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.
01 of 07
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.
02 of 07
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.
03 of 07
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.
04 of 07
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.
05 of 07
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.
06 of 07
If the question is how to make the best hot sandwiches, this panini press is the answer. The bottom plate is flat to better heat the sandwich, and the top plate has ridges for attractive grill marks. The hinge adjusts to four different heights to accommodate short or tall sandwiches and the handle is designed so you can press down and flatten the sandwich during cooking.
The cooking surfaces are nonstick and scratch resistant and they wipe clean easily, but they’re not removable. There are no... temperature controls since this is designed for sandwiches. Instead, a red light shows that power is on, and a green light shows that the press is heated and ready to start cooking.
07 of 07
This grill has the look of a outdoor grill when the pedestal is attached, but it can be used without the pedestal base on a table or countertop. With the pedestal, it is perfect for cooking on a balcony or deck when you can’t have (or don’t want) open flames—you just need an outlet to plug it into. Indoors, the pedestal base means you don’t need to use precious counter space for grilling.
This is a lightweight grill at only three pounds, so it’s easy to move and transport. However, that light... weight also means you need to be careful where you place it to avoid it tipping over if someone bumps into it. The grill plate is removable for easy cleaning.