The right grill can mean the difference between steaks with the perfect amount of pink and steaks burning to a crisp. Outdoor electric grills let you set the temperature with a simple dial so you don’t have to worry about managing airflow through the grill or reloading pellets to maintain consistent heat.
The best outdoor electric grills come with a variety of features, including wheeled bases, removable stands, and an ample cooking surface. Take a look at the list of top products below to get a better idea of sizes and features you might prefer, then continue reading for more information on how to find the best outdoor electric grill for your patio.
- BEST OVERALL: George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Electric Grill GGR50B
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Techwood Electric BBQ Grill Portable Grill
- BEST CART-STYLE: Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
- BEST GRILL/SMOKER: Cuisinart COS-330 Smoker 30″ Electric
- BEST TABLETOP: Weber 52020001 Q1400 Electric Grill
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor Electric Grill
Don’t make a decision on the best outdoor electric grill for your next backyard cookout without first educating yourself about some of the most important product factors and features. Consider the type of electric grill needed for family or typical entertaining and the appropriate size for the deck or patio to ensure that the grill doesn’t take up too much space. It’s also a good idea to think about the size of the cooking surface, the grill material, and several additional product features mentioned below.
Electric grills tend to belong to a group completely separate from gas, charcoal, or pellet grills, but they still fall into distinct types, including freestanding, portable, built-in, and smoker grill combos.
- Freestanding outdoor electric grills can have a stationary stand or a wheeled base for more easily moving the grill around a patio, deck, or any other flat surface. These grills typically have a main cooking surface and might have one or two warming racks above the main surface.
- Portable outdoor electric grills, also called tabletop grills, have smaller cooking surfaces and sizes than a typical backyard grill. They also might feature folding legs, a carrying handle, a built-in tabletop stand, or a lid lock to prevent the grill from opening while it’s riding around in the back of the car.
- Built-in outdoor electric grills are semipermanent fixtures that remain outdoors year-round. Their materials can include bricks, mortar, concrete, cast iron, tile, or steel. A built-in grill requires a significant investment, though it will last much longer than any other type of outdoor electric grill.
- Outdoor electric smoker/grill combos give cooks the ability to grill or smoke food using the same outdoor device. Turn the heat up to grill burgers, sausages, and corn in a short time. To smoke food, turn the heat down, add some wood chips and water, and then monitor the smoker/grill combo until the food is done.
Consider how and where you will use the outdoor electric grill when deciding on the best option for your next barbecue. If the grill will tuck away in a shed, workshop, or garage throughout the colder seasons, then look for a smaller, lightweight model that’s easy to lift. However, those who prefer a large grill with a high-volume cooking surface can look for models with wheels.
As the size of the grill increases or decreases, so does the available cooking space. So, large families and people who enjoy having guests over regularly might consider investing in a large outdoor electric grill that fits the patio or deck. If room allows, consider a product with side tables for extra storage space while grilling.
Outdoor electric grill materials fall into a modest variation that includes stainless steel, porcelain-coated cast iron, and nonstick surfaces.
- Stainless steel has high durability that is usually the best option for a grill’s exterior. Stainless resists water, UV radiation, and impact damage, despite its relatively light weight for easy maneuvering.
- Porcelain-coated cast iron is as durable as stainless steel and more resistant to water damage, corrosion, and rusting. Porcelain often goes into outdoor electric grill grates, though when these grates begin to chip, the porcelain coating peels quickly. The peeling exposes the vulnerable metal underneath, so it’s important to properly clean and maintain the grill.
- Nonstick surfaces commonly appear on outdoor electric grills. These polytetrafluoroethylene coatings help to create a barrier between the food and the metal grates so that sauces, oils, or overcooked food won’t stick to the grill grates, causing rusting and corrosion.
An outdoor electric grill’s cooking surface refers to the amount of space available for food on grill grates, warming grates, and smoker chambers. Typical cooking surfaces range from just 150 square inches for small, portable products that can sit on a tabletop to large smoker/grill combos that can have more than one cooking surface, with a total available area of more than 1,000 square inches.
Determine the average number of people who are regularly present for grilled meals and the amount of food each person eats. From this approximation, estimate the surface space it will take to prepare a meal instead of investing in a grill that’s too small and forces you to cycle diners through one or two at a time. Those who enjoy throwing parties should keep entertaining in mind as well.
Heat Output and Control
Most outdoor electric grills function like a tabletop skillet or even a stove. Just plug the grill into the closest available outlet, turn the dial to the desired temperature setting, and give it about 10 minutes to heat up properly before placing food on the grill.
Outdoor electric grills can have one or more burners to provide heat to the grill plate. The burner might sit in the center of the grill or space evenly below the cooking surface. Instead of round burners, some electric grills have long, winding burners that extend out from one side of the grill, then loop around within the base to ensure the entire grill plate heats evenly.
Most electric grills cook using convection heating inside the covered dome. Infrared grills use a safe form of radiation to produce even more heat.
Grills can range in weight from just 10 pounds for small tabletop models to more than 200 pounds for full-size outdoor electric grills. If portability is important, then it’s a good idea to look for features that make it easier to pack and move the grill. Small grills might have folding or removable legs for a more compact size when not in use, and larger grills can come with wheels that help them glide easily across a flat surface.
A grill with wheels likely will have at least one handle to help pull or push it across a deck or patio. However, smaller electric grills also can feature one or more handles to easily pick up, carry, and pack away the grill without trying to grip rounded edges.
Outdoor electric grills can come with a range of features for more convenient or versatile use. These features might include digital controls, griddle plates, and built-in side tables.
- Digital controls help grill cooks set a precise temperature instead of having to estimate the correct position with a temperature control dial to easily create the flavor and texture intended.
- Griddle plates can replace grill plates in a tabletop or outdoor electric grill. The griddle plate is a completely flat cooking surface for cooking softer foods like eggs, bacon, and hash browns.
- Side tables extend the work surface, where the user can keep grill tools, buns, condiments, and plates within easy reach.
Our Top Picks
Those on the hunt for a new outdoor electric grill should consider these top selections for their grilling needs. The products on this list represent the best outdoor electric grills based on product efficacy and overall value, with a further emphasis on the important shopping considerations mentioned above.
This outdoor electric grill from George Foreman can fit the bill for those looking for a versatile grill that can work as a freestanding unit or as a portable tabletop cooker. The entire grill lifts off the pedestal stand for tabletop use, or both the grill and the stand can pack up to take to a tailgate party. Just make sure to have a vehicle adapter or a generator to power the grill on the road.
When on its stand, the grill surface stands about 30 inches high and the cooking area is about 20 inches in diameter. The 21-pound stainless steel grill has a nonstick coating on the 240-square-inch cooking surface, as well as two dip holes to collect grease and prevent excess smoke and flare-ups. Five settings help control the cooking temperature. This design can suit cooking indoors as well as outdoors, so families can enjoy their favorite grilled foods in any season.
The Techwood tabletop outdoor electric grill is made for portability, durability, and precision temperature control, and at a budget price point. It features a hinged lid with two lid locks located above the carrying handles on either side so that the grill doesn’t open or shift inside a vehicle. The legs of the grill fold up, and the power plug removes for easy packing up and carrying. And at only 16.14 inches by 18.9 inches by 13.9 inches, this little grill can travel.
Cooks can control the temperature with a dial that is relatively simple to use, and a single heating element winds through the base of the grill to balance heat across the cooking surface. This 12-pound outdoor electric grill has porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grates with a cooking surface of 240 square inches. It also features a warming rack that measures about 100 square inches, so users can keep food warm while waiting for thicker cuts to finish grilling.
The cart-style freestanding Char-Broil TRU-infrared grill weighs 45 pounds, but it has wheels on one side, allowing it to be tilted and rolled across a flat surface with little effort. A stainless steel storage shelf sits about halfway between the bottom of the grill and the wheels, providing a spot to hang grill tools or store plates within easy reach. The model measures 24.4 inches by 25.2 inches by 38.2 inches.
This outdoor electric grill has a circular cooking surface that measures 320 square inches and a second-tier warming rack with a surface area of about 120 square inches. The porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grate resists rust and cleans easily. It heats from a U-shaped element underneath the surface that focuses heat around the edges, then circles toward the center to help ensure even heat distribution across the entire grill.
The Cuisinart outdoor electric smoker grill combo has three stainless steel racks that remove easily when a cook needs additional vertical space to hang larger cuts of meat. With all three racks in the unit, it boasts 548 square inches of cooking space, though the bottom rack holds two stainless steel trays for burning wood chips and water when smoking. These help extend the cooking time without burning the food, producing much more tender meat.
Set the temperature, which ranges from 100 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with a precise temperature control dial, and keep an eye on the heat using the built-in thermometer in the front door. This stainless steel electric smoker weighs 59 pounds and sits on four broad legs, providing a stable base that won’t tip or tilt. However, it doesn’t have wheels, so users need to rely on two side handles and a lot of hard work to move the grill. In all, the model measures 22 by 19 by 37.5 inches.
The Weber 52020001 Q1400 tabletop outdoor electric grill weighs 29 pounds and features a broad, stable base that extends up the sides of the grill to the carrying handles to support the entire weight of the grill while it’s being carried. It has a porcelain-coated rectangular cast-iron cooking surface that measures 189 square inches, but it doesn’t include a warming grate.
This grill has a large, hinged lid with a dome shape that helps to radiate heat back down onto the food. With its compact size and electrical heating, this Weber grill offers a right-size barbecue option for those who live in a condo or apartment where restrictions can prevent the use of gas or charcoal.
FAQs About Outdoor Electric Grills
The answers to several commonly asked questions appear below for those who are interested in an outdoor electric grill but who might have some lingering questions about their use.
Q. Are electric grills easier to use?
Electric grills have simple temperature control dials that might be easier to use for some, but others might have more experience with a gas or charcoal grill. It depends on personal preference and experience.
Q. Can all electric grills be used indoors?
Electric grills don’t produce potentially fatal fumes like charcoal, pellet, and gas grills, so they can grill foods indoors. However, check the details for outdoor electric grills; some lack built-in smoke-management systems and might cause too much smoke indoors, setting off alarms and making it difficult to grill.
Q. Can you preheat an electric grill?
Yes, electric grills can be preheated. Just turn the grill on and allow it to warm up for about 10 minutes before grilling.
Q. Can an extension cord be used to power an electric grill?
An extension cord can be used to reach power for an electric grill, though it’s advised to invest in a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use.