Setting the kitchen on fire: best practices.
April 22, 2013 12:47 PM   Subscribe

A while ago I asked a question about stovetop grills. We didn't get one, but now we're considering an electric grill, which is what we had before and are comfortable with. Does anyone have a good recommendation for an countertop electric grill in the $25-75 range, preferably available on Amazon Prime? Are there any reasons why a stovetop would be Objectively Better than an electric (or vice-versa)?
posted by griphus to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have this Zojirushi, and use it all the time. Heats up quickly, is a pretty good size, and is $75. I've had it about 3 years with no problems. Does a mean hot dog, but I've made Korean BBQ on it and burgers, etc.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:56 PM on April 22, 2013

One advantage of a stovetop gas grill -- especially one that's meant to fit over the stove grates -- is that you can use it with one of those portable gas burners.

IOW, Korean BBQ in your backyard, no outlets required.
posted by notyou at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2013

The huge huge disadvantage of the vast majority of countertop electric grills/griddles is that they're nonstick, and therefore can't get hot enough to do what a grill is supposed to do-- grill (at least not without leaching toxins into your food). Without high heat it's a waste, IMO.

If you could get a cast iron or carbon steel one, you'd be set, but I've been looking for that. The closest I've come (other than a $400 commercial model) is a Swiss raclette.

For a smaller investment, you can get this reversible Lodge grill/griddle, put it over two burners, have it get ripping hot, stay hot, distribute heat evenly, etc etc.

If you just want portable flattop cooking and aren't planning to cook burgers or steaks (which really need high heat) or use metal tools to scrape those good bits up from the cooking surface, a nonstick will be fine. But even then, some of them heat unevenly or, worse yet, drain fat from the cooking surface.
posted by supercres at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to work at a kitchen store, and I would recommend a stovetop over an electric one any day and twice on Sunday.

The heating element in electric grills were frequently either too small (did not cover enough of the surface), produced hot spots (resulting in partially burned, partially raw kabobs) or simply never got hot enough (30 minutes later, please to be enjoying this one strip of chicken the size of a matchstick).

The nightmare of cleaning -- oh, the nightmare! Because you cannot submerge it, the routine was scraping the burned bits, and then some application of wet paper towels or gently pouring water while tilting it over a sink or gently sponging the mess away and then more paper towels and then drying. And then on to cleaning the cover. And the splatter guard (never big enough to contain splatter but big enough to be covered by grease and be terribly unwieldy in a sink). And the grease trap. Oh, and did you clean the outside cover? Did any grease spatter out onto the feet? Don't let the cord drop into the dirty dishwater!

And the storage space. The good ones store upright, but you better make sure it is totally dry and clean and in a dustfree place unless you want to see exactly where you did not clean it enough.

... so yes, I would recommend almost any stovetop over an electric. Supercres offers some excellent choices.
posted by hmo at 2:21 PM on April 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

This looks incredibly similar to our grill. This is our second one of this type, and I've also replaced the grill plates once due to being stupid.

We cook all steaks, chicken, etc on this, and for a while, were cooking chicken for 5 nights/week on it. We love it.

On the negative side, the grill timer has now stopped going off, so it has to be unplugged when you're done cooking, and you have to keep an eye on it, because it will no longer ding when done.

The grill plates are removable for cleaning.
posted by needlegrrl at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2013

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