Whether you’re an all-season grill master or a simple lover of summer barbecues, an electric grill can allow you to cook outdoors even if you don’t have a huge garden at your disposal. Many city dwellers have to make do with a small balcony for their fresh air, but with these low-smoke and portable cooking appliances you can turn that balcony into a backyard cook-out any time you fancy getting your sear on.
What’s more, electric grills often prove to be far less hassle, are cleaner, and tend to produce far less smell, smoke and mess than their wood, gas, or charcoal powered cousins. For ease of assembly and use, they’re often difficult to beat.
Today, we’ll be taking a good look at some of the best electric grills on the market today, all of which are well-suited, safe, and legal for cooking in relatively small outdoor spaces such as balconies, back patios, and small yards. Many of these grills are also prized for their portable designs and flexibility, meaning that many of them can be brought inside the house if it’s too cold outdoors.
Ever since they threw open the marketplace with their flagship models of the 1990s, George Foreman have endured as frontrunners of the electric grilling scene. This model, designed to imitate traditional BBQ’s, and with a removable stand making it as suitable for indoor use as it is outdoor hosting, is a popular choice for those looking to electrify their grilling experience without breaking the bank.
The GFO240S grill comes with 240 square inches of grilling space. Whilst the company markets this as being capable of cooking around 15 servings at a time, most users find it to be closer to 10, or even less if you find yourself with hungry guests. Nevertheless, this is a reasonable size well suited to catering to small parties, or large families!
The non-stick grill plate is easy to clean and the signature sloping design allows meat juices and fat to drain into the removable trip tray.
There are five heat settings, the highest of which will see your grill topping 600 degrees fahrenheit in a matter of minutes. Other similarly priced competitors can sometimes struggle to match this.
Prices are competitive, starting at around $130.
Weber have manufactured a strong contender to Foreman’s popular Indoor/Outdoor model, with a more expensive but generally sturdier design. The Q1400 grill combines tough durability with portability, quick to assemble and easy to carry around using the ergonomic lift handles.
Its cast iron grates retain hit well and, like its Foreman competitor, this grill is capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 600 degrees fahrenheit, ideal for those looking to properly sear and seal in flavor. Some testers, however, have noted the frustrating lack of a temperature gauge, and the fact that the Weber can take a little longer to build heat.
The 6 foot electrical cord means you might need to consider an appropriate extension lead for balcony use, unless you have a plug socket near the external door.
This is a pricier piece of kit than the Foreman, but often comes out on top in terms of quality of build, durability, and all-round performance.
Prices start at around $359. For extra grilling space, consider opting for the Q2400, Weber’s larger, slightly more expensive model.
Conscientious balcony grillers might worry about the smoke and smell rising off an outdoor barbecue and no one wants to make enemies of their neighbors. Thankfully, electric grills often produce far less smoke than their gas or fuel counterparts, with some being designed specifically to minimize this.
The Power XL as a tightly sealing lid with a built-in smoke extraction fan. This works alongside a water tray to extract and capture excess smoke, minimizing the fumes and food odors coming off your grill. This can prove ideal for people living in small or shared apartments still keen on grilling all year round.
A detailed temperature gauge also allows you to dial in the exact heat you want, up to 450 degrees fahrenheit, though it doesn’t come with a timer.
There’s also a griddle surface for those looking to fry or griddle their meats, veggies, eggs, or proteins, with a decent amount of space for small communal cook-outs.
New models can be bought for just shy of $100.
Char-broil have gone for something of a classic barbecue look with this high-tech offering, great for those who want the feel of a traditional charcoal grill without the smoke, mess and hassle.
The Patio Bistro is designed for outside spaces and not as easy to cart around as some of the more portable appearances on this list, so it works best if you have a stable balcony space for it to inhabit.
It comes with a removable warming rack that can be swapped out for additional grilling space if necessary, extending it to around 320 square inches, making it great for larger parties. The infrared heating technology aims to avoid hot spots, cooking food directly by sensing where it sits.
You can also heat wood chips on the grate whilst cooking, infusing whatever’s on the menu with a classic smoky twist.
Some testers have noted that the temperature gauge could have benefited from better placement, but other than that this comes in as a sturdy, dependable, classic-take on the old-time patio barbie.
The Patio Bistro is usually priced around $300.
For those with very limited space, or for those on a limited budget, Presto have developed this affordable, compact, indoor grill that can also be taken outdoors for balcony sessions. Its small size means it can be packed away easier than many of its larger cousins, ideal if you’re a ‘fair-weather’ griller who doesn’t want kitchen space going to waste.
The Presto only weighs about 5 lbs and, though it can’t quite match the heat of some of its larger (and pricier) competitors, can still manage 400 fahrenheit at max temperature. This is certainly enough to get sizzling with, though the much sought-after sear might be a bit more difficult to achieve with this price-conscious appliance.
That being said, if you’re looking for a cheap, cheerful, and effective way of grilling in a small outdoor space, the Presto could be a solid choice. It also comes with a handy cooking spatula that doubles as a scraper, helping you with the clean-up afterwards. The grill surface is also raised to help with the draining of fat and the drip tray removes for ease of washing.
It can be bought via some online stores for as little as $40.
This is another favorite amongst those looking to sear up a storm without setting off the fire alarms. The tight-seal on this closing model helps to minimize food odors and fumes whilst simultaneously allowing you to keep an eye on what’s cooking via the transparent window. This also reduces heat loss, as you don’t have to spend so much time opening and closing the lid to check your food.
Adjustable temperatures of 200 to 450 degrees fahrenheit allow you to go from slow cooking to hot searing, though you still won’t be able to achieve the high fahrenheit numbers of some of the larger grills.
The Hamilton Beach does come with an extra large drip tray which, though it might not sound that exciting, helps minimize the amount of spills and spatter going onto your kitchen top.
The transparent lid can be removed and hand cleaned gently to avoid scratches. The grill plate is also removable, but sturdy enough to be dishwasher friendly.
Prices are also competitive, usually coming in at less than $90.
The last entrant on our list is a relatively high-tech gadget from kitchenware titans Breville. Eschewing the more traditional BBQ aesthetic, the Breville Smart Grill is a sleek, stylish, silver machine boasting multiple uses. You can griddle, grill, and even use it as a panini press, ideal for toasties, hot baguettes, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
As you would expect from a model designed to be a little flasher than just a heated grill plate, this electric cooker comes with an intuitive digital display and detailed temperature gauge, complete with a timer letting you know how long you have to wait before the grill hits the required fahrenheit.
It also works hard to reach and maintain the temperatures that you set, with automated temperature controls kicking in every time you lift the lid to try to ensure that the cooking area remains consistent.
Two aluminum non-stick plates connect together to produce a larger cooking surface, or for smaller meals you can just stick with one plate to minimize the clean-up afterwards.
The Breville Smart Grill’s sleek, modern design comes at a slightly higher price, with this model floating around the $300 mark.