Make the Right Choice: The Best Electric Grills
ou need a grill. They’re an excellent way to create versatile, interesting cuisine. Grilling has tons of healthy options and you can grill virtually anything. Plus, they’re fun to use and our hands-down favorite option for cooking for a crew.
But what if you live deep in the city? Or in an apartment? Or it’s winter or raining, or you’re not allowed to have an open flame?
Enter the electric grill.
These bad boys have come a long way over the years. Many models can crank out enough heat to sear your steaks juicy in no time. Not all are created equal, however. The best electric grills combine powerful heat and convenient features to create an appliance you’ll look for an excuse to pull out any day of the week, rain or shine.
In this roundup, we’ll be comparing the George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill, the Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill, the Char-Broil Infrared Electric Patio Bistro, and the George Foreman 12-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Rectangular Electric Grill. While there’s some variation in size and style, each one is a capable grill that is ready for your favorite way to cook, no matter where it happens.
Electric vs. Combustion Grilling: Pros and Cons
When we say “combustion grilling”, we mean cooking with fire. Gas, charcoal, and pellet grills heat with flame. They produce smoke that flavors food and can reach super-hot temperatures, making it easy to sear meat and vegetables.
“Which is better” is a great debate. We certainly love cooking over an open fire or smoldering coals. What we don’t always love is the cleanup or the fact that living or environmental conditions restrict grill usage for many people.
The downside of all that fire, smoke, and heat is that it can be downright dangerous. Burning charcoal produces carbon monoxide, which, if trapped in an enclosed environment, can be deadly. Gas grills can leak and create dangerous concentrations of flammable gas. Many apartment complexes and public parks forbid gas and charcoal grills due to potential fire hazards.
Grilling with electricity is a slightly different style of cooking than grilling with fire. No combustion means it’s very clean and produces little smoke, making it more suitable for small or indoor spaces. No smoke also means it’s harder to achieve that signature smoky flavor. There’s almost no fire danger with an electric grill, but they won’t achieve temperatures as high as you can conjure out of a gas or charcoal grill.
Fortunately, electric grills are very simple to operate. There’s no gas canister to worry about, no charcoal to chimney. All you have to do is plug it in and turn it on to your desired temperature. After a short pre-heating time, you’ll be ready to cook. Voila!
What to Look for in an Electric Grill
Whether you’re looking for an electric model to add to your grill entourage or you need a solution that will fit your living space, you want one that’s going to live up to being called a grill. Here are some key factors to consider in order to avoid a hotplate with delusions of grandeur.
Sturdy materials are a must to ensure performance and longevity. Look for sturdy grates and cooking plates that have some weight to them. Cast iron is a great choice for a cooking surface. Nonstick plates should not feel thin and light because they won’t hold heat well enough to grill.
The rest should have some heft. Freestanding units need enough weight to remain stable, and smaller grills need parts that can withstand being moved around often. Check to see that handles, legs, and knobs feel secure and stable.
Higher wattage means more power and better heat. When you’re planning to grill food, you want wattage between 1400 and 1800. Anything south of 1200 will behave more like a sandwich press or hotplate. Boo.
All our picks have the wattage listed. If you’re shopping yourself and the wattage is not listed on the box, it should be listed on the bottom of the device itself per manufacturing regulations.
How much grill you need is completely subjective, but do think about it before you purchase. If you throw big parties for work or a sports team, you’ll want the room to do more than a few chops or burgers at a time. If most of your cooking is for your family of four or a handful of close pals, you probably don’t need an enormous grill sucking up your storage space.
Modestly sized hamburgers need a minimum of 20 square inches each. You don’t want to crowd your grill too much, and you may want to move your food from a hot zone into a less hot zone during cooking. Steaks and big pork chops take up more space than burgers; chicken wings take up less. You get the idea. It’s worth doing a little math so that your grill space reflects your ideal cook-out.
Indoor or Outdoor
Many, but not all, electric grills can be used indoors. It’s one of their great strengths. Some models are only intended for outdoor use. Second, your electric grill needs to be plugged into a power source. Make sure you have an outlet available or an appropriate extension cord if you need one.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
Finally, look at the setup of the controls, thermometer, and other features. Is the heat easy to read and manage? Are the legs sturdy, does the design of the base make it easy for you to move the grill? Some grills have removable cooking grates that can go the dishwasher.
The Best Electric Grills
At a glance:
- 240 square inches of cooking space
- 1600 watts
- 38 inches tall on stand
- Sloped grilling plate to drain fat
Perhaps the best-known brand of electric grills is George Foreman. Starting off with the little contact grill that could, heavyweight boxing champion “Big George” marketed this style of cooking as easy and healthy. The original George Foreman grills were designed with a slanted cooking plate to drain excess fat and oil away from food, and their grill models still feature this lean-eating perk.
The 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill is roomy and powerful. A 1600-watt heating element gets up to temperature quickly and sears like a charm. A vent in the lid allows you to control how much moisture remains in the cooking environment. The grill plate is nonstick. A simple dial adjusts the temperature so you can keep it right where you want it.
It’s designed for indoor or outdoor use. The stand is removable, allowing you to use this as a freestanding or tabletop unit.
At a glance:
- 280 square inches of cooking space
- 1560 watts
- 14.5 inches tall
- Porcelain-enameled cast-iron cooking grates
The Weber Q 2400 can only be described as “small but mighty”. This tabletop electric grill packs 280 square inches of cooking space and a robust 1560-watt heating element. There’s enough space to fix food for friends, even in a tiny urban apartment. You just supply the fun.
Weber uses their specialized glass-reinforced nylon to create a durable frame for the grill, and the body and lid are both cast aluminum. Inside, the cooking business happens on porcelain-enameled cast-iron grates. The cast iron provides awesome heat transfer and the enamel coating protects them from rust and makes them easy to clean. This grill will stand up to use and last for years. There is a portable cart available from the company if you would like a freestanding model, but personally, we love the tabletop convenience here.
At a glance:
- 240 square inches of cooking space
- 1750 watts
- 40 inches tall
- TRU-InfraRed technology
The Char-Broil Infrared Electric Patio Bistro is a real grilling workstation. Shelves on either side provide you with a convenient work surface and a place to set your tools while folding down for a slim storage silhouette. Open it up with the stylish chrome handle and you’ll find a roomy main grate and a warming rack!
This grill is styled more like a traditional charcoal grill and intended for outdoor use. It has a powerful 1750-watt heating element that can provide foods with a bit of char and smoky taste, and it stands on a tall cart so you don’t have to lean down into it. This grill is a great option for a small balcony or patio. The cart is mobile and convenient, offering you some extra storage underneath.
At a glance:
- 200 square inches of cooking space
- 1440 watts
- 24 inches tall on stand
- Tough nonstick coating
Big George is back. This rectangular electric grill offers enough room for at least a dozen servings at a time in a compact footprint. The grilling surface features George Foreman’s signature slope to drain fat away, and the nonstick coating is designed to reduce or eliminate the need for additional butter and oil in your cooking. You don’t have to tell your friends you’re serving them the “healthy version”. They won’t miss the grease!
The grill comes with a removable stand, making it great for use on the patio or in the garden as well as inside on the counter. If the weather during your event looks dodgy, this is a great grill to have in your corner.
Don’t let restrictions on your condo or a limited amount of space stop you from enjoying the pleasures of a great grill-out. With an electric grill on your side, you can take on virtually any backyard cooking, even without the backyard.
The George Foreman 15-Serving Indoor/Outdoor Grill tickles our grilling fancy in a big way. It’s roomy enough to invite all your friends (invite us too!) and powerful enough to deliver big barbecue flavors. Furthermore, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t appreciate the option to siphon away a little fat with the sloped plates. Thanks, Big George. We feel like champions alongside this grilling superstar!