A Guide to Choosing Charbroilers

UPDATE: Click here for a more comprehensive guide for how to buy broilers, salamanders, and cheesemelters.

Charbroilers generally operate at temperatures of 550 degrees and up, regardless of make, model, or manufacturer. Burners are separated at widths of 12”-15” apart (with pricier models having more burners/width), and unlike a griddle, the cooktop has slats to give items that classic grillmark appearance.




Best for:


With a smaller design, these units can be placed on a worktable, equipment base, or refrigerated chef table. Most have short legs which raise them up and off the table to make for easier cleaning.

  • Kitchens with small charbroiler usage

  • Small kitchens

Floor Model

Free-standing charbroilers consume their own footprint, but many models come with a cabinet-style base to give the user extra storage.

  • Larger Kitchens


Heavy-duty and durable, outdoor charbroilers are built to withstand the elements. These models typically come as mobile units and accessories can include a rotisserie, dome lid, and side burners (for sauces and sides).

  • Outdoor Use

  • Patio Grilling

  • Catering

  • Country Clubs

  • Resorts

Power Source

It’s important to note that while electric charbroilers do exist, they’re seldom used. The two main types of charbroiler power sources are radiant and lava rock.

Power Source





Seldom used, electric charbroilers do allow for more precision when cooking.

  • Easy-to-Use Control Knobs

  • Adjustable Pilot Settings

  • Less ‘smoky’ flavor and smell


The burners for radiant charbroilers is placed under an angled slat of metal (called a radiant) which funnels heat upwards towards the grates and food.

  • Angled metal allows for drippings to channel to a drip pan

  • Easier to Clean

  • Less captured drippings means less flavor than lava rock models

Lava Rock

Ceramic ‘lava’ stones heat up above burners and catch drippings due to their porous nature  for a more flavorful charbroiled taste. It’s recommended to replace lava rock at least twice a year (and more if there’s heavy drippings).

  • More flame/smoke for a better display cooking application

  • More maintenance and cleaning

  • Food can taste worse if there are a lot of drippings and dirty lava rocks

Additional Features

  • Reversible/Adjustable Grates: Cleaning is a routine task for charbroilers, so having sections of grating that can be lifted for cleaning can make the job slightly easier. With some models, you can adjust grates to lift further from flames for more cooking flexibility.

  • Grate Material:



Best for:

Cast Iron

Traditional choice due to durability and heat retention properties.

  • Most charbroiler applications

  • Indoor Charbroilers

Stainless Steel

More rust-resistant than cast iron counterparts.

  • Outdoor Charbroilers


More rust-resistant than cast iron counterparts.

  • Outdoor Charbroilers

  • Grate Style: Some grates have thinner and thicker widths depending on which side they’re flipped to as well.

  • Backspashes and Sidesplashes: If your charbroiler is butted up against other equipment or a wall, then having guards to protect other items from spattering grease can make cleanup much easier.

  • Grease Pan/Water Pan: Drippings are a fact of life with charbroilers, so most charbroilers come with some type of pan to catch these drippings. Most manufacturers recommend adding water to the pan in order to make cleanup easier at the end of the day.

Further Reading…

Chargrills utilize raised surfaces to lift items off the cooking surface, giving foods a distinct charred pattern.

What are the PROS? When items are lifted off the cooking surface, they are also lifted away from collecting grease. This helps make for healthier entrees! Also, the ridges give char grilled items a distinct charred pattern which is both attractive and tasty. The charred sections give foods a smokier flavor, and the aromas from a char grill simply cannot be beat.

What are the CONS? While this method may be quicker, the grill master must have a thorough knowledge of how to use the appliance in order to prevent uneven cooking. Also, as the juices are drained from the items, your meats tend to be drier than when using a griddle. You clearly will be limited on what you can cook on a chargrill, as pancakes for instance just simply will not work on this cooktop.

While panini grills and griddles are both excellent in their own right, charbroilers are unrivaled when it comes to creating grilled items that taste as though they were made outdoors on a gas grill or charbroiler! Used primarily for meats, charbroilers utilize a grate over heat to cook food items.