Getting that perfect overall char on your steak is a result of the Maillard reaction. At most high end steak houses, that reaction is achieved by using a professional, high-temperature salamander style broiler. This Schwank Grills review will give you the pros and cons of their relatively new to market salamander style broiler.
The opinions of this Schwank Grills review were formulated over a many months of usage. The goal was to put this unit through long term usage to see if there was any deterioration of the mechanical mechanism used to raise and lower the grate.
In pervious tests of competitor units who use a similar mechanism to raise and lower the grate, we found quality issues over time. Specifically, after a number of heat up and cool down cycles.
Over time, we discovered the units mechanisms felt like they were binding. They still cycled up and down, but the operation was definitely not as smooth as when the units were new from the box. Checkout our showdown here.
So, this review took much longer than normal to report on; just to ensure that if there was any degradation over time, we could accurately report on it.
Included In Box:
- Schwank Infrared Grill
- Grill grate & shelf
- Drip tray
- Drip drawer
- Removable liner
- Grill handle
- Gas regulator and hose
- AAA battery
What We Loved About The Schwank Grill
Build Quality: First, this rig is built like a tank. It’s robust construction and quality material selection are evident from the minute it’s taken out of the box. Right away, you get the sense that this is a quality piece of equipment.
Adjustment: Having tested many of these types of grills, one of the pain points with them always seems to be the positioning of the grill grate from one level to another. It couldn’t be easier with the mechanism the Schwank Grills team incorporates into theirs.
A substantial handle on the side of the unit allows for the smooth transition of the grill grate from one level to another, without catching.
Setting “1” being the furthest away from the burner, and setting “7” being the closest to the burner.
Temperature: The temperature levels that can be achieved in this grill are exactly as the manufacturer suggests. In previous tests we used an infrared camera to determine broiler temperature.
No longer in possession of that camera, this test was conducted using the Thermoworks ThermaQ 2. The benchmark in thermometers capable of these temperature levels.
This test is arguably the better way to determine temperature as it indicates temperature at the grate level, and not on the surface of the burner.
Temperatures were recorded at the lowest position of the grate, (upper left, below) mid level, (upper right, below) and the highest position of the grate (lower left, below). In all instances, the #1 probe indicates temperatures for left burner, with the #2 probe indicating right burner temperatures.
Note* Notice temperature probe placement is approximately one inch below the burner surface. It’s important to note that the closer the probe is to the burner, the hotter it will read. Based on probe placement, there’s no doubt this grill would exceed 1500°F on the surface of the burner.
Mess: Another issue that’s prevalent in other models tested is the mess left behind when the grill grate is pulled out. Whatever is being cooked drips on the ground below.
Schwank addressed this by placing the drip tray on a drawer, so it can be pulled out below the grill grate to collect the drippings. (More on this later as this is one aspect that could be improved.)
Versatility: This cooker does not only the typical steak, chop or burger, it also does pizza. The cooking space doesn’t allow for a full size pizza, but personal Neapolitan style pizzas are a breeze with the optional pizza stone and peel.
In addition to pizza, the versatility continues based on the adjustable grate position. At its lowest setting, the grate temperature is stable at around 330°F.
The ability to get to a lower temperature like this, in this style of grill, allows for more than just searing. That’s a huge plus for this grill.
Heat Distribution: Using the tried and true bread test, hot spots are easy to find. In this grill, there were no hot spots noted, even heat over the entirety of the cooking surface.
What Could Be Improved
As impressive as this grill is, there are a couple things that could / should be improved.
First, while the drip tray sliding out is great to catch food drippings from the grill grate, the grill grate and drip tray don’t slide out together. They should.
If the grill grate is pulled out first, dripping onto the patio, deck, or other surface can / does still happen. If the drip tray is pulled out first to catch these drips, a user risks dripping onto the removable liner inside the grill.
To be fair, the liner is removable for easy cleaning. But if the two drawers slid out together there would be no need to remove the liner to clean it. In short, the grill tool should be designed to pull out both the grill grate and the drip tray independently OR at the same time.
The grill tool itself would benefit from doubling as a bottle opener. Instead of a simple hole in the tool, a bottle opener would add versatility.
On the topic of the tool, there’s no place to hang it on the cooker. There really should be as this is something that will get lost eventually.
Finally, there is no optional table for purchase. The manufacturer is missing a huge opportunity here. Users are forced to buy a table on Amazon or at a restaurant supply store.
A Schwank Grills dedicated table, on quality casters with prep space, storage for the unsightly propane bottle, grill tool, and pizza accessories would be ideal.
Who It’s For
Given the versatility of this unit, the audience should be broad. Perfect for anyone who might be intimidated by the live fire of a gas or charcoal grill, it’s simple to use and unassuming.
In addition to this being an excellent stand alone unit, the Schwank Grills infrared grill makes the PERFECT companion piece to a pellet grill or a sous vide cooker. Adding this unit to either of those pieces of equipment is a cheat code to a perfect meal.
Given the price point of the unit, it’s a viable option for most income levels. It’s not inexpensive by any means, but it’s not completely out of reach either.
Prior to testing there was some skepticism. We’ve already tested so many of this style cooker and reported about them on this blog, testing another one didn’t sound earth shattering.
Based on the comments and questions about this grill in the showdown blog, it became apparent this grill needed to be reviewed.
Schwank Grills is to date, the “best in class” of units we’ve tested. It’s robust build quality, ease of operation, and even cooking surface temperature make it the clear winner in this lane. No reservations whatsoever recommending this grill to anyone looking to build out their outdoor cooking space.