Grilling outdoors with a charcoal or a gas grill is an excellent way to prepare a meal, but cooking outside isn’t always possible. Inclement weather can sideline an outdoor grill. And those who live in an apartment or a condo might not have the option to cook outdoors. In these cases, fortunately, smokeless indoor grills make it possible to grill inside right in the kitchen.
These electric smokeless grills are suitable for indoor use because they use an electric heating element that can heat a cooking surface to temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit without creating exhaust fumes or smoke. Some of them require the user to add water to built-in reservoirs in order to make them smokeless. Others have fans or unique patented systems that drive the smoke downward.
Unlike their larger cousins, indoor grills are small enough to sit on countertops and store in cabinets. Such countertop grills range from budget-priced single temperature models for one or two people to grills with smart cooking features that can create a meal for six or more.
With so many options, selecting the best indoor electric grill can be daunting. We tested the following models with an array of food items, ranging from proteins including steak and fish to vegetables such as brussels sprouts and asparagus, to see how they fared. We included common items, condiments, and sauces suited to a variety of diets, from vegan to gluten- and dairy-free to flexitarian, to see if they would produce smoke. And we explored every feature of the smokeless indoor grills, pressing sandwiches in folding grills and air-frying potatoes or roasting poultry under lids where warranted.
This guide explores the features to consider when shopping for smokeless indoor grills and includes some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: PowerXL Smokeless Grill Pro
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hamilton Beach Searing Grill with Lid Window
- UPGRADE PICK: GoWise USA 2-in-1 Smokeless Indoor Grill and Griddle
- BEST SMALL: George Foreman Indoor Grill and Panini Press
- BEST LARGE: Carl Schmidt Sohn Smokeless Indoor Grill
- BEST PRESS-STYLE: Cuisinart Griddler Elite
- BEST SMART GRILL: Ninja Foodi Smart XL Grill
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
Choosing the right size of grill with the right features at a price that stays under budget is crucial. Read on to learn more about the various sizes, options, and cooking features indoor grills offer.
Outdoor grills create smoke in part because of the fuel they burn, but also because they burn drippings that create smoke and char. For an indoor-use rating, a grill can’t produce the smoke that outdoor gas, charcoal, or wood-burning grills create. Smokeless indoor grills use electricity, which does not create fumes.
Whereas outdoor grills have open grates that allow the drippings to fall into the firebox, smokeless indoor grills have closed grates and direct drippings to a grease management system that prevents the grease from burning and creating smoke. Instead, they direct the grease to a removable tray.
Size and Cooking Surface
Smokeless indoor grills are much smaller than outdoor grills, so the user can easily store them in a cabinet when not in use. Indoor grills range in size from 40 square inches to as much as 135 square inches, which is considerably smaller than the 400 to 500 square inches the average outdoor grill offers. Unlike gas and charcoal grills, electric smokeless grills are limited by the 1,800 watts a standard 120-volt outlet can supply, which is only enough to evenly heat a surface area of around 100 square inches.
The cooking surface affects the overall size of the grill, which is important to consider when determining where the grill will live when it’s not in use, as well as how much valuable counter space it will occupy when in use. Most indoor countertop grills measure about 20 inches wide and 12 inches deep.
Temperature Control and Range
Electric smokeless grills vary in the types of temperature controls they have. Lower-end models may only have one of two temperature options, while higher-end models can have many. Smokeless indoor grills with a broad range of temperature options have knobs or digital controls that allow the user to set the grill surface to a specific temperature.
Smokeless indoor grills can cook at a wide range of temperatures ranging from as low as 200 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Similar to outdoor grills, most smokeless indoor grills feature lids. Lid styles include tempered-glass models that are similar to those found on kitchen pots and pans. Glass lids allow the chef to monitor the food without removing the lid. Some smokeless indoor grills use the same clamshell design that is standard on outdoor gas grills.
With their concave shape, these electric smokeless grills better circulate heat evenly throughout the grill chamber. This lid style also allows the user to open the lid more easily to turn the food. Press-style grills do not use lids. Instead, the “lid” side of the grill consists of a second burner that presses down on the top of the food, grilling both sides of the food at the same time.
Smokeless indoor grills are designed to be easy to clean after the grilling is over. They have removable trays that catch the drippings, and most electric smokeless grills have components that break down into individual pieces, making it easier to clean when the grilling is over. The cooking grates or plates detach from the grill body, so they can be cleaned in the sink or even placed in the dishwasher.
Smokeless indoor grills range from affordably priced single-temperature models to expensive high-end models that are loaded with extras that make them more versatile. These additional features include interchangeable griddle and grate cooking plates and “smart” settings that can automatically grill food to a preset temperature. Some high-end models function as more than just a grill, with air-frying, roasting, baking, and even dehydrating functions.
Our Top Picks
We tested the following electric smokeless grills extensively with a range of foods that suit a variety of diets. We used every feature of the grills, assessing them for ease of use, how long it took to learn their features, weight, portability, how difficult they were to clean and store, price point, size of cooking area, and even the length of the cord. Using these factors, the list below offers some of the best indoor electric grills on the market. It includes both affordable and high-end electric smokeless grill models of varying sizes, all of which are safe for use indoors.
While the PowerXL Smokeless Grill doesn’t duplicate the feel of an outdoor grill, it comes close, making it a worthy choice for those looking for an indoor grill experience that mimics their backyard barbecue. The grill consists of a cooking grate that is recessed into a rectangular body. This design helps the grill generate ample heat for searing a brown char on meat while also creating space for heat circulation when covered.
The clear glass lid differs from a standard barbecue, but it allows cooks to monitor the food without having to crack the lid. We found this helpful when cooking food like fish because it traps the aromas, allowing the user to open it only once or twice near a window or oven fan. It also has its own fan, keeping the whole appliance from overheating.
A drip tray that slides out from the bottom made post-barbecue cleanup relatively easy. With its 108 square inches of cooking surface, the grill is large enough to cook three steaks or a half dozen burgers while remaining small enough to store in a kitchen cabinet. Two cooking surfaces—a griddle and grill grate—add versatility, making the PowerXL both a traditional and a flat-top grill ideal for families or hosts who like to throw parties.
- Cooking surface: 108 square inches
- Dimensions: 19.8 inches long by 11.9 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Clear tempered-glass lid keeps odors in
- Grease management system
- Interchangeable plates are easy to clean
- Pricey compared to other indoor grills
- You have to add water for it to become smokeless
- Short cord
Get the PowerXL smokeless indoor grill on Amazon or at Bed Bath & Beyond.
At a price that’s more affordable than other smokeless electric grills, it’s tough to beat the value of this model from Hamilton Beach. The grill surface gets hot enough to sear steaks. And, with its 118-square inch size, it’s large enough to cook a couple of steaks, six good-size hamburgers, a pair of fish fillets, or a dozen asparagus. While it may be difficult to cook an entire meal on it, we were able to cook a main course for a group of people.
A large concave lid does a better job of mimicking that of a larger outdoor grill than the more expensive models that use glass lids. The lid’s concave shape better circulates hot air while its hinged design and a handle that covers the entire length, which made it easy for us to open and close when turning food. It also features a viewing window so that we could see our food cooking without needing to open it. A large knob on the front of the unit adjusts the heat, and an extra-large drip tray does a great job of managing greasy barbecuing tasks.
- Cooking surface: 118 square inches
- Dimensions: 16.73 inches long by 12.4 inches wide by 6.81 inches deep
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Affordably priced
- Broad cooking surface for the money
- Large grill-style lid with viewing window
- Ample grease tray
- No specific temperatures on controls
- Short cord
Get the Hamilton Beach smokeless indoor grill on Amazon or at Target.
The GoWise USA smokeless grill features two 14.5-inch-by-9.75-inch cooking surfaces, perfect for family meals. The grill heats up to 482 degrees Fahrenheit using powerful convection elements that give food an authentic barbecue taste.
The two interchangeable griddle and grill plates allow a variety of foods to be prepared, including pancakes, eggs, steak, and burgers. It’s also great for fare that requires browning on the outside and quick heating in the middle like quesadillas or grilled cheese. We liked that the griddle is equally useful for a variety of sauteed and stir-fried dishes ranging from rice to proteins and/or veggies that get stuffed into pita bread. We also found it convenient to keep one plate ready to go with raw ingredients while other items were already being cooked. That said, we had to be careful about removing one cooking plate and replacing it with the other as their small metal handles do get hot.
To keep the air clean and the grill “smokeless,” we added water to the bottom of the drip tray, which is cooled by a rather loud built-in fan during cooking. The fat and grease from the cooking surface above drop into the cooled liquid, neutralizing any smoke. The grill, griddle, and drip tray are removable and dishwasher-safe, while its slim profile makes it easy to store when not in use.
- Cooking surface: 141 square inches
- Dimensions: 21.5 inches long by 14 inches wide by 5 inches deep
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Interchangeable grill/griddle
- Comes with recipe book
- Heats to 482 degrees Fahrenheit
- Handles on grill/griddle aren’t cool-touch
- Heat control knob doesn’t display temperature
- Fan is louder than expected
Get the GoWise smokeless indoor grill and griddle on Amazon or Wayfair.
This classic countertop electric grill can hold two burger patties, and it heats up quickly, offering a quick, easy, and affordable way to cut fat and avoid char. It cooks most foods in 10 minutes or less.
Always being improved, this more recent model has a lower profile, taking up 34 percent less space than the original version. And while it’s sleeker and slimmer, it’s now also three times as tough. The nonstick coating on the grill plates is also free of PFOA.
The grill is equipped with a cool-touch handle at the front. An indicator light on the top of the grill enables users to see when the grill is on or off. It weighs only a bit more than 3 pounds and has just enough cooking space to prepare a meal for one or two people. We experimented with setting the legs on an angle to let grease slide out, or set it flat to make it into a panini press. We also adjusted the hinge to account for thicker steaks, burgers, fish, and chops. In the end, we appreciated how these newer features increase the versatility of the traditional George Foreman, but the size limitations remain. This is one grill we won’t be using to cook for a crowd.
- Cooking surface: 78.75 square inches
- Dimensions: 10.49 inches long by 3.1 inches wide by 7.53 inches deep
- Weight: 3.63 pounds
- Adjustable 1-inch hinge for thicker steaks or veggies
- Adjustable grilling angle and hinged legs for grease runoff
- Space-saving design so you can leave it out
- Small cooking surface
- No temperature control
- No presets or timers
Get the George Foreman smokeless indoor grill on Amazon or Target.
The compromise with countertop grills is their comparatively small cooking surfaces, which typically hover around 100 square inches. Carl Schmidt Sohn expands those parameters with an indoor smokeless electric grill that boasts 135 square inches of cooking surface divided into a grill and a griddle. And, while other large indoor grills lack lids, Carl Schmidt Sohn’s sports a large tempered-glass lid, so it can roast, bake, and dehydrate as well as grill. This product is a good choice for a family that relies on a versatile appliance for quick weeknight meals like roasted chicken or grilled kebabs as well as more elaborate or fun items during the weekend.
Simple controls allowed us to easily adjust the grill’s temperature and fan-powered smoke control system. We found it easy to clean thanks to a construction that breaks down into individual parts. Keep in mind that its large cooking surface also makes this one of the larger grills on the market, at 21.3 inches long and 15 inches wide, so make sure there is plenty of free space on the counter.
However, that large grilling surface means that users can also cook a whole pork loin or an entire head-on fish, if they so choose. While the glass lid makes it less portable than other grills to take to a campsite, it would also be perfectly at home in an RV, should there be room for it.
- Cooking surface: 135 square inches
- Dimensions: 21.3 inches long by 15 inches wide by 8.7 inches deep
- Weight: 15 pounds
- Broad cooking surface
- Both grill and griddle sides
- Clear tempered-glass lid
- Has a large footprint
- The glass lid makes it less portable than other grills
- Large size makes it hard to store
Get the Carl Schmidt Sohn smokeless indoor grill on Amazon.
Press-style grills eliminate the need to periodically turn food by grilling both sides at the same time. Of this grill type, the Griddler Elite from Cuisinart is one of the best, combining durable stainless steel construction with a versatile design. Functional and practical, it’s useful for anyone, be it a college student in their first apartment, a family, or empty-nesters.
It comes with two sets of plates that allow it to function as a mix-and-match set: contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, half grill/half griddle, and top melt. Unlike other press-style grills, the Griddler’s top has three preset heights, which gives it the unique ability to top-broil food like a veal chop or portobello mushroom without crushing it. Users can simultaneously heat the top and bottom to cook a steak, fish fillet, or burger. It’s also easy to lay it flat to maximize griddle space for a rasher of bacon or sunnyside eggs. We found it was easy to keep highly flavored items like sauteed onions and peppers on one side and sweet pastries or pancakes on the other.
With its mix of digital controls and analog knobs, the Griddler allowed us to easily toggle between cooking functions with an LED display that clearly shows temperature and function.
- Cooking surface: 120 square inches (240 when flat)
- Dimensions: 14.65 inches long by 16.22 inches wide by 8.11 inches deep
- Weight: 16.84 pounds
- Interchangeable plates are dishwasher-safe
- 3 cooking functions
- Height-adjustable top prevents food from being crushed
- Relatively expensive
- Small grease tray
Get the Cuisinart smokeless indoor grill at Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond.
It’s hard to see the term “smart” without thinking of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and smartphones, but that’s not what the term refers to when it comes to indoor smokeless electric grills. Instead, it represents the Ninja’s ability to automatically cook food to the desired doneness, eliminating any guesswork by the chef.
The Foodi uses a Smart Cook System that includes an integrated meat thermometer and four protein settings to cook to nine customizable doneness levels, ranging from rare to well done, all of which are controlled via a digital pad on the front of the unit. In addition to this smart function, this countertop grill boasts other attractive features, including its ability to air-fry, bake, roast, broil, and dehydrate food.
To make all of this happen, the convection temperature goes up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the highest temperatures we’ve seen for indoor grills. This is an attractive component especially when we wanted to get a sear on a steak or a crisp skin on fish, something we’ve found hard to do with other indoor grills. At the same time, we found the smoke control system kept the smolder in the depths of the appliance and out of the air, although aromas naturally escaped. The extra-large cooking surface and 4-quart fry basket are also helpful, making this a useful piece of equipment for a family that’s looking to consolidate several appliances into one.
The downside is that six appliances in one makes for a heavy, awkward machine to store that has a lot of moving parts to clean and/or keep in cupboards. But if it’s a user’s only appliance, it may well be worth it.
- Cooking surface: 108 square inches
- Dimensions: 15.75 inches long by 16.5 inches wide by 11.1 inches tall
- Weight: 22 pounds
- Automatically cooks food to the desired temperature
- 6 cooking functions with 9 customizable settings
- High 500-degree Fahrenheit temperature
- Includes digital thermometer for precision cooking
- A lot to clean and hard to store
- Heavy and can be noisy
Get the Ninja smokeless indoor grill at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Target.
Overall, we loved the PowerXL smokeless indoor grill for its versatility, its ease of setup and cleanup, and its large cooking surface. For a budget version, we also recommend the Hamilton Beach smokeless indoor grill. Both provide an indoor grill experience that mimics the experience of grilling outdoors—but without the smoke.
How We Chose the Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
We tested each grill with a variety of protein, vegetable, and other typical barbecue products, examining each feature. We gave these elements scores ranging from one to four, with four being the highest. Factors included temperature, amount of cooking surface, ease of setup and cleanup, durability, portability, storability, cord length, and price. We also reviewed customer satisfaction with both product and service and considered the learning curve for each appliance.
The Advantages of Owning the Best Smokeless Indoor Grill
Those living in an apartment with no means of grilling outdoors or looking for a way to continue grilling when the weather outside is frightful will find plenty of reasons to own a smokeless indoor grill. First and foremost, it allows a cook to grill inside while still taking advantage of all that a full kitchen has to offer. Electric smokeless grills might not have the max temperatures offered by charcoal and gas models, but they allow for more precise temperature control and cooking food to temperature easier. Smokeless indoor grills, with their grease-management systems, ability to break down into separate parts, and significantly smaller size, are easier to clean and maintain.
- Precise temperature controls
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Grill in the comfort of a full indoor kitchen
Tips for Using the Best Smokeless Indoor Grills
There are a few tips to keep in mind when using a smokeless indoor grill. As with outdoor grills, give the grill some time to preheat. Most electric smokeless grills take about 10 minutes to reach their full temperature. This is especially important for searing burgers or steaks. Help reduce smoke by properly preparing your meat, fish, or vegetables. If the item is marinated, remove excess marinade and small particles of herbs or garlic, all of which will burn at lower temperatures, creating smoke.
Ventilate the kitchen and turn on your range’s fan to circulate air. When grilling, resist the urge to fiddle with the items. Leave steaks, chops, burgers, fish, and plant-based proteins alone for the recommended time on each side to ensure you get those perfect grill marks. It’s much easier to remove charred food when the grill is hot versus when it’s cold. Make cleanup easier by scraping the grill grates with a brush while the grill is still hot.
Finally, don’t forget to read the directions and follow them to ensure you’re using your electric smokeless grill properly. Many of them require you to fill a well with water that traps the smoke before you begin.
- Preheat the grill before cooking
- Remove sugary marinades that can burn at low temperatures
- Ventilate kitchen
- Give food time to cook before turning
If you’re wondering just how smokeless an indoor grill is or if you can take a smokeless indoor grill outdoors, then read on for answers to these and other commonly asked questions about these handy appliances.
Q. Are smokeless indoor grills completely smokeless?
While smokeless indoor grills will produce far less smoke than a charcoal or even gas grill, they will produce some exhaust fumes. Just as cooking at high temperatures on a range with a frying pan will produce smoke, so too will an indoor grill. Indoor grills will produce the most smoke when they are being used to sear meat.
Q. Can I use a smokeless indoor grill outdoors?
Yes. It is safe to use a smokeless indoor grill outdoors but only in dry weather. Since indoor grills use electricity for power, they can short out or even create an electrocution hazard if exposed to water. Use your electric smokeless grill outside in good weather, then bring it back inside immediately afterward to store.
Q. Can smokeless indoor grills get hot enough to grill burgers?
Yes. In fact, some smokeless indoor grills can reach a temperature of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty of heat to grill a burger.
Q. How do I clean my smokeless indoor grill?
Luckily, smokeless indoor grills are much easier to clean than an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Wait for the grill to cool, then remove the grill plates. Clean the grill plates by hand in the sink. Empty the grease tray in a trash can, then rinse and clean it in the sink as well. With the plates removed, wipe out the interior and exterior of the grill with a damp cloth or sponge. Many of the grill plates and drip trays are dishwasher-safe, but you should read the directions to find out before you put them into a dishwasher. Nonstick surfaces on grill plates also last longer when you hand-wash them.
Q. How many hours can I keep my smokeless indoor grill on?
There are no limitations for how long you can keep a smokeless indoor grill on; however, it’s not a good idea to heat the grill for long periods with no food on it. Doing so can damage the grates or the griddle.