Not everybody has a backyard or year-round temperate climate suited for a traditional grill. Electric grills allow you to achieve the same cooking results indoors, on a porch, or on a balcony where open flames are prohibited. Plus, they don’t produce the smoke and char proven to carry carcinogenic properties, which pose a health risk after prolonged periods. Some newer models use infrared heat, which tends to cook meat more consistently than fire.
An electric grill’s heating element, located inside or just beneath the cooktop, is powered with a cord similar to any other kitchen appliance—just plug it into a wall outlet and cook away. When you’ve finished grilling, there’s no waiting for coals to cool down or dealing with gas canisters; you simply turn it off or unplug it.
Cleanup is typically pretty simple, especially on models with removable plates that can be washed in the sink or dishwasher. Most exciting for “real” grill enthusiasts: Some models now better approximate the heat intensity of a traditional grill, and many say that food tastes better for it.
This guide will help you understand more about this type of grill and how to choose the best electric grill for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill
- BEST BUDGET: BLACK+DECKER George Foreman Classic Plate Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: Kenyon Frontier All Seasons Portable Electric Grill
- BEST INFRARED: Char-Broil Patio Bistro TRU-Infrared Electric Grill
- BEST TABLETOP: Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill
- BEST BUILT IN: Kenyon Texan All Seasons Built-In Electric Grill
- BEST SMOKELESS: T-fal Compact Smokeless Indoor Electric Grill
- BEST SMOKER: Masterbuilt MB20070210 Analog Electric Smoker
- BEST WITH LID: Techwood Indoor Grill
- MOST VERSATILE: Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Electric Countertop Grill
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Grill
Don’t jump into a decision without considering important product factors like the type of electric grill, the quality of the material, and the portability of the grill. After taking some time to educate yourself on the features of electric grills, you will be better prepared to select the best electric grill for your home.
Electric grills are in their own distinct category from propane, natural gas, and charcoal grills, but this group can be further categorized as freestanding, tabletop, built-in, and electric smoker/grill combos.
- Freestanding electric grills typically have a stationary stand or a wheeled base that helps move the grill around the patio or deck. These grills are usually used outdoors, though they can be used indoors if necessary. They have a main cooking surface and might have one or two warming racks above the main surface. Freestanding grills also may have side tables to help hold plates, condiments, or other food items.
- Tabletop electric grills are much smaller than freestanding grills. They are typically used indoors, but all models can be used outdoors in decent weather. They can come with folding legs, a carrying handle, a built-in tabletop stand, or a lid lock, so the grill can be loaded into the car without worrying about the grill grate falling out on the way to the park.
- Built-in electric grills are semipermanent fixtures that can be installed either indoors or outdoors, depending on the product. A built-in grill requires a significant financial and time investment to install. However, it will usually last much longer than any other type of electric grill.
- Electric smoker/grill combos are typically used outdoors. These large grills give cooks the ability to grill or smoke food using the same device. Adjust the temperature to cook common grill food like burgers and steak, or turn the heat down and add some wood chips and water to slowly smoke a roast.
Electric grill materials range from stainless steel to plastic and can include porcelain-coated cast iron, as well as the common nonstick surface coating known as polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon).
- Stainless steel is a highly durable material typically used to make the water-resistant grill exterior. The versatile metal is also resistant to UV radiation and impact damage, protecting the electrical components from damage.
- Plastic seems like a poor material choice for a device that’s made for cooking food at high temperatures, but as an insulating material, plastic is the perfect choice for side tables, handles, grill feet, and other grill surfaces that need to be cool to the touch.
- Porcelain-coated cast iron is often used to make the grill grate or griddle plates because the porcelain coating protects the grill from water damage, corrosion, and rusting. However, the exposed metal is left vulnerable when the porcelain coating begins to chip, so it’s important to keep the grill grates cleaned and properly maintained.
- Polytetrafluoroethylene coatings, or nonstick coatings as they are more commonly known, help protect grill grates and griddle plates from sauces, oils, and overcooked food that could otherwise become stuck to the grill and cause rusting and corrosion. However, polytetrafluoroethylene isn’t necessary if the grill is porcelain-coated.
Size and Power
Small countertop grills are generally best suited for indoor use, while stainless steel varieties and those on legs are typically meant for outdoor use and storage. Personal models are perfect for making a single sandwich or a couple of small burger patties. These cooking tasks require about 20 to 25 square inches of cooking area, while larger varieties may have a cooktop as vast as 500 square inches—enough to serve a large family or gathering.
The more wattage, the more powerful the grill, which generally makes it capable of producing higher temperatures and distributing heat more evenly than lower-watt counterparts. Wattage varies, with smaller indoor models running around 1,200 watts and larger models coming closer to 2,000 watts.
Heat Output and Control
Most electric grills are made with the same functionality and control as a tabletop skillet or a stove. Simply plug the grill into an available outlet and turn on the burner with the control dial. The dial will usually indicate the temperature range. Some products only note whether the temperature is low or high, so users may need to take some time to get used to the specific heat output of the grill.
Electric grills may have one or more burners that heat the grill grate or griddle plate from below. The burners can sit in the center of the grill or they can be spaced evenly below the cooking surface. Some electric grills use a long, winding burner, similar to coil elements on a stove. This burner loops around with the base of the grill, ensuring the entire grill plate heats evenly.
Electric grills have a wide size range, from tabletop options that weigh just 10 pounds to electric smoker/grill combos that can exceed 200 pounds. If portability is important, it’s a good idea to look for features that make it easier to move the grill.
Smaller grills can come with handles, locking lids, or folding/removable legs for a more compact size when not in use. While larger grills rely on heavy-duty wheels to help them glide over flat surfaces, some freestanding electric grills come with the option to remove the entire top so it’s easier to pack into the car or truck.
Electric grills have been around for a while, giving manufacturers ample opportunity to add some interesting features, including digital controls, griddle plates, and built-in side tables.
- Digital controls give grill cooks the ability to accurately set the heat output to a precise temperature, instead of needing to estimate the output based on the position of the dial.
- Griddle plates are an excellent addition to an electric grill because some foods are better tasting (and looking) when prepared on a flat surface, including eggs, bacon, and pancakes. The griddle plate and grill plate are interchangeable, so users aren’t limited to one or the other.
- Side tables are a grill feature that seems completely unnecessary until you need a place to put plates, condiments, grill tools, drinks, buns, and other food items. They extend out to one or both sides of the grill, giving users extra workspace while they grill.
Our Top Picks
The following is a roundup of some of the best electric grills available. The buying tips and considerations outlined above—including size, power, heat output, control, and portability—can help you determine which of our picks would best suits your individual needs.
This freestanding electric grill from George Foreman is a great option for anyone interested in a versatile grill that can work as a freestanding unit or as a portable tabletop cooker. The entire grill can be lifted off the pedestal stand and placed on a table for use at home or in the park. This also makes it easier to pack the grill and take it on the road. When traveling, make sure to have a vehicle adapter or a generator to power the grill.
The grill has five temperature control settings indicated by the numbers 1 through 5 on the temperature dial. It stands about 30 inches high, weighs just 21 pounds, and has a cooking area of about 240 square inches. The stainless steel electric grill has a nonstick coating on the grill plate cooking surface, and it also comes with a grease collection pan to help control smoke and prevent flare-ups.
This classic countertop grill can hold two burger patties at once, and it heats up quickly, offering a quick, easy, and affordable way to cut the fat and avoid the char, cooking most foods in 10 minutes or less.
Further, the grill is equipped with a nonstick cooking surface, a cool-touch handle at the front, and an indicator light on the top of the grill so that users can see when the grill is on. It weighs only 3 pounds and has just enough cooking space to prepare a meal for one or two people.
While it comes at a hefty price, the Kenyon is distinguished by its high-quality materials and construction, minimalist design, and its ability to rival the heat of a gas or charcoal grill. It offers 155 square inches of cooking area, while its low smoke output and disposable drip pan make cleanup a breeze.
The exterior of the grill is made of durable and water-resistant stainless steel, while the grill grates have a nonstick coating to help protect the grill from corrosion and rusting.
This Char-Broil model offers heavy-duty construction and the ability to thoroughly grill food without leaving cool spots. Infrared heat helps meat cook consistently, and this model boasts a removable warming tray to keep everything at an ideal serving temperature. This standing grill is easy to assemble and it has a large 320-square-inch cooking surface. Being porcelain-coated, the grill grate resists rust and cleans easily.
The Char-Broil weighs 40 pounds, but it has wheels on one side, allowing it to be tilted and rolled across a flat surface with little effort. Also handy: a stainless steel storage shelf sits about halfway between the bottom of the grill and the wheels, enabling you to store plates or hang grill tools for easy access.
The Weber tabletop grill is a compact option that sits in a cool-to-the-touch base with side handles that allow the grill to be picked up and carried easily when not in use. Its design centers around a dome-shaped, hinged lid that traps and concentrates heat, thoroughly cooking the food within the grill chamber.
This electric grill has a porcelain-coated rectangular cast-iron cooking surface measuring 280 square inches, but it doesn’t include a warming grate. Helpfully, the Weber includes a removable grease pan reduces smoke while helping to prevent flare-ups on the grill.
This built-in electric grill has two large heating elements, each individually controlled and covered by individual grill grates. That way, you can grill different types of food with different cooking requirements at the same time.
The unit weighs 42 pounds and has a cooking area of about 310 square inches. The stainless steel exterior protects the interior of the grill, while a nonstick coating protects the grill grates from corrosion and rusting. Set the heat output with the waterproof digital controls for precise heat control.
If paired with a suitable grill cart, the Kenyon can be used to grill either indoors or outdoors. If it’s being used indoors, however, note that the grill may need to be installed by a professional to make sure the system is connected properly.
Using the T-fal smokeless grill is as easy as plugging it in, adjusting the temperature control to the desired setting, and placing food on its cooking surface. The smokeless system utilizes a small drip plate in the bottom of the grill to prevent grease, bits of food, and fat from burning and producing smoke. This simple addition improves the grilling experience, allowing users to enjoy barbecue indoors or outdoors without concern for choking clouds of smoke.
The T-fal’s grill grate offers enough cooking area to prepare four servings at once, making it a great tabletop option for small families, couples, and roommates. Control the heat output of the electric grill with the simple temperature control dial and choose between five temperature settings to a maximum of 455 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Masterbuilt is made for outdoor use, with a powder-coated steel exterior that protects the interior of the grill from water damage, corrosion, and rust. It has three stainless steel racks that can be removed easily when a cook needs additional vertical space to hang larger cuts of meat for smoking.
With all three racks in place, the electric smoker has about 500 square inches of available cooking area. However, the bottom of the grill is reserved for two stainless steel trays that hold wood chips and water for smoking. The temperature is displayed on the front door of the smoker, but the temperature control is on the power cord. This unit weighs about 50 pounds and has two side handles to make it easier to pick up, but it does not come with wheels.
From Techwood, this electric grill has a nonstick cooking surface and comes with a lid to help trap heat, protect users from hot grease, and keep the surrounding area clean from sauces, fat, and other substances that tend to splatter.
The Techwood is a tabletop grill made for indoor use, though it can also be set up outdoors if the weather is decent. It weighs just 14 pounds and has side handles located on the bottom of the grill that can be used to carry it from the counter to the table or to take it outdoors.
The grill has six heat settings ranging from 220 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit that can be selected using the simple buttons on the side of the grill.
Ninja’s electric tabletop grill, with its digital controls and five cooking functions, is designed for versatility and convenience. Choose to grill, air crisp, bake, roast, or dehydrate food with this one impressive device that weighs 20 pounds and has two side handles for easy portability.
The unit’s 100-square-inch, ceramic-coating rill grate is suitable for grilling up to four steaks at a time. Meanwhile, its 6-quart cooking pot can fit a 3-pound roast, and its 4-quart crisper basket can accommodate up to 2 pounds of french fries.
The Ninja heats up to a maximum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with a cleaning brush as well as a dishwasher-safe splatter guard to help keep the inside of the lid clean.
FAQs About Your New Electric Grill
The best outdoor electric grills let you enjoy your favorite barbecue food without worrying about charcoal, natural gas, or propane. However, these innovative devices can still leave some people with a few questions. Take a look below to find answers to several commonly asked questions about electric grills.
Q. Can all electric grills be used indoors?
Due to the reliance on electricity as a fuel source, most electric grills can be used indoors without a problem, like an infrared electric grill that doesn’t produce harmful fumes and typically comes with a smoke-management system to reduce smoke indoors. Large outdoor electric grills may take up too much space in the kitchen. However, even these larger electric grills are not harmful to operate indoors.
Q. Can you preheat an electric grill?
The temperature control of an electric grill allows the user to preheat the grill in much the same way as the temperature control of a stove lets you preheat the stovetop burners.
Q. Can an extension cord be used to power an electric grill?
While an indoor electric grill can sit on the counter, close to a power outlet, an extension cord is typically necessary to provide power to an outdoor electric grill.
Q. Do electric grills leave grill marks?
The best electric grills often come with multiple grilling plates, so the user can decide between a flat griddle surface or a raised grill surface. With the raised grilling plate, even an indoor electric grill can leave grill marks on chicken, steak, and other common barbecue foods.
Q. Can you leave an electric grill outside?
It depends on the specific product, but an outdoor electric grill is typically designed to remain outside, though it’s a good idea to have a grill cover or a sheltered area to keep the outdoor grill out of the rain.
Q. Can an electric grill catch fire?
Fire risks exist for all types of grills. An outdoor electric grill can pose a hazard if it’s connected to a damaged extension cord or if any flammable materials get too close to the grilling surface or even the warming rack.
Don’t let rainy weather or encroaching snowstorms keep you from enjoying barbecue dishes like steak, burgers, or sausages when you can invest in an electric grill that can be used outdoors when the sun is shining or indoors out of the rain. Users won’t have to worry about harmful fumes, like those produced by propane and charcoal grills, though an extension cord may be required to set up an outdoor electric grill.
Keep in mind that electric grills can range in size from freestanding grills to small tabletop options, so you can find the right grill to suit the yard or the kitchen. With the right temperature control, grilling plate, and heat output, an electric grill can even create grill marks for that authentic texture and appearance of grilled food.