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Are you longing for a cheeseburger on the grill? Or have a yearning for grilled veggies? What if it's winter and snowing, or you don't have room for an outdoor grill? Then grab the next best thing—an indoor grill or sandwich press.
These appliances come in many sizes and offer options such as sensor technology, opening up flat or cooking as a grill on one side and a griddle on the other, and steaming and searing. Some you can even use to broil or cook in the oven. There are many different types of these gadgets, so we researched and tested top options for you.
Here are the best indoor grills and sandwich presses.
Best Overall: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Nonstick cooking surface
Cooking plates are removable and dishwasher safe
Bottom plate heats more than the top
Drip tray easy to forget when cleaning
A bit small for a large family
The Cuisinart Griddler is a multi-use machine. The grill plates are reversible, with a flat cooking surface on one side and a ridged cooking surface on the reverse side, so you can use it as either a panini press or a contact grill. But that's not the end of its versatility. The hinge adjusts for thicker or thinner foods, and it also opens completely, so the cooking surfaces are flat, perfect for cooking pancakes or any foods where you want to avoid any chance of steaming.
You can also use the Griddler with a flat surface on one side and a ridged surface on the other, so you can cook eggs on the griddle and sausages on the grill. The center dial can be set for grill cooking, griddle cooking, or to turn off the machine. The griddle knob lets you set specific temperatures, while the grill/panini dial has low, medium, high, and sear settings. The plates are removable and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Optional waffle plates are available for purchase, so you can also make Belgian waffles with this appliance.
Power: 1,500 watts | Material: Aluminum plates with nonstick coating | Cooking Surface Dimensions: 13 x 9 inches | Overall Dimensions: 13.5 x 11.5 x 7.12 inches | Warranty: 3 year limited
Runner-Up, Best Overall: T-fal GC702 OptiGrill Stainless Steel Electric Grill
Automatically cooks food to temperature
Efficiently drains liquids
Cooking plates are nonstick and dishwasher safe
Heavy top can smash softer foods
Plates are not reversible
Food on bottom doesn't always brown
One complaint about contact grills is that it can be hard to tell when the food is done. Either you keep opening the grill to check the doneness, or you set a timer and cross your fingers. The T-fal OptiGrill is designed to take some of that guesswork out of the equation with sensor technology that tells you when the food is cooked to perfection. You simply choose the type of food you're grilling (burger, poultry, sandwich, sausage, red meat, or fish) and let the grill do the work.
There is also a setting for cooking frozen food as well as a manual option for cooking your food without letting the grill call the shots. Cleanup is easy since the grill plates are removable and dishwasher-safe. There are two models with the same functions, with one that makes four servings and a larger one that makes eight servings.
Power: 1,800 watts | Material: Nonstick-coated aluminum grilling plates | Cooking Surface Dimensions: 30 x 20 centimeters | Overall Dimensions: 13.5 x 11.5 x 7.12 inches | Warranty: Limited lifetime
Best Large Grill Pan: Lodge Pro-Grid Reversible Grill/Griddle
Easy to store
Can be used on an outdoor grill
Reversible for griddle and grill cooking surfaces
Heating ability depends on the stove
Cast iron requires special care
When you need a large surface to grill, fry, or broil some food, a large grill pan is a wise investment. Keeping a large grill pan around can make home cooking much easier when you need to prepare a lot of cooked food in a single setting. The Lodge LPGI3 Cast Iron Grill is the best product to choose for this purpose since it gives you two different cooking surfaces for the price of one.
Coming in at 20 inches by 10.44 inches, the rectangular grill pan has enough space for large slabs of meat or several small cuts to cook at once. The reversible design features a grilling surface on one side and a griddle surface on the other. Combined, the pan is great for searing, frying, grilling, broiling, and other high heat applications. Due to the heavy cast iron, however, it may not be suitable for some glass stovetops.
Material: Pre-seasoned cast iron | Cooking Surface Dimensions: 20 x 10.5 inches | Warranty: Limited lifetime
Best Budget: Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic Indoor Electric Nonstick Grill, 14" Round
Cooking plate and lid are dishwasher safe
Adjustable temperature controls
Can be used countertop or tableside
Cooking plate is not reversible
Nonstick coating prone to wear
If you want to keep costs down, this round grill can handle your burgers, chops, steaks, and vegetables easily. There's only one cooking surface, so this doesn't work as a contact grill, but there's a glass lid if you want to speed up cooking, do some steaming, or keep foods warm for serving.
The power cord is removable, so you can take the whole grill to the table for serving, and the grill plate is removable for cleaning. The heat settings are adjustable for cooking different foods. The plastic knob on the lid can be a little fragile, and the grill itself is not as sturdy as those at higher price points.
Power: 1,300 watts | Material: PFOA-free nonstick | Cooking Surface Dimensions: 12.5 inch diameter | Overall Dimensions: 16.5 x 17.5 inches | Warranty: 1 year
Best Small Grill Pan: Cuisinart 9.25" Enameled Square Grill Pan
Creates distinct grill marks
Oven-, broiler-, and dishwasher-safe
Handle gets very hot
Sometimes hard to clean by hand
If storage space is at a premium and you don't need to cover two burners at once, a single-burner grill pan can be a very good investment. While you can't grill both sides at once like you can in an electric sandwich press, you can use the pan on the stove or in the oven, and it's even safe under the broiler. At 9 1/4 inches square, this is big enough to cook four average burgers at the same time, finish a thick steak in the oven, or use for oven-roasting small chickens or roasts.
The pan has a porcelain-enameled interior that doesn't need to be seasoned, while the cast iron retains heat to give food the grill marks that look so good. The handle is nice and wide, so it's easy to hang onto, even when wearing thick oven mitts.
Material: Cast iron with porcelain enamel finish | Overall Dimensions: 9.25 x 9.25 x 1 inches | Warranty: Lifetime
Best Sandwich Press: Hamilton Beach Electric Panini Press Grill with Locking Lid
Locking lid lets you cook open-faced sandwiches
Cooking plates aren't reversible or removable
Not dishwasher safe
There is nothing quite like the taste of a sandwich made from a true sandwich press. From paninis to grill cheese sandwiches, the warmth and texture of a pressed sandwich tastes like something much more expensive than the individual ingredients you put on it. To get this high-quality taste, you need the right tool for the job: a great sandwich or panini press.
The Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker is a standout in the company's already impressive line of sandwich/panini presses. Due to its unique, cafe-style floating lid design, the press can apply heat and pressure evenly across both sides of the sandwich regardless of the thickness. The press can also be used for grilling other things like pizza and bruschetta. Folding up for easy storage, this is one press to bust out anytime you want a real grilled sandwich.
Power: 1,400 watts | Material: Nonstick coated | Cooking Surface Dimensions: 10 x 8 inches | Overall Dimensions: 4.53 x 12.6 x 12.3 inches | Warranty: 5 year limited
What to Look for in an Indoor Grill or Sandwich Press
Using an indoor grill can be handy, especially if you don't have an outdoor patio or grilling area. Depending on how many people you're cooking for, these gadgets come in small sizes that are perfect for one to two people or larger ones that can cook for up to five people. Storage space can be at a premium, so you should also decide where you are going to store one when not in use.
Versatility and Functionality
Some models are multi-use and can be used as both a panini press or grill. It's easy to see how the versatility of these types of models can be a plus. You can find ones that open flat to be used as a griddle, can be used to steam, or placed in the oven to cook or broil.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleanup of a grill pan or panini press can be made simple and easy with the options of removable grill plates and is dishwasher-safe. Grill pans with ridges can be harder to clean, and popping them into the dishwasher can be a game-changer, especially when you're short on time.
What can you cook on an indoor grill?
Indoor grills are great to cook everything from burgers, hotdogs, kabobs, corn on the cob, sliced veggies, steaks, pork chops, and more. You can cook just about anything you want, just don't expect to throw a slab of ribs on one.
What can you make in a panini press?
These presses are not just for paninis. Yes, they make delicious panini sandwiches, but you can make hash browns, crisp up some bacon, and cook quesadillas. They also work well for omelets and even burgers.
Does indoor grilling taste the same as outdoor grilling?
Nothing beats the taste of cooking on an outdoor grill. But this is a great secondary option for those moments when the weather isn't cooperating or if you don't have the capability or space to cook outdoors.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer who specializes in kitchenware. Gadgets are endlessly fascinating, and she's always on the lookout for the best tools available. Donna has been contributing recipes and product reviews to The Spruce Eats since July 2016.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, RDN, a home cook who happens to be a registered dietitian nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier.