This guide will tell you about the best table top grills, their key features and main types. A comparison table will help you choose between the most popular products that are commercially available. Learn in what cases table top grills are preferable over ovens and what tips on using these devices are there.

Nothing quite says “summer in America” quite like a grill. As the weather warms up, people across the country take up weekly cookouts, serving burgers, hot dogs, chicken and steaks with that oh so unique flavor only a grill can provide. The air across suburbia fills with the smells of burning wood and charcoal and the savory smell of delectable eats.

Well, as anyone with a small yard, or living in an apartment will tell you, a proper grill requires more space (for safety if nothing else) than is always practical. Open flames are dangerous, and the smoke is dangerous indoors. But, even without the smokiness added by charcoal or wood, there’s something about grilled foods that no other cooking method can reproduce, so what is the apartment-bound gourmand to do?

There exist solutions to this dilemma, and believe it or not, they’ve been around for quite a while at this point. Even if you’re not usually a grilling aficionado, there are still plenty of benefits that make this a must-have for any kitchen, really.

Of course, health and safety are the most important things in a logical world, but it’s food – what about taste? Grilled foods (including vegetables) have a flavor that’s unmatched by any other cooking technique. Enjoy tender, juicy, piping hot steaks, burgers, chicken, pork, really any meat you can imagine, with none of the overcooked, greasy taste that pan frying has, or the bushy texture and blandness of roasting/baking.

Sounds pretty darn good, doesn’t it? Today, we’re going to learn about tabletop grills, how they work, what to look for when buying one of these, and of course, five of the ones we like the most.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

How Do Table Top Grills Work? Explaining The Technologies Behind

Table top grills are intended to be safe for indoor use, which means that in almost all cases, they do not use charcoal or wood, as the smoke would be hazardous in a closed environment.

That said, there are two typical ways for these to work – electricity or gas. Electric grills are far more common due to the additional safety and the ease of design. These have tungsten heating elements which superheat a Teflon surface with a ridged “grill” texture that allows air to flow beneath what you’re grilling (which is necessary for the effect). Some of these have a clamshell design, allowing both sides to be grilled simultaneously, which you can’t do with a traditional backyard grill.

Gas grills use small canisters/tanks of propane or butane gas, exposing the meat directly to a flame as it sits suspended on a grill grate a few inches above.

What Are The Types of Table Top Grills?

As we discussed above, there are two basic technologies behind table top grills – electric and gas. However, the variation in the technology can vary beyond just the power and heat sources. These grills can come in a few different form factors.

First, there’s the clamshell design, which applies heat to both sides of something simultaneously. The famous George Foreman grill is one such example of this sort of design, but it’s far from the only one.

There are open-top grills, which have a glass lid you can put over them, which is the second most common approach to this design. These probably allow for some of the most creative grilling, especially the electrical variety, as you can stir and mix things together not unlike in a frying pan, without that grease and oil buildup.

What To Look For When Buying A Product?

There are fewer factors to consider when buying a table top grill, compared to a traditional, full-sized grill. This does not mean, though, that there aren’t quite a few things to bear in mind. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors to keep in mind as we shop around for a table top grill.

  • What you cook – What do you want to cook on your grill? This will determine your form factor above all else. If you like to cook things like sandwiches or other layered confections, you’ll almost definitely want a clamshell grill.
  • Mouths to feed – Do you have a large family, or plan to use this for a party? That will mean, obviously, a bigger unit. If you just feed yourself, or a couple people, then a smaller grill can be surprisingly efficient and effective.
  • Ease of use – By ease of use, we mainly mean cleaning and maintenance. Electric ones tend to be much easier to clean and maintain, with gas ones being a bit more complicated. 

TOP-5 Best Table Top Grills

Below, you will find a review of best table top grills within the price range from $50 to $100. Basically, they differ in the number of serving sizes — four, five or eight. Almost all of the products have one side while an item under the brand of George Foreman allows for double-sided cooking. Apart from that, these devices can be divided into two categories: gas and electric ones.

Best Table Top Grill For Families | Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach - Table Top Grill For Families: photo

Hamilton Beach is a name in kitchen appliances, and I, in fact, have several by them in my own kitchen. This one-sided clamshell grill is great for familiesand is extremely easy to clean and maintain, with minimal smoke production. 

Features

  • Power Source: Electric.
  • Sides: One.
  • Non-Stick: Yes.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • High-Heat: Yes.
  • Serving Size: Up to eight.

Performance

I’ve seen a Hamilton Beach grill similar to this one in action, and it’s quite good, though I’m partial to a double-sided design, because it reduces cooking time, and sears things better. However, that could be problematic when cooking some things that I myself do not. In that case, the closed-chamber design of a grill like this is perfect for vegetables, kebabs, you name it.

While I do love Hamilton Beach appliances, though, I want to give you a word of warning about them. They have multiple factories all over Asia which make their products, and once in a while, you get “second run” night shift products coming out that aren’t properly tested.

Pros Cons
  • Reduced smoke.
  • Affordable. 
  • Dishwasher safe. 
  • High heat for searing. 
  • High volume. 
  • Good brand.
  • Single-sided.
  • No timer. 
  • A bit of a power hog.
  • No drainage system. 
  • In recent times, this company has been called out for faulty products, albeit rare.

Conclusion 

I know I’ve scolded Hamilton Beach a tiny bit for a recent issue from a couple of their factories. It’s honestly rare, and merely something to have a contingency to deal with, at worst. I am very happy recommending this grill to people who want to feed lots of people, such as a family, or guests. It’s so easy to clean, too.

Hamilton Beach: Check the current price

Most Practical Table Top Grill | George Foreman

Most Practical Table Top Grill from George Foreman: photo

We’ve all heard of George Foreman grills, and this is the model I myself have. It’s a little pricy, but the double-sided cooking, multiple settings, pressing abilities, and healthy grease-draining capabilities make this one fantastic.

Features

  • Power Source: Electric.
  • Sides: Two.
  • Non-Stick: Yes.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • High-Heat: Yes.
  • Serving Size: Up to five.

Performance

This is one of the more diverse units, able to do the standard grilling, waffles, and even panini if you’re into that sort of thing. I use mine all the time, making burritos, sandwiches, burgers, all kinds of delights. It’s easy to use, it’s durable, it’s very easy to clean, this is just all around a good product, though the double-sidedness can limit you. I can’t see making kebabs or potatoes or asparagus on this.

Pros Cons
  • Reduced smoke.
  • Affordable. 
  • Dishwasher safe. 
  • High heat for searing. 
  • High volume. 
  • Good brand. 
  • Double-sided.
  • Double-sided means some limits.
  • A bit pricy. 
  • Don’t use this directly on a granite countertop!

Conclusion 

I am very comfortable recommending this grill, it makes healthy, delicious burgers, steaks, sandwiches, and even waffles. But the serious griller may find it too limiting.

George Foreman: Check the current price

TableTop Propane Gas Grill | Smoke Hollow 205

TableTop Propane Gas Grill: photo

If you want that real flame-cooked, smoky flavor, consider this gas-powered Smoke Hollow unit. If you add the right seasonings and sauces, the gas will make this taste just like a traditionally-grilled meal.

Features

  • Power Source: Gas.
  • Sides: One.
  • Non-Stick: No.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (grates only).
  • High-Heat: Yes.
  • Serving Size: Up to eight.

Performance

This is a good grill for those who want that fire cooked taste, with no compromise. It’s a bit pricy, and it’s a bit complicated, and it does have a habit of producing more smoke than I would be comfortable with having in the house, though, so I recommend using this outdoors if at all possible.

Pros Cons
  • Fire-cooked taste.
  • Great temperature regulation. 
  • Good build quality. 
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Gas-powered.
  • Produces a little too much smoke for indoor cooking.

Conclusion

If you want to have a cookout, this is as close as you can come, without a traditional grill. I recommend this one for people serious about an authentic grilling experience, but who have too little space for a large grill.

Smoke Hollow: Check the current price

Best Table Top Grill for Camping, RVing, Tailgating | Cuisinart 

Cuisinart  Table Top Grill for Camping: photo

If you want to serve up some grilled eats on a camping trip, a road trip, or a tailgating event, then this is probably the grill for you. This gas-powered miniature unit doesn’t have the highest serving volume, but it’s very portable, very safe, and very practical, with a decent price to boot.

Features

  • Power Source: Gas.
  • Sides: One.
  • Non-Stick: No.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes (grates only).
  • High-Heat: Yes.
  • Serving Size: Up to four.

Performance

This seems like a solid concept to me. I myself am not a camper, nor am I a sports fan, so I can’t speak for its ability to contribute to these events personally. I have, however, used similar grills in the past, and have been more than satisfied with the result. The serving size may be an issue for parties though.

Pros Cons
  • Fire-cooked taste.
  • Great temperature regulation. 
  • Good build quality. 
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Gas-powered.
  • Small serving size.

Conclusion 

If the Smoke Hollow is a bit much, this is a great alternative. If you like to camp or do other on-the-go things but still want to grill up good burgers or steaks, then this is something I am happy to recommend, even to casual grillers.

Cuisinart: Check the current price

Most Diverse Table Top Grill | Delonghi

Most Diverse Table Top Grill - Delonghi: photo

This grill by Delonghi is probably the most diverse, as the open top means you could loosely grill all kinds of things – onions, garlic, peppers, small cuts of meat, you name it. If you want to be creative, this is the grill for you, most likely.

Features

  • Power Source: Electric.
  • Sides: One.
  • Non-Stick: Yes.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • High-Heat: Yes.
  • Serving Size: Up to eight.

Performance

If you want to do creative grilling, you can’t go wrong with this one. I have a friend with one of these, and he does all kinds of neat things with it. I’m a tad less adventurous with my cooking, as I’m all about a balance of time in, versus results out, when it comes to feeding myself.

That said, the only concern is the glass lid, which needs you to be careful with.

Pros Cons
  • Diverse.
  • Easy to use. 
  • Very affordable.
  • Somewhat flimsy build.
  • Lesser-known brand.

Conclusion 

If you like to experiment, and grill more complicated things, this is a grill I am very comfortable recommending.

Delonghi: Check the current price

Comparative Chart Of Table Top Grill Effectiveness

Product Features

Hamilton Beach

• Power Source: Electric.
• Sides: One.
• Non-Stick: Yes.
• Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
• High-Heat: Yes.
• Serving Size: Up to eight.

George Foreman

• Power Source: Electric.
• Sides: Two.
• Non-Stick: Yes.
• Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
• High-Heat: Yes.
• Serving Size: Up to five.

Smoke Hollow

• Power Source: Gas.
• Sides: One.
• Non-Stick: No.
• Dishwasher Safe: Yes (grates only).
• High-Heat: Yes.
• Serving Size: Up to eight.

Cuisinart

• Power Source: Gas.
• Sides: One.
• Non-Stick: No.
• Dishwasher Safe: Yes (grates only).
• High-Heat: Yes.
• Serving Size: Up to four.

Delonghi

• Power Source: Electric.
• Sides: One.
• Non-Stick: Yes.
• Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
• High-Heat: Yes.
• Serving Size: Up to eight.

My Personal Experience With Table Top Grills

I have two brief stories to tell about these, one of which, to this day, I count myself lucky to have gotten out of intact. So, let’s talk about that one first. When I first moved out on my own, I rented a room in a house with a few other people. I had purchased a tabletop gas grill, mainly to cook burgers on, as I love me some burgers. There was a large charcoal grill outside, but I’m not much of a “cookout” type of person myself, preferring to prepare my food in the house, away from the bugs.

Well, someone left the gas on with that thing, after using it. A couple of hours later, I came home with some ground beef, to make burgers for my dinner. When I fired that thing up, it literally exploded. It wasn’t a very powerful explosion, but a terrifying one nonetheless, a thin fireball chasing me across the kitchen as the cloud of gas ignited.

The grill was ruined, and the landlord made him replace the scorched paint on the kitchen walls. It could have been so much worse, so I count myself lucky. The lesson with this one is, if you have a gas grill, be sure that everyone who uses it knows to make triple darn sure the gas is off, and please, keep it out of reach of kids. Running from a fireball looks cool in movies – it’s not when you’re the one running from it.

The second one actually did more damage, despite being an electric grill. I had a George Foreman a couple years ago (and I still have one now, and I adore it). This was in another house where I rented a room, though the landlady lived there too. She asked if she could use my grill, which I was perfectly okay with.

She decided to grill some lemon chicken in that thing (which was indeed delicious), but she didn’t make sure the grease catching tray was placed properly. Lemon-infused, hot chicken juice drained all over her granite countertop. Now, this may sound like, on something as durable as stone, as just an annoying mess to clean up at worst. Sadly, anyone who has granite, travertine, or marble countertops will tell you that the one thing that’ll eat away at them is acid, of the citric variety. Lemons are the most acidic fruit in existence, which is why they’re so sour. It devastated the finish on that countertop. And it cost her about three thousand dollars to repair that. In my defense, I did try to warn her to be careful with that.

FAQ

What is the best table top grill?
Depending on what you want out of it, I’d say probably the George Foreman.

Which is the best for camping?
Probably the Smoke Hollow.

Can I use it in a garage?
You definitely can use the electric ones, the gas ones yes, if you have ventilation.

What recipe for a table top grill would you recommend?
You can’t go wrong with burgers. And, when grilled, they’re actually not unhealthy.

How do you toast bread on it?
Low searing heat, a minute or two on either side, depending on how singed you want it.

Table Top Grills Vs Ovens: Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Grills take less time to heat.
  • They are far easier to clean.
  • They are much more efficient.
  • They produce healthier food, due to draining fats away.

Cons

  • They are less flexible.
  • They produce less variety.
  • They can be costly.
  • Gas ones can be dangerous.

Tips & Life-Hacks For Using Table Top Grills

  • Try crisping burrito wraps with it.
  • Try making a healthier grilled cheese with it.
  • Try browning meat intended to be baked in sauces with it.

Conclusion

There are a lot of reasons to get one of these, even if you’re not usually a grilling sort of person. Just imagine the additional variety, the healthier food, and so on, that you can get. I am positive one of these will meet your needs.