Cuisinart Griddler GR-4N
Cuisinart Griddler GR-4N

Best contact electric grill/griddle

The highly rated Cuisinart Griddler GR-4N scores big points for versatility. This electric grill, which can be used as a panini maker, an open grill or a griddle (thanks to its reversible plates), has an adjustable hinge (to cook thicker foods more evenly) and removable, dishwasher-safe grill plates. Users say its cooking surfaces heat evenly and are easy to clean; users also note that the grill plates are easy to remove for cleaning. Another plus: The Cuisinart's generous cooking space can easily accommodate four quarter-pound burgers when closed -- and twice this amount when used without its lid.
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Sanyo Smokeless Indoor Electric Grill HPS-SG3
Sanyo Smokeless Indoor Electric Grill HPS-SG3

Best open electric grill

Although it can't double as a griddle or make panini sandwiches (it has a single cooking surface), the Sanyo Smokeless Indoor Electric Grill HPS-SG3 is still a solid pick. Reviewers appreciate its roomy cooking surface (200 square inches) and its dishwasher-safe drip pan. The Sanyo Smokeless Indoor Electric Grill HPS-SG3 has an adjustable temperature control and a 1,300-watt heating element. Many owner reviews on Amazon.com also rate the taste and texture of the food cooked on the Sanyo as excellent. Most maintain that it's easy to use and store, though some owners say they wish it came with a cover. Although there are a few complaints that this grill isn't entirely "smokeless," others note that it's necessary to add water to the drip pan to avoid smoke output.
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Cuisinart Griddler GR-1
Cuisinart Griddler GR-1

Best Budget grill/sandwich press

The Cuisinart Griddler GR-1 isn't covered in any professional reviews, but it gets rave reviews from owners. Its brushed stainless-steel finish makes it attractive enough to display on a countertop, and its sleek design makes it small enough to conveniently store in a cabinet, owners say. The press has only one temperature setting, but most owners don't seem bothered by this, saying it cooks evenly and accommodates thick sandwiches with its floating hinge. The GR-1 has 11-by-7 inch grill plates and opens flat for use as a griddle. Some downsides: Its grill plates are not removable, which can make cleanup more difficult, and several users say this grill lacks an on/off switch.
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George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Domed Grill GGR50B
George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Domed Grill GGR50B

Best Indoor/outdoor electric grill

Apartment-dwellers praise this dual-purpose grill, which looks much like a standard charcoal grill. It can be used as a tabletop grill (by removing the pedestal) or as an outdoor grill (with the pedestal), even on balconies and patios where gas or charcoal grills are forbidden. Obviously, you're not getting the same charcoal or gas-grill searing performance, but owners still say it's nice to be able to cook outdoors. With 240 square feet of cooking space, it's capable of serving a family or small gathering. A few owners say they wish the drip pan was larger, but most say it's easy to set up and use. Opinions are mixed on ease of cleanup, however. Some say it's a breeze, and others report that the large grill plate is too big to fit in a standard kitchen sink for cleaning.
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Reviews of electric grills, griddles and panini presses

The best electric grills offer a solid barbeque experience without the hassle of heavy smoke and charcoal. Under the umbrella of electric grills, there are two main types: open grills and contact grills. Open grills have one cooking surface, requiring the food to be flipped during cooking. Some come with lids that help contain heat and steam, and others do not. Conversely, contact grills (often called panini presses) have top and bottom cooking surfaces. These grills are designed to cook both sides of the food at one time. Some contact grills and open grills also convert to griddles, which have a flat cooking surface (ideal for frying eggs and cooking pancakes) rather than the grill-like ridges. George Foreman is the most well-known brand here, but lots of manufacturers make electric grills.

We found the best professional reviews in cooking magazines. A 2009 article in Cook's Illustrated magazine rates seven griddles for temperature, accuracy and consistency (how evenly the heat is distributed across the cooking surface) by setting each griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and measuring the temperature at five to seven minute intervals in three places on the cooking surface. Cooking performance is tested by cooking French toast, bacon and pancakes, and evaluating the quality of the prepared foods. Finally, ratings are offered for ease of cleanup. An older Cook's Illustrated review rates six open grills, comparing electric grills to those designed to sit on a stovetop burner, rating them in terms of the flavor of the food cooked, ease of cleanup and other features.

U.K.-based Which? magazine conducts professional testing of 19 indoor grills, rating each for ease of operation, ease of cleanup and storage by preparing a variety of vegetables, chicken and fish. Some of the models tested aren't available in the U.S., and among those that are, none is selected as a top performer. HubPages.com and IndoorGrillReviews.com also include recommendations and reviews for electric grills but do not conduct formal comparison testing. About.com also recommends 10 indoor grills with brief rundowns of features of each model. Surprisingly, ConsumerReports.org does not report test results for electric grills and hasn't covered the topic since 2007.

We consulted a few individual product reviews on About.com and Bestcovery.com. Bestcovery.com chooses five grills as top picks without much explanation as to why they are better than the other grills. Likewise, About.com and TheKitchn.com each offer recommendations for electric grills, although it's not clear whether grills have been tested as models are not compared and contrasted. Owner-written reviews at such websites as Amazon.com, Target.com, Viewpoints.com, Epinions.com and Cooking.com also offer nice insights and more detailed feedback about long-term durability.

Other things to know: Experts at Cook's Illustrated magazine say that contact grills offer faster cooking time, and open grills offer a cooking experience more similar to cooking with an outdoor grill, which can be important to some people. Editors say grills with removable grill plates tend to be easier to clean, although their heating surfaces can be less consistent, with scanty hot spots or a top plate that is cooler than the bottom plate, according to some reviews. Grills with non-removable plates tend to have more even heating surfaces. Read on to learn more about choosing the best electric grill.

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