For those of us living in apartment complexes and condos with small patios, the quintessential American barbecue seems to be an impossibility because of space and fire-safety restrictions.
Luckily, barbecues definitely are still possible if you choose to invest in a good-quality electric grill.
Electric grills are great because without gas or charcoal to produce heat, electric grills pose fewer fire hazard risks.
Additionally, they are generally smaller and therefore more portable than traditional gas grills. This means that they will fit on your small balcony as well as in your small storage space in the attic or basement.
One of the most top-rated electric grills on the market that hits the mark for design, functionality, and quality is the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill.
Overview of the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
At first glance, the Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro electric grill is certainly eye-catching despite its small size.
The grill itself only measures 25.6 inches by 39.8 inches by 39.8 inches, has a light weight of 60.5 pounds, and the exterior is shiny and porcelain-coated.
This porcelain exterior comes in three different colors: red, black, and gray.
The small size and flashy exterior of the Tru-Infrared grill may be off-putting for some more experienced grillers who are used to full-sized steel charcoal grills, but for a mid-range electric grill with a design that is conscious of functionality in small spaces, the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro grill may be your best bet.
Its main distinguishing features include the Tru-Infrared technology, its collapsible side shelves, wheels, porcelain-coated grates, and a removable grease pan.
The Infrared technology is intended to thoroughly cook your meat and vegetables without drying them out. This can give you the control of a traditional charcoal grill, even without the flames.
Additionally, at roughly half the size of a traditional, full-size charcoal or gas grill with collapsible side shelves and wheels to move it around, the Tru-Infrared can be stored away when not in use.
And, even better, the porcelain-coated grates and the removable grease pan are there to help make clean-up even easier.
Ultimately, the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill is intended to be used for small gatherings in places that have good access to electricity. It requires 1750 watts to function, which means direct access to an outlet is a necessity to reach the maximum temperatures that this grill can handle.
- Electric – No need for gas or charcoal
- Infrared technology evenly disperses heat
- Easy clean-up
- Collapsable side shelves and wheels for portability and storage
- Slow warm-up time
- Loses heat quickly in cooler temperatures when lid is opened
- Grill is unusable if cord is damaged
Key Features of the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
First and foremost, the most important feature of this grill is that it is one-hundred percent electric. Because it is electric, it is safe to use on balconies and in small yards where there is normally a fire hazard risk.
Additionally, because this grill is entirely electric, there isn’t the worry of not having charcoal or gas on hand in order to grill. This can be especially convenient for those who do not grill regularly as they will never need to worry about storing charcoal or gas for those rare occasions that they do decide to grill.
This grill features Tru-Infrared Technology. Of course, not all electric grills are made equally.
One of the biggest problems that come with using an electric grill is that it is likely to find a model that is not capable of heating evenly because it simply moves hot air around inside the grill via a process called convection.
On the other hand, traditional charcoal and gas grills use a real flame that radiates heat to thoroughly cook your food. The Tru-Infrared technology in this grill is designed to work like a real flame, using radiation rather than convection to heat your food.
This grill features a storage rack and side shelves. In addition to its heating technology, the Char-Broil Bistro electric grill is designed to be functional with all of these small features.
The storage rack is useful for keeping your tools in one convenient location, and the side shelves give you an additional workspace to use when you are actually grilling. Both of these features can be especially useful for those who already have limited space on a balcony.
This grill has removable heating racks and a removable grease tray. The removability of these key pieces of the grill is designed with easy clean-up in mind. Not only that, in the case where you damage either of these pieces, it will be possible to remove these pieces for replacement parts.
Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill Detailed Review
Design and Build Quality
The porcelain-coated steel exterior and grilling racks are designed to prevent your grill from rusting.
Steel is a popular metal choice for grills because of its ability to conduct and maintain specific temperatures. The downside, of course, is that steel rusts easily when exposed to any kind of moisture.
A common way to compensate for this risk of rusting is to cover the metal with porcelain, which is not only easy to clean because of its smooth surface, it is also able to withstand high temperatures and can help your grill to maintain heat as you cook.
In addition, porcelain is able to maintain its color, so it is unlikely that the exterior of your grill will chip with extended use.
This grill is made to be portable. It is lightweight, it has wheels, and the side shelves are collapsable. All of these features combine to give you a grill that can be easily carted from your garage to your balcony.
So long as you have sufficient access to electricity, this grill can also be a good option for bringing with you to sports events for tailgating or for camping.
Overall, the grill has 240 square inches of primary cooking space with an 80 square inch warming rack, enough space to cook 8 to 12 hamburgers at once.
Ease of Assembly
Altogether, the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill is fairly easy to assemble. It has twenty-six pieces, and it takes around two hours to build.
The instructions are very clear, but it requires a few tools that are not included in the package.
These tools are pliers, a Phillips-head screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench. Additionally, it is useful to have a friend help you build this grill, although it is doable on your own.
Ease of Use
In general, this grill is extremely easy to use.
You plug it in, and then you control the temperature using the temperature gauge on the exterior of the grill.
Unfortunately, the grill does take around forty-five minutes to reach the max temperature of 450°F. Compared to a traditional charcoal grill that only takes twenty minutes to reach this kind of temperature range, the Patio Bistro grill can be a bit disappointing.
On top of that, while the grill maintains its temperature consistently when closed because of the extra insulation offered by the porcelain exterior, the minute the grill is opened, it will begin to lose heat.
This can be even more problematic if you live somewhere where it is less than 70°F outside as the temperature difference between the interior and the exterior of the grill is too high to be truly maintained.
Quality of the Cook
The Tru-Infrared technology does offer an excellent and even cook because the heat is not concentrated too much in any one area of the grill.
Additionally, the different heat racks give you the option to do several different kinds of cooking on the grill. The bottom rack is great for cooking meats using direct heat because it is closest to the heating apparatus, but the warming rack is also good for indirectly heating vegetables or buns to go with your barbecue.
The most noticeable difference between the cook of this electric grill and that of a traditional charcoal grill is that this grill, like all electric grills, is incapable of giving food a smokey flavor.
This is because there is no fire, and therefore no smoke, to transfer this taste to the meat.
Luckily, this can be easily fixed by investing in a wood chip smoker box. You can simply use flavoring chips (for example, mesquite wood that has been soaked in water) and heat these chips in the vented box at the same time that you cook your food.
The result is that you will have your barbecue with the same smokey flavor that is associated with grilling.
Ease of Cleanup
Because of the porcelain coating on the exterior of the grill as well as on the exterior of the grates, this grill is on the whole easy to clean.
As mentioned previously, the racks and grease tray are also removable, which aids with the clean-up as well.
Like cast-iron skillets, the best way to clean this grill is to maintain the coating on the exterior of the grates. Char-Broil recommends using a nylon brush to scrub the grates after each barbecue using a grill cleaner.
Additionally, you can use an oil like canola oil to season the grates and maintain the smooth exterior offered by the porcelain.
For a mid-range electric grill, the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill has many features that set it apart from its peers.
Its radiation cooking technology is unique, and with features like wheels and collapsible side shelves to add to the mobility of this grill, it is above all a functional appliance to have on hand.
With porcelain coating and strong attention-to-design, this grill seems to be very high quality despite its mid-range price.
How Does it Compare?
Let’s take a look at some of the Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill’s competition:
Weber Q 1400 Electric Grill
The Weber Q 1400 is a great value for its price. You get the build and cook quality you expect from Weber in a compact and sleek package. The grill is easy to clean and a good solution for those with restrictive living conditions where gas and charcoal grills are not an option.
Read our review here.
Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill
The Weber Q 2400 is the big brother of the Q 1400 with 280 square-inces of cooking space, enough to cook food for 3-4 people at once.
Read our review here.
George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor / Outdoor Electric Grill
The George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor / Outdoor Electric Grill has all the features you expect from a Foreman at a very affordable price. Those with a smaller budget or not needing the features the Patio Bistro offers should definitely check it out.
Read our review here.