I love grilling outside, and using an electric grill has made the process so much easier for me.
Tracking Down a Great Outdoor Electric BBQ Grill
In some grilling circles, the word 'electric' is a cardinal sin. I don't see why! Today, there are some fantastic outdoor electric BBQ grills that cook both meat and veggies to perfection. They work well, they're low maintenance, and they produce great tasting food. What more could a person ask for?
While they definitely produce a different flavour quality than gas or (particularly) charcoal alternatives, the best electric barbecue grills can produce juicy, caramelized, seared-to-perfection meals. What's more, they have a real health benefit upside, and they'll save you hassle and money. Do I have your attention yet?
I have written this piece to go over a few of my favourite outdoor electric barbecue grills available today. I will talk about their various features, their upsides and potential downsides, and I'll even order them by price so you can pick out one that meets your budget. I hope it will be useful to anyone who can't use gas or charcoal for whatever reason.
Electric Grill vs. Flame: Which Is Better?
It's hard to convert people who have been using charcoal or gas their whole lives. You get used to a particular flavour, and it just doesn't taste the same without it. I'm not saying that electric is better, but it does, in fact, have some advantages. Here are a few:
A Healthy Way to Cook
- Many electric grills (like the George Forman) are designed to reduce the amount of fat. Leaner is generally a healthier way to go.
- Flame produces soot and carcinogens, especially if food gets charred. Reducing the intake of such harmful compounds is beneficial.
Many apartment buildings and condos have restrictions on barbecuing with an open flame. That rules out any gas or charcoal grill. If you don't want to risk the wrath of your strata, you can usually use an electric barbecue grill to get the best of both worlds.
Simpler Operation, Safety, and Cleaning
- Electric heat is usually a much safer way to cook. There's no flame or combustion, there are no pressurized fuel tanks, and other than the delicious scent of your food cooking, there are no fumes.
- Most electric BBQs can be easily broken down for cleaning, and they're often non-stick. They're also mechanically simple, making them light in weight and convenient in a pinch.
George Foreman: A Fantastic, Cheap Outdoor Electric Barbecue
The George Foreman Grill: That's right, the 'lean, mean, grilling machine' has come to your patio as well. In terms of price and what you get, this is one of the top electric patio BBQs around. It is small, convenient, powerful, and versatile. You'll probably be surprised how much you'll end up using it.
- First off, it features a full waist height stand that allows you to cook in comfort in any outdoor setting. It's about 2-1/2 feet high when standing on its pedestal, and it can be removed to sit on a countertop or outdoor table if you prefer that.
- One of the nicest things about the George Foreman GGR50 is how quickly it heats up. From the moment you turn it on, it takes about 10 minutes to get to max heat. It has a variable temperature control knob, which lets you adjust from high heat all the way down to warm.
- The grill surface itself is about 240 square inches in area, and it's a non-stick surface that can be removed and washed. You can even put the grill in the dishwasher!
- As with all George Foreman grill products, the surface is sloped slightly, and the fat and grease rolls down to collect, making this a healthy griller.
- Despite the removal of fat and grease, the food usually tastes really great. Most meats and veggies are kept pretty moist, and the grill gets hot enough to sear the food pretty well if that's what you're after. Try an ahi tuna steak on this thing!
As for cons, it doesn't have the largest grill surface, and it can by no means compete with the full-sized gas BBQs out there for cooking surface. It also doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, and it won't 'wow' anyone with its looks. Still, I consider it one of the best electric outdoor grills around, with great reviews from lots of happy customers. It's perfect for a small patio or apartment.
Char-Broil: Among the Best Electric BBQ Grills for Outdoor Use
The Char-Broil: You may have seen this little grill before. Char-Broil has gotten a lot of mileage out of the popularity of their series of bistro-style barbecues, and you can find this particular model in both gas and electric versions. Both are top-notch.
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- This is a highly popular product with apartment and condominium dwellers. It is portable and chic, with great looks and enough space and heat to cook a meal for a crowd. It can be used year-round and open flame restrictions don't apply.
- The grill has a gorgeous powder coated hood and body, and it features a porcelain grilling surface that heats quickly and is really easy to clean up afterwards. The heating surface is really cleverly designed, with a main surface and a small upper rack that's perfect for searing vegetables.
- This grill actually gets really hot! It uses infrared heat to sear food quickly, leaving it caramelized on the outside while being moist and juice on the inside. That means your seared veggies come out crisp and delicious, and a medium-rare steak cooks in no time flat. There is little airflow inside the hood, so food doesn't dry out so quickly.
- The integrated stand makes cooking quite stable, and there's a lower storage area for cooking tools and whatnot.
The cons? It's a bit tough to assemble. You have to watch it quite closely to avoid overcooking. Really though, it's a wonderful BBQ for its size, and for what you get it is one of the cheapest outdoor electric BBQs around.
Meco 9000 Series: A Great Little Electric Patio Grill
The Meco 9000: If you want a bistro or patio-sized electric outdoor BBQ grill that has a more traditional look, Meco has produced a great set of grills in their 9000 series, and they're definitely worth taking a look at.
- The barbecue has a traditional setup and look, and many people probably won't realize that it's electric unless they spot the telltale cable coming out the side, or notice the lack of the propane tank.
- It has two foldable wooden shelves consisting of three slats each. This is a huge advantage for cooking, since you often have to have the prepared meal at hand when cooking.
- The hood and grill come pre-assembled, which is a nice thing, so you just need to put together the stand itself.
- The grilling surface is about 200 square inches. That's fairly small, but still more than enough to cook a family meal. It heats up really quickly, and you'll be surprised by how hot the 1500 watt element can make this thing. You can easily sear meat and veggies, and the taste is really good.
- It sits on a waist-high barbecue stand which features two wheels to move it around. The stand is nothing special, but it works.
I would definitely recommend getting a cover if you plan to leave this one out year-round. It shouldn't sit in rain or water. On the whole, the Meco is a great little electric outdoor barbecue grill with a lot to like. It's simple to use and looks amazing on your deck or patio.
Weber Q-Series: A Superb Electric BBQ with Top-Notch Reviews
The Weber Q-Series: If you've read any of my other articles, you'll already know that I think pretty highly of Weber and their products. They consistently produce some of the best grills on the market. They're a bit pricier than some, but that extra money is worth it. These grills last.
As you can see, the Q-Series is a portable-sized BBQ that has a unique body shape and style, with integrated frame, legs, and handle. It is made of cast aluminum, and the grill itself is porcelain. The design and its light weight make this one very easy to move around, and you can even bring it camping if you have a generator or power source. It works amazingly for tailgate parties.
- The cook surface is 280 square inches, more than enough to get the job done for a family. That surface is very well heated by the electric element, and there are very few cool spots, so you can take advantage of almost every bit of it and load it up.
- The fit and finish on this BBQ is excellent, and it comes fully assembled in the box. You can just remove it and start cooking right away (give the grill a rinse first, though).
- It does not come with a stand, but Weber does make some that are compatible. You can always just use a small table if you don't want to spend any extra.
Of what is available today, I'd put this Weber electric BBQ for the top of the list.
What About Bigger Sizes?
Unfortunately, most of the electric outdoor barbecue grills made today are smaller in size. I think the rationale is that anyone using an electric must be an apartment or condo dweller, and that's the market they are catering to.
There are some bigger options available. Dimplex makes some pretty fancy full-sized barbecues that can cook with the best of them. Some smaller companies produce big ones that are pretty pricey, like Kenyon. Ultimately it's up to you to decide what your household needs.
Thanks for reading, and happy grilling!
© 2014 Henry Williamson