I have to admit, portable charcoal grills have a special place in my heart. Why? Hard to say. They’re cool, effective, cheap, easy to store and as long as you understand their limitations, they do everything their bigger brothers do in a more convenient package.
Perhaps the king of portable bbq grills is the Weber Smokey Joe. Why? Mostly because of the reasons I mentioned above: It’s cheap, effective, easy to store and works like a champ. You’ll need to understand that it is small. The smallest full-size charcoal kettle grill Weber sells is the Weber One Touch Silver 18.5 inch. The Smokey Joe has a 14.5 inch grill. Now don’t get me wrong – 4 inches is a big difference. Don’t buy one of the Smokey Joes thinking you can get a whole bunch of food on there. You’re only going to realistically be able to cook for up to 4 people. More than that and there are going to be decent wait times. But like this video shows, you can get a decent amount of food on the thing if you try.
The Smokey Joe comes in two flavors, the Silver and the Gold. The Silver is the one we all know and love. The Gold comes with a wire lid lock/carrying handle. It also has vent holes on the sides instead of the bottom which is the reason there is no tray at the bottom of the kettle. Up to you which one you prefer. Some people have voiced displeasure for the side vent placement; others seem to have no problem with it. Guess it all comes down to if you think you need the lid lock/handle contraption or not.
Weber also recently re-introduced their Jumbo Joe. This little devil is pretty much the same as the Smokey Joe Silver except for the 18.5 inch grill. Yup, you read that right – 18.5 inch grill, the same size grill as the smallest of the full-size charcoal grills. One thing to keep in mind – the Jumbo Joe doesn’t have a super big top end. The lid to the grill is a little short, so don’t buy it thinking you’ll be able to stuff a full size bird under there. It’s compact for a reason. But if you’re looking to grill for more than 4 people and think the Smokey Joe isn’t going to cut it, then go for the Jumbo Joe.
In fact, I’m going to stop this article right here. Why? Because in all reality you should be buying the Weber Jumbo Joe. Or the Smokey Joe if you’re cooking for less people. If you’re looking for a great portable bbq grill for more than 2 or 3 people, the Jumbo Joe is going to be pretty much head and shoulders above all else. Price? The Smokey Joe Silver runs around 30 bucks with the Jumbo Joe going for around 60. Is it worth double the price?
Take another look at that video. That’s 13 chicken legs stuffed onto the Smokey Joe. Now consider the Jumbo Joe has a 62% larger cooking area. That works out to about 21 chicken legs. Lots more sausages. An extra steak or hamburger or two. You get the picture.
And if you think I’m being unfair to all other portable charcoal barbecue grills, don’t worry, I’ll write another article about them later. But this one needed to be all about the Weber Joes.
Not a fan of the charcoal? Check out these posts to see if there’s something there that lights your fire (or your heating element):
No joke – electric grills have come a long way in the past five or ten years. Gone are the days of them being nothing more than a glorified frying pan… with bars.
If you absolutely cannot use a gas or charcoal grill to satisfy your grilling desires, then fear not. A modern electric grill can be expected to do a pretty decent job of grilling up a meal for you and yours.
Now, don’t get us wrong. In a head-to-head competition, gas or charcoal grills win on sheer firepower alone. Not to mention the authentic taste electric grills sometimes lack.
But if you absolutely positively cannot use an open flame in your situation? The days of electric grills being unable to cook a decent meal are long gone.
Let’s take a look at what we’re talking about.
|Models||Our Star Rating||Where to Buy|
|(4.6 / 5)||Amazon
Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill
|(4.2 / 5)||Amazon
George Foreman GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Grill
|(4.4 / 5)||Amazon
Cuisinart CEG-980T Outdoor Electric Tabletop Grill
|(3.7 / 5)||Amazon
Philips HD6371/94 Indoor Smokeless Infrared Grill
|(4.3 / 5)||Amazon
Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill
|(4.4 / 5)||Amazon
Fire Magic E250s
|(3.7 / 5)||Amazon
While many people are going to focus on the cons of electric grills, we here at LTB believe in giving things a fair shake. We’re going to look at the pros first and finish up with the cons.
Now, don’t let the greater number of cons scare you. That single solitary “pro” at the top of the list can outweigh all of the cons.
It’s simple – if gas or charcoal grills are out of the question then you’ve gotta go electric.
Luckily we live in a day and age where good quality electric grills are plentiful and reasonably priced. So stop hemming and hawing and go out there and find yourself a fine electric grill. Because if you Love That Barbecue, it’s what you’ve gotta do.
If you’re looking for an electric grill for outdoors, you’re in luck. Most of the models made today are designed to be used outdoors.
That doesn’t mean you can use them in a downpour or in soaking wet grass. It does mean, however, that with a long enough extension cord and some common sense you can grill up a nice meal in places where gas and charcoal grills aren’t allowed.
Think verandas or patios in apartment buildings and condos. Or outside football games or really dry areas in the middle of summer.
So which is our pick for the best outdoor electric grill?
The Weber Q2400.
Weber is one of the biggest names in grilling, so when they put together an electric grill, you can bet it’s going to be put together correctly. The Q2400 claims to get up to 600 degrees under the hood – more than enough to cook up whatever you want to cook.
Sizewise, it’s not that bad. It’s got double the grilling area of a Smokey Joe and there’s no charcoal ash to clean up. Plus, it’ll fit in the trunk of your car without taking up the whole trunk.
How does it grill? People have reported being able to throw down a number of steaks and other grillables on the porcelain-enameled cast-iron premium grates. The lid is reasonably tall, allowing you to shove something larger than a thick burger or chicken breast under it.
Keep in mind it takes about 20 minutes to heat up to cooking temps. And the more you open it, the longer the cooking will take. Searing is going to be a mixed bag – some people have good luck, some people say no go.
Add in the Weber Portable Cart and you’ve got yourself a real decent setup. The cart raises it up and turn it into an approximation of a full size grill. Well, full size but smaller. There’s also a cover available for the whole thing.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller (or cheaper) the Q1400 is basically the same grill, minus about 100 square inches of grilling area and about 50 bucks. Both come with a six-foot cord.
We like the Weber Q2400. Although we don’t need an electric grill, we like it so much we’re considering moving to a condo just so we’ll have to buy it. Okay, maybe not that much, but it’s a seriously awesome grill. If we needed an electric grill, this would be our top choice.
No desire, possibility or plans to grill outdoors? Then you’re looking for an indoor electric grill, and we’ve got you covered.
What makes an indoor grill? Primarily it will be covered heating elements. In order to get things going faster and hotter, many outdoor grills will have exposed heating elements. When cooking, juices of the item being cooked drip onto the elements, burning and smoking as they go.
Not so with the Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill.
Its heating elements are entirely protected from the cooking surface. While this may cut down on the ability to sear or really cook items as well as some of the outdoor-only powerhouses, it will also dramatically cut down on the amount of smoke created when cooking.
This grill bills itself as an indoor electric grill and it passes. 12.5 by 9.25 cooking surface isn’t gigantic, but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant to cook well for a few people. Or those eating in shifts.
It’s not porcelain or porcelain-coated, but still comes with a non-stick surface that earns good marks. In fact, the little Zojirushi gets high marks in reviews everywhere I’ve found it for sale.
If you want to grill something indoors and fill the house with wonderful smells (not carbon monoxide) then an indoor grill is your end goal – and the Zojirushi EB-CC15 is our top choice.
All in all, the Zojirushi is our top choice for an indoor electric grill. However, if you’re looking for a grill with a lid to both cook thicker foods convectionally as well as cut down on the mess of grilling with an open-top grill, take a look at the Secura GR-1503XL. It’s got a lid plus a reversible cooking surface, allowing it to go from grill to griddle easily.
Sometimes you feel like an outdoor cookout. Sometimes you just want to relax inside and enjoy cooking in the peace and quiet of your own home. Is the only option to buy an indoor and an outdoor grill?
Hardly, my hungry friend.
If you’re in the market for an indoor and outdoor electric grill, you’d best take a good hard look at the George Foreman GGR50B Indoor/Outdoor Grill. It’s kinda got all the bases covered.
Tabletop grilling ability? Check. Removable pedestal for outdoor ease? Check. Reasonable price? Check. Thousands of complimentary reviews? Check.
It does it all, right?
Kinda. The biggest drawback is the unit is a little top-heavy when mounted on the pedestal. Just looking at it and you can see that you might want to be a little careful with bumping into it.
Other than that, the reports are in line with most electric grills – does a great job if you know the limitations of the unit.
Also, be aware that the pan to collect grease drippings is under the surface of the grill. Meaning that you’ll need to wait until the grill cools to remove and clean the grease tray.
The George Foreman GGR50B is an excellent choice if you’re looking to bridge the gap between indoors and outdoors. It’ll do fine on top of a table or a kitchen island inside or on the pedestal outside. Just make sure to use it away from rowdy people (or pets) and you’ll go far.
Most electric grills are, by definition, portable. They’re not that big and if you have a long enough extension cord, you can take it anywhere. But a portable electric grill is designed to be packed up and carried, and in the realm of portable electric grills, the Cuisinart Outdoor Electric Grill.
Although we discuss the Tabletop model here, they do offer one with longer legs that will raise up the unit to approximately waist-high. The tradeoff? Bulkier to carry and store.
Whether you choose the Tabletop version or go with the Versistand model, you’ll be getting a good grill that is designed to be transported. Oh, and it can cook a mean steak.
One thing to keep in mind – the Cuisinart is smaller. That’s the tradeoff of a portable outdoor electric grill – it’s not going to feed an army. Smaller groups or shift eating are key here.
While they claim 8 burgers or 8 steaks or 6-10 chicken breasts, etc. those aren’t huge burgers. Or steaks. Or breasts. We’re just sayin’ – 145 square inches isn’t going to get you eight big burgers.
But also keep in mind – that smaller size makes it more portable. Wanna know how much trunk space a Weber Smokey Joe takes up? More than you can imagine. The Cuisinart Outdoor Electric grill? Far, far less.
If portable is your main concern when buying an electric grill, then the Cuisinart should be near the top of your list. It’s designed to be easily portable. Go with the VersiStand or the Tabletop – it’s essentially the same. One has longer legs, one has table top length legs.
If you’re looking for something a little bigger and are willing to sacrifice a little portability, then we recommend the Weber Q2400. It’s not as portable, sure, but that tradeoff gives you more cooking area.
It also gives you a better-rated grill.
Going camping but the facility outlaws all open flames? Found out too late to change the reservations? No worries – an electric grill can solve many of your problems.
The best electric grill for your camping situation is going to depend on a variety of factors: storage space in your vehicle, how many people you’re cooking for, the setup at the camping area (tabletop ability or do you need a stand) and the distance to a plugin.
All those things aside, the LTB top choice for a non-open flame grill for your camping excursion is the Weber Q2400.
Yeah, yeah, we know. We put it in the Best Outdoor Grill spot above. I hear you. But the same outstanding features and capabilities that put it in the top spot for best outdoor electric grill mean it’s going to get top marks for a camping unit as well.
The only drawback? Size and, well, size. The size of the Q2400 means it’s going to eat up trunk space. If you’re dead set on having a grill, you might want to do a trial packing run before your trip.
On the flip side is this – while the Weber Q2400 is large for an electric grill, in the overall scheme of things, it’s really not that big of a grill. If you’re cooking for a whole lot of people, you might want to do a trial cooking run. Or buy two.
Yeah, crazy as it sounds, if you’re camping in a place that forbids open flames, have a lot of people to cook for, and just have to have grilled food, then two of the Weber Q2400 units might be a good plan.
But if you’re doing that, make sure there’s a stable surface to cook them on, preferably waist high. Because while those Weber carts are nice, if you’re doing that much grilling, you’re gonna need more prep space and cooking space.
The Weber Q2400 is top choice as both the best outdoor electric grill and the best electric camping grill for a reason. It’s just that good. While it is expensive, you get what you pay for. What you’re paying for is a top-notch grill that will take what you throw at it and spit back awesome food.
Tailgating – an American tradition almost as old as football. Okay, not that old, but you get the picture.
When you’re thinking of that picture, you’re likely thinking of three things – good times with friends, alcohol, and grilling. And you’d be right. The smoke rising from grills can smell fantastic outside a stadium.
Unfortunately, like many camping areas, stadiums are increasingly shutting down the old dream of tailgating. Limits on open flames in the parking lots of stadiums are increasingly common.
Sure, it’s safer. But the stadiums would rather have you inside, spending money on concessions instead of grilling up a magnificently tender and juicy burger in their parking lot with your pals.
While an electric grill may not be able to stand toe-to-toe with its charcoal or gas-powered cousins, you can come close. And to come close you’re gonna need power. As much as you can muster in as reasonable a package as you can find.
You know where this is going.
The Weber Q2400 gets our vote as the best electric grill for tailgating.
Of course, if you can use gas, then there are a wide range of portable gas grills that would make great tailgating grills.
But if you’re confined to electric, then you’d best look long and hard at the Weber Q2400. Oh, and just get the cart. You’ll kick yourself the first time you try to use it on an actual tailgate.
Best Outdoor Electric Grill, Best Electric Grill for Camping AND Best Electric Grill for Tailgating? It’s a three-peat. For a reason.
Smokeless grill? Seriously?
Okay, not that serious, but a smokeless indoor grill is going to be exactly what you want when you’re looking to cook up some fine grilled meat.
Keep in mind, though, smokeless isn’t actually smokeless. More like reduced smoke than anything.
How does it work? Simple – what causes smoke on a grill? Fire.
Second? Moisture, meat and drippings hitting the heat source.
While some grills have exposed heating elements (looking at you, Mr. Q2400), smokeless grills will have heating elements that are protected by the grill surface itself.
As the food cooks, the moisture and drippings it creates are channeled through various means into a drip pan, which is then cleaned up after the meal is finished.
That’s the basics.
Some companies get fancy and try various methods to actually get a smokeless grill.
But truth be told, if you’ve gone to the trouble to get a relatively smokeless grill, you’ve probably already gone far enough. Most smokeless indoor electric grills will satisfy the average consumer.
For example, our best pick for indoor electric grill, the Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill does a great job, but like most indoor electric grills, it will produce a little smoke. Not a lot, a little. But it’s a stretch to call it smokeless.
Likewise the equally popular Livart Orange grill is a good choice if you want to do Asian style cooking (Japanese and Korean barbecue come to mind). Although, truth be told, the Zojirushi would work just as fine in this aspect.
But all these choices will smoke a certain amount. If you’re looking for a an indoor electric grill that can sear a steak yet produce the absolute minimal amount of smoke, you’re going to need the Philips HD6371/94 Indoor Smokeless Infrared Grill.
It’s unique heating element utilizes infrared technology to heat the grill rack to 446 degrees. The heating elements are out from under the grill and utilizing technology and a fair bit of wizardry (heat reflectors), the heat from the elements is redirected from the sides of the grill to the grill itself.
Underneath is a drip pan that, free from the heat associated with the heating elements, allows the fat and moisture to drip down without sizzling and burning.
Again, nothing is smokeless in the world of the grill. You’re cooking meat and there will be smoke in some form or another. But the Philips Indoor Smokeless Grill is about as close as your going to come unless you’ve got a ventilation unit.
But it comes at a price. It runs 3-6 times the prices of other indoor smokeless electric grills. But keep in mind, those grills are unlikely to sear a steak.
If you’re looking for a smokeless indoor electric grill and have a bit of coin to spend, the Philips HD6371/94 Indoor Smokeless Infrared grill is the one you should be looking at. Keep in mind that everything is going to smoke a little, plus the infrared cooking technology can take a little getting used to. Other than that, enjoy your grilling, oh indoor wizard.
Okay, the fine folks here at LTB are not scientists.
That said, infrared grills are a little unique in the world of grilling.
Essentially, with a regular grill, the hot gas or rising heat from the coals will cook the food on the grill.
However, with infrared cooking, it’s not that easy. What happens is the heat source (usually electric or gas) heats a metal or ceramic plate. The heat from that unit radiates up and cooks the meat.
But don’t think you can just plunk a piece of metal between the flame and the grill and you’re infrared. The science behind it means that not just heat, but heat in the infrared range of the spectrum is involved in the cooking as well.
Again, not scientists here. But with more and more companies coming out with infrared grills, there’s got to be something to it. We’ve tried infrared grills with varying levels of success and are intrigued. Some of our friends swear by infrared cooking.
Thus comes the Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Patio Bistro Electric Grill.
At 240 sq inches, it has a little less primary grilling space than the venerable Weber Q 2400. However the Charbroil adds in an 80 sq inch warming rack.
The lid is highly domed, allowing you to possibly stuff something birdish or at least decent sized under it.
If you don’t like or need the stand, Charbroil offers a tabletop version called the Char-Broil TRU Infrared Patio Bistro 180 Electric Grill. There’s another version of the standard Patio Bistro that has dual folding side shelves. And don’t forget the fact that most versions come in up to six different colors. Including a lovely Moss Green.
If you love infrared cooking or want to give it a shot, the CharBroil TRU infrared Patio Bistro is a good-looking, well-constructed grill that looks at home on most patios. It’s stylish and can cook decent food without the need for gas or open flames. But learning the ropes of cooking with infrared can take a little time and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
It’s a fair guess the majority of people looking to buy an electric grill are doing so because of their living situation. Many apartments or condos do not allow open flames or gas grills. But humankind’s love affair with grilled meat cannot be quelled.
Neither can humankind’s need to have nice-looking stuff.
Many of the electric grills leave a little something to be desired in the looks department. I’m not pointing fingers, but why design and sell something that looks like a grill sold back in the seventies? And no, we’re not talking about Webers here.
Luckily for the person who has a higher sense of design and asthetics, the Fire Magic E250s is available and it is one handsome looking stainless steel patio grill.
Now, we’ll get this out of the way up front – it’s not cheap. But Fire Magic makes decent grills, and you wouldn’t want a cheap stainless steel grill anyway. Cheap stainless steel may be stainless steel, but it’s also cheap and unlikely to last very long without a lot of babying.
Not so the Fire Magic E250s. The wide base provides a fair measure of stability, much greater than a number of electric grills on the market today. The pedestal is well-constructed, looks nice and isn’t cheesy.
But all that doesn’t matter if it doesn’t do the deed of grilling. Which the Fire Magic does. How does 725 degrees of firey goodness under the hood sound? Sounds hotter than a…well, make up your own joke here, but it’s hot.
One drawback? Like most electric grills, the Fire Magic E250s has one burner. Meaning turning off part of the grill to get some convection heating going is unlikely to happen. Okay, it’s not going to happen. If you don’t mind grilling everything with direct heat, then you’re golden. Otherwise, you might want to think twice. Especially since this grill isn’t anywhere close to cheap.
And should you ever need, there is a rotisserie attachment available, as well as replacement pedestal and shelves set. Which, while I hope none of my readers will ever need, is nice to know is there.
Expensive grill, but gobs of gorgeous stainless steel so you can leave it outside without stressing too much. Just don’t think stainless steel is magical – it will rust if you neglect it too much.
As you can see, there are lots of situations where one can use an electric grill: camping, patio, indoors, general grilling, etc. There’s no one grill that can be perfect for each and every situation one can find themselves needing an electric grill in. That being said, if we had to choose one electric grill to recommend over every other grill, our top pick would be…
Come on, you had to see that coming.
Coupled with the cart, the Weber makes an excellent all-around grill for the times when you need an electric grill. It isn’t as pretty as the Fire Magic, isn’t as portable as the Cuisinart and it sure ain’t as smokeless as the Philips. But for an electric grill, it’s probably as close to perfect for most situations as you can get. Sure, it’s a little on the spendy side. But here, you really are getting what you are paying for.
PS – Not sold on the idea of an Electric Grill? Got a little more flexibility in your cooking dictates? Still looking for something compact? Check out these posts:
You just might find the awesomest grill for what you need.