If you’ve been following the latest in barbeque these days, you know there’s a new tech in town. That technology is infrared. Over the past couple of years, infrared technology definitely caught fire and became a hot trend in the backyard barbeque world. My early adopter friends and family jumped in and praise their new restaurant-style stainless steel toys. Finding a portable version with the technology proved difficult however. Until recently, that is. Char-Broil just introduced their new Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Grill2Go x200 for tailgating and car camping. And this mini version of its more powerful brethren caught our attention.

For those not in the know about infrared, let me give you a quick rundown. Traditional grills, whether they be charcoal or gas-powered, cook at relatively moderate temperatures (say 500 degrees or so) and emit equally moderate amounts of infrared energy as part of the cooking process. It’s the hot air circulating within the barbeque that does most of the cooking. Infrared grills cook at much higher temperatures (well over 1000 degrees in some cases) and create much higher levels of infrared energy. They use metal or ceramic plates to directly transfer that energy and cooking heat to the food. No hot air required. More delicious, less dried out food is the promise.

So how did the Char-Broil Grill2Go x200 fare?

Out of the box, the Char-Broil Grill2Go looks and feels solid. It comes mostly assembled and requires only a few elements to be put in place before cooking. That’s a good thing since the manual offers almost no help in this area. First, place the black metal vaporizer bar over the exposed burner, then insert the stainless steel grill. Watch your fingers because the edges of the grill are somewhat sharp. Attach the included regulator and propane cylinder (the manual does provide instructions for that component), slide the drip pan into place, and you’re ready for first use. Before cooking, heat the grill up thoroughly and allow any manufacturing residue to burn off prior to cooking. A little oil on the cooking surface can also help season the grill at the same time.

Material: Cast aluminum and stainless steel
Weight: 21 lb
Grilling surface: 200 sq in

We chose to grill some ribs for our trial outing. The grilling surface is roughly 200 square inches, just enough for two slabs of baby backs, or four to five good-sized steaks or chicken breasts. The electronic igniter did a fine job sparking the grill to life and the Grill2Go x200 reached cooking temperature rapidly (roughly five to seven minutes and we were ready to cook).

Cooking at such high heat took a little adjusting. Our ribs, parboiled earlier in the day, took only minutes to reach the desired temperature, about half the time of a traditional grill in our estimate. We also found that barbeque sauce tended to blacken rapidly. My advice, even if you’re used to applying your sauce at the very end of the cooking process, plan on an even shorter duration as a minute or two is all it takes for an infrared grill. After the ribs, we grilled asparagus and again found that a process that can take 10-15 minutes on a typical grill took half the time, but yielded equally good results. The grilling surface, by the way, doesn’t allow for those little guys to fall through as on traditional grills, another added bonus.

So is it time to switch to infrared? Quite possibly yes. At 21 pounds, you won’t be hauling the Grill2Go x200 into the backcountry. But if you’re searching for a portable grill to add to your car-camping arsenal, one that not only delivers good cooking results but also cuts down on cooking time, the Char-Broil Grill2Go x200 could be just what you’ve been looking for.