Although they are used to cook similar types of foods, charbroilers and grills are quite different. While they can be substituted for each other in certain circumstances, each has its own advantages and strengths. Through concentrated and directly applied heat, they are geared to caramelize, char, and flavor food in a unique way.  With an open flame and a spaced grill, charbroilers and grills give that smokey flavor, a charred look that is not easily replicated, and is something that customers look for in a restaurant. Some examples include chicken, fish, steak, pork, ribs, burgers, wings, grilled vegetables, and even sandwiches. When deciding on whether to buy a charbroiler or a grill for your restaurant, you must know what the main differences are before finalizing your decision.

Charbroilers

In general, charbroilers are more commonly found on commercial premises. They are indoor appliances. Restaurants and food establishments usually have a commercial chargrill station where they cook food. Charbroilers are larger than grills and can cook more substantial quantities of food at one time.  They operate by using a gas flame to heat a heating element that radiates to a grill grate. Their design provides quick and consistent heat, allowing the temperature to be more easily controlled than grills. Temperatures can be regulated using responsive valves and sensors.  Charbroilers are energy-intensive, often using between 15,000 and 30,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) of gas per burner, per hour, which means they need sufficient indoor ventilation.

Grills

Traditional grills use charcoal as the heat source, which typically requires that they be used outside for proper ventilation. Commercial grills are often used indoors with proper ventilation, and are easier to control temperature-wise than their traditional counterpart. In simple terms, a grill has three fundamental parts: the cooking surface, the charcoal container, and the grill support. The cooking surface usually consists of a grate. This grate is heated directly from the charcoal container below. The hot charcoal heats the grate and cooks the food through a naked flame.  It takes skill and exposure to grilling to understand the nuances of grilling and temperature regulation. 

Core Differences Between Charbroilers and Grills

From the descriptions above, you can see that there are some subtle differences between charbroilers and grills. However, there are some more important aspects to consider when deciding between the two. 

Shape and design

The main difference in shape is that charbroilers are open above the cooking surface and are never covered. Commercial grills have lids with two core functions; first to regulate temperature, and secondly, to trap smoke while cooking, and imbue a smoky flavor to the food. 

Heating and cooking time

As charbroilers are generally gas powered, they heat up extremely quickly. Temperatures can be controlled easily and there is a consistent and evenly distributed level of heat. This means that preparation and cooking time is usually quicker when using a charbroiler.

Location and placement

Charbroilers operate using gas so they are usually located indoors. Although they don’t produce as much smoke as traditional grills, they require powerful ventilation. 

What to Choose for Your Restaurant?

If you’re in the position to get both, having a charbroiler and a grill can be highly advantageous in your restaurant. It gives you the opportunity to serve a larger variety of food options and flavors.  However, if you’re choosing between the two, the most important factor is suitability. Depending on the style of the restaurant and the type of food you produce, one might be much more suited than the other.  Study the differences, align the characteristics with your restaurant goals, and choose what’s best for your services.