The best tabletop grills let you cook everything from chicken and fish to leaner burgers and steak
Eating healthily can be tricky, especially if it means shunning steaks for carrot sticks, but find the best grill and you’ll be able to make those high-fat meats a little more palatable. Designed to funnel away the fat from meat and poultry as it cooks, a grill’s high-heat searing also helps to seal in juices and chargrill the surface, adding flavour. Moreover, if you’ve been using your oven to cook these foods, a grill will be faster and save electricity every time. It’s no wonder, then, that there’s now a huge amount of choice when it comes to electric grills. From family-sized models and those that are almost an indoor barbecue to compact grills and smokeless designs, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best.
The biggest barrier to getting the most out of your grill is typically convenience; those that are hard to keep clean, difficult to store or take a long time to cook often end up stuck at the back of a cupboard gathering dust. We’ve selected the best grills you can buy for your budget, as well as the functionality you should look for when choosing one. Below, you’ll find our buying guide to help you find the best grill, or you can scroll on for our top picks.
How to choose the best grill for you
What do I need to consider when buying a grill?
Cooking area: How much cooking area your grill has can be the difference between it being in use on a daily basis and only hauled out when you’re in the mood for paninis. Smaller grills only have space for a couple of chicken legs or a large steak, so decide if you’re planning to regularly cook whole meals on the grill, or just a few items. If you’re not sure how often you’ll use one, choose a grill that can fold flat, instantly doubling your grilling space when needed. Grills that fold flat also lend themselves well to cooking other foods, such as pancakes, omelettes and fried eggs, especially if there’s a flat plate as well as a ridged one.
Temperature: Next, think about the food you’ll be likely to cook on the grill. Some models have only one temperature, which works well for meat and poultry but can be too hot for veggies and fish. If you plan to cook a range of foods, look for a model with a choice of temperatures, or one with programmed settings.
Design: Most models feature a floating hinge; this means that the top plate can adjust to different food thicknesses as opposed to being hinged at a fixed point like a standard sandwich press. Another good feature to look for is a storage lock that keeps the plates together when the grill is positioned vertically. This allows you to store the grill on its end when it’s not in use, meaning it can be tucked in a cupboard or at the back of a worktop without taking up too much space.
Cleaning: Finally, a grill that’s easy to clean is a must. Many have removable plates, which means they can either be popped in the dishwasher or washed more easily by hand. Some come with fixed plates, though, so you’ll have to clean them in situ. Fixed plates are harder to keep spotless, but the upside is that the plates tend to heat up faster and they’re usually more affordable to buy. If you choose a fixed plate option, make sure the non-stick coating is robust, so that cleaning is quick and fuss-free.
How much should I spend on a grill?
The size of your grill and its ease of use often determines its price, with compact or basic models costing as little as £20. For a model that will cook a whole meal for one person, it’s better to budget around £50 upwards. Expect to pay £100+ for models with advanced features such as programmes or large areas of grilling space.
How we test grills
There’s a whole host of food you can cook on a grill, which is why we test how well they can handle a variety of ingredients. This includes chicken breasts, steak and vegetables, usually asparagus if in season or corn on the cob if not. We also try to choose meat with a similar level of thickness every time, to ensure we have a consistent testing method. We primarily look for whether a grill dries or burns our ingredients in the process of cooking it to perfection and note how long each piece of meat or vegetable takes to cook.
If a grill doubles up as a toasted sandwich maker, we’ll make paninis and note if the filling bursts out the sides or if the sandwich is too flattened. We also consider how quickly the grill heats up and give extra points for preset modes, variable temperature options and useful accessories to expand the grill’s capabilities such as additional plates. Finally, we consider the overall size, including the size of the grilling area, ease of maintenance and cleaning – removable parts are a huge bonus.
READ NEXT: Our favourite kitchen gadgets
Thick steaks, pieces of chicken and delicate fish are all prone to being over or under-cooked on a grill. However, the Tefal Optigrill Elite aims to change that. Described as an intelligent health grill, it boasts a sensor that adjusts the grilling time to the thickness of the food. There’s a whopping 12 programmes: from bacon to burgers, a manual mode, and you can even grill from frozen. Its “refill” option is handy, meaning you can cook the same food in batches without resetting and there’s even a recipe book to get you started.
Preheating takes between four to seven minutes. This adds to overall cooking time but means that when you do add food, the grill predicts how long it’ll take to cook, so you can prepare other dishes while you wait. We tested the grill with chicken and asparagus. It predicted 28 minutes for thick breasts, which we felt was too long – they were cooked through after 18 minutes. Four vegetable programmes were on offer for the asparagus. We chose aubergine, which cooked for six minutes. This wasn’t quite enough, and it needed a couple of minutes more on manual. Despite this, it worked well manually and cooked our steak to the perfect rareness level, so it’s just a matter of preference and playing around with the settings.
One frustration is that there’s no cancel button to switch between programmes – you have to remove the food to reset it or flick it off at the socket. There are plenty of pros, though. A robust build quality, a deep drip tray, incredibly easy cleaning and enough space for a family meal.
Key specs – Size: 36.3 x 34.1 x 18cm (WDH); Variable temperature: Yes, plus 12 programmes; Plates: Removable; Dishwasher safe: Yes
2. Salter Cosmos Non-Stick Coated Health Grill: The best grill on a budget
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re short on space or budget, Salter’s Cosmos grill makes a great choice. That’s because it’s as compact as a typical sandwich toaster, and has an affordable price – leaving more of your budget available for tasty food to cook on it. It’s fairly basic in terms of functionality; there’s no temperature control, for example. Instead, it’s billed as “automatic” adjustment – but despite that, it performed excellently. The plates heated up quickly and cooked chicken breasts well, emerging from the grill juicy, with golden brown searing. There was a surprising amount of liquid that ran off into the drip tray, hinting that the grill plate was well angled, rather than letting the juices puddle and burn.
However, asparagus took much longer to cook. Presumably the grill adjusted itself to a lower temperature, but there’s no indication of when it’s doing this. We also found the lack of grilling space frustrating – a compact exterior means that the cooking surface is only 26 x 16cm, and it doesn’t fold flat. We were able to squeeze on two chicken breasts or a bunch of asparagus, but not both. This means the Cosmos is better for a solo household or for making light lunches or snacks, rather than full meals. On the plus side, even though the non-stick plates are fixed, we found them easy to clean, with all the mess wiping away without much effort.
Key specs – Size: 30.1 x 26.7 x 12.9cm (WDH); Variable temperature: No (automatic); Plates: Fixed; Dishwasher-safe: No
3. George Foreman Immersa Grill: The best grill for convenience
Price: £79 | Buy now from VeryOffering effective, hassle-free grilling at a reasonable price, the George Foreman Immersa Grill is best suited to those looking for something simple, quick and convenient. In terms of features, the Immersa has all the classic perks of a George Foreman. You get non-stick, smokeless plates, which are slotted to allow excess fat to drip away, a design that allows it to be stored vertically and a floating hinge that helps both sides of the grill to get solid surface contact with food. Setting the Immersa apart from the rest is its removable control panel, which is easily removed to allow the rest of the grill to be popped straight into the dishwasher or sink after use, making clean-up a non-affair.
Otherwise, the Immersa keeps things simple, operating at a single-temperature and lacking any extra settings or modes. While we might’ve appreciated more robust functionality, we can’t say the Immersa’s straightforward, simple grilling was a disappointment. In testing, the grill reached operating temperature in a speedy four minutes, and produced nicely grilled steaks, chicken breasts and mixed vegetables, imprinting tasty char lines on their exteriors, while leaving their interiors moist and flavourful.
The Immersa Grill comes in two sizes, the Individual model, best for couples and solo cooks, linked above, and the larger Family version, which is perfect for families, larger meals or parties.
Read our full George Foreman Immersa Grill review for more information
Key specs – Size: 27.8 x 30.8 x 10.7cm (WDH); Plates: Removable; Variable temperature: No; Dishwasher-safe: Grill plates and drip tray
4. Cuisinart Griddle and Grill: The best grill for families
Price: £159 | Buy now from Amazon
Functioning as a sandwich press, health grill or hot plate, with a stylish metallic exterior, Cuisinart’s multitasking Griddle and Grill earns its place on your worktop. Folded flat, it creates a cooking surface of 60 x 48cm – great for feeding a family – but you can also use just the one plate for smaller portions. The temperature range is especially flexible, dipping down as low as 100°C for slow cooking, with a high of 240°C for meat. Better still, there’s a floating hinge to accommodate thicker foods such as large chicken legs.
In testing, it heated up quickly, cooking steak to medium-rare as well as corn on the cob without burning the exterior. The heavy upper plate squashed a sandwich slightly, but toasted it to golden brown, with delicious results. One feature we liked was the timer, which can be set up to 30 minutes and means you can step away without losing track of time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t switch the appliance off, so you’ll have to be within earshot of the alert.
The plates are easily cleaned by hand or in the dishwasher. However, there’s no obvious way to store the second set of plates, meaning you’ll have to find a home for them as well as the grill.
Key specs – Size: 37 x 33 x 20cm (WDH); Variable temperature: Yes; Plates: Removable; Dishwasher-safe: Yes
5. Gastroback Design BBQ Advanced Smart: The best grill for perfect steak
Price: £196 | Buy now from Amazon
Cooking steak to the desired level of doneness can be challenging at the best of times, but more so on a grill, where it’s hidden between plates. This is why the programmes on this Gastroback grill are so handy. As well as settings for poultry, burgers, paninis, fish, sandwiches and sausages, you’ll find one for steak that includes four options for rare to well-done cooking. It’s great for taking the guesswork out of using a grill, with much less chance of burnt or undercooked food. What’s more, when laid flat, you get two good-sized grilling areas of 25 x 28cm.
It’s not without its quirks. One element that puzzled us was that the programmes can only be set when the grill is closed, and you might have to experiment to find the right setting for vegetables as there isn’t a preset. Beyond that, though, there are a lot of handy features. These include heating elements built into the removable plates, so they heat up fast; independently controlled plates, so you can set one to be hotter than the other when in the open position; adjustable height control for the upper lid so food isn’t squashed; a lid lock; a floating hinge; and a flat plate. In testing, our veggies became a bit singed, but chicken breasts emerged beautifully grilled and juicy.
Key specs – Size: 37.5 x 36 x 17cm (WDH); Variable temperature: Yes, plus six programmes; Plates: Removable; Dishwasher-safe: Yes
6. George Foreman 25810 Medium Fit Grill: The best-value grill
Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re not sure how much use you’ll get out of a grill, the Medium Fit George Foreman model is ideal. It’s large enough to cater for a couple of whole meals at a time, has been designed to take up less room when stored vertically compared to similarly sized models, has a floating hinge, and is affordable for its size.
Fixed plates mean it heats up quickly, too – around six minutes to reach 230°C – while an adjustable foot allows it to be tipped forward for fat to run away, or placed flat. Inside, the cooking surface measures 31 x 16.5cm. As a single temperature machine there’s less versatility than with some models, and you’ll need to keep an eye on some foods as they have a tendency to burn when not closely monitored. However, it cooked meat and veggies without issue in testing, although the cheese in a panini took a while to melt completely.
While the non-stick plates make it easier than some grills, wiping fixed plates down after cooking was a bit of a chore. We found that the easiest way was to wipe while warm (while wearing oven gloves), rather than wait until the grill plates were cold. If you don’t mind a bit of cleaning up, it’s a decent little grill.
Key specs – Size: 33.3 x 27.5 x 7.7cm (WDH); Variable temperature: No; Plates: Fixed; Dishwasher-safe: No