What To Look For When Buying Electric Grills
"A flame produces far less light than electricity for the reader, but so much more pleasure for the diner." Meathead
I am going to be politically correct here, which is to say I am going to be polite to my friends who love their electric grills. I am not going to insult them by saying they have made the wrong choice. But I am going to try to prevent those of you who are shopping, I am searching for words here, from a horrible mistake.
Yes, an electric grill can make a delightful dinner, but the sad fact is that, because there is no combustion in an electric cooker, there are no combustion gases, and they are the source of that which makes live fire grilling so special. Yes, some have a griddle-like surface with ridges, and the theory is that drippings fall into the valleys, vaporize, and add flavor to the food, while the ridges produce dark brown grill marks. In practice, not so much. An inexpensive hardware store gas or charcoal cooker, well chosen, can cook circles around electric grills. They are really glorified electric frying pans. Now if you live in an apartment or condo and that's all they'll let you have, then so be it. But I see no advantage in an electric grill on the balcony when you can get the same results with a George Foreman grill on the counter -- other than it saves space in the kitchen.
You may need an extension cord and not any cord will do. Read this article to calculate the size and capacity of the cord you will need.
If you look hard, I suppose you can find some redeeming features. Before you buy be sure to read my article: How to Buy a Grill for tips on thinks to consider when buying any grill.
Easy start. Throw the switch and electric grills are up to temp in five minutes or so.
Temperature control. Just turn the dial. Alas, they rarely get above 400°F, so don't expect to do steakhouse steaks with a rich dark sear. And electrics with actual thermostats with temperature settings cost more.
Timer. Some have timers. Handy if you don't have a kitchen timer.
Price. Most are well under $200.
Size. They are small so they fit on tiny balconies and porches. Alas, most are under 200 square inches, barely enough for 10 burgers. Most will do four burgers max. You will not be able to host the block party with an electric.
Non-stick. Some have non-stick griddle surfaces, smooth on one side, ridged on the other. This is a nice feature, not because the ridges improve flavor, but because they are easy to clean and the griddle surface usually comes off and goes in the dishwasher. This is cool because the valleys between the ridges are often hard to reach with a sponge.
You need an outlet. And remember, you need an outlet to make them work, so if you go to the beach or on a hike, you'll need a loooonnnnnggg extension cord.
This page was revised 9/15/2013
About this website
AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, spareribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, barbecue sauces, rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best buying guide to barbecue smokers, grills, and accessories, edited by Meathead.
Advertising on this site
AmazingRibs.com is far the most popular barbecue website in the world and one of the 50 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore and Quantcast. Visitors and pageviews increase rapidly every year. Click here for analytics and advertising info.
| Weights, Measures, Conversions | Tips & Techniques | Recipes | Equipment Reviews | BBQ Culture & History |
| My Ingredients | BBQ Joints | About Us | Blog | Links | Newsletter | BBQ Tunes |
| Privacy Promise, Code of Ethics, Other Legal Terms | Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities |