While you might be a bit skeptical of George Foreman’s story about the idea for his electric grill coming to him in a vision while he was knocked out, there is a little reason to doubt that they can be really useful. The best electric grill allows you to grill inside or out, or can offer the versatility of being a griddle, panini press, and grill all in one compact unit.
But how do you decide between a George Foreman electric grill, a Char-Broil electric grill, or a Cuisinart Griddler? An inside grill versus an indoor/outdoor grill? Here’s how to find the best electric grill for you.
While all electric grills work the same basic way—plug them in to power the heating element(s)—not all are built the same way. Some grills have open grates and cook more or less like a gas—or even charcoal—grill, with heat underneath cooking the food sitting atop the grate. Other grills—think a panini press, or the famous George Foreman “lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machine”—feature one cooking plate on top and one on the bottom, where food comes into direct contact with the heated cooking surface. The heat-underneath style is more common in outdoor electric grills, where the goal is to replicate a traditional backyard barbecue. The top-and-bottom cooking plate style is better suited to indoor grills, because it results in less smoke and provides more versatility.
Outdoor vs. indoor use affects other considerations, as well. One important element is cleanability. The best electric grills feature non-stick cooking surfaces that are easy to clean. Similarly, surfaces that are also detachable and dishwasher safe make for even easier cleanup—and are especially helpful for indoor grills.
Another important factor is size. If you need a portable grill—or for it to fit easily on an apartment countertop—you can find some that are not much bigger than a breadbox but still capable of cooking half a dozen burgers at once. If you want to make food for big groups, look for grills designed to cook for 15 people or more.
You can also find grills that come with detachable stands, allowing them to be used inside and out.
The type of cooking you want to do will also affect your purchase. Some electric models are capable of reaching 500F—perfect for searing. Meanwhile, some grills work well as panini presses, or come with griddle cooking surfaces. That means, with the best electric grill, you could fry up bacon in the morning, serve tuna melts for lunch, and then grill chicken breasts for dinner.
Looking for a Countertop Electric Grill?
Indoor electric grills are kitchen appliances that let you barbecue inside all year long. The best electric barbecues for inside use are compact, so they don’t take up much counter space, and feature sleek designs that won’t look out of place next to your stainless steel fridge.
Indoor models should also be easy to clean. Look for removable grilling plates that you can run through the dishwasher. Models with removable plates are also likely to have both flat and ridged plates, meaning they can be used as a griddle as well as a grill. You can make pancakes, grilled cheese, Cuban sandwiches, and more.
Some are made for indoor use also limit smoke. Some models are truly smokeless, using fans to contain the emissions and prevent blaring smoke detectors from ruining cocktail hour.
Best Indoor Electric Grill: Cuisinart Griddler Elite
Whether you want to sear steaks or press a panini, this Cuisinart Griddler Elite is up to the task with six cooking modes: grill, griddle, half-grill, half-griddle, panini press, and top melt. The stainless steel construction and electric LED display means it fits right in alongside your other modern kitchen appliances. That display allows you to set a timer and monitor the dual-zone temperature control. The 240 square inches of cooking surface—on removable, reversible, and nonstick plates—can sizzle up to 500F.
Do You Need a Smoke-Free Grill?
Many indoor grills are designed to be smokeless, or at least limit smoke because food and grease does not fall onto an open flame. But if you will be cooking food at a high temperature or preparing foods that tend to make a lot of smoke, look for one that has a fan to remove smoke.
Best Smoke-Free Electric Grill: Power XL Smokeless Grill
“Smokeless is in the name” because the Power XL features a fan that sucks away the smoke, meaning you can grill smoke-free at 450F— even without using the glass lid. At 21 x 15.4 x 8.1 inches, it’s big enough to grill a whole chicken dinner or griddle a sausage and pancake breakfast, but it’s also compact enough for an apartment. For easy cleanup, the removable nonstick cooking surfaces are dishwasher safe.
Outdoor Electric Grills Are Easy and Precise
Outdoor grills can’t totally match the flavor of gas or charcoal grills. But they can still provide an excellent barbecue experience that results in flavorful, juicy meat—and without having to worry about a fuel source. Outdoor models tend to be larger than indoor grills, since they are typically stored on the deck rather than the counter. You can find models with cooking surfaces larger than 300 square inches, enough to throw a neighborhood barbecue.
Outdoor designs feature heating elements underneath cooking grates, much like a propane grill. They can be capable of climbing to 500F—more than hot enough to get those perfect grill marks. Electric grills lose their heat quickly when the lid is up, so cook with the top down using the temperature dials and built-in lid thermometers to control the heat. One of the biggest benefits of electric models is that they deliver even heating that can quickly be dialed up or down.
Best Outdoor Electric Grill: Char-Broil Patio Bistro Electric Grill
Using Tru-Infrared cooking technology inspired by restaurants and steakhouses, the Patio Bistro outdoor grill is designed to deliver even heat and juicy meat. With room for 12 burgers, eight chicken breasts, or six steaks—plus with a warming rack on top—this Char-Broil is the best outdoor electric grill for your next cookout. It features an easy-to-use temperature control knob and a lid-mounted temperature gauge so you can monitor the heat level.
Some Are Designed for Indoor and Outdoor Cooking
An advantage of electric grills is that they can trap drippings, pull smoke out of the air, and don’t emit harmful fumes, meaning they are safe to use indoors. But they can also work well for your outdoor barbecue. If you want an grill that can pull double duty, look for one with a detachable stand, allowing you to easily move your electric barbecue from your kitchen counter to your carport.
Best Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill: George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor 15+ Serving Electric Grill
On the back deck or on the kitchen counter, this George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Grill excels. The grill features 240 square inches of sloped cooking surface, designed to remove 42% of the meat’s fat. It has the capacity to serve more than 15 people. At the end of the night, the nonstick cooking surface and drip tray make cleanup easy.
Are you looking for something portable?
As long as you have an available power source, electric barbecues can be used to cook out wherever you go. Portable grills are no bigger than a small suitcase, yet they can have more than 1500 watts of power—if the burgers are overdone, it’s on you. Portable grills also feature handles that make them easy to carry, and removable drip pans to make the cleanup process neat and tidy.
Best Portable Electric Grill: Weber Q1400 Electric Grill
At not much bigger than a duffle bag or heavier than a 2-year-old boy—yet featuring enough cooking capacity for six burgers—this portable electric grill is perfect for your next RV camping trip or cookout on your apartment’s balcony. The aluminum-lined grill is durable and built to retain heat, and the electric cooking element is made to distribute heat evenly from underneath the porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates. Plus, the removable, disposable drip pan means you don’t have to cart your excess grease home with you after the game.
What can you get for less than $50?
On average, you can expect to pay as much for an electric grill as you would for a microwave. But if you’re willing to sacrifice some versatility, functionality, and style—removable plates, LED screens, stainless steel construction—you can certainly find electric grills that serve up great meals for the cost of a burger, fries and a couple of beers at the neighborhood bistro.
Best Cheap Electric Grill: George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Plate Grill
One of the kitchen tools that popularized indoor grilling, this George Foreman electric grill has become one of the best deals in the business. With room to cook dinner for two, this two-plate grill offers a nonstick, sloped cooking surface that cuts fat and made George Foreman’s kitchen appliances famous. At 8 x 4.2 x 9 inches, this compact electric barbecue won’t take up much counter space, but will grill up food in minutes.
Are electric grills as good as gas?
Electric grills are as good as gas if your goal is to cook inside or limit the hassle of grilling outside. But for outdoor grilling, gas tends to give you better flavor and temperature control when the lid is open, as well as more styles of grills to choose from.
Can you leave an electric grill outside?
You can leave an electric grill outside (unplugged), but if you’re planning to do so long-term, you should invest in a grill cover for added protection.
A Last Tip on Getting the Best Electric Grill
Remember that you need an outlet in order to use your grill. That may limit where you keep and use the grill. Make sure the grill you buy will fit wherever it will be used that’s close to an outlet.