Amateur or expert, adult or child, everybody enjoys a good cookout. For various reasons, you might want to swap your trusty old conventional grill for an electric one.
In this article, let’s explore the differences between electric and conventional grills. You’ll also be taking a look at some of the best outdoor electric grills on the market, and together, we’ll go over some tips and tricks to make your cookout better!
Gas/Charcoal Grill vs. Electric Grill
Most people have a soft spot for traditional grilling. Gas grills and charcoal grills add a smoky mouth-watering flavor that comes second to none. Moreover, charcoal grills have a lower up-front cost than electric grills.
However, an electric grill also has its own merits and might be the ideal choice for you.
What if you live in a place where open-flame cooking is prohibited? What if you’re confined by space? Investing in an outdoor electric grill can allow you to enjoy a scrumptious barbeque with family and friends no matter the setting.
Unlike traditional grills, electric grills aren’t confined to outdoor use only. They’re more likely to be apartment-approved due to the lack of open flame.
In addition, they don’t take up much space. This means you can enjoy grilling on a small patio or balcony. Moreover, they are more efficient. Less cooking time means more time to spend with your family or guests!
An electric grill also means less smoke, yes. But contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t mean less flavor. Even so, if you’re still adamant on getting that old-school taste, you can incorporate wood chips in your grilling experience with an electric grill.
Besides, your marinade, seasoning you add, and sauces you choose are more critical to flavor than charcoal and wood are.
Electric Grills – A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at electric grills. What gives them an advantage over traditional grills? What downsides should you look out for?
- More environmentally friendly because no harmful gases are emitted.
- Lower fire and injury risk due to the absence of an open flame.
- No long-run expenses or set-up hassle. Plug in your grill and you’re good to go.
- You don’t have to worry about running out of gas or charcoal.
- They cook more consistently than charcoal grills.
- No chargrilled/wood-fired/smoky flavor.
- Most electric grills aren’t great at searing food. Having a heating cycle makes an electric grill incapable of retaining a high temperature for a long time.
- Because they’re smaller than other conventional grills, electric grills can be a bit problematic if you’re cooking a feast.
How to Choose an Outdoor Electric Grill
There’s a lot to consider when investing in an outdoor electric grill. Your budget is an obvious factor, but not a very restricting one. There are many excellent outdoor electric grills at all price levels.
Most importantly, you need to consider your personal needs. Will you be preparing a meal for two or a big summer feast for family and friends? At the end of the day, the best grill is simply the best grill for you. Above all, it has to suit your taste and your lifestyle.
To lay some ground rules, your grill of choice needs to be durable and rust-resistant. Try to choose one that’s also easily portable. That way, setting up your cookout won’t be a hassle.
Make sure it’s also easy to clean! Nobody wants to spend hours scrubbing after a fun cookout.
Tips & Tricks
Here are some safety guidelines you should follow when using your electric grill, as well as some tips that will help you achieve the best results.
- Invest in a stand or cart if your grill doesn’t come with one to enhance safety.
- Invest in a digital meat thermometer to perfectly cook your meat.
- Invest in other complementary equipment such as heat-resistant gloves.
Before You Start
- If you need an extension cord to reach a plug, use a small gauge one in order to avoid overheating.
- Remember that not all electric grills can be used indoors!
- Don’t leave dry leaves, plastic items, or paper towels near your grill.
- Don’t use the grill on a dry wood table.
- Lightly oil your grill and preheat it.
- Keep adding hot water to the grease tray. This prevents the drained fats and oils from completely drying out and starting a fire.
- Add veggies and seasoning to the grease tray to create a delicious stock. Use the stock to make a sauce!
- Use silicone cooking tools to avoid having metal chips in your food.
- Don’t lift the lid and fiddle with the food many times. Uncovering the food allows heat to escape. It’ll take more time for your grill to compensate for that loss.
After the Cookout
- Always remember to unplug the grill.
- Let the grill cool down before cleaning.
- Clean up the grill after every cookout.
How to Clean Up Your Electric Grill
- After powering off the grill and letting it cool, use a soft sponge, warm water, and detergent to start cleaning the grates, the drip pan, and the lid. These components aren’t always dishwasher safe, so watch out!
- You can use soda bicarbonates or coffee grounds to remove difficult residues. Alternatively, soak the grates in some water to soften the residue then rub it off with a soft cloth or sponge.
- The heating element is not dishwasher safe!
- Make sure you thoroughly dry the components. Detergent remnants might add an unwanted taste to your food or start emitting smoke during your next cookout.
The Top Five
Now that you have an idea about what to expect from an electric grill, and what features to consider while choosing one, let’s check some of the best outdoor electric grills available today.
This compact grill is very friendly.
Budget-friendly, apartment-friendly, and easy to assemble.
It’s also compact, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have much room. This grill doesn’t take up much space and is quite portable.
A significant George Foreman feature is the removable stand, which makes the grill very versatile. You can easily switch between an outdoor grill and a tabletop grill whenever you want to. Since the grill is apartment-approved, you can bring it indoors if you want to.
It also has the typical George Foreman tilt, which allows fat to drain effectively into the built-in drip tray. This feature is great if you’re looking for a healthier meal.
This grill has five temperature control settings and a domed lid. Its 240 square inch grilling space allows you to cook 15 servings at once. It even creates great grill marks.
It’s also coated with the patented George Tough Nonstick Coating, so it’s easy to clean up! The grill grates of this model are removable, making clean-up even simpler. In addition, the grease tray is dishwasher safe.
Being lightweight is both a pro and a con of this grill. Weighing only 21 lbs makes it very portable. However, it also makes it unsuitable for windy weather conditions. That’s especially because the base isn’t sturdy. The handles are quite weak as well.
- Removable stand
- Can be used indoors
- No built-in thermometer
- Hard to remove the grill from the base
Another member of the Indoor/Outdoor family, this grill has all the classic features.
But what sets this grill apart?
Premium ceramic non-stick coating! This new coating is PTFE and PFOA free, stain-resistant, fade-resistant, and more durable.
Additionally, this grill has a temperature gauge on the lid. It displays a temperature reading for more precise cooking.
The circular grilling area is 240 square inches big, capacitating about 15 servings. The grill also has the removable stand feature, which makes it portable and versatile. However, the stand itself is very flimsy, so you’ll have to get creative to make it sturdier.
There’s also the signature George Foreman slope, which vows to remove up to 42% of grease to give you a healthier meal.
The grill has an unhinged domed lid as well, which unfortunately lacks a tip-back feature. It can be a bit of a hassle to entirely remove the lid and place it elsewhere when uncovering the grill.
Luckily, the grease pan is dishwasher-safe. However, like the other two Indoor/Outdoor grills in this review, the grill grates are not removable. They’re easy to clean though.
This model is easy to assemble and has 5 temperature settings. Needless to say, it’s apartment-friendly.
- Ceramic non-stick coating. PTFE and PFOA free.
- Temperature gauge on the lid.
- Can be used indoors.
- Wobbly stand.
- Complaints about the durability of the plastic side-handles.
This grill is on the more pricey side, but has a good quality build. It’s compact and portable, with a durable cast aluminum body and sturdy side handles.
The 189 square inch grilling space can accommodate about 6 burger patties at once. This size is ideal if you plan on mostly cooking for a family of four, rather than hosting big cookouts.
Long preheat time is one flaw of the Q1400, which takes about 20 minutes to heat up. On the bright side, it gets hot enough for searing, leaving some good old grill marks on your meat.
To maintain a consistent temperature, the grill has a heat-retention lining. This helps cook the food evenly.
The cast iron grill grates of this grill provide a taste similar to what you’d get when using a gas grill. They also have a porcelain enamel, which makes them easy to clean. The drip tray is detachable as well.
The range of temperature settings is reasonably wide to give you better control. However, there’s no built-in thermometer that indicates the temperature.
The grill weighs 30 lbs and has a 6-foot power cord. Unfortunately, if you prefer setting up your grill on a cart or a stand, you’ll have to purchase one separately.
- Almost fully assembled out of the box
- Easy to clean
- Relatively expensive
- Can’t be used indoors
- Doesn’t come with a stand/cart
This electric grill is designed to look like a gas grill. It also behaves like one!
First of all, it’ll give you a whiff of the old school taste. Its reflector pan is designed to create a somewhat smoky flavor. The grates also create great sear marks. Moreover, lifting the lid doesn’t cause excessive heat loss.
Another great feature of this grill is the see-through window on the lid. This way, you can track the progress your meat is making without uncovering it and losing any heat at all. Fat is collected in a disposable drip pan to make clean-up simpler.
Weighing just 26 lbs makes this grill quite lightweight as well. In addition, it comes with a rolling cart that provides great portability.
Essentially a full workstation instead of just a grill, the Easy Street Electric Cart Grill has two wooden fold-down shelves on the side. There’s also a bottom shelf to expand your workspace.
The best feature of this grill is the availability of 3 heating positions. You can choose to have the heat uniformly distributed or create areas of varying temperatures. This way, you can cook well-done, medium, and rare all at the same time.
Alternatively, choose the vertical position to enjoy the electric rotisserie feature.
- Window in the lid to check on food without losing heat
- Embedded rotisserie feature
- Enhanced safety because the electric element is UL approved and CUL-listed
- Outdoor use only
- Many complaints about missing parts
- Will need to buy replacement grease trays eventually
This grill has a lot in common with the other Indoor/Outdoor models.
It has a circular 15-serving grilling area. These 240 square inches makes this grill a qualified candidate when you’re cooking for several people.
The domed lid retains moisture and keeps food juicy and tender. But because it’s not attached to the grill, it can be a little annoying when you uncover the food and don’t exactly know where to place the lid.
The grill weighs 20 lbs, which is considered lightweight in the world of grills, so you can take it for a picnic.
Unfortunately, it’s better not to use this grill in windy weather. As the stand isn’t very stable, the grill might fall over.
Another feature that makes this grill very portable is the removable stand. You can switch between outdoor grilling to countertop grilling without a hassle. The grill is also apartment approved.
This GFO240S also has 2 George Foreman signature features. The fat-removing slope drains away up to 42% of fat. While it makes for a healthier meal, the slope will prevent you from cooking foods like eggs for instance.
Moreover, with the George Tough Nonstick Coating you can skip adding a fatty substance to your food. This way, you get a healthier meal and the grill grates -while not removable- are easy to clean.
The grill has an easy dial temperature control and 5 temperature settings.
- Drip pan is dishwasher safe.
- Keeps food moist.
- Can be used indoors.
- Some complaints about assembly.
- Complaints about durability. Parts break if dropped.
- Complaints about flimsy stand.
The Final Verdict
While pricey, the Weber 52020001 Q1400 Electric Grill has all the essential features that make it a very worthy investment. Although it’s not apartment-approved, it’s easy to assemble, durable, and not very heavy.
It’ll sear your meat, and retain heat to cook evenly. It’s compact, fairly portable, and easy to clean. However, if you’re one to have big BBQ parties, you’ll need a model with a bigger grilling area.
A valid concern that’s present in some grills is the chemicals you’re exposed to when you use them. They can cause cancer and birth defects according to the State of California. Check here for more info.
No grill is perfect all-around. Nonetheless, you can always find the perfect grill for you. So before you invest in an outdoor electric grill for your next cookout, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Assess your needs, and set your priorities straight. Whether you’re on a budget, or ready to splurge on a grill, it doesn’t matter. There’s some outdoor electric grills on the market to suit your needs.
Explore your options thoroughly, and enjoy your next cookout!