Which electric grills are best?
Whether it’s barbecue basics like burgers and hot dogs or high-end options like steak and ribs, there’s just something about food made on a grill that can’t be beaten. Charcoal and gas grills can be pretty intimidating to use and aren’t allowed in many apartments, condos and townhomes, making an electric grill the perfect alternative.
Some electric grills can even be used inside your home, which means you can grill even in poor weather. Not all models are suitable for indoor/outdoor use, so choosing the right model is vital if you want to use your electric grill on your patio or in your kitchen. If you’re in the market for a compact electric grill you can use on your kitchen countertop that’s large enough for a family, the T-fal 1800W OptiGrill XL Indoor Electric Grill is your top option.
What to know before you buy an electric grill
Electric grill benefits
If you’re trying to decide whether an electric grill is right for you, it helps to understand the benefits of an electric model.
- Electric grills are usually safer than other grills because they don’t use an open flame for cooking food. Instead, a grill’s grates automatically get hot when you turn it on.
- Electric grills don’t produce carbon monoxide or other fumes, so you don’t have to worry about inhaling dangerous gases while grilling.
- Unlike charcoal and gas grills, which require you to buy coals or propane to fuel the grill, an electric grill doesn’t have any operating costs beyond the electricity used to run it.
- Electric grills are often the most versatile option because many can be used both indoors and outdoors. They’re also highly portable, so you can use them wherever you need to.
- Electric grills are typically much easier to clean than charcoal or gas grills.
Depending on your needs, electric grills are available in several different types.
- Portable/countertop electric grills are compact grills that can fit easily on your counter, so they work well for everyday cooking. Because of their portable design, you can move them around your home as necessary. You can even bring the grill outdoors in dry weather, so it works well for tailgating. Countertop models usually have a contact design, so they have a lid that closes over the food and provides heat from both above and below.
- Freestanding electric grills are larger and feature a stand or cart. They’re usually meant for outdoor use, but some models can also be used inside your home. Models with a cart have wheels, so you can easily move them around your patio or balcony.
- Built-in electric grills are a component of an outdoor kitchen. They’re usually built into a countertop surface with a workspace for preparing food surrounding the grill. Built-in electric grills are typically the most expensive option.
Electric grills are available in a range of sizes. Small portable or countertop electric grills are usually about 22-26 inches wide and can fit up to five burgers at a time. Mid-size electric grills suitable for indoor/outdoor use are generally between 26-34 inches wide and can fit at least 10 burgers at a time. The largest electric grills measure up to 44 inches wide and can fit as many as 30 burgers at a time.
Indoor grills are usually the smallest electric grill options because most are countertop models. Outdoor grills are generally larger since they’re often used for barbecues and picnics.
What to look for in a quality electric grill
Many small, portable electric grills are designed almost exclusively for indoor use, while larger, freestanding grills are generally intended for outdoor use only. However, you can find some models that can be used both indoors and outdoors.
When shopping for an electric grill, think about where you primarily plan to use it. If you want a grill you can use year-round for family dinners, opt for a model meant for indoor use. On the other hand, if you want a grill that you can use on your patio or balcony for summer barbecues, make sure to choose a weather-resistant model that’s intended for outdoor use.
Can’t decide where you’ll use your grill? Opt for an indoor/outdoor model to cover all your bases.
Variable temperature controls
Some smaller electric grills don’t offer temperature options. When you turn on the grill, it heats to a single temperature. Unfortunately, that doesn’t allow much control over how much heat your food receives, so you can sometimes get uneven results.
Larger electric grills and those meant for outdoor use usually have variable temperature controls. Some offer just three heat settings, but others have as many as six. Naturally, the more temperature options a grill has, the better control you’ll have over how your food cooks.
An electric grill’s grate material is an important feature to consider because it affects how well the grill heats and how long it will last. Stainless steel and cast iron are the most durable materials because they’re not as likely to rust or corrode.
Some electric grills feature a nonstick coating on their grate, making it much easier to clean up when you’re done grilling. It’s also easier to remove foods from the grill without using too much oil or butter with a nonstick grate.
Many electric grills have a drip tray or pan that catches the grease and fat that cooks off from your food. That makes it much easier to clean up the grill after cooking and helps reduce your food’s fat content.
Some electric grills have a cooking timer. It automatically turns the grill off after your chosen cooking time, so you don’t have to worry about the food burning.
How much you can expect to spend on an electric grill
Most electric grills cost between $20-$1000. Small countertop grills are the most affordable, usually ranging from $20-$50. Large portable grills and small freestanding models typically cost between $55-$150. However, for large freestanding models and built-in electric grills, you can pay as much as $1000.
Electric grill FAQ
Do electric grills produce smoke?
A. Like any heated cooking appliance, an electric grill can produce smoke if it gets too hot or grease splatters. However, an electric grill is much less likely to smoke than a charcoal or gas model, which is why some are suitable for indoor use.
What maintenance does an electric grill require?
A. Electric grills require much less maintenance than other types of grills. First, turn your grill off after use, and let it cool down. If there’s food stuck on the grates, use a brush to gently scrape it away. For nonstick grates, you can use a damp cloth to wipe away the food. Next, wash the grates with soap and warm water, and then dry them thoroughly before returning them to the grill. Make sure to wipe down the grill’s lid too.
What’s the best electric grill to buy?
Top electric grill
What you need to know: This indoor electric grill heats up quickly and evenly and provides a cooking surface that’s large enough to prepare meals for the whole family.
What you’ll love: It has an 1800-watt cooking element that allows for fast, even cooking. Its cooking grate has an incline to encourage fat and grease to fall into the drip tray. The nonstick surface allows for quick, easy cleaning.
What you should consider: The grill can sometimes need to be recalibrated for effective cooking.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top electric grill for the money
What you need to know: This versatile grill can not only be used indoors and out but can also be detached from its stand for more convenient countertop use. Its generous size makes it an excellent value too.
What you’ll love: It boasts 240 square inches of cooking space, has a nonstick coating that’s extremely easy to clean, takes just about five minutes to heat thoroughly and can prepare a medium-rare steak in 14 minutes or less. Its size is perfect for apartments and houses with small yards.
What you should consider: Though the grill claims to hold 15 burgers at a time, some buyers find that it’s not quite large enough for that number of servings.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This indoor electric grill offers a family-size cooking surface and plenty of features that guarantee perfect grilling results every time.
What you’ll love: It has a 1300-watt cooking element and a nonstick cooking surface for easy clean-up. The variable heat controls allow you to get the perfect temperature. The handles stay cool during grilling to prevent burns too.
What you should consider: It doesn’t include a lid. Some buyers find that the nonstick coating scratches easily.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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