Do you love grilling but live in an apartment or in an area where the weather or the law doesn’t allow outdoor cooking with charcoal, pellets, or gas? The answer to your problem could be a good quality indoor grill.
Indoor grills rely on electricity rather than on combustible fuels to produce the heat needed for grilling and searing those delicious steaks and burgers. Since flammable fuels do carry the risk of flare-ups, which can be potential fire hazards and also produce smoke, they should not be used indoors.
While the indoor grills still do emit some smoke, the risk of setting a fire when using them is minimal, especially when compared to charcoal, gas, and pellet grills.
They also tend to heat up faster, and most of them have parts that are dishwasher safe, which makes the cleanup after a grilling session much easier than cleaning an outdoor grill.
We have selected the best indoor grills you can buy in 2021. Read on to find out what we liked and what we don’t about each of them, as well as to get some handy tips on how to use an indoor grill for the most delicious and authentic tasting results and maximum safety.
Different types of indoor grills
The grills for use indoors come in different shapes and sizes, but there are two main types of indoor grills you can choose from.
An open grill, as the name suggests, is an indoor grill that doesn’t have a lid and consists of a grill plate that is heated via electricity or infrared.
Due to the open design and the lack of a lid, open grills usually have larger cooking surfaces than folding ones. They are the more suitable option if you want to cook large batches of food for your family and friends.
They provide a similar experience to grilling outdoors.
The downside of open grills is that they will grill the burgers, meat, or other food one side at a time, so the food needs to be flipped, and the grilling will take twice as long than if it were cooked from both sides simultaneously in a folding contact grill.
Another potential problem with open indoor grills is that the lack of a lid means more splashes during use, and thus more cleaning up after grilling.
Folding contact grill
The folding contact indoor grills have lids that double as grill plates. This means that the food on the grill will be cooked simultaneously and evenly on both sides, making the grilling much faster and easier without any flipping.
The closing lid also helps prevent splashes from the grill and thus will reduce the mess in your kitchen.
The main downside of this type of indoor grill is that the cooking space is usually quite a lot smaller than that of the open grills. This makes these indoor grills suitable for smaller families.
Also, some folding grills that lack floating hinges can be challenging to close completely on top of thicker meats and foods, which may cause uneven cooking.
Our top pick, the Cuisinart GR-4NP1 Griddler, is an indoor folding grill that will allow you to prepare your favorite barbecue indoors with results as near to those of authentic outdoor grilling as possible.
If you are contemplating buying another large appliance that will take up most of your countertop or storage space without being used all of the time, then we have good news for you. This 5-in-1 appliance can be used not only for full grilling but also as a full griddle, a half grill, and half griddle, a contact grill as well as a Panini press. This means that you will be using it more often than you would if you only need an indoor grill for parties or for weekends.
The size of this unit is 13.5 (L) x 11.5 (W) x 7.12 (H) inches, and it has removable, reversible, non-stick dishwasher plates sized 11 x 9 inches each. When used flat, the cooking surface is 200 square inches.
With its multiple functions, you can prepare entire meals with the sides simultaneously on this indoor grill.
The appliance heats up very quickly, and the griddle temperature can be adjusted from 200 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The grill and Panini can be set to 5 heat settings – from warm to sear.
The excess grease from the meat and other food will be drained into a drip tray.
The appliance itself is stylish looking, with a brushed stainless steel body and a large comfortable Panini handle. The lid has floating hinges, so you can cook even thicker food without worrying about the lid not closing properly.
The materials which come into contact with the food are BPA-free.
Overall, for this reasonable price and for all the excellent features and functions of this indoor grill, the Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler is definitely one of the best options you will find on the market.
- It can be used for the safe cooking of red meat, unlike some of the other indoor grills, which cannot reach the required safe and doneness temperatures
- It is a multifunctional appliance with 5 functions in 1. This will save you kitchen and storage space, as well as money for purchasing all these different appliances separately
- The plates are riveted and will leave beautiful sear marks on the burgers and steaks
- When used unfolded, and flat, the cooking space can be increased from 100 to 200 square inches
- It is easy to set and preheats fast
- The plates are BPA-free, removable, reversible, and dishwasher safe
- Some users complain that when it becomes detached, the floating lid can be tricky to lock back into place
The Ninja Foodi AGI301 is another multifunctional indoor grill, which you can use indoors to make deliciously grilled meat with authentic char-grilled sear marks.
This versatile countertop appliance can also be used for air crisp frying, roasting, baking, and dehydrating all types of foods.
Thanks to its unique cyclonic grilling technology and the BTU of an outdoor grill, the Ninja Foodi can quickly reach up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the air fryer function, you can make healthier fries and other fried meals with 75% less fat.
The dehydrator can be used to dry and preserve all types of veggies, fruits, and other food.
With the baking and roasting function, this versatile appliance can easily replace your oven as well.
The air fryer ceramic coated basket has a capacity of 4 quarts. The size of the ceramic coated, PFOA, and PTFE free grill plate is 10 x 10 inches making it a total of 100 square inches. And the cooking pot which comes with the unit has a 6-quart capacity.
There is a nifty splatter shield that is easy to remove and clean for a mess-free cooking experience.
The control panel and display are bright, intuitive, and easy to read and set.
You will also receive a recipe book created by a real chef with the Ninja Foodi.
- This is a multifunctional countertop appliance that will easily replace an indoor grill, an air fryer, a dehydrator, and an oven
- It features a cyclonic grilling technology allowing for quick heating of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for searing and other high and fast grilling needs
- There is a cool air zone that will give your grilled food a nice smoky flavor and will reduce the smoke in your kitchen
- The air fryer can be quite noisy
- The appliance and its removable and dishwasher safe parts are quite large for storage and for washing by hand. The size of the Foodi is 12.05 x 16.88 x 10.59 inches, and it weighs 20 lbs.
Indoor & Outdoor Use
Imagine that you are grilling some delicious food outdoors, and it suddenly starts pouring rain. With this George Foreman electric grill, you can easily and safely move and continue the grilling indoors.
The indoor and outdoor grill has an easy-to-remove stand so that you can move the grill from the patio to the countertop in seconds.
The grill also comes with a domed grill lid, a drip tray, a removable grill plate, and a variable temperature control probe.
The removable circular non-stick grill plate has a cooking area of 240 square inches, sufficient for cooking up to 15 servings at a time.
You can adjust and control the heat without opening the lid and stopping the cooking.
Thanks to the specially designed angled cooking plate and drainage, all of the grease and liquids will be collected in the convenient drip tray of this indoor and outdoor electric grill.
It is apartment-approved and can safely be used indoors.
- It is an all-season, multipurpose grill which can be used both inside and outside
- It flaunts a generous cooking space of 240 square inches which is sufficient for cooking up to 15 portions of food simultaneously
- The grease drainage is highly efficient and not only makes the cooked food healthier but also makes the cleanup easier
- The base of the grill can be a bit wobbly because the grill is pretty heavy
- Getting the hang of the temperature adjustments can take some time, and experimenting
Related: George Foreman Grills: A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide
Best with Removable Plates
With this smart grill, you will need to make minimal temperature and cooking time adjustments, as it comes with 9 useful preset programs for grilling and cooking different foods to the perfect doneness. The programs can be selected with a single press of a button. The settings include burger, poultry, sausage, sandwich, red meat, pork, bacon, fish, and shellfish.
Plus, this intelligent indoor grill will alert you when the temperature reaches the recommended temperature for rare, medium, and well done, so you can monitor the process without opening the lid or using a meat thermometer.
There is also a frozen mode so that you can grill frozen burgers or other products. The additional 4 custom modes will allow you to cook vegetables or to save your own preferred temperature and time settings.
The OptiGrill XL is as close as you can get to a set-and-forget grill. The appliance has an Automatic Sensor Cooking feature which will detect how much food is placed on the grill and where it is situated so that the cooking time and doneness temperatures can be monitored more accurately. The grill will also automatically adjust the heat depending on the size and the thickness of the food placed inside it.
It has convenient indicators for the temperature, the preheating, and the current cooking stage – including preheat, start, rare, medium, and well done.
Thanks to its powerful 1800 watt heating element, this folding grill will preheat in just 4-7 minutes.
The non-stick die-cast aluminum grill plates are removable and very easy to clean. The total cooking area is 124 square inches. There is an easy-to-remove drip tray, which is dishwasher-friendly.
The countertop electric grill has a relatively small footprint and will take little storage space, as it is 18.9 x 9 x 14.8 inches and weighs 11.5 lbs.
It has an auto shut-off function which switches the appliances off if the lid is left open for too long.
- The convenient preset grilling settings will eliminate the guesswork and make grilling and cooking all types of food easier than ever
- It is a powerful grill that will heat up very quickly
- The audio and light alerts will keep you informed about the doneness of your meat
- The grill plates and drip tray are easy to remove and clean
- The smart sensors will detect how much food is placed on the grill and how thick it is to adjust the temperature accordingly
- The auto shut-off function will keep you and your home safe
- Its numerous buttons, dials, and indicators may be confusing to non-tech-savvy users
- It is on the expensive side when compared to other indoor grills
Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
Unlike the other indoor grills on our list, this one by Philips doesn’t rely on heating elements for grilling. Instead, it uses infrared heat and reflectors for cooking delicious and evenly cooked meat and foods without hot or cold spots. Best of all, this technology helps minimize the smoke emitted during the grilling.
It takes only about 6 minutes to reach a consistent temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for grilling and searing. The grill plate is made of easy to clean, non-stick aluminum grill. The plate and all other removable parts are dishwasher safe.
You can cook mouthwatering meals with minimal fat and smoke, and any excess grease will be collected in the drip tray, which is easy to empty and clean.
As for the smoke, this amazing indoor grill by Philips does emit just about as much smoke as you would expect when cooking on your stovetop, so you can easily remove it by turning the exhaust hood or air purifier.
Once you are done with the grilling, you can easily switch the unit to a keep warm mode.
- It utilizes infrared light and reflectors, which decrease the production of smoke and help cook the food faster and evenly
- It takes only about 6 minutes for the grill to preheat to 446 degrees Fahrenheit
- There is a keep warm mode
- The grill plate, drip tray, and other removable parts are dishwasher safe
- Since it is 21 x 17 inches in size, this indoor grill can take up a lot of your countertop or storage space
- The bright infrared light may be uncomfortable for some, especially in small kitchens
How to Choose an Indoor Grill
Naturally, everyone wants to get the best bang for their buck within the set budget for an indoor grill.
The good news is that the indoor grills are less expensive than outdoor charcoal, gas, or pellet-fueled ones.
Most of the grills for indoor use can be purchased for a price ranging from $50 to about $150. But if you want an appliance with more advanced features like infrared cooking, defrosting, preset cooking programs, and others, you can expect to pay a higher price which can reach $400.
Since you will be cooking indoors, the size of the appliance is essential. You will need to ensure that the indoor grill you pick will fit your countertop, table, or other space which you will be using for indoor grilling, as well as whether you have storage space for the appliance when it is not in use.
The size of the cooking surface is also important. Many indoor grills are compact and suitable for small families and for about 6-7 people, and some offer generous cooking spaces for 15 servings and more, such as the George Foreman indoor and outdoor grill.
There are some grills which when unfolded, can double their cooking space, like the Cuisinart Griddler.
The type, construction, and controls
When choosing an indoor grill, you should consider whether you want to invest in an open or in a foldable appliance. As we have mentioned earlier in this article, both types have their pros and cons.
Then, you should pay attention to the construction and materials used for the grill. The sturdier they are, the longer you can enjoy grilling food indoors.
Last but not least, the different grills have different controls and settings. You can choose a simple grill with temperature settings or a smarter one like the T-fal OptiGrill XL, which has numerous preset programs and different intelligent features and will even alert you when the different doneness temperatures are reached.
The ease of cleaning
One of the biggest advantages of indoor grills is their ease of cleaning, especially when compared to their outdoor counterparts. Most of the indoor grills have non-stick plates, which can be removed and washed by hand, or some are even dishwasher safe. The same goes for the drip trays and other removable parts of these appliances.
The Ninja Foodi even has a splash-proof screen to minimize the mess.
Choose a grill with a grill plate and other parts that can easily fit in your dishwasher or sink to make the cleanup after cooking hassle-free.
But whichever indoor grill you choose, cleaning it up will be easier than cleaning an outdoor grill using combustible fuel.
Safety and smoke emission
The National Fire Protection Association’s most recent Home Grill Fires Report includes some shocking statistics, according to which an average of 10,600 home fires every year are caused by barbecues, grills, and hibachis, 4,600 of which involved structural and 5,700 of them outdoor fires in the county.
Grills are found the reason behind over 29% of all structural fires, with the leading causes being grills used on balconies and on open porches.
These statistics alone are enough to alarm anyone planning on using a grill inside their home or other indoor space.
This is why the safety of the appliance is among the leading features to consider when choosing the most suitable indoor grill.
Here are some safety features to look for when shopping for an indoor grill:
- Smokeless or minimal smoke is emitted, especially for people who live in apartments, and those with respiratory problems such as asthma who are especially susceptible to smoke from cooking
- Electrical safety, including an auto shut-off, a kill switch, and a power cord which is just long enough to be convenient and yet safe
- Cool-touch handles, lid cover, and surface
Related: Best Korean BBQ Grills Reviewed
What can you cook on an indoor grill?
As long as the cooking area of your indoor grill permits it, you can cook just about anything you would cook on a traditional outdoor grill.
But keep in mind that indoor grills have smaller grease trays and do not drain grease and juices such as marinades and sauces as well as most outdoor grills do, so you should keep the meat and fish as dry as possible before placing them on the indoor grill.
To compensate for the lack of generous amounts of sauce or marinade during the grilling indoors, you can use liquid smoke in order to get that unique smoky flavor.
Tips for grilling indoors
Keep safety a priority
Safety should be your number one priority, no matter whether you are grilling outdoors or inside. While outdoor grills which utilize combustible fuels are more dangerous as they are at a higher risk of flare-ups, indoor grills should also be handled with extra safety precautions.
To reduce the risk of a fire, you should minimize the smoke and grease by trimming the meat from as much fat as possible. It is recommended that you place the indoor grill in a well-ventilated place, such as by an open window, under an exhaust hood, or other.
After each grilling session, clean the grill plates from any leftover grease, and empty and clean the grease capturing trays. This will help to minimize the risk of fat getting into the heating element of the grill.
It is always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher nearby as well.
Use dry ingredients
Since indoor grills are powered by electricity and do not drain the liquids, as well as outdoor grills do, you should keep the meat or other foods as dry as possible before grilling them. This means using dry rubs instead of marinades or sauces, trimming excess fat, and drying the food before placing it on the grill.
By using dry ingredients, you will also reduce the production of smoke, and at the same time, allow the meat to develop a crispy and delicious crust.
Crisp up with a blowtorch
If you can’t seem to achieve a beautiful and crunchy bark on your meat using an indoor grill, you can use a blowtorch to flash-cook it after it has reached the safe minimum cooking temperature.
Replicate the authentic flavor with liquid smoke
Instead of relying on flavorful marinades and sauces, you can use liquid smoke to replicate the authentic smoky taste of grilled food when preparing it indoors.
If you don’t have experience with liquid smoke, we recommend you start with small quantities like a few drops brushed on your meat, and experiment with it because it can be quite overpowering if applied in large amounts.
Use dry rubs
As mentioned previously, marinades and other liquid seasonings should be avoided when using indoor grills. These can easily be exchanged with the help of dry BBQ rubs. This will help add flavor to the meat, limit the mess and smoke, and make the crust crisp and crunchy.
As you can see, you don’t need to have a backyard or wait for the summer in order to prepare your favorite grilled food. With any of these indoor grills, you can easily replicate the taste, texture, and beauty of meat and other products grilled on traditional combustion-fueled grills.
We hope we have helped you decide which indoor grill is the most suitable one for you, and we wish you happy grilling at home!