Indoor Grilling: For When Outside Just Isn't an Option

Here's What You'll Need to Consider

Grilling jumbo shrimp.

 The Spruce

Before we even start, you can't use your outdoor grill inside, even in your garage. Charcoal and gas grills produce large amounts of carbon monoxide and even small amounts can kill you. This his might seem obvious, but every year a dozen people are killed using an outdoor grill inside. Indoor grilling must be done on a grill or grill pan designed for indoor grilling.

Myths

Having said that, it's time to dispel some of the myths about indoor grills and indoor grilling. First of all, unless you are using a gas powered (and vented) indoor grill, you won't really get close to the flavor of outdoor grilling in an indoor appliance. It's never going to be quite the same.

Second, indoor grills don't necessarily produce safer and healthier foods. While outdoor grills can. create cancer-causing substances if you are not careful, so can indoor grills. Any burning of fat causes these substances to form, so take care no matter how you grill.​

The last myth that needs to go once and for all is the whole notion that these indoor grilling machines make significant reductions in the amount of fat in foods. Certain contact grills have the words “lean, mean fat reducing” printed right on the top of them, but when Consumer Reports looked into the situation, they found “no significant” difference between pan frying and using the grill. If you think about the fact that pan frying is one of the least healthy ways to cook, then you really need to take these claims for what they are—a great way to sell appliances.

Types of Indoor Grills

Climbing down from the soapbox, let’s take a quick look at the types of indoor grills on the market. There are basically two types: the open grill and the folding contact grill. The open grill is similar in cooking style to an outdoor grill. These electric appliances have a heating element and a grill like cooking surface. While you have to flip foods to cook evenly the experience of grilling is much more authentic and the flavor is closer to the real thing. A good example of this type of grill is the Zojirushi EB-CC15 Indoor Electric Grill.

On the other hand, the Cuisinart Griddler GR-4 is basically a panini press, which is the origin of all the folding contact grills like the popular Foreman Grill. These have been popular in Europe for decades and are great for making sandwiches. Of course, they are really using the term grill as in grilled cheese sandwich. Not something you'd make on a full-sized gas grill, but these appliances are versatile. The advantage of a contact grill is that they cook on both sides simultaneously and require less attention from the cook.

Grill Pans

Relatively inexpensive and readily available, a grill pan is a great option for indoor grilling. The trick is to find one that has a lot of mass to it so that it can sear better and has high ridges (many grill pans are lightweight and have ridges that fail to lift food away from collecting grease), such as thr Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan. This is heavy, has high and wide ridges, and will last for years if it is properly cared for.

How to Grill Indoors

Now that we have the equipment straightened out let's look at the actual grilling. Just like outdoor grilling, indoor grilling requires attention from the cook. Don't walk away from the grill. Remember you are indoors now; all the smoke made from a fire or burning food isn't going to get carried away on the wind. To reduce fat and to reduce the smoke generated by your indoor grill trim excess fats from meats. The less fat the less burning, smoke, and of course, the less fat in the meal. Some open grills can let fat drippings get to heating elements. This can cause a fire though the risk is very small. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. It is also a good idea to use indoor grills near a kitchen vent or window.

So what can you grill on your indoor grill? Most anything you would outside. Indoor grills don't have the ability to drain liquids as well as outdoor grills and you don't want marinades running over your counter, so when grilling marinated meats allow them to drain first on a cooling rack. While you can baste on an indoor grill you need to do so sparingly. Lightly brush basting solutions on foods, careful not to spill. Other than that you really can cook most anything that will fit on your grill.