Indoor Grilling: Tips and Recipes

With an indoor grill, you can whip up healthy grilled food no matter what the weather.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

After a summer enjoying your favorite grilled foods, it's hard to give them up, isn't it? You can get a nice grilled flavor without the outdoors fuss with my favorite fall appliance -- the indoor grill.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've no doubt heard of at least one particular brand of indoor grill -- the George Foreman grills. These two-sided electric grills have detachable, nonstick plates (top and bottom) with raised edges that make the traditional grill marks. This type of grill has been around for about 10 years, each year bringing new models and new improvements.

If you're looking to buy an indoor grill, there are basically two things you need to know: whether it makes a difference to you if the temperature is adjustable (some grills have only one heat setting), and how much grilling space you need. Some grills have enough space to cook for four, others with enough to prepare just two servings.

There are two styles of electric grills to choose from: The open grill, on which the food is cooked from the bottom and needs to be flipped, and the contact grill, where the lid cooks the topside of the food. Here are some details about both:

1. Open Grill Style. If you get this type of indoor grill, make sure you choose one that comes with a lid (most of them do). It gives you more grilling options and keeps the smoke and steam contained. Some examples of the open grill are the DeLonghi Alfredo Healthy Grill BG24 and the DeLonghi Perfecto Indoor Grill, the Sanyo Smokeless Indoor Grill, and the BonJour Power 1800 Reversible Grill and Griddle.

2. Contact Grill Style. Make sure the top and bottom grill pieces detach easily so you can easily wash them by hand or in the dishwasher. And here's a bonus: a contact grill easily doubles as a panini sandwich maker. Some brands include Cuisinart Griddler GR-4, George Foreman, Hamilton Beach MealMaker Express Grill, and the Krups Universal Grill and Panini Maker.

The contact grill is particularly good at cooking:

  • fish fillets
  • steaks
  • pork chops
  • hamburgers
  • vegetables

Is Indoor Grilling Safer?

You may have read that outdoor grills can produce chemicals (heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that increase your risk of certain cancers. And the smoke from burning coals and dripping fat just add to the danger.

Think about it -- using an indoor electric grill eliminates the burning coals, the smoke, and the dripping fat that cause those nasty flare-ups.

Is Indoor Grilling Healthier?

Most contact grills are designed with a slant so liquids drip from the food, off the grill, and into a tray. But I've found that it's mostly watery juices from the meat or vegetables I'm grilling that end up dripping off. If you start with lean meat, there will be precious little fat collecting in the tray.

And I've got to say if you're grilling meat with some visible fat in an outdoor grill, the same amount of "fat" is probably going to drip off there, too. There just isn't a tray to show you how much liquid melted off.

Indoor Grilling Recipes

Here are a handful of recipes to help you think outside the indoor grilling box. There's a rub for pork chops, an easy rendition of an old favorite (chicken Parmesan), and a new way to cook up portabella mushrooms.

Sweet & Spicy Pork Chops

You'll have about 5 teaspoons of the rub left over for another time. If you don't want to use Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, use 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar instead.

2 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless pork top loin center cut chops, extra-thin cut (1/3-inch thick)
Canola cooking spray

  • Preheat indoor grill according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Add the brown sugar blend, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and salt to a small cup and mix with small spoon to blend well.
  • Coat both sides of 4 pork chops with canola cooking spray and lay them on the bottom plate of the grill. Spread a teaspoon of the rub over the top of each of the cutlets on the grill. Lower the top (if using a contact grill) and cook for 3 minutes (4 minutes if you like them well done).
  • Repeat previous step with the remaining chops. Place leftover rub in a plastic bag or small covered container. Serve pork chops in sandwiches, as an entree, or in a main-dish salad.