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Great for Indoor Grilling and Gourmet Sandwiches

A Sanyo Grill with an assortment of food.

Courtesy of Sanyo

An electric grill can be a good substitute when gas and charcoal grills aren't an option.

Electric grills operate in a similar way to other electric heating surfaces, such as griddles or skillets. The main difference between the electric grill and comparable countertop appliances is that grills have a rigid heating surface that makes grill marks on the food.

The George Foreman electric grill might be the most commonly known product in this category, but there are two distinct types of indoor grills:

  • Standard electric grill: This electric grill looks similar to a griddle, except instead of having a flat surface, the cooking surface is a grate.
  • The grill press: This is the style of the Foreman grill. For this type of grill, food is placed on a grilling surface, and then another heated surface presses down on the top of the food. This ends up cooking the food faster, since both sides of the food are heated simultaneously. A grill press is also referred to as a panini press; if you buy a panini press, which is typically associated with sandwiches, you can still grill meats and other items on it.
Panini Press

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach

A grill press or panini press.


While electric grills give you grill marks, they have several difference from outdoor grills that use gas or charcoal. Obviously, how the grills heat up is different. Outdoor grills produce more heat, making them good for searing. It can be difficult, if not impossible to sear meat on an indoor electric grill. Cooking meat on a grill press can also flatten your food, and possibly squeeze out flavorful juices. Finally, most electric grills do not allow for indirect heat.

Still, when an outdoor grill is unavailable or inaccessible, electric grills are convenient. The price of electric grills varies with size and strength. Most electric grills have between 600 and 1,000 watts. The more power they have, the faster they can heat up, and the more they will cost. Price also rises with larger cooking surfaces. Smaller electric grilling units with modest power and options are usually $50 and under. Larger units, and units with more temperature control and cooking options, can run up to $400.


Electric Griddle

Courtesy of Presto



Electric griddles are similar to electric grills, except a griddle's heated surface is flat (also, there are not griddle presses). Griddles are often used for breakfast foods, such as eggs and pancakes, as well as other foods where a grated cooking surface would not be useful.

Sandwich Press

A derivative of a panini press, a sandwich press usually has triangular slots for bread to be placed in. The sandwich is then heated on both sides. This item is good for regular-sized sandwiches and bread, but cannot accommodate thicker breads. It also should not be used for cooking raw meats.