Electric grill purchasing advice: how to choose the right product

  • What you need to know
  • Electric grills are usually very light, easy to use and take up less space than charcoal or gas grills. They are well suited for small balconies and travelling.
  • They don’t get as hot as charcoal or gas grills, and they don’t produce any waste.
  • Heat is generated by a spiral shaped heating element that grills the food.

Barbecuing – a national treasure

Barbecuing has long been one of the most popular cooking methods around the world. Be it Korean Barbecue, South American Asado, South African Braai or good old Texan style BBQ, everybody loves sharing delicious food cooked on a grill.

Preparing food over an open fire is certainly no innovation – this type of cooking was mastered by human beings around 1.5 million years ago. The origin of barbecuing likely goes back to the Taíno people, who were native to the Caribbean, and were the first Americans Christopher Columbus met upon his arrival to what he thought was India. The Taíno cooked on a “barbakoa”— often translated as ‘framework of sticks set upon posts’— to give their meat a certain smoky flavor. The Spanish then adopted the word as “barbacoa” which then spread into other languages around the globe, including English.

Many different barbecue variations have formed since then. Perhaps the most notable of these is found in the southern United States, in the Carolinas, Kansas City, Memphis and Texas. According to a 2020 study, about 20% of US-Americans barbecue several times a month in summertime while 17% of these 20% do it several times a week.

Spontaneity is not an option with a charcoal or gas barbecue: you need sufficient gas or charcoal available in advance, the barbecue needs to be cleaned and the barbecue area prepared. If you like to have spontaneous barbecues, electric barbecues are a great option.

How does an electric grill work?

Unlike coal or gas grills, electric grills don’t reach grilling temperature with an open flame. Instead, they use a heating coil. When supplied with electricity, the heating coil heats up and starts to glow. The coil is located directly under the grill grates, which warm up and in turn heat up the food. In principle, electric grills are similar to other types of grills, in that the heat comes from below. The temperature of an electric grill is set using a temperature regulator. Higher-priced models allow infinitely variable regulation. To prevent overheating, many electric grills have a water tray directly under the heating coil, which cools it down slightly. Since the heating elements do not touch the water, it won’t produce any extra smoke is produced.

What are the advantages of an electric grill?

An electric grill is the simplest, but also the most convenient way to grill. They can be used anywhere, and are always ready for use. In addition thay are very handy and can be used on small balconies or even inside an apartment. This is due to the fact that they don’t produce any smoke, which is a major advantage. The grill works with electricity: there is no open flame and thus no smoke or fumes. However, due to the heat generated, you should always take appropriate safety precautions when using it indoors and never leave it unattended. An electric barbecue is ideal for spontaneous cooking, as the pre-heating time is extremely short. They can be ready for use even faster than a gas barbecue. They are also easy to clean, as any dirt stays within limits of the grill. The water tray underneath the grill grate will catch any dripping fat, so nothing gets onto the table or the tablecloth.

E-grills are available in different designs and sizes. This makes them suitable not only for families, but can also be interesting for singles or households with only two people. Grilling requires little work and the taste of the grilled food is still great. One major argument for an electric grill is price: in comparison, electric grills are cheaper than coal or gas ones.

What are the arguments against an electric grill?

The taste of food is usually the biggest point of criticism when it comes to electric grills. This is because electric grills cannot achieve the smoky, roasted aromas you get with a charcoal grill. Gas grills also have this “problem”, but it can avoided by using so-called “smoker boxes”. However, these aren’t suitable for an electric grill. Another issue is that while electric grills are ready for use very quickly thanks to the heating coil, the coil can also result in hotspots directly above it. In other places, however, the heat is much lower, making it difficult to get even heat distribution. Indirect grilling is also not so easy with an electric grill. Last but not least, since electric grills are often quite small, you might find yourself running out of space.


  • Short heating time
  • Quick set-up
  • Space-saving
  • No smoke or dripping fat
  • Comparatively low price


  • Missing smoke flavour
  • Uneven temperature distribution
  • Indirect grilling not possible
  • Little space on the grate

What models are there?

Electric grills come in a few different styles. The simple table grill is certainly the best known pf these. However, there are also kettle, tabletop and contact grill variants. The most significant difference between the models is the heating element: there are models with a concealed and those with an exposed heating coil.

grill on marble countertop

Tabletop grill

The tabletop grill is the best-known and perhaps even most popular electric grill on the market. It is small, handy and easy to use. Since they take up very little space, they are a good alternative for small balconies. Some models also have a lid that improves heat distribution.

food and wine next to grill

Contact grill

Contact grills are a special form of table grill. They works using two plates which you cook the food in between. This shortens cooking time drastically. Some products have exchangeable plates and thus offer several possibilities for use, for example as a waffle iron or sandwich maker.

grill with stand

Grills with a stand

Grills with a stand look like a charcoal grill, at least visually. They don’t need to be set up on a table – they have their own feet which means you can cook while standing up. Some floor-standing models also offer the option of removing the base. This makes the appliances more flexible and they can also be used as tabletop grills.

kettle grill

The kettle grill

Electric kettle grills are available on the market in two versions: either as a tabletop grill or with a stand. Thanks to the lid, they achieve good heat distribution and can cook the food from above. This makes them perfect for indirect grilling.

Important purchase criteria

Electric grills come in loads of different shapes and sizes. Therefore, you need to consider which model best suits your requirements. In addition, some technical features might also influence your decision. The following points should be considered when buying an electric grill: power, heat distribution, temperature control, grilling surface, grate and plate, material of the grill, and accessories.


A high-quality electric grill needs to have sufficient power, firstly to be ready for use quickly and secondly to ensure a short cooking time. You should go for a grill that has at least 2000 watts of power. If the grill you go for has a lid, you should be ok with slightly less power. Maximum achievable temperature is important This should be at least 392 °F (200 °C), especially if you use the grill outdoors. Lids reduce temperature loss. Good models also have a heat reflector in the lid to reflect the heat back onto the food. This saves energy and allows your food to cook more evenly.

Temperature control

Temperature is essential for barbecuing. If it’s not right, the grill won’t get hot enough to cook the food. You can set the right temperature using the temperature control. Models with a heat-insulated and continuously adjustable thermostat are highly recommended. To switch off the appliance, you should not only pull out the plug, but also press the power switch.

Grill area

Electric barbecues are available in different designs. They are suitable for single households, but also for occasional family barbecues. Most electric grills have a grilling surface of 124 to 186 square inches (800 to 1200 cm²). Several pieces of meat or vegetable skewers can be prepared on the large-surface models. The surface area should always be large enough so that you can prepare food for everyone.


If you are mainly planning on using your electric barbecue outdoors, choose one that is made from a weather-resistant material. Aluminum or stainless steel are recommended here. Ideally, you should dismantle your grill after use and store it indoors. If this is not possible, a tarpaulin is useful to protect the barbecue from the weather. If you only use the electric barbecue indoors, a less robust material will suffice, such as a good plastic casing.

Drip tray

A water tray underneath the heating coil has a cooling effect. On models with a grill grate, it also acts as a collection tray for cooking juices. Bad odours and smoke are prevented by collecting juices in water, as the fat cannot burn off.

Cable length

Electric grills only work if there is a power socket nearby. As a result, you need to make sure that the cable you have is long enough, otherwise you will need an extension lead. However, the grill’s own cable should not be too short so that the plug on the extension cable doesn’t have to be placed on the table.

Which is better: grill grate or grill plate?

A grill plate prevents fat, leftovers or meat juices from dripping down onto the heating elements of the electric grill. However, the liquid accumulates on the plate on which the food is grilled and prevents it from becoming crispy. It is particularly important that any grill plate has a non-stick coating so that you can clean it quickly and easily after use. A dishwasher-safe grill plate is most practical. With a grill grate, the aforementioned food residues and juices can drip into the grill. They then end up in the grease tray. This prevents the formation of smoke or unpleasant odours. In addition, grilling on a grill grate is considered healthier because excess fat can drain into the grease tray.


Accessories are the last thing to consider when choosing an electric grill.

Stands and carts

Most grills come with a stand included. You can mount this on a tabletop barbecue if you also want to set it up on the balcony or in the garden. Some models come with wheels, which turns the grill into an easily maneuverable cart.


Electric barbecues are much more sensitive to weather than their gas and charcoal brothers. Especially during the barbecue season, you will want to keep your grill outside. Tarpaulins or covers are strongly recommended for this, as they protect the barbecue from moisture and other weather.

Cast iron grate

A cast iron grill grate is not standard equipment for electric grills. However, some manufacturers offer it as an optional accessory. The advantage lies in its good heating properties. Cast iron is especially recommended for preparing steaks. On the other hand, it is also considerably more expensive than a standard grill for electric grills.

Pizza stone

Pizza stones are really a must for owners of an electric kettle grill. For barbecues that work with charcoal, pizza stones are now considered standard accessories, but they are also now increasingly popular with electric barbecue users. With the stones, pizza turns out better on an electric grill than in the oven.

Stainless steel basket

Meat is not the only thing that goes on the grill. Vegetables are just as important. However, it is difficult for small vegetables to stay in place on the grill. A stainless steel basket is a great option for cooking veggies. The vegetables in the basket are grilled evenly and there is no risk of them falling through the grate.


A barbecue thermometer is also a popular accessory for coal or gas barbecues. It is the only way to optimally monitor the temperature of your meat or vegetables and achieve the best result.

Cleaning and care of an electric grill

If you want to enjoy your electric grill for a long time, you should clean and maintain it regularly. Removable parts are advantageous because you can clean them separately. Depending on the component, however, there are a few things to bear in mind when cleaning.

Cleaning the aluminum grease tray

The aluminum grease tray should not be put in the dishwasher. Even though this would be the easiest way to clean it, the tray would turn black. It is better to clean it by hand with a little warm water. If it does tarnish, a simple household remedy will help: boil the tray in water with a little lemon juice.

Cleaning the cover

The lid of an electric grill is strong and durable. All that is needed to clean it is a scourer and water with a little dish soap. However, if dirt stays encrusted on the lid, a cleaning brush is a helpful thing to have.

Cleaning the grill grate

It is best to start cleaning the grill immediately after grilling. Wrap the grate in damp newspaper while it is still warm and leave it overnight. The next day, you can simply clean the grill with a damp sponge.

Cleaning a stone surface

To clean the stone, it needs to cool down completely first. Only then can it be washed with dish liquid under running water. It should be completely dry before the next use.

Cleaning a ceramic or ceramic surface

The ceramic surface can also be cleaned with water and dish liquid. However, abrasive cleaning agents should be avoided. A soft sponge is the best choice. For encrusted dirt on the ceramic surface, you can also use a scraper like the one used for cleaning a stovetop.

cleaning the grill
You should clean your grill regularly.

Image 1: © MIGUEL GARCIA SAAVED / stock.adobe.com | Image 2: © Rozmarina / stock.adobe.com | Image 3: © Andrzej Tokarski / stock.adobe.com | Image 4: © Witte Mediendesign© / stock.adobe.com | Image 5: © SYARGEENKA / stock.adobe.com