The 5 Best Smokeless Grills of 2023

The Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill, our Best Overall, scored high marks in our tests.

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Best Smokeless Grills

Food & Wine / Greg Dupree

The earliest indoor grills were fodder for late-night TV impulse purchases, but what started as a pared-down panini press has evolved into, at times, a much more complicated and multitasking kitchen appliance. From the most straightforward versions that could make a small burger in five minutes, we now have grills that brown, sear, and toast; some even dehydrate. Models now offer grilling and griddle choices to expand the horizons.

With various sizes, capacities, capabilities, weights, and designs on the market, the choices are many, compared to the models of yore, becoming indispensable kitchen tools for busy cooks. We took the leading brands into our test kitchens to see how they performed against each other. A clear winner emerged in the Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill. Find out why, and see our other top choices and what didn’t make the list below.

Best Overall

Hamilton Beach 25361 Electric Indoor Searing Grill with Viewing Window

4.5
Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill

Amazon

Pros: Easy cleanup and a window for viewing add to the value of this grill.

Cons: Some hot and cool spots on the grill occur at lower temperatures.

The Hamilton Beach is a versatile countertop grill with a relatively large cooking area for an indoor model. It has a temperature range from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, with 50-degree increments, with a 450-degree searing mode. In our testing, the grill was pretty responsive to heating changes, with some hot and cool spots that decreased with higher temperatures. Searing tests showed that it provides good grill marks while producing low or non-existent levels of smoke, although the temperatures recorded on the grill are slightly lower than the setting indicates. This lower temperature gives light caramelization to the foods tested, a result in line with the grill's temperature range. Cleanup is easy with this model; the removable lid, drip pan, and grates allow easy scrubbing and are also dishwasher safe.

Price at time of publish: $90

  • Grill Grate Material: Nonstick ceramic coating
  • Cooking Surface Area: 114 square inches

Best Splurge

Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill and Griddle

4.5
Breville BGR820XL The Smart Grill

Amazon

Pros: It gives consistent temperatures and has good searing and toasting capabilities.

Cons: It’s heavy, and the handle protrudes a bit too much.

The Smart Grill has both grill and griddle functions, expanding its usefulness by allowing you to choose your cooking style. The large cooking area shows some of the most consistent temperatures when testing the cooking surface versus the temperature settings. It sears and toasts quite well but produces a comparatively large amount of smoke to attain those sears. Cleanup is easy, and the grill plates are dishwasher-safe. The only real downside is that the handle sticks out a bit too far, making it clumsy on the countertop. The consistent performance and ease of use justify the higher price tag.

Price at time of publish: $300

  • Grill Grate Material: Nonstick cast aluminum 
  • Cooking Surface Area: 117 square inches

Best Value

Presto 09020 Cool Touch Electric Indoor Grill

4.6
Presto Cool Touch Electric Indoor Grill

Amazon

Pros: This reasonably priced entry-level grill performs well with a large cooking area.

Cons: It overshoots the temperature settings, and searing and toasting are spotty.

The Presto scored consistently high marks when weighed against the price. It’s not as powerful or feature-rich as more expensive models, but it does its job well. This is a good-value grill with a large cooking area. Our searing and toasting tests were mixed, with some good char marks for most of the food tested, and some spots left un-browned. It’s one of the few grills on the market that slightly overshoots the temperature settings, whereas most struggle to reach the desired temperature. Cleanup is easy by design: remove the power cord and drip tray, and the unit is washable and dishwasher safe.

Price at time of publish: $50

  • Grill Grate Material: Nonstick material
  • Cooking Surface Area: 152 square inches

Best With Griddle

Hamilton Beach 38546 3-in-1 Electric Grill

4.2
Hamilton Beach 38546 3-in-1 Electric Grill

Amazon

Pros: It has a very large, versatile cooking area.

Cons: Cool spots where the plates join make toasting and searing slightly inconsistent.

The 3-in-1 comes with two reversible grill/griddle plates, so you can use the unit in any combination of these that you’d like. There’s some inconsistent heating, with cool spots where the two plates join, but searing and toasting tests showed good, if occasionally spotty, results. Searing and toasting produced little to no smoke or steam, so it lives up to the challenge in these areas. It’s easy to clean, but the plates require more scrubbing to remove stuck food than other models tested.

Price at time of publish: $79

  • Grill Grate Material: Nonstick material
  • Cooking Surface Area: 190 square inches

Most Innovative

Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill

4.8
Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill

Amazon

Pros: It gives excellent grill marks and has many features beyond a grill.

Cons: The sides get very hot, and the fan runs constantly.

On the outside, it seems there’s little the Ninja can’t do – it’s a grill, air fryer, roaster, oven, and dehydrator. Our tests found that it reliably toasts bread and grills vegetables and meat, adding well-defined, if oddly circular, grill marks while producing very little smoke or steam. When we tested the actual temperature versus the settings on the controls, we found it fairly accurate, though it fell short of reaching the highest temperature settings. Still, the upper-temperature range is higher than other models tested, which translates into a better sear. Cleaning ratings were lower than other grills, as the nonstick interior scratched easily. The fan, also used in the air fryer and dehydrator features, constantly runs as part of the smokeless design, which may be irritating to some. The fan makes the grill function like a convection oven, which speeds up cooking efficiency. That convection also reduces smoke and steam, so we feel it’s a fair trade-off. 

Price at time of publish: $150

  • Grill Grate Material: Nonstick ceramic coating
  • Cooking Surface Area: 100 square inches

Our Favorite

Throughout the range of tests, the Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Searing Grill earned consistently high marks and earned our favorite spot. We like the Presto Cool Touch Electric Grill for those who are seeking value over features.

The Tests

The tests we performed covered many common uses and evaluated other factors, such as portability, ease of cleaning, and ease of setup. For the usage tests, we first checked the accuracy of the temperature settings against the cooking surface's real temperature. We then toasted bread at three different temperatures to gauge the effectiveness of each and the texture and color of the bread. Next, we grilled zucchini, boneless skinless chicken breast, and flank steak at 450 degrees Fahrenheit or the highest setting for the grill, whichever was lower.

In these tests, we rated the quality of the grill marks and observed any smoke or steam generated. We then ranked each grill on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the above categories and took an average score from the total.

Factors to Consider

Open vs. Contact Grills 

A contact grill is one with a heated top grate or griddle that lowers onto the food and cooks from above as well as below. A panini press is a good example of what we’re speaking of here. That heat can be advantageous for faster cooking, but the weight of the top grate can also press your food more than you want it to. An open grill frequently offers a larger cooking area, so consider the capacity and what you’ll be cooking, to see which suits your kitchen style better.

Temperature Range 

This is another time to consider what you’ll be cooking. If you are toasting sandwiches or using a griddle model to make breakfast, you don’t need a model with high-heat searing capabilities. In this case, you’ll probably want some precision in your temperature increments, so something that offers less than 50-degree intervals would be a good choice. For high-temperature searing, you’ll want something that will attain 500 degrees Fahrenheit for a good char that won’t dry out your food before it can finish.

Features

The features of a grill also come down to how you cook. You may find that a temperature probe or a lid makes your cooking easier and more enjoyable. You may also put that probe in a junk drawer and wonder why you’ve kept it, five years later. You might never use the griddle plate for the grill you’re looking at, or you might be on a quest to build the World’s Best Grilled Cheese and find that griddle an indispensable tool in your journey to toasted cheese bliss. Don’t limit your cooking options, but don’t drop extra money for niceties that have no benefit to you.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What happens to the smoke in a smokeless grill?

    Some grills have lids or fan systems that help eliminate smoke before it leaves the grill. The most common factors among smokeless grills are a means of moving grease and moisture away from the heat before they can turn into smoke or steam, and electric heating elements that won’t ignite the fat to cause smoke in the first place.

  • How do you clean a smokeless grill?

    Most grills reviewed here have at least some elements or are entirely dishwasher safe. For those that aren’t, a gentle detergent like Dawn, hot water, and a sponge with a nylon scrubber will clean up any stuck-on food or errant grease splatters. Always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before cleaning an appliance. 

  • How do you get a smoky flavor on a smokeless grill?

    The nature of an electric grill won’t provide smoke flavor in and of itself. There are a few ways that you can accomplish that, despite the lack of flames, though. You could start your food in a stove-top smoker and then finish on the grill. You could use liquid smoke as part of your marinade or make your own by putting ice inside a smoker and letting it absorb the wood flavor as it melts. You could then put the smoke water in a spray bottle and apply it to your food. The other option is to use smoked ingredients, like smoked salts or paprika, in your marinades or rubs to lend your food smoky flavor.

What Didn’t Make the List

Strong Contenders

Still Simmering

Low Performers

Our Expertise

Greg Baker is an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and food writer with four decades of experience in the food industry. His written work appears in Food & Wine, Food Republic, and other publications.

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