Electric grills are the grill of choice for many apartment and condo dwellers, as well as singles who don’t have a lot of space for grilling or want to grill for just a few people. The great thing about electric grills is they’ve been perfected to produce results similar to those of your regular outdoor grills, and they use electricity instead of fire or gas, eliminating a lot of the hazards of grill cooking.
First Steps Before Using an Electric Grill: Know Your Grill Type
There are two different types of grills that you can find on the market, but the grill you choose will need to fit your lifestyle. These grills are the open grill, set up to simulate the outdoor grill that’s typically used for hot dogs and hamburgers. They typically cook quickly and can handle a decent amount of food for parties and family days. There is also the contact grill, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever used George Foreman grill or seen commercials for it. The contact grill can also make some awesome sandwiches because if has two heated plates that press the item you’re cooking together. They’re preferred most by singles, especially those of us who don’t have time to set up an outdoor grill for a steak for out lunch. Contact grills also are great for cutting the fat, and are a favorite of people who stick to a low-carb diet. They’re meant more for meat, or sandwiches, however, than veggie burgers. Keep that in mind if you’re cooking for vegetarians.
How to Use an Open Electric Barbeque/Grill
If you’re ready to use your open electric grill for the first time, you’ll want to set it up properly. Your user manual will have information on the temperature gauges and approximate times for different kinds of meat, and our website has information on this, as well (Grilling Temperatures). Setting up is the first thing you’ll need to do before you begin to cook.
Unless you’ve got a grill with a stand, which is a relatively new model that is currently only offered by a few manufacturers, then you’ll be working with a countertop grill that can be used on both picnic tables and in your kitchen.
How to Use an Outdoor/Indoor Electric Grill
The first steps for using an electric grill are pretty simple. Open your grill up and wipe it down with a wet paper towel to remove the dust or residue. Make sure the countertop is clutter-free and no plastics are close by.
Safety Tips You Can’t Ignore:
For electric grills, it does not look hot, but it’s usually very hot. Open grills and contact grills alike can melt things that are too close by, which can be a serious fire hazard. So don’t leave paper towels or food items wrapped in plastic close to them. Be cautious. If you’re cooking outdoors, don’t cook next to a pile of leaves or on a dry wood picnic table. There are trays and grill stands that you can buy to increase your safety – it’s a good idea to invest in one. Never use an open grill with a lot of grease, and never cook with an electric grill close to fuel such as gasoline.
Never use an electric grill close to water or where the cord may become immersed in water. This is for shock protection. Some outdoor grills are meant for outdoor use only. Make sure that you’re aware of the limits of your product. The user manual will tell you everything you need to know. Read it, and live by it.
Prepping the Electric Grill for First Use
Oil must be used on an electric grill, so lightly – very lightly – spray cooking oil onto it. Avocado oil and olive oil are some healthy fats that are recommended in spray form. Canola is a bit less healthy but preferred by traditional cooks.
Next, it’s time for you to preheat the grill. Many open as well as contact grills simply have an on/off setting with a dial, which is why it’s important to read your manual to learn about correct times for different foods. Other open grills will have a temperature dial, and you’ll need to learn the cooking times for various items you plan to cook. Many chefs find it’s easiest to start out with 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature many outdoor charcoal grills will reach when it’s time to throw hamburgers and hot dogs on.
An electric grill is still hot; so don’t use your fingers to put food on it. Follow good food safety practices and use tongs as well as plastic kitchen gloves. You’ll prevent any type of foodborne illness if you get into this practice, as long as the meat is still good. Find the correct cooking times for the meat you want to use, and check it with a meat thermometer before you remove it from the heat source.
Your First Cleaning
When you’re done cooking, simply unplug your grill and let it cool. In the meantime, clean out your grate and/or drip pans – don’t pour the oil down the sink, but collect it in a jar for proper disposal later. Wash everything in mild dish soap with a clean sponge. You can lightly oil the grill once everything is dry to keep it in prime condition, but don’t use too much, because it can attract bugs. Close the lid tightly and store it.
Summing it Up
Safety practices are very important for using your electric grill for the first time. Read the manual, and practice safer habits. We also have an article on how to cook your meat safely and the ideal temperatures for each type of cut. It’s suggested you familiarize yourself with this for both food safety – and to learn amazing grilling skills.