. They work much like your back yard gas grill. When using radiant heat, the gas flames heat the radiants and the heat is distributed evenly across the cooking surface. The radiants are easier to clean than char-rocks and they provide good product consistency.

Char/Lava Rock Char Broilers

If you are looking for a charcoal grilled, flame-kissed flavor, you might consider a char broiler with char or lava rocks. When using char/lava rocks, the gas heats the ceramic briquettes and simulates charcoal cooking. Fat drips on the briquettes creating the smoky flavor, but increasing the likelihood of flare-ups (like on a charcoal grill). Briquettes should be flipped periodicalliy and replaced twice a year - or more often depending on your usage. This type of char broiler might be a bit more maintenance and more difficult to clean, but it might be worth the extra time investment for the grilled flavor

Char Broiler Tips

Char Broiler Tips
  1. Use the appropriate grate for the menu item - delicate items like fish might require thicker grates that sit closer together
  2. Season the grates before the first use by preheating them to open the pores and brushing them with a hight temperature-tolerant oil.
  3. Pre-heat the grates before cooking to help reduce sticking.
  4. Dip food in seasoned oil before grilling to reduce sticking and enhance flavor.
  5. Consider positioning grates on an angle for charbroiling. It will drain the grease better and gives you better control of heat distribution. Well done items go toward the top to cook slowly and thoroughly. Rare items go toward the lower position to cook rapidly on the outside and leave the inside rare.
  6. Wire brush the grates after each use or batch of food product.

Other Considerations

With their open burner that must stay lit the entire time it’s in use, char broilers usually have high energy usage.

You must always pre-heat your cooking grid and keep in mind that smoke can get bad without proper ventilation.

As far as accessories and upgrades: look for cast iron radiants, optional stainless steel splash guards, and wide front shelves for plates.

As with any gas appliance, be sure and include a new AGA commercial gas flex hose. They are designed extremely heavy duty, usually with a brass quick disconnect. Standard, plumber supplied home-type flex hoses are not designed for commercial applications and are not NSF approved.