Saturday, April 9, 2022

Product Review - Char-Broil Cruise Grill with Cruise Control Technology (MSRP $699)

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I received a Char-Broil Cruise at no cost for review purposes. All opinions are my own. I receive no compensation for this post, nor do I have any other financial arrangements with Char-Broil or their affiliates.

Product Review – Char-Broil Cruise Grill (MSRP $699)

Earlier this year, Char-Broil introduced their newest, game-changing grill – The Char-Broil Cruise. I was lucky enough to receive a Cruise unit from Char-Broil and have put this new grill through real-life cooking for the past few weeks. Here are my thoughts and experience with this new grill.

Char-Broil Cruise Grill review

Tame The Flame, Change The Game

So what makes this grill a game-changer? Until now, gas grill heat controls have been knobs that control the gas flow at a set rate of consumption. If I set my old gas grill on “medium”, the grill will let the gas flow at that designated rate. That rate of flow doesn’t change regardless of the actual cooking temperature it achieves or factors like ambient temperature or wind.

The Char-Broil Cruise changes this by cooking at a specific set temperature. If I set the grill for 500°f, the Cruise will assess the grill temperature and if it is anything but 500°f, the grill will adjust the gas flow to achieve 500°f and maintain that temperature. No more guessing or adjusting.

Making fajita steak on Char-Broil Cruise Grill review
The Char-Broil Cruise automatically adjusts gas flow to maintain a specific cooking temperature.

Let’s look at the features that I like and the experience I had while cooking some of the typical backyard basics.


Digital Temperature Control and Auto-Calibration

The ability to set a precise cooking temperature and know that the grill will maintain it gives a cook confidence. This is true from beginning backyard chefs to seasoned pros like me. The Cruise has a thermometer mounted inside the cooking chamber that provides feedback to a processor. The processor controls the two-burner tubes to maintain the set temperature.

color indicator display on the Char-Broil Cruise Grill review
The controls are straightforward. The dial controls the temperature setting in 5°f increments.

Thermometer placement on the CharBroil Cruise
The temperature probe is located at the back of the cooking area and protected by a cage. It uses an algorithm to approximate the temperature across the grill surface.

The Char-Broil Cruise has a unique 2 burner system. The middle gas tube continually burns. The outer burner only cuts in as needed to climb to and maintain the set temperature. This dual gas tube configuration means that the entire grilling surface has to run at the same temperature, which limits some grilling technqiues.

Amplifire Infrared Grill System

Amplifire is Char-Broil’s infrared cooking system that:

  • significantly reduces flare-ups,
  • provides more even heat across the grill surface, and
  • yields juicier food.

I previously enjoyed using this same system on the Char-Broil Commercial grill for years when it was known as TRU-Infrared technology. This system uses a stainless steel emitter plate to convert flame to infrared heat. Infrared heat cooks the food without drying it out compared to traditional gas grills that cook mostly with hot air, which dries the surface of the food.

Emitter plate from the CharBroil Cruise Amplifire infrared grill system
The heart of the Amplifire system is this stainless steel emitter plate between the top-ported gas tubes and the cast-iron grates. The plate does several things. First, it converts the heat to infrared, which cooks food without drying it out. Second, it prevents flare-ups from below. Third, when food drippings hit the emitter, the liquid vaporizes, adding to the grilled smoky flavor.

CharBroil Cruise's Amplifire infrared system cooks food three ways.
Here I show the emitter plate in place with one of the cast-iron grates removed. The Amplifire system cooks food in three ways.  First, The cast-iron grates use direct or conductive heat to give sear marks and help cook food. Second, The emitter plate cooks food with infrared heat. Finally, the hot air that comes through the holes will assist in cooking using convective heat.

The Amplifire system on the CharBroil Cruise is similar to the popular GrillGrates accessory.
Together, the emitter plate and cast iron grates function much like the GrillGrates accessory that is so popular on the competition steak cooking circuit.

Auto-Clean Function

A practical and common way to clean your grill after use is to finish with a high-temperature burn to incinerate any stuck-on food debris. The Cruise has an Auto-Clean mode that ramps the temp up to 600°f for a 30-minute countdown and then automatically shuts down. I find that quite useful because I have accidentally forgotten about a grill in burn mode and left it running for hours. 

A clean grill is a happy grill and the Char-Broil Cruise has an autoclean feature.
A clean grill is a happy grill. The Auto-Clean feature incinerates leftover food and drippings by running the grill at high heat and then shutting down when done.

Auto Clean doesn't mean that you have no work to do. It just makes it easier.
I will say that "Auto-Clean" doesn't mean you don't have to do anything. You still need to brush off your grill grates and the emitter plate after the grill cools down from the high temp burn-off. I like to use a nylon brush like the Char-Broil Safer Grill Brush after the grates have cooled down from the Auto-Clean session. Then I spritz the plates and grates with oil and heat it back up to 350°f for 20 minutes to preseason them, but that's just me.

A note about that nylon brush is about 8 years old. I have used it every week for all of my grills and smokers, and I have only replaced the head 2-3 times. 

Porcelain Coated Cast Iron Grates

The porcelain-coated cast-iron grates can provide exceptional heat transfer, which means good sear marks. I prefer plain cast-iron, but those require more care and upkeep than these porcelain coated grates. That doesn’t mean you can abuse the porcelain grates, porcelain can crack.

The cast-iron grates provide excellent sear marks while the emitter plate evenly cooks the food.

Stainless Steel

I prefer grills with a lot of stainless steel because it looks great and makes clean up easier. The Cruise uses stainless steel for its front-facing trim and lid. The side shelves, side panels, and rear panels are painted.

Stainless steel provides a stylish look and makes the grill easier to clean after a cook.

The grill comes with a side-mounted bottle opener which is convenient for opening a cold beverage while grilling. 

Shelf Space

The grill has twin 19 ¾” x 12 ½” shelves which come in handy while cooking. I liked the shelves on the Commercial grill better because they were all stainless, which is more resistant to scratches.

Twin shelves provide ample space for your tools and food while cooking.

Digital Display with Lighted Indicator System

The Cruise has a digital display that is easy to read from up to 20 feet away. I don’t even have to go outside to check on it. The color-shifting light-ring around the dial gives you “at a glance” information about whether the grill is at temp, coming up to temp, auto-cleaning, or if there is an error.

Oops....somebody ran out of propane gas! 

Stylish Hood with Glass Viewing Pane

The hood has a glass front that lets you see the food without opening the lid, because as the saying goes, “If you’re looking, then you aren’t cooking.”

The Char-Broil Cruise has a glass panel on front that lets you see food without opening the lid
The glass front panel lets you see what is going on without opening the hood. You will need to clean this frequently if you want to keep using it or it will become obscured,

The Char-Broil cruise comes with locking casters
The Cruise comes with locking casters, which are fine on hard, even surfaces. Like I did on my other grills, including my first Big Green Egg table, I would likely upgrade these with 3 to 4" rubberized wheels, which are more durable and makes the grill easier to roll around, especially on grass or soft surfaces.

Battery Back-Up

The trick with grills that require electricity is what happens if the power goes out. The Cruise boasts a backup power supply that houses 4 d-cell batteries, so if the power flickers or goes out entirely, your cook won’t be affected for up to 2 hours. 

The power supply has a USB, so you could also use a power bank with a 5v USB output for extended cooks when no electrical power is available.

No WiFi, No Problem

This unit is NOT a smart grill that requires connecting to a smartphone via an app. The intelligence is all on board; no mobile phone is needed.


The Cruise is backed up with a 10-year warranty on the burners, 3 years on the lid, firebox, and emitter plates, and 1 year on everything else.


For testing, I have used the Cruise for a little over a month, burning through one tank of propane. I grilled the classics, such as steaks, chicken, burgers, and wings. I cooked in varying weather conditions, including cold temperatures, rain, snow, and strong winds. I cooked using various cooking temps and setups.


Assembly was fairly easy. I put the grill together by myself in just over 1 hour and I didn’t swear an unreasonable amount of times (haha).

Grill delivery day is always exciting.

I consider assembly a part of the performance because a well-designed grill should be easy to assemble. Char-Broil's instructions are easy to follow, and they use labeled blister packs. They also use the same type of bolts over and over, which makes assembly easy as well.

It took me just over an hour, by myself, to assemble the Char-Broil Cruise.

Cooks on the Char-Broil Cruise


The unique gas tube configuration means that you can not use a traditional indirect or two-zone grilling setup. The guide suggests using the warming/roasting rack in the lower position when you don't want direct searing from contact with the grate. So that's what I did with good results.

Grilling wings on the Char-Broil Cruise grill with a kiss of smoke.
I preheated the grill to 350°f, then I removed one of the cast iron grate sections and placed wood chips on the emitter to give the wings a kiss of smoke while roasting for 30 minutes, flipping once. The lid was closed, of course. I just had it open here for the picture.

Grilling wings on the Char-Broil Cruise grill
The roasting rack worked well for a modified indirect type of heat. I refer to that as "raised direct" in my first book several years ago - not really indirect but sort of cooks like it and can give crispier skin on wings.

Grilling wings on the Char-Broil Cruise grill
In the last few minutes, I grilled the wings directly on the grates for a few minutes and glazed them with some sweet golden mustard-based BBQ sauce. These were tasty, as good as I could have done on my other grills. 


I haven't bought much steak lately due to the sky-high prices, but I splurged on this nice C.A.B. prime ribeye to try out on the Cruise. 

I seasoned the steak with Fire and Smoke Shiitake rub. I made a compound butter with the same rub and a clove of minced garlic. 

I preheated the grill to 500°f and seared the steak for about 4 minutes per side. The temps held steady and did an excellent job on the steak.

As soon as the steak came off the grill, I topped it with some of the Shiitake garlic butter and let it rest.

Deliciously medium rare and flavorful.

The Cruise is quite the steak cooking machine.

Bacon Cheeseburgers

Of course, I had to try burgers on the Cruise and it did a magnificent job of grilling a juicy burger - what we call an "elbow dripper". I pressed out 8-ounce chuck patties, seasoned them, and grilled them for 4 minutes per side. I topped them with American cheese and smokehouse cheddar for maximum gooey-ness. I crowned them with some of our homemade sorghum and bourbon bacon.

Grilling thick burgers on the Char-Broil Cruise Grill review
The Cruise put clean grill marks on the patty and cooked the burgers flawlessly.

Ooey, gooey, perfection on a bun.

Chicken BLT Sandwich

A good test for a grill is how well it can grill chicken breasts so I decided to make some grilled chicken BLT sandwiches on brioche buns. I seasoned the chicken cutlets with Fire and Smoke The Classic and grilled them for 4 minutes per side.  Then I started basting them with garlic-lemon tallow until they were done. Fantastic!   

Basting chicken breast on the Charbroil cruise grill
Basting the chicken with beef tallow built up an amazing tasting crust on the chicken. Basting with oil-based liquids can cause flare-ups with open flames but it was no problem here.  The emitter is extremely hot so you can still generate a flare-up by pouring a bunch of fat onto it, but you'd almost have to be trying to start a fire on purpose.

Grilled chicken BLT cooked on the Char-Broil Cruise grill review
Juicy grilled chicken, smoky bacon, lettuce, seasoned tomato, and onion on a grilled brioche bun - now THAT'S a chicken sandwich.

Chicken Teriyaki

One weekend we made chicken teriyaki on the Cruise grill. I simply seasoned chicken breasts with salt, garlic, and pepper. I made some small onion and pepper skewers as well. I grilled them all on the Cruise for about 4 minutes and then brushed them with teriyaki sauce that I thinned with chicken stock. Thinning the teriyaki sauce makes it less likely for the sugars to burn and lets you keep layering on the flavor every time you flip the chicken.

Grilled chicken terriyaki on the Char-Broil Cruise
Although there is a single temperature control on the Cruise, it does have a bit of a temperature gradient, much like a flat-top griddle does.  The right runs a little hotter than the far left so I cooked my meats on the right and the veggies on the left.

The Char-Broil Cruise will make you a confident cook
The Cruise grill is convenient and competent. 

Chicken terriyaki cooked on the Cruise gas grill
Another quick and simple meal from the Cruise.

Steak Fajita Burritos

This was a fun one. I marinated some picanha (sirloin) in oil, lime juice, and my fajita rub recipe for 24 hours and then grilled it on the Cruise with some onions and peppers.  I thinly sliced the steak and put it with peppers, onions, and crumbling queso in grilled tortillas for a spectacularly good burrito.  

The digital display is a useful feature on the Char-Broil Cruise Grill
One of the nice things about the digital display is knowing at a glance that the grill is hot and ready to go.

Grilling picanha on the Char-Broil Cruise grill
Is there any better aroma than onions, peppers, and meat on the grill? I think not.

Picanha grilling on the Char-Broil Cruise grill
Normally, I would do picanha on a rotisserie. The Cruise is pre-configured to accept a rotisserie and I had one, but to be honest, I didn't think about it until the grill was already preheated and I was hungry so I just flipped the steaks back and forth.

perfectly grilled picanha from the Char-Broil Cruise grill
Flawless victory! I could have just eaten it straight out of the tray like this.

But we grilled some tortillas and rolled it all up for hand-held yumminess.

What it does well

After a month of heavy use, I am impressed with the Char-Broil Cruise grill. I was already a big fan of the Amplifire infrared heat system and the addition of the Cruise Control Technology really changes the game for gas grills. 
  • Precision Heat Control – My experience has been that the Cruise Control Technology works and I quickly trusted the grill. When I set a temp, the grill controls the cooking temperature at that temp even in less than ideal weather.
  • Infrared Heat - I remain a fan of the Amplifier infrared system, it cooks hot and evenly. If I’m going to use a gas grill, I prefer one with a system like this. It is quite similar to the GrillGrates that I and many steak cook-off competitors have used for years.
  • Direct Heat Grilling – It is easy peasy to grill on this thing. Plenty of heat, no flare-ups, nice grill marks, and it handles the weather while cooking. The range of 350°f to 700°f handles all but low and slow smoking. The MAX setting is useful for searing, such as; sous vide and reverse searing. 


  • No two-zone fire or indirect heat options – As mentioned in the review,  The Cruise can’t do two-zone or traditional indirect cooking because there is only one temp control for the entire grill. The Cruise’s solution is to put the warming or roasting rack in the lower position so food isn’t in direct contact with the grates. This worked reasonably well enough but that rack is only about 4.5” x 23.5”, limiting the amount you can cook. If I was using this grill often for indirect heat, I would find a larger grate (about 16” x 23”) and use nuts and bolts to create 1.5” legs to raise it up.

The single heat control means that the entire grill cooks at the same temperature, no two-zone fires.

  • No side burner – One of the advantages of owning a gas grill is having a side burner since virtually no charcoal grills have one. At this price point, I would expect to see a side burner on the Cruise.


I have often said that the Char-Broil Commercial grill was my favorite grill from a big-box store but with its precise temperature control, the new Char-Broil Cruise gives it a run for its money. 

Char-Broil Cruise Gas Grill review 2022

The steady temperatures make the Char-Broil Cruise grill ideal for beginning grillers and weekend warriors in search of a gas grill that is easy to use and reliably controls temperatures. It is also a splendid choice for hardcore grill masters that want to add a temperate-controlled, gas-powered infrared grill to their arsenal for convenient quick cooks.