A space saver.
Though the is certainly on the small side as far as grills are concerned, it has a 280 square inch cooking surface, giving it an excellent patio-to-burger ratio. As a space-saver that's only about a foot tall—26 inches with the lid open—there's no trays for plates or hooks for grill tools. At the back there's a removable grease catch pan, and the cast iron grates are enameled for easier upkeep.
The strong lab results might not tell the whole story.
This is one of the few cases where numbers really struggle to tell the whole story. While it took a good fifteen minutes for the grill to heat up enough for a high searing temperature, the grill was able to deliver exceptionally uniform heat, thanks to the heating element's ample coverage. When it came to even heating, it fell somewhere between discrete gas burners and a well-raked field of charcoal. But regardless of performance, an electric grill will lack the flavors that gas or charcoal can impart. We can't be the judge of taste, so we'll leave that up to you.
Excellent flameless performance in a small package.
It's a fair assumption that people considering electric do so due to necessity; homeowners' associations being as strict as they often are. Though the won't deliver flame flavor—charcoal enthusiasts say gas can't either—it sure can grill evenly without the annoying hot spots gas burners can produce. Unlike panini makers and other grill stop-gaps, it actually cooks like a traditional grill. So whether you just want to save space or are trying to find a loophole in the neighborhood's no-grilling policy, this will get the job well done. Or rare, if that's what you prefer.
Even though the isn't a traditional grill—its six-foot three-pronged tail gives it away—we still test it the same way. Obviously, flavor-based changes such as how charcoal smoke improves—or propane takes away—are difficult to quantify and rely on too many assumptions and subjective criteria. So we leave those judgements to you.
Faster than charcoal, but slower than gas.
The grill took about 17 minutes to reach 625°F, though in practical use you can use it before a temperature that high. Still, in comparison to many gas grills, this is certainly on the slow side, almost to the point of charcoal. Unlike the broiling elements that can reach those temperatures under ten minutes, this grill only draws 1,500 watts instead of the broiler's typical 3000.
Almost as even as charcoal.
The lack of discrete burner locations made it much easier for the to maintain even heat across the surface. Though not quite the completely uniform heat of charcoal briquettes, the zigzagging heating element provided coverage good enough so that our thermocouple sensors' temperatures stayed within 22°F set on high and within 6°F set on low. It's unlikely your meat will be able to tell the difference between temperatures so close.
It's also important to realize that the heat transfer methods of the are different than panini maker, and really are the same as a gas or charcoal grill. A panini maker or griddle uses conduction (i.e. heat being transferred via hot metal plate) instead of radiation as its main heat source—like a broiler and toaster. Obviously some conduction happens (the metal grate's contact with the meat) and convection (the hot air circulating around when the top is down), but the should be treated like an actual grill and not the glorified panini press it isn't.
Nothing to fear here.
After fifteen minutes with nothing on the grill, the body averaged just 176°F and the handle 83°F. Obviously, you should always exercise caution when grilling, but we can say the handle should be cool to the touch.
Meet the tester
Ethan writes reviews and articles about science for Reviewed.com, and edits the Science Blog. He's originally from Vermont and thinks the bicycle and guitar are examples of perfected technology. Prior to Reviewed.com, he studied furiously at Middlebury College.
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