Grilling is a national pastime: Mintel’s Grilling and Barbecuing US 2015 report found that 47% of Americans plan to buy a unit within 2 years. The proportion of indoor grills is increasing too, as more consumers change from gas and charcoal to electric models.
Indoor grills have steadily improved, and there’s a large variety to choose from: from models that specialize in producing the perfect steak, to all-around grills that can handle whatever food you put on.
|#1. Hamilton Beach Smokeless Indoor Grill|
Our Best Pick
|Lid Closed 14.5 H x 31.5 W x 19.5 D in||1560-watt electric heating element||42 lbs||to heat 280 square-inch total cooking area||Requires some scrubbing|
|#2. Philips Smoke-less Indoor Grill HD6371/94|
|7.48 x 21.85 x 16.93 in||1660 Watts for cooking||15.7||84” 12x7 | 112”||Easy: removeable and dishwasher-safe plates|
|#3. T-fal OptiGrill|
|14 x 13 x 6 in||1800||11.6||Cooking surface: 600 square cm (93 sq in)||Easy: removeable and dishwasher-safe plates|
|#4. George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric|
|12.2 x 16.93 x 6.69 in||1200watts||8.12||118”||Easy: removeable and dishwasher-safe plates|
|#5. George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill|
|22.2 x 20.5 x 13 in||1600 watts||21||240 circlular||Cleans easily in the sink.|
Bringing the grill indoors also brings in a few complications, but modern units minimize these issues.
Advantages to Indoor Grilling
Two main factors go into a great steak: correct temperature and a quality sear. There are other refinements, like the cut of meat, seasonings and type of fuel, but these elements don’t matter if you get the temperature wrong and end up with a dried out piece of jerky.
What if you don’t have outdoor space … or the weather is bad? An flame grill naturally produces the right temperature and searing process, but many indoor grills replicate the experience right in your kitchen.
Indoor grills also offer some advantages too:
- Precise temperature and time control
- All weather action
- Quick setup and start
- Cooking versatility for many kinds of food
- Increased portion control
- Ease of storage
Indoor grills have their detractors, but manufacturers have gone to great lengths to replicate the taste of flame-based cooking. Even so, there can be shortcomings to an indoor grill.
- Smaller cooking area with most units
- Power outlet needed
- Not hot enough to sear
Grilling is a smoky process, and some indoor models reduce it with lower temperatures and cooling the grease. A new type of grill has been developed with the goal of reducing smoke to essentially zero, by using indirect Infrared Light instead of heating coils. It helps, but doesn’t eliminate all smoke.
To find the best indoor grill for your needs, here the main features you want to look for.
Open or Contact
The first question is whether you prefer an open single-surface grill, or a closed “contact” unit with 2 plates. Closed grills heat above and below. Open models are like classic charcoal grills with one cooking surface.
Open grills are more versatile and can cook a wider variety of food. These models produce better grill marks, and can handle thicker meats. Closed grills cook more quickly and lend themselves to compact designs … but you are restricted to thinner foods.
This is a big deal if you want to cook a variety of food. Some indoor grills have a single high setting: if all you want is to cook a steak, these models may suit you perfectly. If you want flexibility to cook other foods, make sure the temperature is adjustable in the range you need.
The higher the wattage, the hotter the grill—consider the food you want to cook. Steaks require high heat for searing, something not all indoor grills can achieve. Also, an under-powered unit takes more time to preheat and recover from being “checked” while cooking.
The grilling surface can be a flat, grooved or slotted. Many smaller indoor units have a restricted cooking area.
Grease Basin – Make sure there is a suitable tray for drippings. Grease can be a safety hazard if not drained and stored correctly, and a removable tray makes cleaning much easier. The healthiest design is an inclined Surface that draws grease away from your food.
At minimum, you want an indicator of when preheating is finished. Some units do more, alerting you to exact temperature and when food is ready.
Ease of cleaning is crucial to enjoyment of an indoor grill. The main thing is a removable grill and basin. Some lidded units allow the cover to be taken off, and non-stick surfaces are useful too. Many units feature dishwasher-safe detachable plates for maximum convenience.
If you plan on countertop use, make sure your grill has non-skid feet or other secure footing.
- Power cordage should be long enough for your needs
- A Timer can be a handy add-on
- An On/Off Power Switch is a good idea. Some units require you to unplug from the power source to turn it off.
Indoor Grills Dimensions Heating capacity (watts) Weight (lbs) Cooking area Cleaning
#1. T-fal OptiGrill Electric Grill
The T-fal OptiGrill’s high-tech sensors and programming features make it more versatile than a simple grill.
This attractive unit takes the guesswork out of grilling, and offers frozen and individually-set manual settings.
The unit has 6 settings, and automatic sensors to detect the food’s thickness up to 1.5 inches. You can easily monitor cooking because the unit beeps and flashes as the grilling proceeds from rare to medium to well-done. With a sizeable 1800 watt capacity, the grill heats and cooks quickly. A removable drip pan accumulates drippings conveniently at the front of the grill.
The cooking surface is modest at 93 square inches, but there is a larger model available. The ridged surface plates are made of die-cast aluminum and are dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Some users report difficulty understanding the display, as the device involves a small learning curve. Some have had to return faulty devices, so hang on to the 1-year warranty. Overall this is a popular and almost fully automatic grill that performs well, looks nice and doesn’t take much room.
#2. Philips Smoke-less Indoor Grill HD6371/94
Philips offers this advanced model as a “smoke-less” grill. It’s great for cooking steak and burgers, and includes unique features that make it especially useful indoors.
The “smokeless” process uses indirect infrared light to cook the meat, using focusing reflectors to cook at high temperature while keeping the grease basin cool to reduce splattering and smoke.
The non-stick cooking surface is well-designed so that fat is separated out. The 1660-watt unit heats quickly to 446 degrees (F), which is claimed as the perfect temperature for red meat. You can’t adjust it for cooking anything else, but if all you want is to cook steaks and burgers this unit is a literal no-brainer.
The model is very easy to clean. Its removable grid and pans are dishwasher safe and easy to wipe down, but an extra purchase is needed for the ceramic scraper to clean the interior reflectors. However, if you are a steak-lover with space for a single-food cooker, it is difficult to improve this grilling experience indoors.
#3. Weber 55020001 Q 2400 Electric Grill
Weber is a reputable name in grills, and this durable unit offers the brand’s experience and engineering.
The 1560-watt electric heating element easily heats the large 280 square-inch cooking surface.
This grill is a bit hot for indoors, but it’s solidly-constructed and built to last. The aluminum body and lid enclose cast-iron, porcelain-enameled grates which hold heat for searing. It includes a 6-foot grounded cord and removable drip pans.
The large cooking area is suitable for a cookout, but at a weight of almost 30lbs without the grates, it isn’t really for portable use. Cleanup isn’t as simple as with smaller indoor units, but the lid, drip basin and grates are removable and dishwasher-safe. The high heat of this model bakes grease on and requires more scrubbing that most.
This well-made, party-sized grill is excellent for condo use where open flamed grilling is prohibited.
#4. Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Grill & Searing Grill
This Hamilton Beach grill has a nice combination of features in a compact frame. It offers high-heat settings from 200-400 degrees (F) and a 450-degree sear option.
There aren’t many frills to this grill, but it sets up and cleans easily, and the high-heat setting does a good job of emulating the taste of outdoor cooking.
It’s an attractive, modern-looking appliance with a surprisingly substantial 118 square inch cooking area. The controls are straightforward and the unit sets up easily. The lid, basin and non-stick grill are removable and dishwasher safe.
There aren’t many extra features, but it’s a reputable brand and simple to use. For a few bucks more you can add a cover with a viewing window to monitor cooking. This grill is easy to work with, and affordable too.
#5. George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
Another solid electric grill by a famous manufacturer, this grill is big enough for a backyard party and attractive as a home appliance too.
Basically this Foreman unit is a replacement for a gas or charcoal-burning grill, so it has a large cooking area of 240 square inches that can manage 15 servings at once.
The grill features a removable stand: you can use it standing up outside, or place it on your kitchen countertop. There is a removable drip pan below. Though it doesn’t smoke a great deal, you can expect spattering when the domed lid is open.
Foreman promotes healthy eating, and this grill features the signature sloped non-stick grill that separates and carries away the grease. The patented surface reduces up to 42% of fat from steaks and other meats.
It has adjustable heating controls, and a temperature probe with 5 cooking settings. This sleek, large-capacity grill is great for customers who live in flame-restricted situations but want an outdoor option.
There are many variations across indoor grills, but they tend to separate into larger units to replace an outdoor grill for cookouts, or smaller countertop models for quick meals. Either gives you a great steak with plenty of sizzle and less mess.
For those looking for a cookout, the Foreman grill is a proven quantity for a reasonable price. It is slightly under-powered for quick cooking, but it handles a lot of food and has great versatility. If you mainly want to bring the outdoor taste inside for more regular grilling, it’s hard to beat the Hamilton Beach for value and performance.
With the right model, you can eat great grilled food anytime and avoid the bugs and weather in the convenience of your home.