The smoky, char-grilling counterpart to commercial griddles and grills, charbroilers are an excellent resource to impart a great flavor to chicken, steaks, fish, and for roasting vegetables. These grills have a grated cooktop and are especially suited for adding sear marks to prepared food. Charbroilers come in various sizes and price ranges to accommodate your kitchen requirements and your budget. Standard models have burners placed 12”-15” apart, while higher-end models have a lesser distance between their burners to ensure proper control over temperature. This also ensures better control over grilling, uniform heating of the grill, and a higher temperature range for perfectly grilled meats and vegetables. Charbroilers may not be as versatile as the ubiquitous griddle in the commercial kitchen, but their very specific functions make them a great choice for their role in steakhouses and similar kitchens working with meat. Commercial charbroilers can range in different sizes according to the needs of your kitchen and can quickly prepare large quantities of meat to accommodate the diner’s orders within a short period.
Designs of Commercial Charbroilers
Countertop Charbroilers: These are, like the name suggests, based on a countertop with legs to hold the heated space above kitchen counters. Available in various configurations like gas and electric models, these models take up less space in the kitchen and utilize the countertop space to cook food.
Freestanding Charbroilers: Again, the name says it all - these charbroilers are designed to have their own body and if kitchen space is available on the floor, are a great option to have cabinets that hold utensils and cooking implements right on hand. This helps the cook manning the grill not have to scurry back and forth to fetch the right apparatus for the job.
Outdoor Charbroilers: Similar to freestanding charbroilers, outdoor models can be moved to an outside location to add a little flair to the cooking process. A great hit at catering country clubs, parties, bars, and even restaurant patios, these grills have some great accessories like lids and burners on the side to prepare sides along with main dishes.
Types of Commercial Charbroilers
Electric Charbroilers: Used as a mainstay when gas or other options are not available, electric charbroilers use heating elements to warm up the cooking surface, much like an induction stovetop. These are an excellent option where the storage of gas may not be easy or possible due to space limitations or the absence of a gas line.
Gas Charbroilers: These are the more popular options for charbroilers, and use heating elements called radiants or lava rocks to produce the heat necessary to cook food. These can be available in either propane or natural gas configurations, and it’s possible to convert one type to another using kits that suit your needs best. Gas charbroilers can be distinguished based on their heating elements, and are mostly based on two main kinds of heat conveyance:
Radiant Charbroilers: These charbroilers feature angled pieces of metal, i.e., radiants, which are heated by the energy source. These radiants further heat the grill and their design allows the grease to drip away from the food and into the collection chamber. Because of their metal design, these are much easier to clean than other kinds of charbroilers, especially those that feature lava rocks.
Lava Rock Charbroilers: Based on ceramic porous rock, these charbroilers heat the stones using the heat source. Since these rocks are permeable, they catch drippings from food and impart a smokier flavor and aroma to the food. These are also more prone to flare-ups than the radiant kind and certain cooks may prefer these over other charbroilers due to the richness of texture they impart to meats and vegetables. One downside to this kind of charbroiler is that it requires constant shuffling of the rocks to keep them consistently hot. They may also need to be replaced -about twice every year. The replacement may even be required more regularly, depending on the quantity of food cooked daily and the levels of grease dripping down on the rocks.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Commercial Charbroiler
Adjustability of Grates: Charbroilers usually come with adjustable grates that you can lift and manipulate to accommodate your style of cooking. The back sections of the grates can be moved away from the heat source to lower the intensity of the warmth, while the front portion can stay closer to bring the food closer to the heat. Some charbroilers come with non-movable grates while others can offer a mix-and-match style of grate alignment. Movable grates usually offer greater flexibility and control over the food being cooked.
Grate Styles: Grates can vary significantly depending on the kind of material used and the spacing between them. This further influences the kinds of food that can be prepared and the kind of char needed. Flexible grates can be flipped over to have thicker or thinner grill marks on the food according to the chef’s wishes or have lesser space between them to accommodate more delicate items like seafood and fish. Cast-iron is a popular material due to its high heat retention and longevity, while outdoor grills may employ stainless steel or chrome grates due to their resistance to weather and corrosion.
Protective back and sideboards: Some grills employ metal back and sideboards to contain the grease splatter that may splash from the food. This helps in keeping the cooking area clean and cleanup a lot easier since the grease splashes are contained to the inside of the grill.
Radiant Material: The radiants used to make up the heating elements of the grill may come in either cast iron or stainless steel options, with each having its upsides and pitfalls. Cast iron is well known in the restaurant industry for being excellent at holding heat, although it is harder to maintain in a good condition without regular cleaning and seasoning with oil. If proper cleaning is not done at regular intervals, cast iron tends to corrode and cause damage to the grates. Stainless steel has much lower maintenance and can remain in workable condition even if the staff is not diligent with cleanup. However, it does not hold heat as well as cast iron, leading to higher fuel consumption.
Grease Traps: Due to the structure of the grill, grease tends to slope down towards the bottom, where it is collected in removable pans which can be easily cleaned and put back in. Cooks may also splash water on the grill to make cleanup easier, which then trickles down and collects in the trap along with any drippings from the cooked food, which can then be taken out and disposed of in proper receptacles.
Best Commercial Charbroilers for Restaurants
Copper Beech CBRB-16 Radiant Charbroiler, Gas, Countertop
The Copper Beech CBRB-16 Radiant Charbroiler is a smaller model made for kitchen countertops. Powered by natural gas, the 16” x 25.2” cooktop offers a cast iron grate and is protected by a stainless steel splash guard. The front and sides of the charbroiler are made of galvanized stainless steel, making cleanup a breeze. In addition to adjustable legs, it also offers a gas regulator to control the heat and the fuel source can be changed from natural gas to liquid propane with the help of a conversion kit. The grill offers a 30,000 BTUs heat rating and comes standard with a 1-year parts and labor warranty.
Grindmaster-Cecilware CCP15 Lava Rocks Charbroiler, Gas, Countertop
The Cecilware CCP15 by Grindmaster is a popular charbroiler based on the gas fuel type. It sits comfortably on your kitchen countertop and offers a 15” x 20” cooking surface with a 40,000 BTU/hr rating. The grill offers reversible cast iron grates, independent controls, and distinct cooking zones. The stainless steel sidewalls and bottom plates are angled for easy cleanup. The unit can be powered by natural gas or propane. It comes with a 2-year parts and labor warranty.
Bakers Pride F-24R Dante Series Charbroiler
The F-24R Dante Series charbroiler from Bakers Pride is a floor model grill with a 21” x 24” broiler area, offering stainless steel radiants for easy cleanup. The top grate assembly is adjustable with floating 0.5” steel rods, a stainless steel construction with a 6” work deck, grease pan, open cabinet base, and 6” adjustable legs. The charbroiler is rated at 90,000 BTUs and can accommodate a plethora of grates and work decks to customize your cooking experience. Grease splashes are prevented by a stainless steel overhead back shelf and a splash guard. A 1-year labor parts warranty is provided.
Bakers Pride CBBQ-30S Ultimate Series Outdoor Charbroiler
An excellent recommendation for an outdoor charbroiler is the Bakers Pride CBBQ-30s Ultimate Series. The grill offers a 29” x 24” broiling area, four burners, and a nickel-chrome plated top grate. The appliance has a stainless steel finish and a grease pan that slides out for easy cleanup. The stand and legs are stainless steel as well. Rated at 80,000 BTUs, the charbroiler can run on either propane or natural gas. It comes with additional options for covers, tanks, hoods, work decks, shelves, griddles, and grates for a truly customizable experience. A 1-year parts and labor warranty is provided by the manufacturer and available at Chef Buyer.
Southbend HDC-18-316L Outdoor Charbroiler
The Southbend HDC-18-316L Outdoor Charbroiler is another excellent recommendation for grillers who like to cook in the open weather. With options for propane and natural gas, the grill features stainless steel radiants and rod grates. The sides of the charbroiler are protected by 4” splash guards. A grease drawer is featured for easy cleanup and the appliance has an ample 316L stainless steel construction. Rated at 40,000 BTUs, this outdoor grill qualifies for Southbend’s Service FirstTM program. The HDC-18-316L comes with options for a removable plate shelf and larger equipment stands. This model from Southbend can be purchased from Chef Buyer.