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An indoor grill is a year-round game changer, and a welcome one for people who crave charred veggies and a good grilled meal on demand. If you live in a climate with distinctively changing seasons, enjoying the flavorful food of outdoor grilling can have a all-too-small annual window before the cold sets in, the propane tank turns off, the tarp goes on, and the grill sits outside until the warm weather returns once again. Not everyone has outdoor real estate for a traditional grill, either.
But you don’t have to send your smoke detector into overdrive just to get that perfect sear when cooking indoors. You also don’t have to settle for a grease trap nightmare when dealing with alternative grilling gadgets. Then you get to the post-meal clean-up session: while you can use a good grill brush to scrub food bits off an outdoor grill with some high heat, certain types of indoor grilling tools, such as stovetop grill pans, can be cumbersome and hard to clean.
Since using a regular grill indoors is not at all safe or recommended (seriously, don’t), and portable grills don’t always fit in your kitchen, these grills open up a whole new array of cooking options. Each relies on an electrically-heated grid, but has their own unique features and varied ways of cooking and distributing heat to keep it safe indoors. We also vetted each choice to make sure that the clean-up would be a breeze.
How Does an Indoor Grill Work?
An indoor cookout can be just as enjoyable, and these units make an excellent gift for the grillmasters who want less fuss and messy clean-up (or who don’t want to walk ingredients back and forth between the kitchen and the patio a million times).
Versatility: No grill is going to be totally smokeless, and there’s even a difference between less-smoke and smokeless (the former just has less smoke than normal, and still can make your kitchen a little hazy). Each unit has different precautions in place to prevent or cut down on smoke significantly. These can include things like adding a layer of water to the drip tray, sealing the grill surface with a cover, or having the majority of the heat source come from above and not below.
Cleaning: Tidying up can be simpler and less messy than a regular grill too. Even though they’re electric, most units are built with easy cleaning in mind, and come apart into dishwasher-safe or scrubbable pieces.
Settings: With many indoor grills, you can also adjust the heat intensity and how precise you want your settings. An upward-tilted, infrared-heated grill is a good option for maintaining a consistent temperature all around the surface, but having a hood lets you double-source your searing heat from the top and bottom at once.
1. BEST VERSATILITY: Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler
With a 200 square-inch surface (while open), and a hood that provides high-searing heat from the top, Cuisinart’s indoor grill cooks food fast and fully.
The reversible grill and griddle plates is another nice perk, allowing you to switch up your method whether you’re cooking steak and eggs or just steak. There are also red and green lights that indicate when the surface is preheated, so you don’t have to guess or take a temp reading before throwing your food on.
This ranges from about 200 to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit), and takes a while to preheat the first time, but after that the cook time ranges, but is relatively quick.
The removable nonstick grates help make cleaning easier, and it’s also dishwasher-safe along with the drip tray – which is extra large to catch all the juices and grease that fall during cooking.
2. BEST FOR BEGINNERS: GOTHAM STEEL Indoor Electric Grill
GOTHAM STEEL’s expertly-crafted 14″ x 9″ grill and drip pan are made from a high-quality nonstick ceramic coating, which means you can sear the leanest meats with very little grease.
The super slick ceramic is as practical as it is durable—the material more evenly conducts heat over the surface of the grill while making it a breeze to clean off burnt bits later on. GOTHAM STEEL has also added a burn-proof base to the bottom of the grill, which prevents any excess residue or grease from smoking up your kitchen.
While some users may be disappointed at the lack of precise temperature controls, we love the simplicity of the grill’s 4 settings, “Warm, Low, Medium, and High Heat”. The whole set comes with a grill plate, a griddle plate, and a 4-pronged kebab fork, and all the pieces easily pull apart for cleaning and storage.
Be aware that while this is indeed an indoor grill, this isn’t a totally smokeless grill – especially when the fat drippings fall through the grates. The grease catcher does a great job of sealing in the smokiness, but you may need to crack open a window or use this under a kitchen fan.
3. BEST WITH LID: PowerXL Smokeless Indoor Grill
PowerXL’s 1500-watt indoor grill features a tempered glass lid, which safely seals in the heat to keep your cooked food warm and moist (and is great for melting cheese too). It’s also got up to 450 degree (Fahrenheit) custom heat control, which is endlessly satisfying as it can make sure veggies are crisp, steak is charred, and that frozen foods grill up evenly. It also makes cleaning safe and simple, separating the electric source from getting anywhere near water.
There’s a large grilling surface for cooking for multiple people, one of our largest grills featured here, though the deep well design is more suited for regular grilling than the griddle pan that comes with it. PowerXL says it’s big enough to “grill three entire racks of ribs, eight large burgers…you can even grill an entire chicken “spatchcock” style.”
The bottom acts as mostly a holder for the drip pan, but both are dishwasher safe and can lift out easily for effortless cleaning & easy storage. The PowerXL grill also utilizes “turbo smoke extraction”: their built-in, smoke-extracting fan is said to remove virtually all excess smoke, so you can transform your kitchen into an open grill station.
4. BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY: Tenergy Infrared Grill
Tenergy’s well-designed 120v, 1660-watt indoor grill uses an infrared head that’s directed up at grill to heat the grate, but not the drip tray underneath. That helps the sides stay cool and helps to eliminate smoke rising up when it hits the surface, as Tenergy says, by up to 80%.
While you can’t set it to exact temperatures, the three settings are enough to get the job done. The low setting is perfect for keeping already-cooked foods warm without drying them out, while the high setting is plenty hot enough to cook whatever you’ve got on the grill evenly, with a max of about 446 degrees Fahrenheit and very little temperature variance around the grill surface (after preheating for around 6-10 minutes).
Setup is simple and cleanup is similar to a regular grill, for the grates anyhow – a tough bristled brush and warm water (once everything has cooled down) will get the crusty, burnt drippings off. To clean the unit itself, a sponge is usually enough. The grid is also dishwasher-safe; just don’t submerge the whole thing in water, of course.