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. You’ll find a wide range of products like indoor grills, griddles, and sandwich and waffle makers at Best Buy. Each one is specially designed to give you delicious, grilled results that can help cut down on cleanup and make your meals healthier.

Table of contents

  1. What to consider when buying small cooking appliances
  2. Indoor grills & combination grills
  3. Griddles
  4. Electric skillets
  5. Sandwich makers and panini presses
  6. Waffle makers

What to consider when buying small cooking appliances

Indoor grills, griddles, and sandwich and waffle makers each serve a different culinary purpose. To choose the right one (or ones) for you and your family, make sure to consider how you plan on using your new appliance.

1. How many people are you cooking for?

The size of the electric indoor grill, waffle maker, or other appliance that you’re planning to purchase should correspond with your needs. For 1-2 people, a compact breakfast griddle is great; for 4 or 5, you might want something larger.

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. To get a general idea of what to look for, consider that an average dinner plate measures about 10.5 inches (or 27 cm). So, if you’re purchasing a griddle for 1-2 people, you’ll want something with about that much space on it. However, if you routinely griddle for groups of 5-10 (or even more), you’ll want to go much larger if you can. When cooking in very large quantities, a standalone griddle or a gas range with a built-in griddle can help save you time.

For a sandwich maker or waffle maker, the cooking surface typically offers space for 1-4 sandwiches or waffles, as described in the product name. Common sizes for waffle makers are 2 waffles or 4 waffles.

Cuisinart vertical waffle maker

2. Where are you storing your 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? If not, where are you going to store it?

Some indoor grills and other small appliances come in easy-to-store versions that tip upright during or after use. These are perfect for smaller kitchens. Look to brands like Ninja and Cuisinart for a small selection of high-quality, easy-to-store appliances.

3. Non-stick versus stainless steel and cast iron surfaces

Depending on the appliance you’re looking for, you’ll find cooking surfaces finished in materials like stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, and Teflon. All of these surfaces can create a non-stick experience, but traditional materials like stainless steel and cast iron need more care and preparation to do so. They often need to be seasoned at home, cleaned gently, and brought up to a certain temperature to re-season before use.

For a non-stick experience right out of the box, look for products with a non-stick finish. Non-stick finishes are make cleaning easy, and are especially important for delicate breakfast foods like waffles and eggs.

Hamilton Beach indoor grill

4. What features should I look for in an indoor grill?

As with any appliance, grills, griddles, sandwich and waffle makers are available in a wide range of styles. Standard models are great for entry-level and occasional users. They’re easy to cook with for the first time and tend to be smaller than their deluxe counterparts, which is really handy for storage. Because they’re so simple to cook with and store, basic appliance models also make great gifts for young newlyweds and the newly moved-out.

If you have a small appliance that you really love, however, looking for something with extra features can enhance your cooking experience. Whether you’re looking for smart features, instant heating times, or dishwasher-safe surfaces, you can customize your appliance selection to fit your lifestyle best.

5. Small appliance safety in the kitchen

As indoor grills, griddles, sandwich makers, and waffle makers grill at high temperatures, it’s always a good idea to think about kitchen safety. Features like locking lids and top plates help keep kids and pets safer from hot surfaces in the kitchen. As appliances get larger (and hotter), you may be able to find child locking features as well.

As a general rule, try to keep all cords tucked up on top of the countertop. This helps prevent small appliances from being accidentally tugged off the countertop. It’s especially important while your appliances are in use, but can still apply when they’re hot or drying.

Indoor grills & combination grills 

Ninja Foodi 5 in 1

An indoor electric grill is essentially a large cooking surface made up of a heated, ridged plate (or plates). These ridged grills are meant to mimic cooking outside with a barbecue, but are sometimes called “smokeless barbecues” because of their modified cooking method.

The main advantage of using an indoor grill is that you can cook multiple foods all at once on a larger surface. There’s only one grilling surface to clean when you finish, and the entire surface can be used to heat food. Like a barbecue, indoor grills cook food quickly and at a high temperature.

Ninja indoor grill

Unlike a barbecue, however, an indoor grill’s controls allow you to set temperatures precisely. On basic models, you can set your grill to low, medium, and high intervals. On higher-end ones, you can digitally set your grill to an exact temperature. You also don’t need to worry about hooking your electric grill up to propane or gas, and you can clean your entire exposed surface in the sink. Electric grills don’t provide the same smokiness as a barbecue, but are significantly easier to use and clean.

As an added bonus, many electric indoor grill models are designed to drain away fat during cooking. Grills are ideal for larger cuts of meat, fish, poultry, sausages that will drain off easily into a drip tray. They’re also great for whole vegetables like corn on the cob.

Indoor grills allow you to cook in any weather from the cozy comfort of your kitchen. They’re great for making delicious summer dinners, juicy steaks, and mouthwatering vegetables. To get the most out of your indoor grill, look for multi-way models that allow you to grill, griddle, air fry, and more.


Wolf gourmet griddle

Similar to grills, griddles also offer a large, flat cooking surface. However, griddles have smooth surfaces or interchangeable plates. Here’s why that makes a difference when compared to a grill’s raised edges.

Griddles transfer heat from the entire metal surface to the food. As a result, they cook and brown evenly. Grilling uses higher temperatures than griddle cooking. The heat transfers through the metal of the grill grate, which browns or burns the food at the point of contact. The result of a griddle is an even sear, while the result of a grill is a well-drained dish with grill marks.

While grills are typically used to grill meat, griddles are mostly used for cooking up breakfast foods. Their smooth surface is great for evenly looking items like pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and scrambled eggs.

For more versatility in the kitchen, look for an indoor griddle with interchangeable grill/griddle plates. Enhance your experience even further with a drip tray and/or domed glass lid to cook less fatty foods.

How to clean your indoor grills and griddles 

To get the most out of your cooking surfaces, make sure to use and clean them as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. While grills and griddles made from cast iron and stainless steel can be re-seasoned to improve use, non-stick coatings like Teflon can easily be chipped off by improper cleaning and will need to be replaced entirely.

It’s important to clean your small appliances after every use. For some products, that means wiping them down with a damp cloth once the cooking surface has cooled. For others, that means scrubbing out every nook and cranny.

Pay attention to which products have removable surfaces and whether those surfaces are dishwasher-safe. With proper care and maintenance, your grills, griddles, and waffle makers should last for years.

Electric skillets

Curtis Stone electric skillet

An electric skillet is just like an ordinary skillet—but supersized. Instead of using it on the stove top with a burner that heats the skillet, you simply plug an electric skillet into the wall. The skillet will heat up on its own, providing an even heat that can run for hours.

An electric skillet can hold a steady temperature better than a pan on the stove. So, they’re very good for things like frying doughnuts (or frying anything, really). But they’re not limited to frying: electric skillets are great for everything from meats to soups. They can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes, and create extra cooking space for busy days when your stovetop burners are already full. You can even use a low-temperature electric skillet for an at-home hot pot!

To upgrade your electric skillet game, look for skillets with a glass lid or adjustable steam vent. You may also want a model with heat-resistant handles, or a model with a dishwasher-friendly dish.

Sandwich makers and panini presses

Sandwich press

As one of the most basic small appliances in the indoor grill category, sandwich makers are most similar to a traditional grill. However, they are specially designed for toasting and warming sandwiches. Just place a sandwich inside, power on the sandwich maker, and wait for your toasted results.

Hamilton Beach waffle maker flip

You can find sandwich makers in the form of smooth and ridged panini presses, grills with upper grilling surfaces, and triangle-press pocket sandwich makers. For perfect results every time, look for a sandwich maker with pre-set heating and toasting settings that are easy to use.

Due to their relatively small footprint, sandwich makers are popular for college dorms and smaller kitchens where space is an issue and open hot plates are not allowed.

For more versatility in your sandwich maker, opt for a panini press, which is weighted from the top to “press” your sandwich. Panini presses and combination grills are better at making a wide range of dishes, and can frequently be used both with and without the press.

Waffle makers

Cuisinart Belgian Waffle Maker with Pancake Plate

Similar to a sandwich maker, a waffle maker is an electrical kitchen appliance with a specialized function and an upper press. To use a waffle maker or waffle iron, simply plug in the maker and set its temperature (if needed). Once it heats up, pour in your waffle batter and wait 3-5 minutes for the batter to brown. You can find models that make classic-style rectangular waffles, deep-pocket Belgian waffles, or themed designs.

Waffle makers are typically capable of making between one, two, or four waffles at a time.

When purchasing a waffle maker, look for features like adjustable temperature and browning settings, removable plates, and non-stick finishes for the best results. Indicator lights or alerts can also be helpful, especially in a busy morning kitchen. Drip trays and vertical waffle makers help cut down on spillage, and a flip function can help cook waffles evenly for a delicious, crispy finish.

Take the next step

Hamilton Beach Indoor Searing Grill

If you’re ready to start grilling delicious dishes and breakfast foods at home, check out indoor grills, griddles, sandwich, and waffle makers online at Best Buy today.

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