Buyer’s Guide: The Best Electric Grills

To enjoy cookout flavor indoors, get the lowdown on electric grills—and don't miss our top picks!

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Best Electric Grill Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

Grilled food fans, rejoice! The industry has been busy perfecting electric grills, filling a need for folks who want the ease and flavor of grilling all year long. This guide will help you understand what’s out there and how to choose the best electric grill for your needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
  2. UPGRADE PICK: Kenyon Frontier All Seasons Portable Electric Grill
  3. BEST VALUE: George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Plate Grill

Electric Grill Basics

Not everybody has a big backyard or a temperate climate all year long. So while BBQ purists who insist upon that charred, smoky flavor may scoff at electric grills, the devices do allow you to grill food indoors or out on a porch or balcony in a building that prohibits open flames. Plus, electric grills don’t produce the smoke and char proven to carry carcinogenic properties, potentially posing a health risk after prolonged periods. In fact, some newer models use infrared heat, which tends to cook meat more consistently than other forms of heat, including 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 socket and cook away! Grease runoff is caught in a drip pan typically included with the grill, and when you’re through, there’s no waiting for coals to cool down or dealing with gas canisters; you simply turn it off and/or unplug it.

What’s more, 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 same heat intensity of a traditional grill—and food tastes better for it.

Before you buy, check your community’s policies on electric grills. Property managers, homeowners associations, and condo boards often have specific rules regarding these kinds of devices, so don’t risk a heated exchange over an avoidable conflict.

Features to Consider

Small, convenient 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 like the ever-popular original George Foreman grill are perfect for making a single sandwich or a couple of small burger patties (which require about 20 to 25 square inches of cooking area apiece), while larger varieties may have a cooktop as vast as 500 square inches—enough to quickly service a large family all at once.

Wattage varies, with smaller indoor models running around 1200 watts and larger models coming closer to 2000. The more wattage, the more powerful the grill, which generally makes it capable of producing higher temperatures and distributing heat more evenly than its lower-watt counterparts. For a small grill, you’ll only need enough power to consistently heat a humble amount of food at a time, so lower wattage on an 80-square-inch countertop grill, for example, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

While countertop versions are fine with short cords, you’ll want a longer cord (or an extension cord, in some cases) for a grill you intend to use outdoors. And additional features might include removable/dishwasher-safe grates, adjustable thermostats, and temperature gauges.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

The Best Electric Grill Option: Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
Photo: amazon.com

The Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill earns high marks from us for its heavy-duty construction and ability to thoroughly grill food without 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 boasts an ample cooking surface.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Electric Grill Option: Kenyon Frontier All Seasons Portable Electric Grill
Photo: amazon.com

While it comes at a hefty price, its high-quality materials and construction, minimalist design, and ability to produce similar heat to gas and charcoal grills sets this option above its counterparts in the premium grill category. At 1,300 watts, this countertop grill offers 155 square inches of cooktop, while its low smoke output and disposable drip pan make cleanup a breeze.

Best Value

The Best Electric Grill Option: George Foreman 2-Serving Classic Plate Grill
Photo: amazon.com

This classic countertop grill was made famous by its iconic namesake, boxer George Foreman. It can hold two burger patties at once, and this 1500-watt model heats up in two-thirds the time of its predecessors. Available in black at a budget-friendly price, this great little grill offers a quick, easy, and affordable way to cut the fat and avoid the char, cooking most foods in 10 minutes or less.