The 5 Best Portable Electric Grills: Safe & Non-Toxic

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

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Summer is coming and with it the prospect of outdoor feasts. Skip the gas-guzzling, Teflon-coated barbecues though, and choose an energy-efficient electric grill and griddle that’s better for air quality, your health, and the planet. Better yet, go for an indoor/outdoor model that could help reduce your energy use all year round.

Here are tips on how to choose a non-toxic electric grill, followed by the top picks for this category!

How to choose an energy efficient, safe, non-toxic electric grill

Energy Star doesn’t certify electric grills for residential use, just for commercial use, so don’t waste your time looking for certifications that don’t exist. Instead, consider the design and wattage of a grill and your likely needs.

If you’re looking for a small electric grill to cook up a couple of burgers, don’t invest in a large and powerful grill like the Weber Q 1400 or the Ninja Foodi XL Pro with all its bangs and whistles. The smaller Blue Diamond or Granitestone Diamond grill would be better options to save energy and resources. That way, you can always borrow a bigger grill from friends, family, or neighbors if you do plan a bigger one-off cookout.

Aside from size, power, and function, the main consideration for a healthier, planet-friendly grill is to skip the PFOA and PTFE.

PTFE and PFOA in electric grills

In general, if a grill is marketed as non-stick, beware. Check to see what makes the surface non-stick, and if you can’t find an answer, move on to another product. That’s because many non-stick grill cook surfaces are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). DuPont Co. discovered PTFE in 1938 and the coating quickly gained popularity for its non-stick properties.

Watch out for PTFE and PFAS

Unfortunately, PTFE and other poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were originally applied to cookware using solvents such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). It’s now known that PFOA is a greenhouse gas and has significant undesirable health effects, leading to lawsuits and to the creation of the PFOA Stewardship Program.

Under this EPA-led program, DuPont and other manufacturers voluntarily phased out their use of PFOA in the production of non-stick coatings like Teflon. However, don’t be bamboozled by companies proudly proclaiming their grills are PFOA-free. Yes, this is a good thing, but it’s also the minimum standard in the U.S., as law requires.

What does PFOA-free really mean?

PFOA-free does not mean free of PTFE or other hazardous chemicals used to apply PTFE. These include PFOS and other PFAS, which are also greenhouse gases, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens. It’s also worth noting that DuPont and other PTFE-producing manufacturers allegedly hid evidence showing the negative health effects of the chemicals.

Sadly, PFAS are ‘forever chemicals’ that won’t break down in the body or the environment for hundreds of years. So, despite the transition away from PFOA, most adults already have some PFOA in their blood, and the chemical has also been found in newborns, marine animals, and polar bears.

A tip for spotting grills free of PTFE

One of the best ways to quickly figure out if a grill or griddle is free of PTFE is to check the maximum cooking temperature. If it’s over 500 F, chances are it’s PTFE-free as the chemical starts to break down at about 600 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature often required to sear a steak). Above that temperature, toxic fumes such as PFOA and PFOS begin to be released into the air.

Remember, too, that Teflon-free isn’t the same as PTFE-free.

Top picks

1

Weber Q 1400 Portable Electric Grill

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Highlights: High quality, energy-efficient, large, portable electric grill with porcelain-enameled cast iron cooking grates. Comes with a removable catch pan for easy clean-up, and a six-foot electrical cord!

Weber is well known for outdoor grilling with gas, but the company also makes top-of-the-line electric grills. The Weber Q 1400 Portable Electric Grill boasts an energy-efficient design with an aluminum heat retention liner inside the lid and bowl. The non-toxic porcelain enameled cast iron cooking grates are free of PFOA and PTFE.

Clean-up is easy, thanks to a removable catch pan, and the design allows for even heat distribution across the whole grilling surface.

The Weber Q 1400 has a corrosion-resistant heat element that heats quickly and offers 189 square inches of cooking surface. Unlike many grills, the Weber offers infinite heat control settings (not just a low, medium, or high). With this grill, it’s easy to get a high enough temperature for a good sear on a lump of beef.

The 1400 measures 23.5 inches high, 27 inches wide, and 20.5 inches deep with the lid open. When closed, the grill measures 14.5 x 27 x 16.5 inches. It weighs 28.5 lbs., though, so consider buying the associated cart and cover. That way, you can keep the grill in situ during BBQ season.

This grill works with a standard 120 V outlet and uses 1560 Watts, making for powerful, efficient cooking. The grill has a 6-foot grounded electrical cord, making it easy to safely position where you want it. This grill comes with a 2-year warranty from Weber and a 5-year grill warranty.

Weber is a U.S. company that designs its products in Chicago and manufactures them in Illinois.

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2

Ninja – Foodi XL Pro Indoor 7-in-1 Grill & Griddle

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Highlights: Offering edge-to-edge high heat, this beauty can air fry, roast, bake, dehydrate, broil, grill, and BBQ griddle. It has a dishwasher-safe, PTFE/PFOA-free, ceramic-coated grill grate, crisper basket, and BBQ griddle.

The Ninja Foodi XL Pro Indoor 7-in-1 Grill & Griddle offers just about everything you could imagine from a grill and more! It can reach temperatures of 500 F and offers direct, edge-to-edge high heat. The grill has variable temperature control and an energy-efficient interlocking heating element and griddle. You can also close the hood for cyclonic air action that facilitates all-round crisping, melting, and faster cooking.

The family-sized grill or griddle accommodates six steaks or pancakes, a nacho platter, or four sandwiches at a time. The grill grate, crisper basket, and BBQ griddle are PTFE/PFOA-free with a dishwasher-safe easy-to-clean ceramic coating.

The 7-in-1 has a 4-quart air fryer, so you can make healthier French fries with far less fat. The smoke control system comprises a temperature-controlled grill grate, splatter shield, and cool-air zone, helping to keep your lungs, neighbors, and smoke alarm happy.

The grill has two main downsides, the first being its weight. At 27.5 lbs., this grill might not be as portable as some users would like. The second downside is its three-foot power cord, though this might be plenty long for indoor-only use.

The XL Pro is a 1766-Watt electric grill and griddle. It measures 11.63 inches high, 17.4 inches wide, and 15.7 inches long. The Ninja Foodi XL Pro comes with a 1-year parts and labor manufacturer’s warranty.

Ninja also offers a 6-in-1 version of this (view here), which doesn’t have the BBQ griddle. There’s also a 5-in-1 (view here) that has no BBQ griddle or broil capacity but does pretty much everything else.

3

Blue Diamond Deluxe Electric Sizzle Griddle

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Highlights: PFOA/PTFE-free electric grill with a non-stick diamond-infused ceramic coating that holds up to metal utensils and is highly durable and dishwasher-safe. Also free of lead and cadmium, and comes with a waffle iron, grill, and flat griddle.

Blue Diamond’s Deluxe Electric Sizzle Grill is a fantastic indoor grill with a diamond-infused ceramic non-stick coating. This coating is (according to the company) five times harder and 10 times longer lasting than traditional non-stick coatings. This grill comes with an interchangeable flat griddle, grill, and waffle plate, all of which are dishwasher-safe. I like that this model has a plates-ready indicator light, so you know when it’s cool enough to remove the plates for cleaning.

This grill is made without PTFE, PFOA, lead, or cadmium, and is dishwasher safe. It offers seven ways to cook, and you can fold it out to create a full-size griddle for a full family feast in a compact space. Fold it closed and keep the heat in for shorter cooking times. There are two drip trays to collect grease.

The main downside with this one is that there are set temperature settings (low, medium, and high and sear) rather than infinite temperature control.

The Blue Diamond measures 13 x 10 x 5 inches and weighs just 4.85 lbs. making this one of the smallest and lightest grills around. It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

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4

Americana MECO Corporation Portable Countertop Electric Grill

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Highlights: American-made apartment-friendly electric grill you can use with wood chips for genuine smokiness! Variable temperature control and reflector pan design with 1500-Watt power for fast, efficient, high-heat cooking. Not non-stick though.

The Americana Lock ‘N Go Standard Portable Electric Grill is a great choice for condos, mobile homes, and RVs as it offers a compact grilling solution. You can even use this electric grill with wood chips and planks to generate some authentic smokiness!

The 1500-Watt steel grill has a fully variable temperature control and two extra-large hood vents to enable precise high-heat cooking. There’s 176 square inches of cooking surface, enough to handle up to nine burgers.

This grill has a carbon steel finish and some plastic parts, with a stay-cool wooden handle for safety. It also includes a grill stand and a locking hood. The surface is a chrome-coated steel grate which isn’t non-stick. Fortunately, you can clean the grill and the reflector pan in the dishwasher.

The grill measures 21 inches across, 16 inches high, and 20 inches deep and weighs 12 lbs. It has a 12-inch diameter base and comes with a four and half foot electrical cord.

The downsides to this grill include the need to remove the grid and reflector pan in order to remove the grease cup. There’s also a bit of assembly required, involving a screwdriver and adjustable wrench which you’ll need to provide yourself. All of the mechanical and electrical components come preassembled.

MECO has been making cooking appliances in Tennessee since the 1980s. The company offers a 90-day warranty only.

5

Granitestone Diamond Smokeless Indoor Non-Stick Electric Grill

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Highlights: Slightly smaller, smokeless, PTFE/PFOA/PFOS/BPA-free, non-stick electric grill that can accommodate 5-6 burgers and comes with a grill and griddle that are removable and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

The Granitestone Diamond Smokeless Indoor Non-Stick Electric Grill offers grilling and griddling on a non-stick ceramic surface with even heating without PTFE. You can remove the cooking plates for easy clean-up, and these are also dishwasher safe.

The design allows fat to drip into a cooling pan to reduce smoke and keep food crisp rather than mushy. If you’re looking for a smaller electric grill for a smaller space, the Granitestone is a good choice as it has a heatproof frame and cool-to-touch handles. The aluminum grill is also portable and pulls apart easily for clean-up and storage, and it has a timer too.

This portable electric grill measures 3.5 inches high, 19.9 inches long, and 16.8 inches deep and weighs just 4.5 lbs. The overall cooking surface area is 126 square inches.

The downside is a lack of lid, meaning heat does escape and cooking times will be longer than with lidded grills. It’s also a lower power grill than the Weber, Ninja, or Blue Diamond, offering just 1000 Watts.

Final thoughts on how to choose an electric grill

To summarize, when choosing an electric grill, consider:

  • What you’ll typically use it for (you can probably borrow a larger grill for your once a year family cookout)
  • Size, available space, weight, and portability
  • Wattage (bigger isn’t always better)
  • The length of the power cord and where you want to use the grill
  • If it is suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Ease of clean-up (removable cooking sheets and drip pans that are dishwasher-safe are easiest)
  • The cooking surface (avoid PTFE, PFOA, and PFOS and go for ceramic instead).

Finally, reducing the carbon footprint of your barbecue or grill isn’t just about how you grill, it’s what you grill. To really up the eco-friendly ante, ditch the meat and cheese and grill some tasty veggies!

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Concerned about climate change? Learn actionable tips for making each room in your home greener.

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