If you’ve never used one, you may be asking yourself, “What is an electric grill, and why would I want one?” If you love convenient cooking but still want to enjoy the perfectly seared taste of grilled meats, veggies, and other dishes, an electric grill may be the ideal appliance for your culinary needs. Though they lack some of the gourmet features of gas and charcoal grills, electric grills are super simple to use, which may be just the encouragement you need to explore the art of grilling. Learn more about what makes electric grills special and what features to consider as you shop.
Benefits of Electric Grills
The best electric grills have a number of upsides compared to gas and charcoal grills. It’s important to keep these factors in mind as you shop:
- Safety. Electric grills have no open flames; instead, the grates heat up automatically when the grill is plugged in and turned on.
- Mobility. Many electric grill styles are smaller than gas and charcoal models, so they’re typically more portable and easy to move around the patio. Some can even sit on outdoor tables or countertops.
- Health. Outdoor electric grills don’t emit carbon monoxide or other fumes like charcoal and gas grills, making it easier to enjoy the delicious aromas of your grilled foods.
- Fuel cost. There’s no need to buy fuel for electric patio grills. Their only ongoing cost is the small amount of electricity they use.
- Heat control. Electric BBQ grills have specific temperature settings. Simply set the heat level you need on the controls, and the grill automatically reaches that temperature with no guesswork involved.
- Clean-up. If you’re looking for an easy-clean option, electric patio grills often have non-stick grates that simply wipe clean.
Which Type of Electric Grill Should I Buy?
There are three primary types of electric grills: built-in grills, portable grills, and cart grills. Take a look at the pros and cons of each to see which is the best electric grill for you:
As their name suggests, built-in grills are often designed for use in permanent outdoor kitchens. They can install directly into a countertop and stay there, much like an outdoor stove. A built-in grill is an investment with a higher price tag than other models, yet it can also help increase the value of your home.
Cart grills are similar to traditional barbecue grills with wheels, side tables, storage, and other features. The carts are typically made of metal for weather resistance, and the tables make it easy to prep and store food while you’re cooking. If you like the convenient option of easily moving your grill around the patio, a cart grill with wheels may be ideal.
You can also choose a portable countertop grill as an electric grilling option. These grills are ideal if you want to use the grill in different areas, take it along to a tailgate, or bring the grill indoors at the end of the season. Portable grills are smaller so you may give up some grilling surface area, but they’re also easier to transport and take up less storage room.
Electric Grill Sizing Tips
Outdoor grills come in a wide range of sizes. You’ll often see built-in grills listed with inch measurements that tell you how long the grilling surface is. This helps you envision how long a run of your outdoor countertop the grill will occupy. Looking at the length, height, and depth of a cart grill can help you determine how much patio space the setup needs.
Another important factor to consider is the surface area of the grill. This determines how much you’ll be able to cook at one time. In general, a 320-square-inch grill holds about 10 hamburgers. Consider what you like to cook, for how many people, and choose accordingly.
Electric Grill Features
Electric patio grills can make it easy for you to become a grill master with minimal effort. If you want a little extra help as you grill, look for features like built-in timers, temperature-control knobs, and nonstick cooktop coatings. Some more advanced electric grills may include additional features like two-sided cook surfaces that allow you to choose between a flat or ridged griddle, so you can get those grill marks without actually cooking on a grate.
An outdoor electric cooker isn’t too different from an indoor countertop grill powered by electricity. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you’re getting something intended for outdoor use. Look for an outdoor electric grill with special weatherproofing features around its electrical components that make it safer for storage on your patio or deck and resistant to moisture intrusion.
Cleaning and Protecting an Electric Patio Grill
Keeping an electric BBQ grill in good condition extends its usable life and makes it possible to enjoy the grill for years to come. Cleaning also keeps your grilling surface ready for the next meal and deters outdoor pests.
Grill Cleaning Basics
Electric outdoor grills are easy to clean after each use with basic grill cleaning tools. Here’s a general rundown of the process:
- Turn off the grill. Unplug it and let it cool down.
- Scrape the grates with a wire brush if there’s any stuck food. If the grates have non-stick coatings, simply wipe them off with a damp cloth.
- Wipe the grates to remove any charred bits you loosened with the brush.
- Remove the grates. Wipe down the grill lid and the liner below the grates.
- If necessary, wash the grates with soap and water. Dry them thoroughly and replace in the grill.
Covering Your Grill
One of the most convenient and easiest ways to protect your grill when it isn’t in use is to purchase a grill cover for it. These accessories fit over the grill and keep leaves, water, lawn chemicals, and debris from damaging it. If you plan to leave your grill outdoors in the off-season, a cover is essential for protection. It’s best to choose an unlined cover made of vinyl, waterproof nylon, or polyester. Although felt-lined covers may seem helpful, squirrels and other animals tend to tear up the covers and take the felt to make their nests — defeating the purpose of having a cover in the first place.
There are two main types of covers to choose from: fitted and non-fitted. Fitted covers are designed for specific grill models and are tailored to fit tightly over the appliance, including its side tables. Non-fitted covers are made in general dimensions to suit a wide range of grills. Look for a design with drawstring fasteners, buckles, and straps that keep the cover in place. If possible, it’s often better to choose a fitted cover. They’re less likely to blow away in the wind, and water won’t pool up on them, which can happen with looser, non-fitted covers. Check out our Outdoor Furniture Cover Buying Guide for sizing tips.
An electric grill can open your patio up to many new possibilities for dining and entertaining. Whether you’re interested in creating an outdoor kitchen without a full remodel or you simply want something clean-burning, choosing an electric grill is a great decision. Consider the grill type and features you find easiest to use, and then have fun finding new recipes to try!
Get Cookin’ with More Grilling Inspiration…
- See an overview of every backyard grilling option in our Grill Buying Guide.
- Learn how to keep your purchase like new with our How to Clean a Grill tips.
- Shop our customers’ top-rated BBQ grills. See the Top 7 Outdoor Grills.
- Try something new on your grill with these 5 Must-Try Grilling Recipes.