Grilling outdoors with a charcoal or a gas grill is an excellent way to prepare a meal, but cooking outside isn’t always possible. Inclement weather can sideline an outdoor grill. And those who live in an apartment or a condo might not have the option to cook outdoors. In these cases, fortunately, indoor grills make grilling right in the kitchen possible. These grills are suitable for indoor use because they use an electric heating element that can heat a cooking surface to temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit without creating exhaust fumes or smoke.
Unlike their larger cousins, indoor grills are small enough to sit on countertops and store in cabinets. They range from budget-priced single temperature models for one or two people to grills with smart cooking features that can create a meal for six or more. With so many options, selecting the right one can be daunting. This guide will explore the features to consider when shopping for the best indoor grill while including some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: PowerXL Smokeless Grill with Tempered Glass Lid
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill
- UPGRADE PICK: Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill (AG301)
- BEST SMALL: George Foreman GR10B 2-Serving Classic Indoor Grill
- BEST LARGE: Carl Schmidt Sohn Indoor Smokeless Grill
- BEST INFRARED: Tenergy Redigrill Smoke-less Infrared Grill
- BEST PRESS-STYLE: Cuisinart Griddler, Elite, GR-300WSP1
- BEST SMART GRILL: Ninja FG551 Indoor Grill Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
Choosing the right size of grill with the right features at a price that stays under budget is crucial. Read on to learn more about the various sizes, options, and cooking features indoor grills offer.
Outdoor grills create smoke in part because of the fuel they burn, but also because they burn drippings that create smoke and char. For an indoor-use rating, a grill can’t produce the smoke that outdoor gas, charcoal, or wood-burning grills create. Indoor grills use electricity, which does not create fumes.
Whereas outdoor grills have open grates that allow the drippings to fall into the firebox, indoor grills have closed grates and direct drippings to a grease management system that prevents the grease from burning and creating smoke. Instead, they direct the grease to a removable tray.
Size and Cooking Surface
Indoor grills are much smaller than outdoor grills, so the user can easily store them in a cabinet when not in use. Indoor grills range in size from 40 square inches to as much as 135 square inches, which is considerably smaller than the 400 to 500 square inches the average outdoor grill offers. Unlike gas and charcoal grills, electric grills are limited by the 1,800 watts a standard 120-volt outlet can supply, which is only enough to evenly heat a surface area of around 100 square inches.
The cooking surface affects the overall size of the grill, which is important to consider when determining where the grill will live when it’s not in use, as well as how much valuable counter space it will occupy when in use. Most indoor grills measure about 20 inches wide and 12 inches deep.
Temperature Control and Range
Electric grills vary in the type of temperature controls they have. Lower-end models may only have one of two temperature options, while higher-end models can have many. Grills with a broad range of temperature options have knobs or digital controls that allow the user to set the grill surface to a specific temperature.
Indoor grills can cook at a wide range of temperatures ranging from as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Similar to outdoor grills, most indoor grills feature lids. Lid styles include tempered-glass models that are similar to those found on kitchen pots and pans. Glass lids allow the chef to monitor the food without removing the lid. Some indoor grills use the same clamshell design that is standard on outdoor gas grills.
With their concave shape, these grills better circulate heat evenly throughout the grill chamber. This lid style also allows the user to open the lid more easily to turn the food. Press style grills do not use lids. Instead, the “lid” side of the grill consists of a second burner that presses down on the top of the food, grilling both sides of the food at the same time.
Indoor grills are designed to be easy to clean after the grilling is over. They have removable trays that catch the drippings, and most electric grills have components that break down into individual pieces, making it easier to clean when the grilling is over. The cooking grates or plates detach from the grill body, so they can be cleaned in the sink or even placed in the dishwasher.
Indoor grills range from affordably priced single-temperature models to expensive high-end models that are loaded with extras that make them more versatile. These additional features include interchangeable griddle and grate cooking plates and “smart” settings that can automatically grill food to a preset temperature. Some high-end models function as more than just a grill, with air-frying, roasting, baking, and even dehydrating functions.
Our Top Picks
The list below uses these factors to narrow the field to some of the best smokeless grills on the market. It includes both affordable and high-end models of varying sizes, all of which are safe for use indoors.
While the PowerXL Smokeless Grill doesn’t duplicate the feel of an outdoor grill, it comes close, making it a worthy choice for those looking for an experience that mimics their backyard barbecue. The grill consists of a cooking grate that is recessed into a rectangular body. This design helps the grill generate ample heat for searing a brown char on meat while also creating space for heat circulation when covered.
The clear glass lid differs from a standard barbecue, but it allows cooks to monitor the food without having to open the lid. A drip tray that slides out from the bottom makes post-barbecuing cleanup relatively easy. With its 112 square inches of cooking surface, the grill is large enough to cook three steaks or a half dozen burgers while remaining small enough to store in a kitchen cabinet. Two cooking surfaces—a griddle and grill grate—add versatility, making the PowerXL both a traditional and a flat-top grill.
- Cooking surface: 112 square inches
- Dimensions: 19.8 by 11.9 by 5.5 inches
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Clear tempered-glass lid
- Grease management system
- Interchangeable plates
- Pricey compared to other indoor grills
At a price that’s more affordable than other indoor grills, it’s tough to beat the value of this model from Hamilton Beach. The grill surface gets hot enough to sear steaks. And, with its 118-square inch size, it’s large enough to cook a couple of steaks or six good-size hamburgers.
A large concave lid does a better job of mimicking that of a larger outdoor grill than more expensive models that use glass lids. The lid’s concave shape better circulates hot air while its hinged design and a handle that covers the entire length, make it easy to open and close for turning food. A large knob on the front of the unit can adjust the heat, and an extra-large drip tray does a great job of managing greasy barbecuing tasks.
- Cooking surface: 118 square inches
- Dimensions: 12.4 by 16.7 by 6.8 inches
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Affordably priced
- Broad cooking surface for the money
- Large grill-style lid
- Ample grease tray
- No specific temperatures on controls
It doesn’t take much to crowd cabinet space in a kitchen with a lot of specialty appliances, and this 5-in-1 electric grill from Ninja packs plenty of features into one storable appliance. Not only is it an excellent indoor grill that can reach temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also has air-frying, roasting, baking, and dehydrating functions, eliminating the need to purchase a fleet of specialty appliances.
Ninja uses what it calls the Cyclonic Grill Technology, which helps the grill reach high temperatures for searing. Digital controls on the front of the unit make it easy to set temperatures and cooking times and to toggle through the Foodi’s various cooking options. Although this grill costs considerably more than other indoor grills, given that it serves as several appliances in one, the price is reasonable.
- Cooking surface: 100 square inches
- Dimensions: 15 by 15 by 11 inches
- Weight: 14.5 pounds
- Has five cooking functions
- High maximum temperature
- Compact size
- Smaller cooking surface
Although it’s been more than 25 years since the first George Foreman indoor grill debuted, its simple design still resonates with those of other press-style indoor grills introduced since. This model, which uses the same classic design as the original, is large enough to cook meals for two. And, at just 9 inches long and 10 inches wide, it’s a great option for apartment dwellers with limited cabinet space for specialty cooking appliances.
The George Foreman’s design might be much simpler than other indoor grills—it has one heat setting and the grease tray sits in front—but it works. Couple that with a low price, and it’s a perfect choice for small households and for chefs who value simplicity over lots of bells and whistles.
- Cooking surface: 40 square inches
- Dimensions: 9.4 by 5.1 by 10.3 inches
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Compact size
- Simple time-tested design
- Durable grill plates
- No temperature controls
- Small cooking surface
The compromise with indoor cooking grills is their comparatively small cooking surfaces, which typically hover around 100 square inches. Carl Schmidt Sohn expands those parameters with an indoor smokeless grill that boasts 135 square inches of cooking surface divided into a grill and a griddle. And, while other larger indoor grills lack lids, Carl Schmidt Sohn’s sports a large tempered-glass lid, so it can roast as well as grill.
Simple controls allow cooks to easily adjust the grill’s temperature and fan-powered smoke control system. It’s also easy to clean thanks to construction that breaks down into individual parts. Keep in mind that its large cooking surface also makes this one of the larger grills on the market, at 21 inches long and 15 inches wide, so make sure there is plenty of free space on the counter.
- Cooking surface: 135 square inches
- Dimensions: 21 by 15 by 9 inches
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Broad cooking surface
- Both grill and griddle sides
- Clear tempered-glass lid
Infrared grills such as this model from Tenergy work by producing infrared energy that cooks food directly, a bonus for indoor grills. It produces less smoke than other indoor grills and can reach high sear temperatures, which makes it ideal for indoor grilling of steaks and hamburgers.
Though the Tenergy grill lacks the sophisticated controls and options of other indoor grills, its simple controls make it easy to use. Turn the knob to one of two temperature options and start grilling. Two heating elements located on the sides of the grill just under the grate apply direct heat to the food while avoiding the meat juices, which fall to a large removable tray directly beneath the grate.
- Cooking surface: 84 square inches
- Dimensions: 19.5 by 13.5 by 7 inches
- Weight: 13 pounds
- Great for searing meat
- Uncomplicated controls
- Easy to clean
- Limited temperature controls
- No lid
Press style grills eliminate the need to periodically turn food by grilling both sides at the same time. Of this grill type, the Griddler from Cuisinart is one of the best, combining durable stainless steel construction with a versatile design.
It comes with two sets of plates that allow it to function as either a standard grill, a panini press, a griddle, or a flat-top grill. It can function as a press grill, simultaneously heating the top and bottom of a steak or burger, or lay flat to maximize griddle space for pancakes. Unlike other press-style grills, the Griddler’s top has three preset heights, which gives it the unique ability to top-broil food. With its mix of digital controls and analog knobs, the Griddler allows cooks to easily toggle between cooking functions with an LED display that clearly shows temperature and function.
- Cooking surface: 132 square inches (264 when flat)
- Dimensions: 14.7 by 16.2 by 8.1 inches
- Weight: 17 pounds
- Interchangeable plates
- Three cooking functions
- Height-adjustable top
- Relatively small grease tray
It’s hard to see the term “smart” without thinking of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and smartphones, but that’s not what the term refers to when it comes to indoor grills. Instead, it represents the Ninja’s ability to automatically cook food to the desired doneness, eliminating any guesswork by the chef.
The Foodi uses a Smart Cook System that includes an integrated meat thermometer and four protein settings to cook to nine customizable doneness levels, ranging from rare to well done, all of which are controlled via a digital pad on the front of the unit. In addition to this smart function, this grill boasts other attractive features, including its ability to air-crisp, bake, roast, broil, and dehydrate food, all of which help to justify its relatively steep price tag.
- Cooking surface: 108 square inches
- Dimensions: 15.7 by 16.5 by 11 inches
- Weight: 22 pounds
- Automatically cooks food to the desired temperature
- Six cooking functions
- High 500-degree Fahrenheit temperature
For a design that capably brings the outdoor grilling experience indoors, the PowerXL Smokeless Grill with Tempered Glass Lid is the best option for those who want to grill like they’re outdoors in the comfort of an indoor kitchen. Those looking for an indoor grill that can handle more than just grilling duties should consider the Ninja Foodi Pro 5-in-1 Indoor Grill and its multiple cooking functions.
How We Chose the Best Smokeless Indoor Grills
In analyzing dozens of smokeless indoor grills, we considered a number of important criteria, including smoke and grease management, cooking surface size, and temperature controls. For an indoor grill to work well, it must be able to cook at high temperatures without creating so much smoke that it sets off the kitchen smoke detector. With that in mind, we chose only indoor grills that could minimize smoke by preventing grease from ending up on the burners.
We also selected indoor grills that offer ample cooking surfaces without being so large that storing or finding a place to set the grill on the countertop will be a challenge. Sizes of around 100 square inches seemed to be the sweet spot, with the exception of small indoor grills designed for households of one or two. Since being able to control temperature is a crucial part of grilling, we leaned mainly toward those indoor grills that offered the most robust temperature controls, with one or two exceptions.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
Those living in an apartment with no means of grilling outdoors or looking for a way to continue grilling when the weather outside is frightful will find plenty of reasons to own a smokeless indoor grill. First and foremost, it allows a cook to grill while still taking advantage of all that a full kitchen has to offer. Indoor grills might not have the max temperatures offered by charcoal and gas models, but they allow for more precise temperature control and cooking food to temperature easier. Smokeless indoor grills, with their grease-management systems, ability to break down into separate parts, and significantly smaller size, are easier to clean and maintain.
- Precise temperature controls
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Grill in the comfort of a full indoor kitchen
Tips for Using the Best Smokeless Indoor Grills
There are few tips to keep in mind when using an indoor grill. As with outdoor grills, give the grill some time to preheat. Most indoor grills take about 10 minutes to reach their full temperature. This is especially important for searing burgers or steaks. Help reduce smoke by properly preparing your meat. If the meat is marinated, remove excess marinade and small particles of herbs or garlic, all of which will burn at lower temperatures, creating smoke.
Ventilate the kitchen and turn on your range’s fan to circulate air. When grilling, resist the urge to fiddle with the meat. Leave steaks, chops, and burgers alone for at least 5 minutes on each side to ensure you get those perfect grill marks. It’s much easier to remove charred food when the grill is hot versus when it’s cold. Make cleanup easier by scraping the grill grates while the grill is still hot.
- Preheat the grill before cooking
- Remove sugary marinades that can burn at low temperatures
- Ventilate kitchen
- Give food time to cook before turning
If you’re wondering just how smokeless an indoor grill is or if you can take an indoor grill outdoors, then read on for answers to these and other commonly asked questions about these handy appliances.
Q.Are smokeless indoor grills completely smokeless?
While indoor grills will produce far less smoke than a charcoal or even gas grill, they will produce some exhaust fumes. Just as cooking at high temperatures on a range with a frying pan will produce smoke, so too will an indoor grill. Indoor grills will produce the most smoke when they are being used to sear meat.
Q.Can I use a smokeless indoor grill outdoors?
Yes. It is safe to use an indoor grill outdoors but only in dry weather. Since indoor grills use electricity for power, they can short out or even create an electrocution hazard if exposed to water. Use your indoor grill outside in good weather, then bring it back inside immediately afterward to store.
Q.Can smokeless indoor grills get hot enough to grill burgers?
Yes. In fact, a smokeless indoor grill can reach a temperature of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty of heat to grill a burger.
Q.How do I clean my smokeless indoor grill?
Luckily, smokeless indoor grills are much easier to clean than an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Wait for the grill to cool, then remove the grill plates. Clean the grill plates by hand in the sink. Empty the grease tray in a trash can, then rinse and clean it in the sink as well. With the plates removed, wipe out the interior and exterior of the grill with a damp cloth or sponge.
Q.How many hours can I keep my smokeless indoor grill on?
There are no limitations for how long you can keep a smokeless grill on; however, it’s not a good idea to heat the grill for long periods with no food on it. Doing so can damage the grates or the griddle.