If you love the taste of grilled food but want the convenience of cooking indoors, one of our best indoor grills is just the ticket. In addition to burgers and steaks, these multitaskers can turn out grilled vegetables, paninis, and more. Indoor grills come in two configurations. Some have wide open grates like outdoor grills that make them convenient for cooking a slew of burgers at once. Others, often called contact grills, have lids that press down on beef patties or chicken breasts, cooking both sides at once for quicker results.
These closed grills are great for making crispy grilled cheese sandwiches, like the best panini press, but with way more versatility. Some contact grills can be used in an open position to double the amount of food they can cook at once. To provide versatility, there are models of both types that can also serve as griddles for eggs and bacon.
In selecting the best indoor grills, we looked for ones that produce the kind of browning and flavor that you get when you cook outdoors. We also gave high marks to those grills that are easy to operate and clean and minimize drips, smoke, and odors in the kitchen. As we know countertop and cabinet space is at a premium for almost everyone, we noted how much room these appliances take up when they’re being used and stored. Our picks include a variety of open and closed electric grills at a range of prices to make sure you’ll find the best indoor grill for you.
If you’re looking to cook outdoors, see our guide on the best BBQ to set up in your backyard.
The best indoor grills
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While the Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe is pricey, you get a lot of cooking options for your money. You can use it as a contact grill to cook everything from chicken paillards to cheese and tomato sandwiches quickly. When a crowd is coming over, open it up and you’ll have enough room to grill eight burgers at once. Plus, the plates are reversible: On one side there’s a ridged pattern for imparting grill lines on your steaks; flip the plates over and you get a flat surface for toasting bread or using it as a griddle. Take note that there is a gap between the two halves that limits the number of slices of French toast or pancakes you can cook at once. Each side has its own temperature control knob, which means you can brown sausages on one side while you gently saute onions and peppers on the other.
When we grilled white bread slices, we got a totally even heating pattern. Paninis came out crispy with deep grill marks like the ones you get from your favorite café. Using the 500°F “Sear” function, we cooked hamburgers that rivaled the ones we grill outdoors in less than 5 minutes.
On this grill, the settings are controlled by two knobs but displayed on an LED readout. A lever on the side of the machine allows you to adjust the distance between the two plates so that you can grill a thick strip steak without crushing it as well as press down on a tuna melt–but not so hard that all the cheese oozes out. The plates and drip tray are removable for cleaning and can be washed in the dishwasher. With the Griddler, you get an extremely comprehensive manual that includes several pages of cooking time/temperature recommendations and appealing recipes.
By claiming that it could “knock out the fat”, George Foreman made his slanted contact grill a household name. While we can’t promise it’s better at draining off fat than any other model, or cooking method for that matter, it is an easy and inexpensive option for quickly pressing a duo of grilled cheese sandwiches or burgers in under 5 minutes. We have to point out that although “4 serving” is in its name, we were only able to cook two 4-inch beef patties at once. However, what it does accommodate, the George Foreman cooks beautifully, imparting golden brown grill marks on everything from burgers to chicken breasts to salmon. Probably because it has relatively low wattage, it didn’t crisp up paninis quite as much as the higher priced Cuisinart.
With only a single heat setting, the Foreman grill couldn’t be easier to operate. The hinge allows the top plate to be moved so that it can sit close to the bottom one if you’re grilling a thin minute steak and higher if you’re making a hefty Cuban sandwich. To catch drips as they fall off the slanted surface, a small tray sits in front of the grill. You do have to be careful to position it or you’ll wind up with a mess on the countertop.
Unlike the original George Foreman, in which you had to wipe down the cooking surfaces, this grill has plates that snap out so you can be sure they’re thoroughly cleaned. The plates have a nonstick surface that makes it easy to scrub off any browned bits or you can simply put them in the dishwasher along with the drip pan.
This open indoor grill can give a full-size outdoor model a run for the money. In our tests, it showed a perfectly even heating pattern and was able to brand burgers, chicken breasts, and salmon filets with dark golden brown grill marks on both sides in under 10 minutes. While its glass lid doesn’t press down on food, it helps to hold in heat to speed up cooking, prevent splatters, and reduce smoke and odors. As the lid is hinged, you can check on food without getting the countertop messy.
On the control dial, you have a choice of exact temperatures up to 450°F. The ceramic nonstick grill grate is large enough to hold 6 burgers at once. During cooking, grease drained neatly into the drip pan which was easy to remove and empty. Its nonstick cooking surface makes it very convenient to hand wash. However, both the grate and the drip pan can safely be popped in the dishwasher. The lid is removable to clean in the sink.
This grill comes with two interchangeable plates, one for grilling and another with a flat surface like a griddle. When we cooked burgers, salmon, and shrimp on the grill plate, they came out with the kind of deep brown crosshatching you’d get from a traditional grill as well as lots of flavor. You can cook up to 6 hamburgers at once. While you can grill sandwiches, you’ll have to flip them over to brown and crisp both sides. Eggs and French toast cooked up quickly on the griddle. When you use the Power XL, you add water to the drip pan and keep the lid closed, which is why it lives up to its claim to be smokeless.
There’s an LED control panel on the side that is easy to access, use, and wipe clean. Because you pour a cup and a half of water into the drip pan, it’s quite full and we found it a little tricky to pull out and empty without spilling the contents. The nonstick plates, drip pan, and lid are all safe for dishwasher cleaning. With the grill you get a recipe booklet to give you lots of ideas for making the most of it.
While this is a big, boxy, and heavy grill, it can do double duty as one of the best air fryers. And our testing found it was among the best in both categories. Plus, It can also roast a small cut of meat, bake a cake in a pinch, and dehydrate a small quantity of fruit or veggies. When you set it to grill, the Foodi automatically goes into a preheat mode. While it took more than 8 minutes to heat up to temperature, once it did, it browned beautifully and left impressive grill marks on our burgers, chicken, and strip steaks. Just a minor quibble: The marks are curves rather than straight lines so don’t quite mimic the ones you get from an outdoor grill. The Foodi cooks with the lid closed but doesn’t press down on food so while we were able to make crisp paninis, we had to turn them over halfway through cooking. With the Ninja, there’s absolutely no smoking.
Air-fried French fries, both the frozen kind and ones made from scratch, came out as golden and crispy as those from a French bistro. We found it particularly easy to air fry as you can simply open the hinged lid rather than pull out a basket when it’s time to turn or check on foods.
Not only is the digital control panel intuitive to program, it has no crevices to clean. The grate and air fryer basket have a ceramic nonstick coating and all of the removable parts including the splatter shield in the lid can go in the dishwasher. The manual is very thorough and easy to understand and you also get a booklet with recipes and cooking charts for grilling, air frying, and dehydrating. Plan on giving this product about as much space on your countertop or in a closet as a large bread box.
What is the best indoor grill?
The Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe is the one to purchase if you’re looking for the best electric grill with the most versatility. While this appliance is expensive, you can use it open or closed to press a humble grilled cheese sandwich, grill burgers for a crowd, or cook a whole mess of eggs and bacon.
If your main consideration is replicating the great taste of outdoor cooking, we recommend the Hamilton Beach Searing Grill with Lid Window. It has an open surface that can hold six large burgers but cooks with the lid closed to minimize smoke and odors in your kitchen. No time to read the rest of the article? Here are all the best electric grills at a glance, and the best places to buy them.
How we tested indoor grills
In the Cuisinart, George Foreman, and Hamilton Beach electric grills, we toasted bread to check the evenness of their heating pattern. Next, we grilled four 4-inch, quarter-pound hamburgers to see how long it took to cook them to a medium doneness as well as if they browned them evenly, left distinct grill marks, and gave frilled flavor. In the Cuisinart and Foreman, which are closed grills, we cooked a thick ham, cheese, and tomato sandwich. Lastly, we cooked chicken breasts and salmon filets to USDA recommended temperatures.
In the Ninja, to test the grilling function, we cooked both fresh and frozen hamburgers, chicken breasts, salmon, and New York strip steaks. To evaluate its air frying ability, we prepared frozen and homemade French fries. We also roasted a pork loin, baked a yellow cake, and dehydrated apple slices. We grilled salmon, shrimp and kabobs in the Power XL on the grill surface and made eggs and French toast on the griddle plate.
During grilling, we evaluated how easy it was to use each appliance. Among the factors we considered was the ease of setting the controls and cleaning up and the space required on the countertop and in a cabinet.
What to look out for
Before you shop, consider what types of food and how much you’ll be cooking. That will help you decide how big a grill you need and whether you should choose one with an open surface for cooking enough food for a crowd at once or a closed grill to press paninis or quickly grill burgers from both sides at once.
A grill’s power is measured in watts. The models on our list range from 1150W to 1800W. While in general, higher wattage means more power which translates to better crisping and browning, other factors including the overall design factor into how a grill performs. When the heating element is embedded in or enclosed by the grilling surface, it will give better results.
Grease drip system
A grease drip system can be built into the grill or can be a simple tray that sits in front of it to catch fats and juices. With an integrated drip system, you won’t wind up with drips on the countertop. Trays can slide around and allow grease to drip onto the counter.
Look for plates that snap in and out so they can be cleaned thoroughly whether you opt to wash them by hand or place them in the dishwasher.