Most of us associate grilling with the great outdoors and a primal attraction to a flame. We certainly do around these parts! While grillseeker.com is rooted in the united by flame concept, we’re conscious that not everyone is able to cook over a flame—but that shouldn’t exclude those who still love to grill!
Maybe your living situation doesn’t allow for it, maybe the weather doesn’t allow for it, or maybe you just want to have some fun with the family around the kitchen island one night letting everyone grills their own kebab.
In any case, we’re embarking on a series of reviews for a newly emerging trend: indoor smokeless grilling. These are first-look reviews, with less than 15 cooks per grill. We will certainly update the reviews if opinions or facts change as the equipment gets more exercise.
Meet the Chefman Electric Indoor Grill. We have to admit that we had low (ok, very low) expectations of this “grill”. Let’s see how the Chefman stands up to our expectations.
The Chefman Electric Indoor Grill is a counter-top kitchen appliance. This particular grill has a water pan that the manufacturer states as mandatory for use.
The water pan sits under the heating element during use.
The directions say to fill the pan and then slide it under the grate. We found that to be a bit messy and used a pitcher instead. This will keep water spills to a minimum and off the heating element.
The unit is lightweight and compact, providing easy cleanup and storage. The dishwasher safe, non-stick cooking grate and water pan means you won’t be scrubbing all night after you’re done cooking. The non-stick cast aluminum cooking grate has channels in the bottom that follow the shape of the heating element, which keeps drippings from falling directly on the heat source reducing the smoke output from the appliance.
The cast aluminum grate heats quickly and creates nice sear marks on foods. We also checked the temperatures on the low, medium, and high cooking zones, which are advertised by the manufacturer. When the heating dial is set to high, the three heating zones read as follows: The high zone reached 450ºF, the medium zone reached 360ºF, and the low zone reached 320ºF.
The grill was out of the box, water pan filled to the marking on the pan, heating up, and ready to go in about 15 minutes. Once the grill was warming up, we did notice a slight odor coming from the new burner, as mentioned in the manual. The odor quickly burned off and the grill was climbing toward grilling temperatures within 10-15 minutes. We tested various sources of proteins as well as veggies with this grill, and monitored internal food temperature with a digital instant read thermometer.
Item Specs: Chefman Electric Indoor Grill (Model RJ23-SG) *
- 18.5” W x 2.5” H x 11” D
- Material: Die Cast Aluminum
- Wattage: 120V – 1120W
- Cooking Grate Surface Area 13” W x 9” D
- Weight 3.15 lbs.
- Cord Length: 33.75”
*Specs taken from the Chefman website.
What We Loved
The 8-10 minute cooking duration with the grill set on its highest setting produced unexpectedly excellent results for the foods we cooked. There was no visible smoke during the cook and no smoke detectors were set off. The meats cooked evenly throughout and had nice sear marks on both sides, similar to what one might expect from an outdoor grill. The proof of the pudding came after the plating phase. We were surprised to find that proteins were cooked to juicy perfection. The finish on the vegetables also proved to be quite pleasing and flavorful, though quite obviously there is no “grill” flavor associated with a charcoal grill or a gas grill using a pellet tube.
This appliance is also a capable warmer. The range measured at the center of the cooking grate from the lowest setting starts around 100ºF, but can reach 275ºF temperature with the dial set at medium. Temperature variances between thermostat cycles were roughly 10ºF–15ºF across low to medium temperature range. We found the best dial setting for “warming” to be at the tick mark just before the medium setting, which hovered around 190ºF.
What Could Be Improved
Possible shortcomings included the water pan filling instructions. We suspect the guidance is meant to keep water off the element but a small pitcher and some care when filling makes it much easier to do while in place. The water pan is somewhat awkward if you try to fill it at the sink, then transport it to the grill even if it is only a few feet away. The slightly tight feeling temperature control knob is also a bit curious, almost like it’s misaligned. The non-stick surface works quite well, but it would be nice to have a taller lip around the edge of the cooking grate to prevent foods from sliding off the grate when using a spatula to flip, this was really the major downfall of this unit.
Who It’s For
This grill fits the ticket for an apartment or condo dweller, or someone who does not have outdoor grilling space. The size limits it to cooking for 2 people—maybe 4 in a pinch—but also makes for easy storage in a small kitchen. It might also be a good fit for people who find the classic, smoky, char-grilled flavor, or outdoor propane grilling objectionable. The budget-minded consumer will also find this a great performer for the money spent.
The food from this grill surprised us in almost every aspect. The end game was quite simply great tasting food. The non-stick cooking grate and water pan along with the dishwasher safe properties of both items made for easy cleanup. The price point of this product makes it easy to justify the purchase if you are in the market for an indoor grilling appliance.