How to Buy an Electric Grill | Buying Guide
You don’t hear people reminisce much about “Dad’s old electric grill,” do you? It’s always “Mom’s old gas grill” or “Dad’s old charcoal pit,” so we understand if you don’t feel familiar with what to look for in an electric grill. Should that be the situation you find yourself in, then we have some good news — you’ve come to the right place! Not only do we carry the best electric grills in the industry, but our experts have also been testing and selling them for more than 20 years. Their real-world experience and expertise shaped this electric grill buying guide, which will point you toward the right grill for you when all is said and done.
Before we dig into the deeper stuff, let’s get this out of the way: when we say “electric grill,” we’re not talking about George Foremans. Those appliances are closer to contact grills or panini presses that steam food rather than truly grill it. Electric grills, meanwhile, are designed the same way as traditional grills: there’s a cooking surface above a heat source, along with a lid that, when closed, generates convective heat. In short, they recreate the classic grilling experience without the open fire; this is what makes them excellent choices for apartments, condos, balconies, and even boats. Enough chitchat — are you amped to get started, or watt?
Choose Your Configuration
What comes to mind when you think about what electric apartment grills look like? We’d wager it’s a simple, tabletop model that resembles a George Foreman grill, but this category is actually home to a few different configurations to fit whatever your outdoor space demands. Though portable tabletop grills are the most popular, we think you’ll be surprised by the ways electric grills and griddles can be incorporated into your home-cooking setup.
Built-in Electric Grills
Though many people browsing this category intend to buy an electric grill for an apartment or condo, outdoor kitchens can just as easily house one of these grills. Their quick, convenient fuel type is often a boon to homeowners who’d rather avoid digging up their yard to install natural gas lines or refuel their propane supply every few cookouts. The Blaze electric grill with a built-in hanging kit is perhaps the sensible choice in this configuration because it can function as both a built-in and portable grill — all you have to do is remove a few screws, and your Blaze is free to follow you wherever adventure calls.
Freestanding Electric Grills
We use the term “freestanding” here to encompass both post-mounted and cart models, which provide prep space in the form of side shelves and afford a bit more mobility around the backyard. Unlike freestanding gas and charcoal grills, however, the mobility of electric models is limited by the length of their power cord (and we strongly advise against using extension cords because most aren't designed to handle the necessary amperage). That’s a big part of why we appreciate Coyote electric grills so much — they can be used either on a post or by themselves as true portable grills. Take that, power-cord limitations!
Portable Electric Grills
Compact and lightweight, portable electric grills allow you to cook delicious meals wherever there’s a power outlet. A select few, such as the Blaze electric grill, are constructed from 304 stainless steel for maximum longevity in outdoor settings. Blaze models also feature a best-in-class, lifetime warranty, so you know you’re always in good hands. Weber Q electric grills, meanwhile, are tailgating favorites that also appeal to those Weber diehards (be honest, you know at least one). While they serve as excellent electric grills for a balcony, portable models open up a world of possibilities for grilling on the go.
Choose Your Electric Grill Size
Now that we’ve lit a spark, let’s take a few minutes to talk about grill size. This is obviously a major factor to be considered before making a purchase — after all, you can’t add more space to a grill once you’ve made your decision. So, how do you know how much is enough? We recommend asking yourself 3 simple questions: how many people do you normally cook for, what’s the greatest number of people you’d cook for, and how often will you cook for that maximum number? Once you have those answers, see below to determine which grill size is best for you. We’ll give you a head start by letting you know the majority of our selection falls into the “Small” category, but if you require an electric grill that can handle huge amounts of food, you’ll still be able to find what you need.
Small Electric Grills
- Cooking surfaces check in at 26 inches wide or smaller
- Best for small families or personal grilling
- Can simultaneously fit between 5 and 15 burgers
Medium Electric Grills
- Cooking surfaces are between 27 and 33 inches wide
- Have no trouble feeding a big family
- Can fit about 12–21 burgers at the same time
XL Electric Grills
- Cooking surfaces measure 43 inches and up in width
- Capable of feeding large crowds with ease
- Can fit up to 30 burgers at once
Electric Grill Classes
Configuration and size are important, but they’re not the defining metrics by which we judge electric grills and griddles. No, our experts place a heavy emphasis on quality, performance, and features when evaluating any product category. Those 3 pillars form the basis of our electric grill classes — Luxury, Premium, Practical, and Entry-Level — which act as distinct groupings to narrow your search. Review our snapshots of each class below and decide which one best reflects your outdoor lifestyle.
Luxury Electric Grills
- Complete commercial-grade stainless steel construction stands up to the harshest demands
- Lifetime warranties give peace of mind to even the most frequent grillers
- Top-of-the-line performance across huge grilling surfaces makes for a luxury experience
- Safety features, digital controls, and rotisserie capabilities turn these grills into personal playgrounds
Premium Electric Grills
- Constructed using 304-grade stainless steel for the best in outdoor durability
- Lifetime warranties from trusted brands like Blaze and Coyote
- Double-lined hoods and flame tamers combine for premium performance
- Removable components make for easy cleaning, while safety timers watch your back
Practical Electric Grills
- Built with mixed materials that result in various degrees of quality and longevity
- Moderate warranties offer protection for 10 years at most
- Performance is fairly consistent, whether searing or cooking low and slow
- Fewer features than higher classes, but easy-clean systems and locking lids remain helpful
Entry-Level Electric Grills
- Painted steel exteriors are more prone to quick corrosion than higher-grade metals
- Warranties max out at 3 years, and some are as short as 90 days
- Performance is spotty, and temperatures are less precise than those in higher classes
- Include basic features like folding legs and spill-resistant drip trays
Other Things to Consider Before Buying an Electric Grill
We know you’re ready to complete the circuit of your purchasing journey, but there are just a few more pointers we'd like to leave you with. Though electricity makes these grills astoundingly simple to operate, it brings with some major considerations that can be frustrating or even dangerous if ignored. We’d hate for anything to go awry with your electric-grill experience, so read on to ensure you’re fully prepared.
Power Concerns for Electric Grills
Just plug it in and start grilling, right? Well, not exactly. Electric grills should always be operated on a dedicated circuit — in simplest terms, an electric grill must be the only appliance plugged into an outlet when in use. Without a dedicated circuit, electric grill elements won’t be able to pull the necessary power to cook at their full potential; that means needlessly long preheat times, disappointingly low temperatures, and frustratingly prolonged cooks. (Yes, it’s as miserable as it sounds.)
Many models can get by on a standard outlet rated for 15 amps, though more powerful electric apartment grills like those from Blaze require 20 amps from a dedicated GFCI circuit. Others still call for hardwiring into 220-volt outlets! The bottom line is this: always ensure your electric grill is the only item plugged in while grilling, and always check your owner’s manual for power considerations so you aren’t caught off guard during use.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Use
We get this question all the time, and the answer remains unchanged: the vast majority of electric grills are designed for outdoor use only. The most notable exception is Coyote electric grills, but even they come with a disclaimer about being used under a vent hood when cooking indoors. You’re better off limiting your electric grill to outdoor use as intended, and consulting the owner’s manual when in doubt.
So, why can’t electric apartment grills be used indoors? While it’s true that they don’t use an open fire as a heat source, there’s still the potential for small flames within these grills. Falling food drippings can sometimes turn into temporary flames when they hit the heating element or heat diffuser, creating an unsafe situation for indoor cooking. (For those curious, George Foreman grills are indoor-rated because they direct food drippings out of the unit, where they can’t create flames.)
Covers for Electric Grills
As their name suggests, electric grills contain electrical components. (Shocking, we know!) Those components should never be allowed to get wet, whether from rain or general humidity in the atmosphere. There’s also the issue of dust buildup, not to mention rats and other pests that regard wires the same way you yearn for a mouthwatering steak. The easiest way to keep all harmful factors from damaging your grill is by investing in an electric grill cover. It’s either that or dragging the grill inside every time you’re done cooking. Your call.
Grilling with the Lid Down
Unlike open fires that grow with greater airflow, electric grill elements lose heat in a hurry when the lid is left open. For this reason, we recommend keeping the lid closed as much as possible when grilling, especially if your unit is plugged into a 110-volt outlet. Grills connected to 220 volts receive more power and can therefore hold heat at a steadier rate, but it’s still in your best interest to keep the lid closed when you’re getting your grill on.
Looks like we’re all out of juice! We hope you got the information you needed to help with your search, but we know inquisitive minds like yours are always brimming with questions. For further assistance, call one of our electric grill experts at 1-877-743-2269. They’ll be able to untangle any wires that are tripping you up!
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