Little Grill, Big Power
Contact grills are indoor-use grills that cook the food between two grids. One grid is on the bottom where the food is placed. The other grid is on the cover that rests on the top of the food when the grill is closed. Both grids are heated so the food is cooked from both sides. The result? Foods cook in a fraction of the time of conventional grilling. The dual cooking surfaces also eliminate the need to flip food, but you can if you like.
Contact grills have ridged plates to give the food grill marks. Depending on the type of grill you purchase, these plates may be stationary or removable. If they are stationary, be sure to thoroughly wash them with hot, soapy water after using. Removable plates can be removed and put in the dishwasher or washed by hand.
When purchasing a grill, you'll want to shop with your cooking style and needs in mind. Grills may have some or all of these features.
- What's the Watt? Similar to microwave ovens, contact grills can vary in wattage. Higher-wattage grills, over 1,200 watts, shorten cooking time.
- Cooking Good! Contact grills come in lots of shape, size and style options, so whether you're a single cook or feeding a family, you can have a grill that will accommodate your culinary needs.
- Dial it Up. Some grills offer a thermostat-type dial to help regulate heat, and others have a fixed temperature. The latter are more temperamental, so foods must be watched more closely. Some grills have an automatic shutoff to prevent overcooking.
- Extra, Extra! As the demand for contact grills increases, manufacturers are challenged to provide extras for cooks. Grills may include a bun warmer or grill plates that flip over to become a griddle. Look for special extras if these appeal to you.
Top Indoor Grilling Tips
- Just like an outdoor grill, contact grills need to be pre-heatedFollow the manufacturer's recommended preheating time for your grill.
- Vent! Even though you're cooking indoors, you often have the same type of smoke smell you get when you're grilling outside (but to a lesser extent). Use your grill under or near an exhaust fan when grilling. If buildup becomes too much, open a window.
- Boneless cuts of meat work best with indoor grills because cooking meat to the proper doneness near the bone is more difficult.
- Try not to use glazes or sauces while cooking on a contact grill because they burn easily. Instead, serve the sauce on the side.
- The closed lid allows the appliance to build up steam. Be sure to vent or open periodically to prevent your food from being more steamed than grilled.
- Contact grills cook at high temperatures and get very hot. Use pot holders or oven mitts when opening or closing the cover to prevent burns.
- Keep an eye on the timer and your food. Because these grills cook from both sides and you don't have to deal with weather variables (wind, temperature and rain), it's easier to overcook foods.
- For easy cleanup, unplug the grill and place a couple of wet paper towels between the cover and the base, then close for 10 minutes.
- If you want to try a recipe that uses outdoor grilling times on your contact grill, start by cutting the time in half and then checking every few minutes.
Recipes to Try: