Char-Broil is an innovator in the popular gas grill arena with clever designs, low to midrange prices, and excellent customer service. For several years they have focused on infrared cooking. Starting in 2012 all new IR models were dubbed "Tru-Infrared". These grills are made with stainless steel tube burners that work in conjunction with a radiant surface to bring heat close to the food. The radiant surface shields food from direct flame and reduces hot dry convection heat rising from the burners.
As one of the biggest BBQ manufacturers in the world, Char-Broil offers a clear, low cost alternative to Weber and surpasses many other price driven manufacturers with their infrared gas grill design innovation and focused marketing. Also in 2012, Char-Broil introduced Saber, a new, very high quality line of gas grills that goes head to head with Weber's Summit series in the premium grill space. They offer charcoal grills, smokers, fryers and a variety of accessories and tools.
Char-Broil is owned by The W.C. Bradley Company headquartered in Columbus, GA. Roots of W.C. Bradley go back before the Civil War to The Columbus Iron Works. The first Char-Broil grill was made and sold in the USA in 1948. Now all Char-Broil grills are manufactured in China and distributed around the globe.
Char-Broil's The Big Easy Gas TRU Infrared Smoker and Roaster has a clever, innovative design looks better on paper than in practice. They also make an electric model.
It is barrel shaped and opens from the top. There is a stainless steel inner liner that is separated from the outer shell by an air gap. A ring of propane burner jets lies in the bottom of the air gap and heats the gap and turns the liner into a radiant heater. Calling it infrared is a bit of a stretch since it never gets really hot. To generate smoke you fill a stainless steel device (it looks like a whiskey hip flask) with wood and hang it on the inner liner lip. There is a rack that can sit over the top of the cooking chamber to grill. The meat goes on a flimsy wire rack that can be fitted with up to four shelves for the food.
As innovative as it is, we are not won over. The food wires do not hold more than two large chickens or medium pork shoulders, and rib slabs must be cut in half to fit. If you want to baste or mop or look at or poke the food on a lower rack, you have to lift out the whole insert, or remove the meat above it. The grill never gets hot enough to really darken a steak, and the smoke box doesn't produce much smoke.
It is cheaply constructed. We had a dickens of a time assembling the sample Char-Broil sent us because some parts did not fit well, and they shipped us two left brackets for the lid. High winds can blow out the flame, so it should be placed in a protected space. As is typical on most smokers, the dial thermometer is practically worthless, and the low temp settings are still too high to hit the ideal target of 225°F.
That said, it does make a decent roaster if you don't need smoke in the food. The advantage here is that heat can surround the meat as opposed to an indoor oven when the meat usually sits in a roasting pan and the bottom does not cook properly unless you flip the bird or roast. We made a wonderful turkey in it, but you cannot fit more than one good sized bird in there.
It takes up only a small footprint, but the same can be said of the other cabinet style, front loading propane smokers, and they all work better. Including the one by Char-Broil.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.