Want to grill from the comfort of your own kitchen, minus the smoke and the hassle of heading outside? Smokeless grills to the rescue! If you live in a city apartment—or maybe you have a great backyard but it’s the height of winter and you rather stay cozy inside—but still crave the delicious depth of grilled meat, these are for you.
Indoor grills usually employ infrared heat rather than direct, open flames to create a smokeless grilling experience. They run off electricity, so no need to deal with a heavy propane tank, and most fit snuggly on your countertop. There are two varieties of indoor grills: open grills and contact grills. The former is a sort of scaled-down version of an outdoor grill, with an open grilling surface. You'll need to flip your food halfway through so that everything cooks evenly. Contact grills have two cooking surfaces—one on top and one on the bottom, like a panini press. Our top choice, the Hamilton Beach Searing Grill is a contact grill with a removable hood that's dishwasher safe.
We sent a few of our top choices out for testing in real home kitchens, by testers who miss grilling but lack the outdoor space necessary for even the smallest of grills. To test, they cooked up the burger recipe of their choice in addition to making grilled romaine lettuce. They noted a few determining factors along the way like how easy or hard setting up each grill was out of the box, and how long it took to get to temperature and, if possible, checked that with an infrared thermometer. Lastly, they noted how smoky their apartments got and how cleanup went, including any greasy mess left behind on the counter.
From a grill that sears to one that can handle food straight from the freezer, here are the best smokeless indoor grills.
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach 25360 Electric Indoor Searing Grill
Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.7 x 12.4 x 6.8 inches | Cooking Area: 118 square inches | Weight: 8.1 pounds
The Hamilton Beach Searing Grill is a perfect indoor replacement for an outdoor grill. It won't smoke up your space, there's no fuel to have to mess around with, and it's pretty much ready to use right out of the box.
Turn this grill dial to "sear" and when it reaches the high heat searing temperature of 450 degrees after about 3 minutes, a green light will glow. That’s your signal to throw on your steaks, burgers, pork chops, or fish fillets and cook them to perfection. That's what our tester did in a small apartment kitchen. After leaving them on the grill for a few minutes, the burgers came off with nice sear marks, though were slightly overcooked. The romaine lettuce test was a bit hard to handle. This grill sat high on the tester's counter and when it came time to take the lettuce off, the leverage was off and it slipped out of the tongs.
Cleanup afterward was extremely easy. Once cooled, the hood, plate, and drip tray are removable and dishwasher safe. During our tests, that lid did keep any smoke and heat contained in the grill. The grill is a bit bulky, so you will need dedicated storage space.
Best Overall, Runner-Up: Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill
Dimensions (LxWxH): 20.75 x 14 x 6.1 inches | Cooking Area: 112 square inches | Weight: 7.75 pounds
Unlike most indoor electric grills, the Zojirushi does not have a lid that cooks food from both sides, so it more closely mimics the outdoor grilling experience. Perfect for grilling vegetables, the grill lays flat and can reach up to 410 degrees. It has both cool-touch handles and base for safety on the counter and easy maneuvering post-cooking. Its dishwasher-safe drip tray and large ceramic nonstick grilling surface detach from the body for easy cleaning.
We sent this home to a tester who found that it only took a few minutes to set it up after a quick look at the instructions. When it came time to grill, the surface got to full heat within 7 minutes with the side of the grill closer to the temperature prong heating up slightly faster. That didn't stop it from cooking up juicy burgers and beautifully charred romaine lettuce, without smoking up the tester's apartment. After testing, the cleanup of the grill itself wasn't an issue once everything cooled down, but, since this doesn't have a lid, the counter did need a good wipedown.
"I like the grill! I think it's a nice substitution for an outdoor grill for those who don't have outdoor spaces in urban environments. I've also grilled peppers and mushrooms so far, but I think it'd do a nice job on delicate seafood like prawns, scallops, and fish." — Elspeth Velten, General Manager, Simply Recipes
Best Budget: Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic Indoor Electric Nonstick Grill, 14" Round
Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 16.5 x 4 inches | Cooking Area: 14-inch diameter | Weight: 6 pounds
A high searing temperature of 450 degrees will lock in flavor and an adjustable temperature knob will customize your cooking with this pan-like indoor grill. Your veggies, burgers, and fish will come out deliciously on the 14-inch round grill (there’s even enough space to cook those things altogether).
This comes with a large, slightly domed lid to let you cook without splashing grease or oil, and that came in handy during our testing. After a quick set-up, our tester started prepping for a burger dinner. Setting the temperature dial to 400 degrees, it's questionable if the grill pan got that hot. An infrared thermometer didn't register the same temperature once the grill's indicator light went on. Trusting the grill, the burgers went on and when some sputtering happened, the lid prevented a mess. With medium-cooked burgers, the romaine test happened. Set to sear, this performed less well than an outdoor grill. The leaves wilted and tasted great, but there were no sear marks. This all said, our tester enjoyed cooking on this, especially since the lid stopped a greasy mess and smoke in her kitchen.
The handles and base did stay cool to the touch, so you can safely use this without any burns to you or your countertop. Everything was on the easier side of cleaning, though you might need to wipe down the nonstick pan a little extra as the grease tends to cling to it. Also, since the pan is very wide, you might need to find room to store this.
Best for Steak: All-Clad PG715850 5-Level Electric Indoor Grill with AutoSense
Dimensions (LxWxH): 19.25 x 14.5 x 9 inches | Cooking Area: 192 square inches | Weight: 16.5 pounds
If you’re going to forgo the steakhouse for your own kitchen, you’re going to need a grill that delivers a serious sear, great flavor, and gorgeous grill marks.
The All-Clad AutoSense Indoor Grill automatically detects the thickness of your food, the number of pieces, and then uses sensors to cook each piece to perfection. You can even choose your level of doneness, for the perfect medium-rare or whatever you choose. It heats up to 525 degrees, roaring hot for an indoor grill. You can even defrost and grill ingredients straight from the freezer with its handy frozen setting.
Nonstick die-cast aluminum grill plates direct fat and oil into a drip tray for non-greasy results with minimal mess. Plus, this stainless-steel number will look fetching on your countertop.
Related: The Best Grills
Best Portable: BergHOFF 2415600 Tabletop BBQ
Dimensions (DxH): 15.75 x 11 inches | Cooking Area: 15.75-inch diameter | Weight: 16.75 pounds
Wherever kebabs, yakitori, and salmon beckon, you can take this snazzy little stainless-steel grill that weighs less than 20 pounds. There’s even a carrying strap, so you can throw it over your shoulder and bring it to a picnic or the beach.
Note that this is cooking outdoors, not inside, as it uses charcoal. It comes with a fire basket, charcoal grate, heat shield, and a multifunction cork lid that doubles as a base and hot pad. Simply turning the grill around on the base controls the airflow to your charcoal. All elements are removable to allow for easy cleaning.
Related: The Best Portable Grills
Best Splurge: De'Longhi CGH1020D Livenza All-Day Electric Grill
Dimensions (LxWxH): 18 x 14 x 7.5 inches | Cooking Area: 130 square inches | Weight: 20 pounds
Featuring interchangeable plates, this versatile and efficient grill from De'Longhi includes embedded heating elements, which prevent hotspots for a more even cooking process. There's also an integrated drip tray for grease-free grilling.
The grill features separate temperature controls for the lid and base plate so you can customize your cooking or multitask since the grill fully opens up to double your cooking space. Its extras fulfill all kinds of cooking desires—from the dishwasher-safe griddle, waffle, and grill plates to a broiler function that allows the lid to float for gorgeously melted cheese atop your burgers.
Related: The Best Panini Presses
Best Mini Grill: Dash Mini Maker Electric Round Griddle
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5 x 6.4 x 2.8 inches | Cooking Area: 4-inch diameter | Weight: 1.6 pounds
If counter space comes at a premium, Dash's mini and mighty grill might be your best grilling answer. Make a single serving (think a burger or a veggie burger) in just a few minutes—there’s not space to cook up too much more than that. The nonstick surface means the plates are easy to wipe down when you're done.
The biggest downside is that there isn’t anywhere for the oil to drain into, so if you have an oily burger, the clean-up might be a bit of a mess. Backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty, the 350-watt Dash Mini Grill is also perfect for grilling up breakfast sandwiches, paninis, and hash browns.
Related: The Best Electric Skillets
Best Panini Press: Cuisinart GR-5B Electric Griddler Five
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.25 x 12.5 x 8 inches | Cooking Area: 99 square inches | Weight: 9.4 pounds
What’s better than a perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, melty-on-the-inside panini? The Cuisinart Griddler Five can deliver just that in addition to exquisite burgers.
Named for its five (!!) functions, this sleek machine is a panini press, contact grill, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle. Flip the reversible grill plates to cook chicken, veggies, and quesadillas, or make a panini— the height adjusts to accommodate various thicknesses of bread. Its LCD screen shows function, temperature, and timer, while the removable and reversible dishwasher-safe nonstick cooking plates mean easy storage.
Related: The Best Quesadilla Makers
The Hamilton Beach Searing Grill (view at Amazon) will completely satisfy your grilling craving whatever it is you want to cook up, while still being affordable. Though if you want to replicate your outdoor grill inside, you should pick up the Zojirushi Indoor Electric Grill (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in an Indoor Grill
When it comes to the cooking surface, bigger isn’t necessarily better. An 80-square-inch grill is a great fit for a single person or a couple, while a 100-square-inch can easily grill enough food for families of three to five. Need more? Get ready to grill up a few batches (or move the party outside, as you’re unlikely to find an indoor grill larger than 150 square inches.)
Higher wattage means two things: your food will cook faster and you will pay more. If you want to cook more food faster, it’s worth investing in a higher watt grill. It also helps if you want the option to sear your meat since that can only be achieved at a high temperature.
If your kitchen doesn't have the best ventilation, a grill with a built-in filter will cut the smoke levels way down (despite the name, even these smokeless grills produce some smoke). Removable grill plates are also a great feature—they make cleaning up many times easier—especially if they're dishwasher safe. If not, you’ll have to carefully wipe the whole thing down with a damp cloth.
Do you need a grill brush to clean an indoor grill?
Yes, it’s helpful to use a grill brush to clean an indoor grill. "Indoor grills can utilize the same equipment one would typically use for an outdoor grill, such as tongs and a grill brush,” says Chef Tim Hastings. Our testers found that indoor grills with nonstick grates were fairly easy to clean without a brush, though one would help with heavy use.
Are cooking times different on indoor grills?
No, cooking times should be similar on indoor grills and fairly comparable to outdoor ones. To determine how your indoor grill heats up, cook something familiar like burgers, chicken, or veggie kebabs, on it the first few times
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Hannah Howard has been writing about food and cooking for over a decade, including the memoirs “Feast” and “Plenty.” She feeds her little family, including a grilled-cheese-loving toddler, a lot of paninis, grilled veggies, and a burger.
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