If you live in an apartment where the only outdoor area is restricted to a small balcony, an electric grill is probably your only choice if you want a proper barbecue party at home. Another good reason to consider an electric grill is out of courtesy to your neighbors. If you live in close proximity to your neighbors and only have a small outdoor area, an electric grill is an ideal option.
Unfortunately, there’s always a “but”. Some people don’t think electric grills are capable of producing proper sear marks for the simple reason that they don’t get hot enough. This may have been true a couple of years ago, but with new models entering the market things start to look brighter.
Are electric grills good, then? Let’s have a look.
What makes electric grills better?
If this is the first time you’re hearing about an electric grill or you’ve grown up with charcoal and/or propane grills, you might be wondering, “what’s the point of getting an electric grill?”.
Electric grills are actually easy to use and clean, as compared to outdoor grills that are fired up by charcoal or gas. They produce less soot and you don’t have to spend the whole afternoon and evening after having a barbecue party scrubbing your grill and the surrounding area. You certainly don’t have to worry about your surrounding area or house catching fire in case the grill gets too hot, and flare-ups are of course non-existing as well. You don’t even have to worry about running out of charcoal, wood, or propane in the middle of a grilling session. Simply plug it in, and you can cook as much as you like.
Not yet convinced? Before you completely rule out the need and perhaps even the practicality and usage of an electric grill, here are some reasons why you might actually need one, according to Outdoor Life:
1. Electric grills can be placed on a table
One of the more popular kinds of electric grills is the indoor, tabletop one. Instead of grilling outside your home and waiting until everything is done, you can place an electric grill in the center of your table and take turns cooking burgers, seafood, or steaks. That way, the food is always freshly cooked, and if you are having some guests over, it adds to the charm of cooking your food just before eating it.
2. Electric grills are easy to move around
Is the wind blowing too hard? Did it start raining just as your party began? Electric grills that are free-standing can be moved from one place to another, as compared to charcoal/propane grills that are often bulky and somewhat stationary. With free-standing electric grills you can always relocate your grill, depending on the weather or your preference. You also don’t need to worry about things getting messy from the smoke and soot, and there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning either.
3. Electric grills reduce the risk of charring and have no flare-ups
Electric grills rely on heat elements to cook your food. Usually, the heat elements are tucked under the grates so they’re never in direct contact with your food or any of the fat that tends to drip down and collect at the bottom. Electric grills do generate some smoke though, which is inevitable. Flare-ups, on the other hand, are very rare, and so is charring your food.
What are the best electric grills on the market?
Are you seriously considering getting an electric grill for your home? Here are some of the best grills on the market that you might want to look into:
1. Weber Q 2400
The Weber Q 2400 is an electric grill with a powerful heat element and great performance. It has porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates, and a cast aluminum lid and body.
- Cast aluminum exterior
- Adequate cooking area
- Porcelain-enameled cast iron grates
- Light and easy to move around
- Produces great sear marks
- Takes 20-30 minutes to heat up
- Although the cooking area is adequate, it may have issues acommodating the food for a large family gathering
- No thermometer attached to the lid
The Weber Q 2400 is an electric grill that’s made of an aluminum body and porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates. With 280 square inches of cooking area, this electric grill has an adequate grilling space, which is common for electric grills. For a bigger family, we wouldn’t recommend this grill though.
While it takes some time to heat up, users have found that, contrary to other electric grills, the Weber Q 2400 does not lose temperature drastically when the lid is lifted, and the heavy-duty cast iron grates retain heat well enough to leave beautiful sear marks on your food. This is probably the closest you’ll get to the performance of a charcoal or propane grill.
2. Napoleon TravelQ PRO285E
The Napoleon TravelQ PRO285E is an electric grill built with portability in mind. It has a few extra features that you won’t find on other electric grills, such as a temperature gauge and the option to purchase a fitting grill cart with shelves and storage space.
- Porcelain-coated cast-iron grill grates
- Durable cast aluminum lid
- Windproof design to better retain heat in all weather
- Great performance
- Gets hot enough to leave proper sear marks on your food
- Temperature gauge on the lid
- Only meant for outdoor use
- Takes about 15-30 minutes to heat up
The Napoleon TravelQ PRO285E is a portable, electric grill. It has an elegant, matte black design with heavy-duty, porcelain-coated cast iron grates that retain heat and ensures nice sear marks on your food.
With a durable cast aluminum lid the grill itself retains heat very well, and the windproof design means that you can cook your food properly in all kinds of weather. The grill is easy to carry and pack away after use, and it fits perfectly on top of a table or a counter.
Do electric grills make proper sear marks on meat?
One of the main concerns that most people have about electric grills, is their capability to produce proper sear marks. As you may know, sear marks are a result of the Maillard reaction. It’s basically what gives your food its delicious, charred taste, that most people love about grilling.
Fortunately, most of the new electric grills are powerful and efficient enough to produce these sear marks and leave your foods with a nice crust.
If you want to see what some of the electric grills are capable of, take a look at this video on YouTube:
There are plenty of examples on YouTube, check this search result for some of the best ones: “Electric grill review“
Are electric grills safe to use indoors?
While most electric grills are perfectly safe to use indoors (in the sense that they don’t produce carbon monoxide), they do get very hot and could be a fire hazard if the surroundings aren’t properly secured, so we recommend reading the instructions manual thoroughly before grilling inside your house.
It’s also a common misunderstanding that electric grills don’t produce smoke. They may produce less smoke than a charcoal or propane grill, but most models still produce a lot of smoke.
Electric grills for outdoor use will usually have a design similar to charcoal and gas grills, which is the case with Weber, Char-Broil and Napoleon electric grills. Other grills are smaller and designed to be placed on a tabletop, and some of them are even marked for indoor use and considered smokeless as well.
To summarize it all up: Technically, you can use your electric grill indoors if you want. However, it’s important that you read the instructions manual to ensure that you set it up properly and confirm with the manufacturer that it’s in fact safe to use inside. They do get very hot and produce a lot of smoke during cooking, so make sure you take proper safety measures beforehand.
Should you buy an electric grill?
Whether you value the safety or ease of use, electric grills are a great choice for multiple reasons. If possible, we would still opt for the classic charcoal grill simply because of its charm, but we do think electric grills have a lot of potential.
Electric grills are generally considered safer and easier to use than any charcoal and propane grill, making them the right choice for a small patio or the balcony.