We examined the ins and outs of the best electric BBQ grills on the market. We want you to know what you are buying and what you are paying for. Join us as we explore the infinite possibilities of BBQ brilliance…
Choosing the right BBQ for you presents a world of possibilities.
Do you want to go big or do you need a family sized grill?
Do you want traditional smokey flavors or the precision of electric cooking?
Don’t panic! We are here to help you make that all-important decision… Is an Electric BBQ grill right for you? Let’s find out!
If you have done some initial research and found yourself reading through our Ultimate Guide to Electric Grills then you have already got a sense of what you want on a broader scale. Now let’s try to narrow that down by reviewing all the aspects you should consider before you buy.
Electric Grills: The Basics!
Unlike Gas Grills, Charcoal Grills and some smokers, Electric grills have a reasonably ‘safe’ fuel source that won’t explode, go on fire or stop working when it gets damp. Typically this makes them much safer than other types of BBQ.
As an added bonus, an electric grill can be an indoor or an outdoor (Smokey Flavors) facility as they don’t require coals or gas to function, nor do they smoke heavily. If you are opting for an indoor grill, best get the electrical BBQ.
An Electric Grill relies on a heated coil to cook your food, in exactly the same way as an electric oven does. This will still produce the familiar BBQ scoring on the meat as long as the grill plate is not flat. The downside of an electric grill is that it will not produce the smokey BBQ flavors you might associate with outdoor cooking; but rather produces the clean finish you might expect from an indoor oven. It is for this reason that many Barbecue ‘professionals’ swear against the use of electric grills.
Generally speaking, an Electric BBQ will have a long chord (you can buy extensions, BBQ Grill) that connects into a normal indoor plug socket. This has another disadvantage in that you really should not leave these out in the rain. Even the portable, or ‘camping’ models tend to require a plug and are not battery operated. This severely limits their usefulness when out in nature and we would recommend a gas grill or a charcoal grill instead.
Electric grills are best for keeping at home, under wraps from the elements. On the other hand they are fast to heat and easy to work.
How Much Does an Electric Grill Cost?
The cheapest of these starts from only $14.99 for a counter-top electric grill. If you want a fully professional, top-of-the-range electric grill then expect to pay around the $200 mark.
Most electric grills are a fairly cheap alternative to other types of BBQ. Some of the biggest names in electric grilling – such as George Foreman – are all reasonably priced and fairly affordable. Even the larger George Foreman model comes in at under a hundred dollars through Amazon.
Techtongda and Weber (Amazon) make some of the most expensive models, but you can expect these to include a rotisserie section for slow roasting things like chicken or hog parts. These models tend to be suitable for professional cooking.
What About Fuel Costs?
Generally speaking the Electric Grill will give you the lowest fuel costs over time, but this does depend on how much you pay for your electricity. The average running cost of your electric grill lies at about 0.13 cents per hour. In terms of fuel economy electric BBQ’s are better than both Charcoal and Gas grills.
What are Electric BBQ’s Made From?
The materials used to create the more sturdy electric BBQ’s tend to be stainless steel on the base although cheaper models and portable grills often use heat resistant plastic on the base.
The plates that you use for cooking are made from porcelain enamel (the Spruce Eats). This material does not rust like iron might, will not crack like porcelain will and can withstand the heat long enough to cook your food to toasty perfection.
Often, electric grills have two of these plates and the food is cooked between them. This is particularly true of smaller models, where bigger grills tend to be more representative of a true BBQ. Outdoor models should have sturdy cast aluminum or stainless steel legs. This is an important factor when buying for the back yard. Make sure the legs are strong and stable and check the cording. An outdoor grill needs a water resistant, outdoors-proofed chord. Don’t just use a normal extension cable or you might find yourself in electrical difficulties.
Is it Difficult to Light an Electric Grill?
Electric BBQ’s are notoriously easy to light by comparison to other types. Be it indoor or outdoor – your electric grill ought to start with the flick of a switch. It will be hot enough to use within a few minutes. Basic models tend to have one heat setting that cooks everything at the same rate. More expensive grills will have more accurate temperature controls.
One of the main advantages of using an Electric BBQ is that you can have barbecued food without the long set up time. Granted you might miss the smokiness, you won’t have to wait two hours for the coals to turn white before you can cook. Leaf TV have more tips on how to cook on and start an electric grill, if you are concerned.
How Hot is an Electric Grill?
An electric BBQ can reach temperatures of 650 degrees – but for a non-commercial model expect 400 to be the standard highest temperature.
As we mentioned above, electric grills work through the heating coil system you find in a conventional oven. Most small models will not have a temperature control besides on or off. As you spend more money, however, temperature controls, gauges and monitors are more common.
One of the best things about an electric grill is that there are no hot or cold spots on the cooking surface. The electric grill maintains the same temperature throughout, resulting in an even sear and perfect meats.
Does an Electric Grill Take a Lot of Maintenance?
No, an electric grill probably takes less maintenance than either a charcoal or gas grill – or even a smoker.
There is no greasy smoke to stain the insides of your electric grill and the porcelain enamel surface has been designed so you can wipe it clean. Outdoor electric grills should still allow for you to remove the plates and wash them, just be sure to keep the lid closed to protect the BBQ from the elements while you wash the parts.
More expensive models often come with a warranty or guarantee for the first few years of use. If you are particularly concerned about maintenance, try to choose a model that allows for you to return it if you have to. You can also read this article by WikiHow about cleaning your electric grill.
What about Timers?
Cooking times for different products vary and this can be a help or a hindrance, depending on which type of electric grill you buy. A cheaper, portable model will generally click off when it has cooked for long enough… but since cooking times vary you may need to put your meat back in again to be properly cooked through.
You can also buy models that don’t switch off after a certain period – but these should not be left alone to cook unattended.
Top line models with proper electric systems will have built-in timers. Alternatively, you can buy a timer separately and opt for a cheaper grill. The choice is yours.
Stick or Non-Stick?
This should be a no-brainer. Make sure when you are buying that your grill has a non-stick surface or you will run into issues down the line. Most models that use the porcelain enamel mix will be non-stick, others have no guarantee. To make sure your non-stick options are kept open choose a grill plate that resembles the ridged grill of a traditional BBQ. These not only channel away the grease but are easy to clean and give that authentic BBQ cooked feel.
When your electric grill starts becoming sticky and smoking it is a clear sign that it needs cleaning. The smokiness comes from cooking grease that has built up on the plates. Follow this article from Good Housekeeping to get it smoke free again.
Size And Shape of Electric Grills
Portable models are sized enough to fit on your counter-top, but be wary of their name as they are not really suitable for camping. You can also buy small electric grills on legs for outdoor use, or larger models for professional purposes. Some of the biggest have a spit in the center for rotisserie cooking, but you will pay extra for the extravagance.
Remember – you can have an indoor or an outdoor grill. Don’t try to use them vice versa or you may set something on fire!
Special Features of an Electric Grill
As standard you should receive a grill that has one or two plates, is small enough to fit on your kitchen surface and doesn’t have any timers or temperature controls. Other, less standard features that will add to the price of your Electric BBQ are as follows:
- Timers – some grills have them, some don’t. If being able to leave your grill on and go about your business is important to you then you would be better with a timed model that can turn itself off.
- Temperature Regulation – good models have a temperature control, basic models do not.
- Non-Stick Coating – some manufacturers offer two versions of their electric grill: one with and one without non-stick coating. You may pay extra for it but it will be worth the price.
- Drip Trays – some brands advertise the electric grill as a healthier alternative to BBQ because the grease runs out and can be caught in drip trays.
- Rotisserie features – allow you to slow cook while the meat turns on an automated skewer.
Pros of an Electric BBQ:
- They are smoke free and almost odorless unless you are cooking and count the scent of the meat.
- They are fuel efficient and cost less to run than other types of BBQ.
- They are cheaper in terms of initial purchase for basic models.
- They are a healthier alternative in some cases, since design allows for fat to run off.
- They are among the easiest grills to control and ignite.
Cons of an Electric BBQ:
- They lose the traditional smokey BBQ flavor associated with barbecuing.
- They only have temperature regulation in better models.
- They require a socket connection to operate.
- They are unsuitable for camping.
Brands and Models We Love!
Of course George Foreman rules the healthy and counter-top electric grills but we also found big brands like Delonghi in the running for best electric grill. These are all aimed at indoor models. For the best outdoor electric grills we turned to the biggest names of the BBQ world such as Weber, Char-Broil and Easy Street.
Best Indoor Grills
The Delonghi Perfecto is a top product among indoor grills that comes with a unique glass lid and a temperature control, making it good value for money. Second on our list is the T-Fal GC702 Optigrill for indoor use. The special feature on this grill is the removable plates which allow for easy cleaning. It also has precise temperature monitoring and more controls than you might need.
Best Outdoor Grills
The infrared technology on the Char-Broil Tru Infrared Network Patio Bistro cooks at temperatures that would astound and in awesome speed – as well as having every feature you could ask for. The Weber 55020001 Q 2400 Electric Grill scored highly in this category, but comes with a high price tag. For similar, if not quite as good tech, we preferred the Easy Street Electric Cart Grill.
A special mention for our old friend George Foreman with the addition of a healthiest grill category. We love the GRP1060B 4 server for optimal cooking space, healthy living and a good price.
While electric BBQ Grills offer better coverage in terms of fuel economy and initial price than other types of grill; they are perhaps best suited to indoor cooking. The counter top models are incredibly useful to have in the kitchen, but not so much out in the field when you have no power supply. As a further downside you tend to lose that authentic BBQ taste when you go electric.
That being said they are the cheapest to buy and run, and the most likely to be covered by warranty due to their electronic nature.
Whether you choose an electric grill or not, you can learn all you need to know about grills and grilling by bookmarking our page! So please do return in future if you have any other unanswered BBQ questions!