After 17 hours of research evaluating 85 products, we picked T-fal OptiGrill Stainless Steel Indoor Electric Grill in Silver as our top choice.
It's difficult to imagine life without BBQ. Even if you're not a serious meat lover, you have to appreciate the way a grill cooks those vegetables, right?
Clearly, most Americans love their food grilled. According to Mintel’s Grilling and Barbecuing Report, 80 percent of American households own at least one grill. More recently, the concept of an indoor grill has become popularized.
The point of a grill is the incredible meat it makes. The trouble is, though, that some apartment buildings and condos simply don't allow for gas or charcoal grills. And those long, winter months make it almost impossible to enjoy grilled foods.
But how do you know you are buying the best indoor grill available?
We researched the best indoor grills market, from the humble stovetop grill to appliances that doubled up as panini presses (and, we promise that we looked at every Foreman grill out there as well). We’re serious about our top fave – and found plenty of others to fall in love with as well.
Now, isn't it time you imagined a winter with grilled meats?
This little product can be easily pulled out of the cupboard for a taste of grilled foods, regardless of the season. It fits easily onto stovetops to seal in the flavor while losing the fat. (And, look at the price!)
Unlike the electric indoor grills, this won’t leave those lovely grill marks. And, it’s not exactly smokeless, though it produces very little smoke.
This grill top sits on top of your stove and features a full drip pan that can actually be used for steaming foods if you need a change of pace.
It doesn’t do bad with meats, and you’ll certainly get the hang of the smaller surface of this non-stick coated grill, but we actually think it does a better job with veggies. You be the judge!
You’re at the mercy of your stove on this one. If you have an old model that barely heats on one burner, that’s what you’re going to get.
You can put this in the dishwasher, but you will get a lot more use out of it if you hand wash it after cooking. Hint: soaking this baby for a bit will make that even easier.
This is our top pick for budget indoor grills because you’ll get it for less than $20. There are zero bells and whistles, but it’s cheap enough to be disposable. How can you not love that?
This awesome Foreman grill has a hinge that allows the top of the grill to adjust around the thickness of your food. You could have steak meals for four in just ten minutes. Plus, if you want to give that meat the perfect sear, this is the grill that gets the job done right!
There’s no on/off switch; when you plug it in, it’s on. And, some users find this is really only big enough for two people, though that’s likely to depend on the portion sizes in your household.
Yep, this is an electric grill, and you’ll need to be a little careful as the power cord is the only means of turning the electrical current on and off.
You can use this for everything from burgers to chicken, but we think it’s particularly useful for steaks. It’s the Foreman, fat-removing system though, so although it works on most foods, those with a little fat tend to do better. The fact that you can adjust the grill height makes it easy to adapt it to the thickness of your steaks. It's the perfect grill for those who want a killer steak every time!
This is where this particular George Foreman grill falls a little flat. All you can do is plug it in; there are no temperature controls. You’ll need to keep an eye on your food yourself. (But before you move along, just take a look at the price.)
It’s a little surprising given the price of this appliance, but the plates and drip tray are removable and dishwasher safe. We would advise you to keep the machine closed while it cools so that food doesn’t dry onto the plates.
Less than $30? We’ve just thrown a little party. This is an awesome indoor grill for beginnings, anyone on a budget, and for people who are just looking for the perfectly cooked steak.
This is one of the biggest indoor grills that you can find; if you have a larger family (or can’t get enough of freezer cooking) – this is the one for you. And, that lid keeps food juicy even after cooking.
The non-stick coating on this indoor electric grill does wear down after time. That means this baby has a limited lifespan, but at least you’re not paying through your teeth for it.
As you would expect, this is one of those indoor electric grills that sits on a countertop fairly close to an outlet. Keep in mind this is one of the larger countertop grills, so make sure you have the room to accomodate it.
You get a drip tray with this appliance, so you know it’s good for meats. But, it doesn’t do a bad job with veggies either. The embedded heating element means the grill distributes heat evenly. That’s great if you’re cooking the same foods across this grill. The lack of hotter and colder sides, however, means you’ll need to pay attention if you’re cooking veggies as well as thick steaks.
You get an adjustable (and removable) thermostat along with a dial of heat settings (from one to five). It’s not the most advanced temp control system, but you do get that evenly cooked food.
Nope. It’s got a non-stick coating. You’ll need to wipe the drip tray and the grill plates clean. Same goes for the body of the appliance. At that point, you may as well hand wash the glass lid too. Sorry.
For less than $55, you can have an indoor electric grill that feeds a crowd of people. Now, the grill plate is non-stick coated, so you will need to work a little harder to protect your investment, but what appliance lasts forever (especially at this price point)?
This is a talented little machine that allows you to do everything, from grilling burgers to making amazing sandwiches. The heating system is rather advanced for indoor electric grills and the digital display makes it easy to know what’s going on inside.
The machine itself isn’t cheap, and you’ll probably want to buy some extra plates in order to maximize use of this machine. It’s not really for hobbyists, but for those who know EXACTLY how to cook the perfect steak every time.
This awesome appliance is an electric grill, griddle, and press in one. And it does each one of those things really, really well.
Meats are a solid option, as you would expect from any indoor grill of this caliber. But, c’mon, this baby has a dedicated panini setting and we’re still dancing around the room about that.
Yes, yes, yes. You can adjust the temperature between 310 and 450ºF. The digital readout shows you when the temperature is in the right place and if it dips at any point. There’s also a searing option. And, then there’s that dance-worthy panini setting that you and everyone you know will rave about. Add to that the six adjustable height settings and you’ve got yourself a machine to love.
Oh yes. It’s just what you would expect for the price, isn’t it? Dishwasher-safe plates and a removable drip tray.
Yes. We wish it wasn’t so expensive - $270 is a lot to pay for an indoor grill. Then again, if you use it all the time, you won’t mind the splurge.
The searing function on this indoor electric grill will make your food taste like it’s been cooked on your outdoor grill. You can perfectly sear the flavors on the inside before reducing the heat. At the low price tag, this is a grill that just can't be beat!
You will need to be careful using this grill in small spaces; it does tend to smoke a lot. Also you need to make sure this appliance is pre-heated properly before using.
You can use this electric appliance as both a grill and a press. And, it does both remarkably well.
Think meats and sandwiches when looking at this particular model. We think it does the meats much better, but the sandwich function makes this a viable machine year-round.
You will have some control over the temperature, but it all comes from a single dial that allows for settings between 200 and 400 (plus seer). There is an indicator light and that’s rather useful since it is important to heat this machine before adding your foods to it.
The removable hood, grill plate, and drip tray are dishwasher-safe. And that’s a real bonus, but you may need to wangle to get the hood in. After all, you can fit up to eight servings on the nearly 120 inches of non-stick grilling space.
Considering what this indoor electric grill does and how well it does it, you should expect it to cost more. We would have gotten it wrong on The Price Is Right, overshooting by a good $20. You’ll probably pay less than $55 depending on the time of year you buy.
This grill works wonders when you’re short on space; it can be used on a tabletop or with the pedestal it comes with. In addition to the mini outdoor grill you expect, this one also has a (Foreman – style) sloping grate base to draw the fat away from your food. It's excellent for using indoors and outdoors thanks to its low smoke output!
While many think running this on electricity makes it as easy as 1-2-3, there are those that feel it’s a big hassle. And yes, you need to be very careful if you’re running an extension cord.
No need to keep gas canisters or charcoal on hand for this grill; this George Forman grill works anywhere you have an electrical plug point. That’s right; this baby is electric even though it functions mostly the same as an outdoor grill. The grill plate does, however, have a fat collection tray. Which is just what you would expect from Foreman, even if it were not the sort of thing you would find on most outdoor grills.
If you aren’t aware of the way a Foreman grill works, we urge you to consider watching this classic infomercial from 1996. Yes, the ol’ boxer has been changing people’s eating habits for that long. In any case, this indoor grill is best for cooking meats because it removes all the extra fat, leaving your meats healthy and lean.
There’s a single control dial that allows you to make adjustments from low to high. You may need to fiddle with it a bit, but it doesn’t take long to get it right.
The grill plate is wonderfully dishwasher-safe, as is the removable drip tray. Both of those will make your life easier, though we urge you to get those pieces washed as soon as they are cool enough. The body of this unit is an electrical appliance, though, so that’s a wipe-with-damp-cloth sort of thing.
The price on this puppy is less than $80, which isn’t bad for the product you get. In fact, we’d say it’s a steal for anyone that loves to grill but is relegated to working on a balcony (or hiding in the kitchen). You can also get a two-year or three-year protection plan to safeguard your investment. We kind of love that.
Don’t confuse this indoor grill with your average food press; its cooking cycles adapt to the thickness of foods on it. And, there are six different cooking programs so you can always get it right without having to lift a finger to fiddle with temperature controls!
This isn’t the largest grill; the four-serving size really cooks for about two people (unless you really pack it tight). More importantly, it's not great with uneven cuts of meat.
This electric press leaves those lovely griddle marks on your food. That makes it easy to wow guests (and your family). And, it’s a convenient size to place on the counter near a plug point. You may have a little more trouble finding the space for the eight-serving grill, but it’s not that bad.
This indoor electric grill has a drip tray for catching fats, which makes it perfect for grilling meats. It seems to nail chicken every time.
Hold the phone, you get a whole lot of options here. There are six automatic cooking programs (burger, fish, poultry, red meat, sandwich, and sausage). That’s usually enough to make a home cook excited, but it gets better still. There’s a cooking level indicator accompanied by audible beeps that alert you to the current stage of your meat – rare, medium and well-done. Interestingly, there’s also a manual setting and the ability to cook meats from frozen. (Did you just fall off your chair; we did when we found out for the first time.)
Yep, the drip-tray and the removable plates are dishwasher-safe. But, we urge you to read the manual regarding the removal and positioning of those plates; it's not always as easy as you would think. And, you really don’t want to apply too much force.
You’ll pay about $150 for this indoor electric grill, but you’ll get plenty of features for that price. Almost as many as (and sometimes more than) indoor grills in the highest price bracket. Add in the 1-year limited warranty and you know you've got an incredible little indoor grill.
Just like outdoor grills, indoor grills come in many different shapes, sizes, and types. Indoor grills can be broken down into three main categories:
Stovetop Grill – This is essentially a grill setup that you place atop your kitchen stove. It uses the gas or electric power of your stove to generate heat, but it is shaped in the griddle/grill design of a standard outdoor grill.
The beauty of a stovetop grill is that it gives you total control over the cooking temperatures using your stove's knobs/controls. The rack is placed atop the heat source (your stove), and you put your food to cook on the rack. Simple and easy!
On the downside, there is no way to prevent the liquid (grease, drippings, water, sauces, etc.) from dripping onto your stove.
Open Countertop Grill – An open countertop grill is an indoor electric grill designed to sit on your countertop, generating its own power to heat the grill (rather than using the stove). Think of these open grills as a hot plate (compact electrical burner) with a grill/griddle integrated into the design.
The beauty of these open countertop grills is that they usually offer more cooking surface than closed countertop grills. The knobs or buttons give you total control over the heat generated, so you can grill your food with as low/high heat as you want.
However, the lack of lid means the grease, liquids, and oils from your food are prone to splash and spray around the kitchen. They're messier than closed countertop grills. Plus, you only cook your food one side at a time, so cook time is longer.
Closed Countertop Grill – A closed countertop grill is an indoor electric grill that sits on your countertop, generating its own power to heat up the grill. However, instead of an open design, these grills come with a lid that closes on your food. This helps to speed up cook time, as the grill can cook the food both sides at the same time. In addition to cooking meat, you can grill veggies, paninis, sandwiches, and even fruits.
On the downside, closed countertop grills are less versatile than open grills, as you have to cook foods that are thin enough that the grill can still close properly. You also get less surface space with a closed grill.
When shopping for an indoor grill, chances are you're going to opt for either an open or closed countertop grill rather than a stovetop. The electric-powered grills produce less smoke than stovetop grills, and they provide a much more even heating surface for efficient cooking.
Here is what you need to evaluate when shopping for an indoor grill:
Surface Capacity – You need to think about the size of your family when evaluating the surface capacity of an indoor grill.
The reason closed countertop grills have a higher surface capacity due to their dual surfaces (grill and lid). These dual surfaces can cook both the top and bottom of your food at the same time, meaning a shorter cook time.
Size – Once again, choose a grill size according to the number of people you'll be cooking for. Open grills tend to be larger, as the single surface must be wider and longer in order to offer more surface capacity. Closed grills can be smaller and more compact, as the lid and grill give you more surface capacity to cook with.
However, open grills can handle more food at a time, though you can only cook one side. On the other hand, closed grills can fit less food on the grill at once, but both sides are cooked at once.
If you have plenty of kitchen space to work with, open grills are a good option to consider. For those with smaller kitchens, closed grills take up less counter space while still giving you plenty of surface capacity.
Materials – The best indoor grills are made with metal exteriors, though some are a combination of hard silicone or plastic with metal elements.
Metal is the best material for grills, as it can handle high heat without damage. However, plastic and silicone are often used as a protective surface to prevent you from burning yourself if you accidentally touch the exterior of the grill.
The downside of plastic and silicone is that they tend to have durability problems, such as cracks in the framework or the legs/handles breaking off. Silicone is the more durable of the two materials, and they're easier to clean than both plastic and metal.
For the grill itself, you want either cast iron or a non-stick surface. Cast iron has the most efficient heat transference, making it the best surface for cooking. However, a non-stick coating is easy to clean and tends to be more versatile than cast iron grills.
Note: Many stovetop grills are made using a porcelain-coated aluminum grate, which can tolerate high heat without burning your food.
Heating Element – The term "heating element" refers to the part of the appliance that heats up. Located beneath the grill, it's usually electric-powered. It can reach temperatures as high as 450 F. Higher cooking temperatures are suitable for grilling thick steaks (getting that sear on the surface is a must), but it's not a must-have feature.
The most important thing is even heating over the surface of the grill. The appliance should heat the entire grill evenly, so all the food on the grill cooks at the same speed.
Looking for the right grill to use in your home? Think about these handy features:
These features will contribute to your indoor grilling experience, both the actual cooking process and the inevitable clean-up!
The concept of "smokeless indoor grills" is close to impossible to make a reality. After all, cooking meats and veggies let off a certain amount of heat, vapor, and smoke. It's not realistic to expect a 100% smokeless indoor grill.
However, there is a new type of grill that could reduce smoke output to nearly zero. Instead of using the standard electric heating coils, this type of grill uses Indirect Infrared Light to provide the heat. The indirect heat cooks the meat, but the juices and drippings don't sizzle and smoke when they drip into the grease tray.
The Philips Smoke-less Indoor Grill HD6371/94 is the first of its kind, and there are a lot of pros to using this smokeless grill:
On the downside, it's bulkier than your average indoor grill, so it may not be convenient for indoor grilling in an apartment or small kitchen. It's also scorching hot, and it produces such high heat that it can damage cabinets and wallpaper. It's also much pricier than your average grill—up to $300, compared to the $20 to $50, you'll pay for other indoor grills.
The main downside to using indoor grills (and all-electric grills) is that you miss out on the rich, smoky flavor that comes from wood and charcoal fires. However, there's a simple solution: liquid smoke.
Simply put, liquid smoke is smoke that has been captured in steam and turned to a liquid that can be added into your food. Wikipedia explains the complex process, but it's enough to know that it's FDA-approved and considered a "natural" food additive.
To use liquid smoke to make your indoor-grilled food delicious, all you have to do is brush a little bit of the liquid onto the meat while cooking. (Emphasis on "little"—the liquid smoke is VERY strong!) Brushing it onto the meat in the final minutes of grilling will give it that smoky flavor even if you're cooking on an electric griddle.
Be warned: some grillmasters consider this "cheating." After all, a purist will insist, you only get that rich flavor from charcoal and wood.
If you're not a purist but love delicious foods, go ahead and use liquid smoke to give your indoor-grilled proteins and veggies that rich, smokey flavor that makes grilled food such a delight.