When we think of grilling, the act itself is often imagined outdoors. Grilling has been with humans for at least 800,000 years, and it’s a tradition we love to recreate whenever we’re in nature. Grilling is a lot of fun in the right conditions – but with more inclement weather due to changing weather patterns, the perfect day to grill only happens about ten days out of the calendar year. The prime time to grill most years is March through early June.
While the idea of grilling outdoors brings back nostalgia, there are some technicalities we must explore before you start. The realities of grilling today, in the summer, are a bit different from the grill’s early days. The reality is often that we’re dodging mosquitos and worrying about which viruses they carry. And so far this year, it’s rained over 30 days. The temperature has been beautiful, but we’re all still stuck indoors for the bulk of it. You can’t grill outdoors in these conditions. Indoor grilling is safe grilling, and it requires no airing out to create a tasty meal.
This is the kind of thing that makes people want to learn to grill in the kitchen. If that’s your goal, you’re in luck. Indoor grilling is safe, easy and affordable for all budgets. They’re great for the true meat lover who wants to grill all year round without having to worry about and you can grill all year around. There are many indoor grills that taste like outdoor grills, if you’re willing to read ahead and do some research.
Grills: The Indoor and Outdoor Difference
Outdoor grills are used the way our ancestors intended. However, our ancestors lived in a different, simpler time. Without AC and while doing hard work just to stay alive every day, a hunk of meat on the fire was essential to health and replenishing lost calories and spent protein. However, today we have many more modern comforts, and our bodies don’t need the same large amounts of protein to survive.
Electric grills will easily cook the fat off your meat, and this is the initial reason that grills such as the George Foreman grill became so popular. The indoor grill, as a modern invention, gave us nutrition without the slow preparation. Electric grills are easy to setup and clean, and have a component that is also dishwasher safe. After a delicious dinner, you can simply remove the plates and clean them.
Outdoor grilling is in the elements, and to enjoy your meal and cooking out there, the temperature must be decent and the climate comfortable.
Grill Indoors: Learn Some Cooking Terms
If you’ve ever researched Google for a grill, you know it can mean different things to different people. The one thing it doesn’t mean is bringing an outdoor charcoal or gas grill indoors. This is a safety issue that cannot ever be ignored.
Grilling indoors isn’t as complicated as it seems, but there does seem to be a lot of confusion surrounding indoor grilling terms that can be explained here for those who are interested. Just remember that almost anything that applies high heat to food can be considered grilling, and that’s why so many of these terms are viewed as interchangeable. College students are technically “grilling” if they hold food over an open flame on a gas stove, although this is dangerous, sloppy, and generally much less satisfying than any type of legitimate grilling. (If you’re in college, and feeling this desperate, it’s time to find a decent George Foreman grill. They take up very little space and can make you a burger in no time.)
FYI: There is no such thing as an indoor charcoal grill, and you should never try to bring an outdoor grill inside unless it’s labeled an indoor/outdoor grill. Be safe!
Here are some names that have been used to describe indoor grills, and what they mean:
- An indoor grill, electric, can cook just about any cut of meat, vegetables, or even grilled cheese sandwiches. This term can refer to any indoor grill that is plugged into the wall. Most often, this is a standalone device such as a George Foreman grill or Char Broil cooker made for the kitchen. Many of these devices will fit right on your counter top and have a built-in “grill” side to give food the “grilled” texture.
- An indoor grill, griddle, can be used to describe a grill with a large surface space, typically the type that you see at a diner or restaurant. However, many people in the South take this term and use it to describe a plain old cast-iron pan that’s used to fry up hamburgers, bacons, eggs or just about anything that can fit in it. Usually, when it’s just a frying pan like this, space limits your grilling activity to two servings at a time. However, more recent griddles such as the ones advertised on infomercials are created in a way that you can cook them on a gas stovetop, giving a bit of flame and allowing you to cook up to four servings at a time and flip the tray over for a more authentic “grilling” experience as well.
- Indoor BBQ grill, or griddle, is similar to the indoor griddle, although the name is deceptive. There’s no way to have an indoor, slow-cooked barbeque grill with that smoky flavor, but there are a few models of grills, like the new George Foreman grill, that are “open” or “freestanding” and mimic the design of an outdoor grill as well as the function of an outdoor smoker. These grills can cook on a controlled, low temperature as long as you need them to.
- A grill pan is the best type of indoor grill. This is often just a cast-iron skillet that has ridges that mimic the grill or plates that fit over your indoor stove, usually using just one or two burners on your stovetop (usually gas) and is capable of grilling far more than the smaller grills. This is also sometimes called a “griddle” – and it’s not just for meat. You can also create a fantastic brunch on a grill pan like this, and it will sometimes even have a tray to catch the greases.
How to Start Indoors Grilling
To grill indoors, you’ll need to purchase an indoor grill of your choosing. Most people prefer a contact grill because it’s the least complicated or messy. Choose a simple recipe and use a low-salt rub as your seasonings.
Each type of indoor grilling has its own advantages. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade. There are plenty of articles on this website to help you explore this – but remember, the electric grill is the safest, healthiest way to cook. Because it’s smoke-free, there is no risk of smoke inhalation or carcinogens, and you can control everything that goes into your food. The results are tasty and there’s little mess.
Want to learn more about grilling indoors or outdoors? Please explore our articles to learn more about the art and science of grilling, and you, too, can become an indoor or outdoors grill master. Cooking meat and veggies is a great skill that you’ll carry with you for life, and it can transform the way you plan your meals. Try it. I know you’ll like it.