indoor grills buying guide
When it comes to cooking and preparing delicious food indoors, there are a lot more options available to you than just using your simple oven or stove top. In fact, you’ll find a wide range of products, such as indoor grills, griddles, sandwich and waffle makers, that are specially designed to save you time, effort and cleanup when cooking, plus make your meals even healthier.

What to consider when buying indoor grills, griddles, sandwich & waffle makers

As these different handy kitchen appliances serve a variety of culinary uses, you will want to give some thought to a few things before even making a decision on which type of griddle or sandwich maker you want to buy.

How many people are you cooking for?

If the appliance you want to buy is for just you, all alone in your apartment, rather than a family of six, then the size of the griddle, grill, electric skillet or waffle maker will need to correspond accordingly.

To get a general idea of what to look for, consider an average dinner plate measures about 182cm. That is the recommended space per person on something like a grill, electric skillet or griddle. So, the number of dinner plates you can fit on a grill will determine roughly the number of people you can cook for at one time. For a sandwich maker or waffle maker, the cooking surface typically offers space for one to four sandwiches or waffles.

Where are you putting the grill or sandwich maker?

In addition to considering the number of people you wish to cook for at one given time, you also need to consider where the appliance will live when it is not in use. Do you have space on your kitchen counter for that large grill or sandwich maker? Where are you going to store it, if not? While keeping all this in mind, also consider that the larger your appliance is, the more expensive it will likely turn out to be, as well.

Non-stick surfaces make for easy cleanup

Depending on the particular appliance you are looking for, you will find cooking surfaces made of materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic, or coated with Teflon. Teflon-coated and ceramics offer a preferable non-stick cooking experience that makes cleaning up that much more quick and easy. A non-stick cooking surface is an essential feature you want to be looking for in your kitchen appliance, both for that ease of cleaning, and also so the food you prepare doesn’t stick and get shredded or torn, completely ruining the appearance and allure of the dish. Every good chef knows food is as much for the eyes as the palate.

Cleaning method

While a non-stick cooking surface does offer faster cleanups, your appliance still needs cleaning. You need to consider whether the appliance you want to purchase needs to be cleaned by hand, or are there parts that can go in the dishwasher? If you’re not big on hand-washing dishes, then you will want to ensure you find something with removable grill plates, or that can be placed completely in the dishwasher.

Do I need all those extra features?

As with any appliance, grills, griddles, sandwich and waffle makers are available in simple, standard models and there are models with a wide variety of extra features and functions. These features and functions range from temperature gauges and timers to offering smart home connectivity, different settings and the aforementioned ability to go in the dishwasher. Of course, more features usually equate to a more expensive appliance in the long run, so if you are on a budget, stick with a standard model without any bells and whistles.

Child safety in the kitchen

As indoor grills, griddles, sandwich and waffle makers all use heat to cook, it is always a good idea to think about protecting curious little fingers and hands from accidental burns in the kitchen. A good feature to look for if you have young children helping out with food preparation, or just hanging around the kitchen with you, is a model that offers a locking lid, or top plate. That way, questing hands stay safe from any heated cooking surface. A locking lid is especially preferable from a safety standpoint for electric skillets, for when you are carrying it to the dining room table, moving it around the kitchen, or even bringing food to someone’s house.

Indoor Grills

indoor grillAn indoor electric grill is essentially a flat cooking surface made up of a heated, ridged plate (or plates) that is meant to mimic cooking outside with a barbecue. The big advantage of using an indoor grill is that unlike when you are cooking on a stove top, you can cook multiple foods all at once on that larger surface. Unlike a barbecue, however, an indoor grill’s controls allow you to precisely set temperatures at low, medium or high. As an added bonus, you’ll have the benefit of doing some healthy, low-fat cooking since many electric indoor grill models are designed to drain away the fat from meat into a drip tray. Grills are generally used best for larger, robust cuts of meat, fish, poultry, sausages or whole vegetables such as corn on the cob. You also never have to check the weather report, because, with an indoor grill, you can always prepare all those barbecue-type meals right from the comfort of inside your kitchen. Some features you may want to consider include floating hinges for more versatility regarding size and thickness of whatever you are grilling, and having removable plates.

Griddles

Similar to grills (and the two terms are often confused), griddles also offer a larger, flat cooking surface on which to make food, however, griddles have smooth flat surfaces, while the grill has the distinctively raised ridges. Here’s why that makes a difference.

Griddles transfer heat from the entire metal surface to the food, cooking and browning evenly. Grilling uses higher temperatures than griddle cooking. The heat transfers through the metal of the grill grate absorbs and intensifies the heat, browning or burning at the point of contact, creating the grill marks we love so much on our hot dogs and steaks.

While grills are pretty synonymous with cooking meats, you will see griddles mostly used for cooking up breakfast, as they are great for preparing items such as pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and scrambled eggs.

Features you may want to consider when making an electric griddle purchase include whether you want a model that offers a glass lid to keep in heat or one that has the healthier benefit of a drip tray or overflow drain, so cooking something like bacon has way less fat. For someone who likes the best of both worlds, some griddle models feature removable and reversible plates so you can have both a grill and a griddle all in one.

Electric skillet

electric skilletAn electric skillet is just like using an ordinary skillet. However, instead of using it on the stove top with a burner that heats the skillet, you simply plug it into the wall, and the skillet will heat up on its own using electricity. An electric skillet’s advantage is that it can hold a steady temperature better than a pan on the stove. So, it’s very good for things like frying doughnuts (or frying anything, really), however, it is a really versatile kitchen appliance, and can prepare anything from meats to soups, and pancakes to all sorts of vegetable dishes. Electric skillets can be found in a variety of shapes (oval, square, rectangle) and size ranging from six to 10 or more inches.

Features you might want to consider in an electric skillet include having a glass lid, so you can keep an eye on your food without letting any heat escape, or having an adjustable steam vent so you can prevent boiling liquids from bubbling over the sides and all over your counter tops. You may also want a model with heat-resistant handles, so you won’t burn yourself if you inadvertently forget to don some protective hand covering before picking up the hot skillet. A dishwasher-friendly skillet is also very handy and convenient.

Sandwich makers

Usually one of the smaller and least expensive of these types of kitchen appliances, sandwich makers are similar to grills, however, they are specially designed for toasting and warming sandwiches. Just place a bread sandwich inside, power on and the hot plate will toast the sandwich. You can find a wide variety of sandwich makers, as stated previously, ranging from a one-piece to four-piece model. Usually, sandwich makers are very simple devices, and quite easy to use. Almost foolproof. Everything is automated, with the makers pre-heating and toasting temperature settings pre-set, so your healthy sandwich comes out perfect every time. Due to their relatively small footprint, these are popular for college dorms and smaller kitchens where space is an issue. But, these kitchen appliances are limited in terms of what you can make.

More versatile is a special kind of sandwich maker called a panini press. A panini press is essentially a small weighted grill. It grills your sandwich, giving it those much-wanted grill lines on the surface. However, with a panini press, you can not only make sandwiches, but you can also grill meats, fish, vegetables and even fruits. Therefore, it’s ideal if you want to try out a wider range of grilled sandwich and even non-sandwich recipes. Panini presses are also known for their ability to accommodate larger sized sandwiches.

Waffle makers

Similar to a sandwich maker, a waffle maker is an electrical kitchen appliance that lets you make a variety of waffles at home. Simply plug in the maker, set the temperature, pour in your waffle batter and wait about three or four minutes for the batter to brown. You will find models that make classic-style waffles, Belgian waffles, and even some that make your waffles in funky designs or the shape of movie characters. Usually, waffle makers are capable of making between one and four waffles at a time.

Some things you may want to consider when purchasing a waffle maker include adjustable browning settings, removable plates, and especially non-stick baking plates. You may want to look for one with indicator lights or alerts when the waffle is ready, in case you tend to burn things or aren’t attentive in the kitchen. And, as waffle making can tend to be a bit of a messy affair, you may want to find a waffle maker that features a drip tray for spillage or even consider a vertical waffle maker that allows you to pour the batter in through a top spout while waffle the iron is closed. One special feature that certainly should be considered is the flip function. A lot of waffle makers make waffles where one side, the bottom side, is cooked quicker and more crispy than the top. This is simply due to gravity. Being able to flip over the waffle iron allows both sides of the waffle to cook evenly, giving you a perfect crispy waffle every time.

Take the next step and find the right indoor grill, sandwich or waffle maker

Now that you are armed with a bit more information about indoor grills, griddles, sandwich and waffle makers, you can find just what you’re looking for online at Best Buy.