How to buy an indoor grill

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Published: 02nd November 2012
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Summer may be over, but that doesnít mean you have to give up the joy of grilling or that you have to limit it to those rare days when itís not raining or freezing. There are many high-quality indoor grills that will allow you to grill your chicken, burgers and steaks all year long.

The great thing about indoor grills is that you get the flexibility of multiple uses, even cooking surfaces and easy clean up.

Indoor grills come in many shapes and sizes. With a little bit of shopping you can find just the right grill for your needs. You can shop for a small, personal serving size or a larger, family-style size. Extras can include a grease catcher, griddle or a food warmer. Many elements are also dishwasher-safe.

There are two basic types of indoor grills. Contact grills have two plates that close over the food. You place the food on one place to cook from beneath and fold the other plate over the top. An open grill is just that, the heat rises from below and cooks the food simultaneously. A contact grill can be great for cooking paninis or other pressed sandwiches like grilled cheese. You can also find contact grills in more compact sizes which are great if youíre using only for one or two people or if kitchen space is limited.

An open grill will take up more space than a contact grill. Open grills are more like outdoor grills and can be used to cook a variety of different foods. You can use the open grill to create the traditional grill marks on your cuts of meat. Plus the open area allows you to prepare foods that might be difficult to prepare in contact grills. Generally youíll find a larger surface on an open grill and will be able to prepare larger quantities.

The best grills will have settings that allow you to adjust the heat. A lot of standard indoor grills donít provide heat control so youíre cooking with a single temperature. But if you plan to cook a variety of foods, having a variable temperature control will be beneficial.

As with anything, the more features you look for, the more you can expect to spend. So spend some time checking out models in the store, or reading up on the Internet and choose a model that has the features you need, but not a lot of extras that will raise your purchase price, but wonít add to your cooking convenience or enjoyment.

You can choose from a gas or electric model. That can be a personal preference depending on your safety concerns and cooking style.

While the size and general features may vary there are some other features youíll want to consider.

You need a manufacturerís warranty. Even the best of products can have flaws. So make sure you have the warranty and keep the receipt. Thatís just a good practice with any appliance you purchase.

Look for grills where the components are dishwasher safe. Aluminum or stainless steel surfaces will be more durable and easier to clean.

While you can certainly depend on your own recipes, donít overlook a cookbook for more ideas.

A light to let you know when the grill is hot (or still hot) is a helpful feature.

A cool touch handle will help you with easy moving and cleanup. And youíll want to think about how your grill needs to be cleaned. There are two surfaces to clean on a contact grill. But on an open grill there may be more crevices to clean, particularly if the cooking juices drain onto the heating elements and not into a tray for easier cleanup.

Next snowfall, fire up the indoor grill and enjoy your ďbackyardĒ barbecue from the comfort of your living room.

Lawrence Reaves writes for Hamilton Beach, a kitchen appliance company offering toaster ovens, indoor grills and blenders. Click here to take a look at their most popular products.

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