While outdoor grilling is an American pastime, not everyone has a suitable space for a grill. And when winter comes, some folks crave the flavor of grilled foods, but don’t want to put on a parka and boots just to babysit the burgers.
Fortunately, there are a large number of options available for making grilled foods in the kitchen. While it’s not quite the same thing as grilling over charcoal, you can achieve grill marks, a good sear, and great flavor without stepping outdoors. There are... electric grills and stovetop pans that suit every need and every budget. There’s no excuse not to grill.
The downside to indoor grilling is that it can be messy with splattering of juices and fats as food hits the hot grill. Contact grills contain much of the splatter, but they can steam the food a little as it cooks, which is fine for some foods and less desirable with others.
Here are the best indoor grills and sandwich presses for every kitchen.
The Cuisinart Griddler is a multi-use machine. The grill plates are reversible, with a flat cooking surface on one side and a ridged cooking surface on the reverse side, so you can use it as either a panini press or a contact grill. But that’s not the end of its versatility. The hinge adjusts for thicker or thinner foods, and it also opens completely so the cooking surfaces are flat, perfect for cooking pancakes or any foods where you want to avoid any chance of steaming.
You can also use the... Griddler with a flat surface on one side and a ridged surface on the other, so you can cook eggs on the griddle and sausages on the grill. The center dial can be set for grill cooking, griddle cooking, or to turn the machine off. The griddle knob lets you set specific temperatures while the grill/panini dial has low, medium, high, and sear settings. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Optional waffle plates are available for purchase, so you can also make Belgian waffles with this appliance.
One complaint about contact grills is that it can be hard to tell when the food is done. Either you keep opening the grill to check the doneness, or you set a timer and cross your fingers. The T-fal OptiGrill is designed to take some of that guesswork out of the equation with sensor technology that tells you when the food is cooked to perfection. You simply choose the type of food you’re grilling (burger, poultry, sandwich, sausage, red meat, or fish) and let the grill do the work.
There is also... a setting for cooking frozen food as well as a manual option for cooking your food without letting the grill call the shots. Cleanup is easy, since the grill plates are removable and dishwasher-safe. There are two models with the same funtions, with one that makes four servings and a larger one that makes eight servings.
If you want to keep costs down, this round grill can handle your burgers, chops, steaks, and vegetables easily. There’s only one cooking surface, so this doesn’t work as a contact grill, but there’s a glass lid if you want to speed up cooking, do some steaming, or keep foods a warm for serving.
The power cord is removable, so you can take the whole grill to the table for serving, and the grill plate is removable for cleaning. The heat settings are adjustable for cooking different foods. The... plastic knob on the lid can be a little fragile and the grill itself is not as sturdy as those at higher price points.
If you don’t want another large electric appliance that you need to store but you want a large surface area for grilling, this cast-aluminum grill pan is exactly what you need. The pan is lighter in weight than similar cast iron grill pans so it’s easier to move around, but it heats quickly and evenly and makes perfect grill marks on food.
Even better, it’s nonstick, dishwasher safe, and metal-utensil-safe, so you don’t have to worry about using a metal spatula to flip your burgers or a knife to... check the doneness of your steak. The nonstick coating is embedded with diamond dust from stone that are guaranteed to be from non-conflict sources. If you want to finish your food in the oven, this grill pan is safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a tad pricy for a non-electric grill, but there’s nothing to break or burn out, and it’s only 1-inch thick so it stores neatly.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
If storage space is at a premium and you don’t need to cover two burners at once, a single-burner grill pan can be a very good investment. While you can’t grill both sides at once like you can in an electric sandwich press, you can use the pan on the stove or in the oven, and it’s even safe under the broiler. At 9 1/4 inches square, this is big enough to cook four average burgers at the same time, finish a thick steak in the oven, or use for oven-roasting small chickens or roasts.
The pan has a... porcelain enameled interior that doesn’t need to be seasoned, while the cast iron retains heat to give food the grill marks that look so good. The handle is nice and wide, so it’s easy to hang onto, even when wearing thick oven mitts.
This is dishwasher safe, but is easy to clean by hand – just let it cool first.
If you want a grill that can be used indoors or out, this handy grill stands on its own tall feet, so you can use it outdoors (as long as you can plug it in) while you enjoy fresh air and sunshine, even on your wooden balcony where open flames might be forbidden. Or move it indoors when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
The cooking plates are removable and reversible, so you can cook on a ridged surface, or a flat one. The plates are nonstick and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. An integrated drip... tray catches the mess as you cook.
The domed lid has a stay-cool handle so you can check the food without grabbing an oven mitt first, and the temperature is adjustable from 200 to 400 degrees. This has a large, 180-square inch cooking surface that’s great for family meals, but probably not sufficient for a backyard party for the neighborhood.
This handy sandwich press can grill sandwiches of any thickness, and the floating lid means that you be able to press evenly, so ingredients won’t slide out as you smash. This will make a thin and tasty grilled cheese sandwich, properly smash a Cuban sandwich, or make sure your submarine sandwich has a crisp crust.
The cooking surface measures 12 x 8 1/2 inches, so there’s plenty of space for two hearty sandwiches, and it has a nonstick coating for easy cleaning, but you can’t remove the plates... for cleaning. A light indicates when power is on and the grill is preheated.
The press locks closed, so you can tuck it away easily in either an upright or horizontal position. It also locks open, so you can make open-faced sandwiches or heat tortillas.
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