Electric Grills FAQ

Most people can wrap their heads around gas and charcoal grills, but electric grills? They’re a bit of a different story. To be fair, most of us got to tinker around with Mom and Dad’s old gas or charcoal grill in our youth, while electric apartment grills are relatively new inventions. And we’re not talking about George Foreman grills, either — as we’ll get into below, those do more steaming than actual grilling. Either way, we’ve assembled your most pressing questions about electric grills and griddles, and answered each of them so you can have a better understanding of these products as a whole. We touch on everything from smokiness and flavor to indoor use and power considerations, so plug in and get ready to learn.

Have a question we didn’t get to here? Our electric grill experts are standing by for just that reason, so give them a call at 1-877-743-2269 today!

How smoky does an electric grill get?


Electric grills and griddles generally produce less smoke than gas or charcoal grills because they operate with an electric heating element instead of an open flame like other fuels. However, smoke still occurs when food drippings fall onto the electric element and vaporize. It’s worth noting here that smoke is a natural byproduct of all grills and is actually desirable in moderation — it’s a big part of how vaporized fat imparts grilled flavor onto food, after all. A grill without smoke isn’t really much of a grill; it would be more of a steamer or griddle, which is closer to what George Foreman cookers are designed for (more on that below). In short, electric grills that permit some fat to drip onto the heating element and smoke tend to produce better-tasting food, so don’t be afraid of a few flavorful wisps.

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Can I use an electric grill indoors?


Most electric grills are rated for outdoor use only, so we wouldn’t recommend cooking indoors without carefully checking the owner’s manual first. Coyote electric grills are among the few models designed for indoor cooking as well, but the manufacturer strongly recommends they be used below a vent hood in such cases. This is a serious safety issue, so you should always consult the owner’s manual before attempting to use an electric grill indoors.

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How do I clean an electric grill?


These grills are actually extremely easy to clean. Their grill grates are small, and most are even dishwasher-safe. Many models include grease collection trays or other removable systems for simple disposal. As far as exterior cleaning goes, take the same approach as you would with any other grill — use the appropriate cleaner and wipe in the direction of the metal’s grain to avoid leaving any scratches.

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How long does it take to preheat an electric grill?


Preheat times will always depend on ambient temperature, but most electric grills for a balcony can hit grilling temperatures within 15–20 minutes. We always recommend leaving the lid down while preheating, but it’s doubly crucial with electric apartment grills. Their electric elements rapidly lose heat without a lid, especially if they’re on a standard outlet that has a strict power capacity.

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Can I use metal utensils on an electric grill?


It’s perfectly fine to use metal utensils, as long as you don’t get them near the electric grill element. Metal grilling tools will get hot if they’re near the heating element too long, and if an electrical short occurs, they could channel electricity into your body and cause electrocution. (Not fun.) Fortunately, electric grills are designed with the heating element below the cooking grate and sometimes even a heat diffuser, so you’d really have to work to get utensils anywhere near them.

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How long are electric grill cords? Can I use an extension cord?


Generally speaking, cords for electric grills aren’t much longer than 3 or 4 feet. We advise against using extension cords to increase distance because most aren’t designed to handle the amperage these grills require. In fact, nearly every model we carry should be operated only on a dedicated 15- or 20-amp circuit, meaning the grill must be the only appliance plugged in while in use. A handful of others require 220 volts and must be hardwired into a dedicated circuit. Failure to follow proper operating instructions will lead to longer preheat times, lower temperatures, and extended cooks. With that in mind, always consult your owner’s manual for power concerns before using an electric grill.

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Do electric grills use a standard household outlet?


Yes, most electric grills for balconies can draw power from a standard household outlet if they’re the only appliance plugged in while in use. A few require hardwiring, so be sure to check the owner’s manual before operation and even purchase. If using a standard outlet, you should keep the lid closed as much as possible; exposed heating elements lose heat at a rapid pace that 110-volt supplies simply can’t keep up with. Grilling with the lid down is less of a concern when pulling from a 220-volt outlet that pumps out much more power, but we’d still recommend it.

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Can I use an electric grill with my RV? Can I plug one into my car’s cigarette lighter?


Neither an RV nor a car can provide enough amperage from their own batteries to properly power an electric grill. However, an RV connected to an electrical grid via shore power should be able to appropriately fuel an electric grill.

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Are electric grills flame-free?


Though electric grills and griddles operate with a flame-free heat source, they aren’t totally flame-free in practice. The simple fact is fat burns — drippings that hit the radiant heating element will temporarily develop into a flame that sizzles out after a second or two and leaves a trail of smoke. We say that food exposed to these brief embers has been flame-kissed, which is actually quite desirable because it imparts smoky flavor with little risk. Contrast this with flare-ups: those pesky, sometimes uncontrollable flames that occur when pools of fat or oil ignite.

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Can I use wood chips with an electric grill?


In most cases, yes, it’s safe to use wood chips in a box or foil pocket inside an electric grill. If you intend to put wood chips in an electric grill, however, you should always soak them in water for about 30 minutes beforehand. You see, soaked wood chips can’t burn until they dehydrate, whereas dry wood chips will instantly catch fire when placed near a radiant heating element. Electric grills aren’t built to house open fires, which is why it’s important that wood chips smolder rather than instantly combust.

So, as long as they’ve been soaked, you can place the wood chips either below the heating element or between the element and the grill grates. Keep the grill closed when using wood chips — it’ll ensure the smoke circulates over your food, plus it’ll prevent the electric grill element from losing heat.

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Are electric grills dishwasher-safe?


The vast majority of our electric apartment grills have grates that are dishwasher-safe. Whether other components can be cleaned in a dishwasher will depend on the manufacturer, so check that owner’s manual for cleaning instructions.

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Are electric grills healthy?


Healthy eating is a relative term, but we can say electric grills and griddles are great for cooking more lean and delicate items like chicken, fish, and veggies. They also require less oil, making them comparable to an air fryer, oven, or George Foreman grill in terms of potential for healthier cooking.

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Can I grill steaks on an electric grill?


Absolutely! Electric grill elements have little trouble reaching steak-searing temperatures, as long as they’re plugged in a dedicated outlet with sufficient amperage. That being said, those same heating elements will quickly lose high temperatures if the lid is left open. It may seem counterintuitive to what you know about searing on gas or charcoal grills, but it’s always best to grill with the lid down as much as possible when using an electric model (especially if it’s plugged into a standard outlet).

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Can I use an electric grill on my countertop?


It depends what the countertop is made of and whether the grill manufacturer requires you to maintain clearances to combustibles (almost all of them do). As always, consult your owner’s manual before operating an electric grill on any surface.

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Can I cook with dual zones on an electric grill?


Only grills with 2 electric heating elements — such as the Weber Pulse grill, Kenyon All Seasons Texan grill, and certain Electri-Chef grills — are capable of dual-zone cooking.

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Can I use an electric grill for indirect cooking?


Only electric grills with 2 heating elements can be used for indirect cooking. Weber Pulse, Kenyon All Seasons Texan, and certain Electri-Chef grills feature 2 heating elements and can therefore achieve an indirect-cooking setup.

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Can I use my electric grill in the rain?


Electrical components should never be allowed to get wet, so we’d strongly advise against using an electric grill in the rain. Most manufacturers recommend the same thing, but it’s worth checking the owner’s manual to find your brand’s stance on the matter.

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Will an electric grill trip my breakers? Will it trip a ground fault interrupt?


Both scenarios are possible but would ultimately depend on the age of the breaker or GFCI outlet and the amount of power being pulled at once. Tripping would most likely occur when the outlet is pulling more power than it can handle, which should never be the case when you’re cooking on an electric apartment grill. (Remember, most models are designed to be the only appliance on a circuit when in use, and failure to do so leads to drastically reduced performance.) So, if an electric grill trips your breakers or GFCI outlets when on a dedicated circuit, that’s generally an indication that the power supply has aged to the point of needing replacement.

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How can you get a classic “grilled” flavor with an electric grill?


In truth, our experts have found that there’s not much you actually have to do besides grill like usual. There’ll be a slight difference in flavor, but you can often make up for it by safely adding wood chips to the grill. Another factor is the amount of juice present in the food you’re grilling, but by and large, it’s not difficult to achieve that classic grilled flavor on an electric grill.

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Are electric grills the same as George Foreman grills?


These two appliances are actually more different than you’d think at first glance. Electric grills are faithful reproductions of traditional grills — a cooking surface above a heat source with a lid that creates convective heat when closed — whereas George Foreman grills are more like a panini press or contact grill that steams food. With electric apartment grills, there’s also a slight chance of small and short-lived flames rising toward your food when drippings vaporize on the radiant element (this isn’t necessarily a drawback; it actually results in more smoky flavors). George Foreman grills, on the other hand, can never produce flames when used properly because they channel drippings out of the unit and into a drip tray. That’s the main reason George Foreman grills are approved for indoor use and most electric grills for an apartment or condo are not.

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