Indoor Grills - Open Grills Vs. Contact Grills

Ever since grilling has become an indoor activity, there has been a constant battle between open grills and contact grills. They are the two basic models employed by indoor grilling appliances. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and the style that works well for one person may not work as well for another. But, before we can nail down which is the best for you we have to have a firm understanding of the differences between them.

An open grill is an indoor appliance that is much like a grill that you would use outside. However, instead of using coals or propane to heat up the food, it uses a heating element. This heating element actually heats up the cooking a grid, so the surface on which the food is lying is the heat source. A contact grill works in a similar fashion except these units employ two cooking surfaces - one underneath the food and one on top of it. The top cooking surface resembles a lid that can lay on top of the food being prepared. An example would be the ever-popular George Forman grill.

Using an open grill is the closest thing to a real outdoor taste. It can give your food those famous grill marks to enhance the experience. A great advantage of using an open grill is in its ability to prepare a huge variety of foods. While a contact grill can cook the top and the bottom of food simultaneously, it is nearly impossible to prepare vegetables and beans on this type of appliance because of the top cooking surface. An open grill can be used to prepare any type of food that a traditional outside grill could make - including shish kabobs, shrimp and thick cuts of steak.

In general, open grills have a larger cooking surface than contact grills. This is because contact grills are heavier because of the two surfaces that they use. Making these grilling surfaces any larger would greatly increase the weight of the appliance, so contact grill manufacturers have opted to use smaller surfaces.

But, a contact grill is not without its own advantages. The biggest of which is cooking time. Since your food will be heated on both sides, it will cook almost twice as fast. However, a big drawback is that they may not produce enough heat, which is why you want to choose a grill with at least 1200 watts of power in order to thoroughly cook thicker cuts of meat, chicken breasts and hamburgers. In addition, you can also use a contact grill as a panini press. If you enjoy having toasted sandwiches, a contact grill will make them easy to prepare.

Both types of grills can be used indoors and may produce a small amount of smoke. There are certain models of both styles that are specially made to reduce the amount of smoke, but there are many more models of open grills with this function. It is still important to remember that both grills produce such a small amount of smoke that most people are not bothered.

You may find mixed opinions about cleanup between the two styles. Some will argue that a contact grill is more difficult to clean because it employs two grilling surfaces that both require attention. Others would say that an open grill is more difficult to clean because the cooking grid usually has more nooks and crannies. A great advantage of a contact grill is that many models have removable grilling surfaces that are dishwasher safe.

Overall, an open grill is more appropriate for someone who would like to recreate a traditional grilling experience or prepare a larger variety of foods. On the other hand, you may want to look into using a contact grill if you are worried about preparation time or you enjoy pressed sandwiches. Either way, customers all around the world can definitely agree on one thing - they love having the ability to bring grilling into the comfort of their own kitchens.

Check out our in-depth indoor grill reviews so you can find the perfect device for your needs.