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Grilling on an electric grill won’t win a low-and-slow barbecue competition, but for people who live in apartments or don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces (or just want an easy way to grill proteins and veggies without the smoke or fire), there are several standout grills worthy of your consideration.
They first became popular when George Foreman hawked his electric grill in the 1990s, and since then, more versions from different brands have hit the market. Before you decide which one is for you, there are several factors to consider. Size impacts not just how much you can cook at once, but also how easily you can transport the grill or store it away. There's also the wattage: The higher it is, the more likely you'll get those great sear marks and caramelization. And finally, while electric grills are easy to maintain, dishwasher-safe parts and removable drip pans make cleanup easier.
With all those in mind, we researched the best electric grills on the market and sent them to several home cooks to put to the test. They took note of how well these grills cooked beef burger patties or meat substitute patties, burger buns, boneless chicken breast, and a batch of vegetables to grill. Our testers looked specifically at whether all of these foods were cooked evenly or if there were hot spots, how the burgers and chicken turned out, how nonstick the grill was, and how easy it was to clean after use.
Based on our testing, Breville's The Smart Grill is our top pick for indoor cooking. For outdoors, we recommend George Foreman's 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill.
Without further ado, here are our picks for the best electric grills, complete with our testers' thoughts, for your next (nearly) smokeless barbecue.
Best Overall, Indoor: Breville BGR820XL The Smart Grill
What We Love: Adjustable top plate, not a lot of smoke, nonstick plates, gave food mild grill flavor
What We Don't Love: Loud beeping when grill comes to temperature
Yes, this Breville smart grill is a high-end appliance, but if you want one that’s going to do its job well and do it for a while, then you may consider springing for it. It comes in an aesthetically beautiful stainless steel design and measures about 14 x 17 inches. Each plate measures about 9 x 15 inches and it comes with one grill plate and one griddle plate.
With 1800 watts powering it, the grill's cast aluminum nonstick plates are hiding the embedded heating elements, which can get as hot as 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It's even smart enough to quickly react to temperature drops. The top plate is not only height-adjustable; it can also be flipped completely open. This means it can cook meats and veggies, as well as function as a panini press—and it can even make eggs and French toast.
In terms of performance, the burger patties, buns, and broccolini our home cook grilled turned out perfectly. The patties cooked evenly, with no hot or cold spots, though she notes that the burger buns toasted more evenly on the griddle side. "The burgers were definitely juicy ... and tasted lightly of a grilled flavor—not as strong as an outdoor grill, but also there was no smoke!" she raves, adding that the vegetables got as crispy as if they were cooked on an outdoor grill, and with beautiful grill marks.
Our home cook also found the grill plates truly nonstick: None of the items cooked stuck regardless of texture. This, and the fact that the plates are removable and dishwasher-friendly, made cleanup fast and easy. Her only complaints: The loud beeping when the grill heats and when it gets up to temperature. "I found the volume jarring. It was also confusing initially to figure out how to lay it flat," she says.
"I kept the window open each time I used it, and initially I was worried it would set off the smoke detector, but there was hardly any smoke at all." — Ariane Resnick, Product Tester
Materials: Brushed stainless steel, nonstick cast aluminum plates | Dimensions: 16.7 x 14 x 5 inches | Cooking Area: 260 square inches | Wattage: 1800 watts | Use: Indoor
Best Overall, Outdoor: George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
What We Love: Nonstick surface, grill pan is easily removable from base, great for cooking fatty meat
What We Don't Love: Not actually for 15 servings of food, no smoky flavor, large footprint
George Foreman grills fill a certain niche for countertop grilling, especially for people who are concerned about excess fat. This newer model keeps to the plan, with its classic nonstick surface and integrated drip pan.
While our home tester found it too big and awkward for indoor use, as an outdoor grill it works: It skips the complications of gas or charcoal, and it's especially good if you want to grill up bacon or a half-dozen steakburgers and keep the mess outdoors. But “15 servings,” as the company markets this grill, is stretching it, she says, finding it closer to six portions, tops.
Another note is that our home tester is vegetarian, so she cooked several types of veggie burgers, including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, and Lightlife patties, as well as Beyond Brats in lieu of chicken. But because plant-based burgers lack the fat content of their meat-based counterparts, there wasn't much fat for the grill to drain away, which is one of its biggest selling points.
Still, the patties and burgers themselves—as well as the zucchini and the burger buns—grilled up fine on high heat, and all got the desired grill marks, though they lacked that smoky flavor you'd get from a gas or charcoal grill. Part of the reason is that the grilling surface is nonstick: "You can effect grill marks on either meat or non-meat products, but they're mostly cosmetic, and not because the cooking surface really seared the food surface at high heat or because the food stuck and developed that necessary 'burned' surface," our tester notes.
Still, this nonstick quality, in addition to the metal grill pan lifting off easily from the grill base and pedestal, made it relatively easy to clean (though it is far too big to fit into a standard sink, so you have to wash it gingerly). Furthermore, our tester bequeathed this grill to her meat-loving friend, "and he freakin' loves it," she says. It's been a lifesaver for him to be able to grill his meat on the balcony due to his wife being a lifelong vegetarian. "As I suspected, it’s really a meat eater’s appliance," she added.
This grill would be right at home on the porch or patio, or where it would be used frequently and simply wiping clean is enough. As a home appliance, however, even for a larger family who wants to do a bunch of burgers at once, it's probably still too big and more trouble than it's worth to use and store indoors. Our suggestion: Take George outside instead.
"The Beyond Brats were the fattiest of the veggie meats I grilled, and thus they actually had something to drain off, but still very little. The skin that charred on the grill ridges wanted to peel away when the brats were lifted or turned. ... They tasted no more 'grilled' than they do when otherwise pan-cooked or broiled." — Catherine Russell, Product Tester
Material: Nonstick aluminum cooking surface, painted steel lid | Dimensions: 39.4 x 21.7 x 18.3 inches | Cooking Surface: 240 square inches | Wattage: 1600 watts | Use: Indoor/outdoor
Best Budget: Starfrit The Rock Indoor Smokeless Electric BBQ Grill
What We Love: Leaves nice grill marks, no hot spots, small footprint, easy setup and cleanup
What We Don't Love: Considerable amount of smoke
Starfrit’s The Rock Indoor Smokeless Grill is beloved for its ability to expertly grill everything from veggie kebabs to steak to bacon. Weighing only around 5 pounds, it doesn’t take up too much space while still offering 160 square inches of cooking area.
Below the nonstick cast-aluminum grates is a water-filled drip tray that catches falling oil or grease, reducing any resultant smoke (but not fully eliminating it). The heating element is cast into the grate so you don’t have to worry about hot or cold spots. An adjustable dial on the plug controls the temperature, which can get up to 450 degrees. It also has a setting for keeping your food warm. When you’re all done eating your burgers, veggies, or whatever you choose to grill up, anything that’s removable is safe to put in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
In testing this grill, there was a fair amount of smoke produced as our home cook grilled up burger patties, buns, chicken breasts, and sliced zucchini. You’ll want to ensure your kitchen hood exhaust fan is turned on and windows are open when cooking. "I’m still running my exhaust fan as I type, with my back door and windows open to air out the house," she says.
Smoke aside, this grill is a solid option for the price. It left nice grill marks on everything we tested and we didn’t find any hot spots. The grilled chicken breasts were juicy and moist, and the zucchini was tender and had a nice smoky flavor.
We also like that it heats up in just a few minutes and is easy to put together—just four pieces. The fact that most of the pieces are dishwasher-safe is also a plus—no need to soak and scrub the grease away.
"For the price, this is a solid option. It heats up in minutes and while it isn’t as smokeless as it claims to be, I like that it’s lightweight, easy to put together, and doesn’t take up a lot of space." — Abigail Abesamis Demarest, Product Tester
Material: Cast aluminum grill plate, thermoplastic housing | Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 0.5 inches | Cooking Area: 160 square inches | Wattage: 1200 watts | Use: Indoor
Related: The Best Propane Grills
Best for a Balcony: Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill
What We Love: Easy to set up and use, food cooks relatively quickly, offers precise temperature control and even cooking, imparts nice grill marks
What We Don't Love: Heavy, stand available separately, some food stuck to the grates
It’s no surprise that Weber, the king of charcoal grills, also reigns supreme when it comes to electric grills. The 280-square-inch grill has a 6-foot grounded cord that connects to a temperature controller.
Inside the cast aluminum lid, you'll find removable cast iron cooking grates and a removable bowl liner, which helps with cleanup. These pieces do add a little bit of heft—the grill weighs over 40 pounds in total—so while the grill is movable, you might need help doing so. Underneath is a removable catch pan that holds a disposable aluminum drip pan. It doesn’t come with a stand, though one can be purchased separately.
During our tests, we found the grill easy to set up and simple to use. The grill needs to preheat for about 20 minutes, but once hot, the food cooks fairly quickly. The temperature controller allows for more precise cooking, and overall the food was cooked evenly and developed those really nice classic grill marks.
There wasn’t a strong smoke flavor, but the meat and chicken were very tender, juicy, and flavorful, while the grilled zucchini was succulent. Some food did stick to the grates, though, but cleaning them with a grill brush after worked fine—it helped that the grates themselves were easy to remove and that the grill cooled down pretty quickly.
Overall, if you have a deck where an electric grill is allowed, this is your best bet for the closest thing to a charcoal or gas grill. Plus, it’s relatively portable and easy to store and clean.
"The burgers were delicious! Very juicy with a nice char, although the charcoal flavor was missing. ... The chicken was very tender, juicy, and flavorful, which I was amazed by with such simple seasoning. My son loved it." — Devorah Lev-Tov, Product Tester
Materials: Cast iron grates, cast aluminum body, stainless steel burners, plastic legs | Dimensions: 14.5 x 31.5 x 19.5 inches | Cooking Area: 280 square inches | Power: 1560 watts/20 volts | Use: Outdoor
Related: The Best Portable Grills
Best Splurge: Kenyon Floridian Electric Grill
What We Love: Leaves nice sear marks, burger patties and chicken turned out juicy and tender, drip pan is disposable
What We Don't Love: Heavy, large footprint, noticeable hot spots, food had roasted versus char-grilled flavor
The Kenyon Floridian grill is a nice choice for those who know how to utilize hot spots on a traditional grill to their advantage. It can get up to 600 degrees in about 10 minutes, but it weighs 24 pounds, which is heavier than it sounds because you’re carrying this around your kitchen or back patio to find a spot to put it. There are eight temperature settings, but note that there's no way to know how hot the grill is actually getting unless you have an infrared thermometer to take the temperature of the grates
The nonstick grates sit directly on top of the heating element, which allows the grate to get hot, but there are noticeable hot spots on the grill, particularly in the areas where the heating element turns to make the coil, our home cook found. The burger patties did not get the desired grill marks before flipping, but once flipped, the grill got hot enough that they did get the grill marks, and she was able to move the patties to the hot spots on the grill. After cooking, the patties turned out juicy, "but there was no distinguishable grill flavor," says our tester. This was likely due to the addition of water to the drip pan, which steamed the burgers more than grilled them. The burger buns, furthermore, burned easily because they lacked moisture; she suggests lightly buttering them before grilling.
Grilling zucchini presented a unique challenge due to the hot spots: Some parts of the zucchini strips had appealing grill marks, while other parts were more steamed. "The flavor of the zucchini was more of a roasted flavor versus a char-like flavor from a traditional grill," our home cook explained. One way to ensure even cooking, she advises, would be to cut the zucchini into coins versus strips and move them around the grill often to ensure each piece is able to get to a hot spot to achieve grill marks.
When dinner is done, you can put the grill rack in the dishwasher, though washing by hand is preferred to ensure the nonstick coating on the grates lasts as long as possible. The drip pan is removable and disposable, which is nice if you plan on using this grill multiple times in a week. The pan is meant to be used several times before it would need to be replaced.
"This grill is a good option to cook chicken if you don't cook it with a lot of sauces. The chicken did get nice grill marks on both sides and was very juicy. The cooked chicken was tender, though it could go from tender to rubbery if the grill user is unaware of the hotspots on the grill and uses them to their advantage." — Megan duBois, Product Tester
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 7.3 inches | Cooking Area: 155 square inches | Wattage: 1300 watts | Use: Outdoor
Related: The Best Small Grills
Even heating and truly nonstick plates make the multiuse Breville The Smart Grill (view at Amazon) is your best bet indoors. If you want something portable that can work both indoors and outside, the George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill (view at Amazon) will not disappoint.
What Are the Other Options?
Cuisinart CEG-980T Outdoor Electric Tabletop Grill (view at Amazon): While this portable Cuisinart grill does fine with thin slices of vegetables, it’s not ideal for thicker foods such as steaks, chops, or chicken breasts, says our home tester. It has a tendency to overheat with the lid closed so that it shuts down, cools slightly, then restarts. This makes grilling take far longer than it would on a gas or charcoal unit.
Although it is billed as portable, this grill consumes 1500 watts, so you won’t be able to plug it into your car’s auxiliary AC outlet, which typically accommodates only 150 to 400 watts of power. It also has a very short cord, making it awkward unless you’re situated near an outlet. Finally, it's not easy to clean: You must unscrew parts to access the interior to clean up drippings to prevent grease flare ups. It’s fine as a starter grill, but it will not satisfy experienced grillers or anyone with a craving for perfectly seared steaks.
"If you keep it on low, the burgers sit there and sort of 'bake' instead of grilling. There is zero grill flavor, and they're semi-juicy if not overcooked. The buns toasted OK." — Arricca SanSone, Product Tester
How We Tested
Our home testers judged our top picks on how easy it was to use and clean, the product's temperature range and any special features, and if it was worth the price. The testers cooked four pre-made patties for a set amount of time on their grill to see if they were heating evenly. Once the burgers were done, they observed if there were grill marks and how juicy the final burgers came out. Next, we had them cook simple chicken breasts to test the nonstick properties. Lastly, there was a batch of their favorite vegetables to confirm the searing and nonstick qualities.
What to Look for in an Electric Grill
Most electric grills are compact when compared to full-size gas and charcoal counterparts. Often less than 300 square inches means only a few burgers or veggie kebabs can be cooked at once. Some of these grills are small enough to use on the countertop while others have stands making them easy to use outside in, let’s say, a parking lot for tailgating, without having to bend over or risk stepping on it. You’ll want to keep in mind how many people you’re cooking for. Tabletop models tend to be smaller but, if you get one of the standing grills that can be used outside, you’ll likely get more cooking space, too. With that in mind, though, if you plan on using your grill indoors make sure you purchase one that is approved for indoor cooking (safety first!).
When it comes to wattage, the more watts your electric grill has the more powerful your grill will be. Most electric grills are around 1000 watts and can go up to about 1,700. If your grill is on the lesser end, it’s less likely to give your food those desirable grill lines. If you’re only cooking for one or two people, you might not need all that power and can save money by purchasing a grill with just enough watts.
Some electric grills have nonstick grill tops making clean-up a breeze. There are also fat drainage systems that help, too. You’ll want to clean your grill when it’s still slightly warm making it easier to scrape off protein remnants and sticky oils. To make everything easier, look for a grill that has removable, dishwasher-friendly parts.
Can you use electric grills indoors?
Yes, but it’s important they do not smoke. "You can cook with an electric grill indoors if it is smokeless," says Derek Wolf, the chef behind Over the Fire Cooking. "Electric grills can be used indoors as long as you set it up in a well-ventilated area and are prepared to clean the setup area afterward," adds Chef Tim Hastings.
Are cooking times different with electric grills?
They may vary, depending on the specific grill. "Get a base understanding by cooking something you are familiar with on timing (steak, chicken, or veggies)," says Wolf. "Once you know how long that cooks in comparison to it over a normal grill, then you can begin to gauge how most other foods will cook too."
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This piece was updated by six of our writers, all of whom specialize in various food and kitchen topics, and all have written several pieces for Simply Recipes. Each of them tested a grill in this roundup and reported on their findings.
The original recommendations came from Lia Picard, a freelance writer whose work appears in the New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, and Food & Wine. She appreciates the fact that not everyone can have two grills in their backyard and wants to help them make the most of their electric grills.
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