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Published Jul. 30, 2021

An efficient indoor grill gives you a whole new, safe way to cook inside your kitchen. From flipping perfect burgers to searing mouth-watering steak, the best indoor grill gives you the power and glory of an outdoor grill, with none of the hassle. No propane tanks to fill. No charcoal light. No wood pellets to buy. The electric indoor grill is ready to use every day, rain or shine. These convenient cookers are easy to store, easy to use, and easy to clean. Perfect for tiny apartments, an indoor model can be set up practically anywhere. With new temperature controls and cooking features, you have a wide variety of ways to prepare food. Come in out of the rain and stop losing hotdogs in the dark—the best indoor grill is a safe and simple way to cook traditional backyard food (and breakfast) in the comfort of home. 

What to consider when shopping for the best indoor grill

Outdoor grills give food a distinct taste that up until recently was difficult to replicate in the kitchen. But modern indoor electric grills are giving outdoor grills real competition thanks to improvements in cooking surfaces and temperature control. For those looking to ditch the gas grill, or who simply want a way to grill hot cheeseburgers on a cold winter’s night, the best indoor grill is the perfect appliance you didn’t realize you needed. 

The two types of indoor grills: Open grills and contact grills

You have two choices when shopping for an indoor electric grill. Open indoor grills resemble a traditional grill, with one cooking surface that faces up and out to the world. Contact grills use two surfaces, top and bottom, to press the food between the grill plates. 

When using an open grill, you’ll need to flip the burgers and steaks for even cooking. They don’t cook as quickly as a contact grill, but open grills are simple gadgets and give you the feel of outdoor cooking. They can also be easier to clean and store. 

Contact grills launched into popularity in the 1990s thanks to the iconic George Foreman grill.  But they’ve come a long way since those “lean, mean grilling machine” days. New contact grills offer greater heat control. And many can be opened up completely to provide two separate, flat cooking surfaces—essentially turning the contact cooker into two open grills. 

One slight drawback: Contact grills can be tough to clean if the cooking plates aren’t removable. Most models have removable plates, but always check first or else get used to scrubbing at awkward angles. Contact grills are also bulkier and hard to store in a tightly packed cabinet.

Are smokeless grills really smokeless?

Outdoor gas grills, charcoal grills, and wood pellet grills are notoriously smoky. These cookers solve the smoke problem by using infrared heat instead of a flame to cook the food. Smokeless indoor grills are also equipped with fans, lids, and filters to grab and contain most of the smoke. Some feature drip pans designed to catch and cool grease before it has a chance to turn into smelly leftover residue. 

However, indoor models are not 100 percent smoke-free. In tiny apartments or crowded spaces, it’s best to open a window and circulate the air, or else you’ll be smelling cooked meat for days or even weeks after the meal. The best indoor grills are not nearly as smoky as an outdoor grill, but they can create a small amount of smoke stink.

For those who want a smokeless grill without giving up the smoky flavor, a few drops of liquid smoke lend that outdoorsy taste to foods cooked indoors. 

What size indoor electric grill do you need?

The grill should be just the right size. Too big and you’ll eat up precious kitchen space, and it will take longer to cook the food. Too small, and a family of four will need to take turns cooking burgers one at a time. Generally speaking, a 100-square-inch surface provides enough area to cook for two to four people. If you’re having guests over, you may need a 200-square-inch grill top to accommodate your banquet. 

Heat management: Is it hot enough and can you control it?

Outdoor grills have two modes: Hot and off. They don’t provide adequate temperature control. This isn’t a problem if you’re only cooking burgers. But for grilling the perfect piece of chicken, you’ll want the ability to go super-hot or super-mild. And the best indoor grill gives you more than a few temperature control options. 

You can also find indoor cookers equipped with two separate temperature areas. Cook burgers on one section of the grill at high heat. Grill veggies in another area at a lower temp. 

For searing meat and getting the fine-dining crust on a steak, you’ll need lots of heat, so make sure the grill can go up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not all indoor models are powerful enough for the job. Check the wattage. Any grill between 1,300 and 1,800 watts should be powerful enough to cook through a thick piece of meat. Lower wattage grills will struggle to thoroughly cook choice cuts of beef. 

And remember: Cooking times will vary. Outside temperatures, humidity, air circulation, and other factors can affect the cooking process. Always arm yourself with a good, accurate meat thermometer to ensure the food is cooked just right. 

The best indoor grill can pull double duty as an air fryer

While most indoor grills are single-purpose appliances, there are a few high-quality models that also air fry. Air frying is a method of cooking that circulates hot air around the food and uses a minimal amount of oil. It’s slightly healthier and easier than deep frying. And best of all, the food tastes great.

The Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 indoor grill is a good example of a multifunction grill. It can grill, air fry, roast, and bake. Do you need a grill with such robust talent? It depends. These features can be nice to have but unnecessary if you only want a quick, no-nonsense way to grill a steak. Some people swear by their beloved air fryer. Some think this is just the current culinary fad. The choice is yours. 

Related: These are the best grill accessories for becoming a grill master.

The best indoor grills

There are a lot of options to choose from when shopping for the best indoor grill. Look for a dependable electric grill, one that has user-friendly controls, and a strong, consistent heat source. From there, think about the extra features you’d like to try, and always carefully consider your space. Some are small enough to fit anywhere, others may need a lot of counter space. 

The best indoor grill overall: Ninja Foodi AG301 5-in-1 Indoor Electric Countertop Grill

Feature-Rich, Multi-Purpose Grill

Not just for burgers, this model is a kitchen in a box. Ninja

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The Ninja Foodi indoor grill rises to the top of the list thanks to its five-in-one versatility. It’s a fantastic grill, but that’s just the start. It’s also a great air fryer, perfect for cooking fries and veggies. The Ninja Foodi grill can also bake, roast, and dehydrate, but grilling and air frying are its two best features. The grill heats up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for searing steak and does a good job at eliminating smoke. That said, the Ninja Foodi grill isn’t cheap. It’s a versatile kitchen tool that’s worth the money, but only if you plan on using all its features.

Runner up: Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill

Simple Design

The best way to make burgers and hotdogs in the rain is with a no-frills model you can fire up in your kitchen. Hamilton Beach

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The Hamilton Beach indoor grill is a straightforward machine that is great for cooking burgers, hot dogs, and chicken. The open grill mimics the look, feel, and flavor of outdoor grills. You control the temperature with a simple dial. The grill plates are removable and dishwasher-safe. And the 1,200-watt grill is powerful enough to perfectly cook big, thick burgers and pork chops. The only real problem is the heat doesn’t get all the way up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees is the max and even that can be difficult to reach). This makes it less ideal for searing steak. But for backyard burgers in the comfort of your kitchen, the Hamilton Beach grill is the next best thing to propane, charcoal, or wood pellet grills.

 Great for breakfast lovers: Cuisinart GR-4NP1 5-in-1 Griddler

Great Design

This versatile pick makes short work of even the thickest steak. Cuisinart

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The Cuisinart indoor grill is designed for cooking steak, and it does an impressive job. The contact grill surrounds the steak with even heat, creating the perfect temperature. Plus, the grill can be opened up and used as two separate grill surfaces. Best of all, it’s an impressive breakfast griddle. The included griddle plate can be used to fry eggs, bacon, and make pancakes—quite a challenging task for an old-fashioned outdoor charcoal grill. It can also be used as a panini press for perfectly pressed sandwiches. The removable plates are easy to clean, and each one offers up about 100 square inches of cooking space. Still, the entire unit is relatively small and compact. For cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Cuisinart electric indoor grill is the best. 

Best indoor grill for big families: Chefman Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill with Non-Stick Cooking Surface

Affordable and Big

Lots of room to prepare food at a budget price makes this option perfect for feeding the whole family. Chefman

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The great thing about quality indoor grills is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a top-quality cooker. The Chefman electric indoor grill is affordable, yet still provides excellent grilling options. The open grill has almost 200 square inches of cooking space—enough for a few burgers and a few veggies at the same time. The surface has three temperature zones: hottest in the middle, cooler on the sides. This comes in handy when cooking different food that requires different temps. The surface is non-stick, but the drip pan is not and will need to be cleaned and dried regularly. The Chefman indoor grill isn’t 100 percent smoke free, but it won’t smoke out the room. If a family needs a quick, efficient way to feed the crew, the Chefman grill is an inexpensive and highly useful kitchen tool. 

The best indoor grill on a budget: George Foreman Grill and Panini Press

Affordable Yet Useful

The big name in this market makes one of the cheapest, and smallest models you can buy. George Foreman

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When you think of an indoor grill, you likely think of George Foreman. The George Foreman electric grill took the world by storm twenty years ago and continues to make top-quality products. This surprisingly inexpensive George Foreman grill provides the perfect amount of grilling power and space for people living in small apartments. The product description claims it can grill “four servings,” but those servings must be tiny. You’ll be better off only cooking one or two burger patties at once. The grill heats up fast, but there are no temperature controls. It’s either hot, or it’s not. The classic design of the Foreman grill is sloped to let the grease drip off into the plastic reservoir. This is great for cutting down the fat but beware: If you try to make a grilled cheese, the cheese will ooze out and slide down the incline. 

FAQs

Q

: Are indoor grills healthy?

Yes, indoor grills are healthy. But the nutritional content of your grilled food really depends on the food itself. No amount of grilling technology can make a double-chili cheeseburger diet-friendly. Indoor electric grills will usually have a drip pan to collect the fat as you grill the meat. Less fat means better health. But outdoor grills do this too, and no one claims your backyard propane grill is health-conscious. Indoor grills are less about health and more about convenience and flavor. That said, they are fantastic tools for cooking vegetables. Everything from red peppers to broccoli tastes better when you grill them. So, if you’re looking for a great way to boost the flavor of healthy food, then an indoor electric grill may be considered a healthy kitchen tool.  

Q

: Are indoor grills worth it? 

Yes, they are worth it. Modern indoor grills are affordable, with most costing less than $100. That’s a good deal for a kitchen appliance you can use year-round. Some higher-end models like the Ninja Foodi grill can be more expensive, but you’re paying for added features like air fryers and food dehydrators. The extra features are worth the money if you plan to use the indoor grill for a wide variety of cooking. And an often overlooked added bonus: they are easy to maintain. Plug them in and they’re ready to go. (Yes, you will still need to clean the grill, but most grill plates are dishwasher safe.) 

Q

: How long do indoor grills last?

Indoor grills last a long time. Even if you use the grill on a weekly basis, it should last ten years or more. Keep the grill clean and dry for best results. However, grills with extra features, hinges, and fancy temperature controls can become inconsistent after a few years of heavy use. But compared to outdoor grills which must hold up against the anger of Mother Nature, they are long-lasting cooking machines. And if a grill plate gets damaged (or lost), the manufacturer will probably have a way to buy new plates at a reasonable price. 

The final word on the best indoor grills 

The big benefit of indoor electric grills is the ability to grill food any time, any day. They are convenient and remarkably user-friendly. Simple knobs and easy-to-read buttons control the temperature. You won’t need a master class in grilling science to cook a burger or steak just right. When shopping for an indoor grill, make sure it’s big enough and hot enough for your needs. Seek out a multi-function grill if you want to experiment with new foods and flavors. And if you only need a basic indoor model, you should be able to find a budget-friendly option. The best indoor grill is a quick, simple way to enjoy outdoor BBQ, family picnic-style food, and even breakfast whenever you want. 

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