If you decide to live more sustainably by picking urban condo living over suburban home living, you’ll give up traffic hassles, massive utility bills, and the time-cost of home maintenance.
You don’t have to give up grilling.
Major grill manufacturers—and some specialty companies—have seen the trend toward urban living coming, and they’ve got the technology to meet this new age. Electric outdoor grills can do everything your outdoor grill can do, and you may find that you prefer the flavor of meat cooked by electricity.
Electric grills are better for the environment, too.
Electric outdoor grills fall into three distinct price buckets.
What You Can Cook
Steaks, burgers, veggies—the basics.
$150 – $300
The basics, plus low n’ slow (but small) items like pork shoulder.
$2,000 and up
Multiple racks of ribs, brisket, huge batches of burgers.
So, prospective electric grill buyer, I have an important question for you. What do you grill? Your answer will determine what electric grill to buy.
Best Electric Grills For Grilling Steaks And Burgers
For some people, grilling means cooking steak, hamburgers, maybe a marinated chicken breast and some marinated veggies. Nothing that takes more than 15 minutes or so, always directly over the flame.
If you are one of these, no matter where you live, you should buy an electric grill today. Here’s why:
For Direct Grilling, Electric Grills Beat Gas And Charcoal
Whether you have 10 acres of land or a tiny patio off your luxury high-rise condo, an electric grill will give you the same flavor you get from gas or charcoal at a fraction of the price—and without lugging around propane tanks or bags of briquettes.
Tell your otherwise eco-conscious friends who fire up polluting charcoal and propane every time they want a steak—stop! An electric grill, which has no emissions, will cook that slab of meat (or Field Roast sausage) just as well.
Electric grills easily reach the temperatures you need for what’s called direct grilling—that’s the method of cooking steaks and burgers, with the food directly over the heat. You don’t even need to go outside, you could get the same effect from an indoor George Foreman grill, a hot plate, or a cast-iron grill pan.
Any of the electric grills I’m going to tell you about will fit your needs, no problem. The only choice you’ll need to make is how exacting you are about appearances—both of your food and of your appliances.
Steak Lovers: Go For Char-Broil
If you demand the mouth-watering grillmarks and searing that can only come from high temperature grilling, you’ll want one of the infra-red grills made by Char-Broil. These grills can get up to 600 degrees.
You’ll be able to cook a steak with a nicely seared outside—setting off the key Maillard reaction that makes meat extra-savory—and nice and pink in the middle (if that’s how you prefer your steak). At temps up to 600 F, you can always cook the living hell out of it if you like your steak that way, too.
Char-Broil’s Patio Bistro line cooks food using infrared heat, rather than the hot air generated by conventional grills. Infrared heat works similar to microwave heat, it excites the molecules in the food, leading to more even cooking throughout.
Restaurants that specialize in steak use high-end infrared broilers to generate the perfect char steak connoisseurs crave. You wouldn’t want to generate the 1800 F temps of these monsters on your patio, but you can take advantage of the same technology that gets steaks charred on the outside, but still juicy on the inside.
Part-Time Grillers: Go For George Foreman
If you aren’t as exacting, buy a George Foreman outdoor grill—or simply buy a stand that your George Foreman grill can sit on. These electric grills only get up to around 400 F, so you’re not going to be able to get a deep sear on the crust of your steak. But you’ll be able to cook steak, burgers, chicken, veggies—all the basics you’ve been doing for years over charcoal or gas.
Best Electric Grills For Bone-In Chicken, Ribs And Other BBQ
Back to the question I asked at the top: What do you like to cook on your grill? If you like to cook things like ribs, bone-in chicken, pulled pork—or you think you’d like to try—you can’t buy a low-end electric grill.
George Foreman’s and their kin can’t do the job. Here’s why:
- Low-end electric grills only allow for direct heat, which would cause the outside of your ribs to burn well before the inside was cooked.
- There’s no way to use wood chips on low-end electric grills, which impart smoky flavor to slow-cooked foods like ribs
- Low-end electric grills aren’t large enough to cook ribs anyway.
But Char-Broil, Weber, and the higher-end electric grills can work more like smokers. The Weber Q 2400 Electric Grill is a good in-between choice, it has a large cooking area and plenty of power.
Smoking With Indirect Heat Is Possible On Electric Grills
Unlike with the lower-end grills, the grates themselves aren’t the heating element, rather the heat comes from within the unit. This means that you can cook using indirect heat, the barbeque technique used for making ribs, pulled pork, and brisket.
The grills also get hot enough to get wood chips smoking, letting you impart maximum flavor to your slow-cooked meats just like Austin pitmasters do.
If you use an Infra-Red electric grill, you may actually prefer the results you get, since this style of heating is less likely to dry out the surface of the meat.
If you just want to smoke meat, and do your steaks and burgers on the stove, consider an electric smoker. These are safe for decks—although the smoke might bother your neighbors-—and run on regular outlets as well. Amazon’s best-seller is the Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker.
An even more high-tech solution comes from Char-Broil. Their smoker comes with Bluetooth technology—download an app and you check on how your meat is coming from anywhere. The app will even send you an alert when your desired temperature is almost reached.
Best Electric Grills For Large-Scale Or High Power Cooking
If you want to cook, say, a whole turkey, or 50 burgers at once, your only electric outdoor grill options come at a very high cost.
Only a few small companies make large electric outdoor grills, since the market for these is so small. Almost every buyer of a large electric outdoor grill fits one of these categories:
- Luxury condo owner: They have plenty of money and love to grill, but would be in violation of fire codes if they cooked over gas or charcoal.
- Luxury yacht owner: They have plenty of money and love to grill, but for obvious reasons don’t want open flames on board their vessel.
Because the market is small, the prices are high. Happily, if you own a luxury condo or a luxury yacht, a $6,000 grill isn’t going to make a divot in your bank account.
Kenyon and Electri-Chef both offer high-end electric grills on Amazon.
Kenyon’s best-selling model is the All Seasons Portable 120V Grill. Here it is On A Boat!
Electri-Chef specializes in full-size electric grills, as big as the gas monsters, for entertaining large groups. Prices go as high as $7,500, so you won’t see many reviews on Amazon. This 48″ Electri-Chef Electric Grill has one, though.
A large electric grill could be worth investigating if you are doing a backyard remodel or if you own a condo. You’d likely need to hire an electrician to provide the correct voltage for the grill.
So many home appliances just make more sense running on electricity. You wouldn’t buy a gas-powered clothes iron, or a gas-powered vacuum. Why buy a gas-powered grill?