Best grill 2018: it's not only George Foreman who knows the secret of electric grilleration

All-in-one, electric grills for lower-fat cooking with plug and play convenience

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Hulk Hogan made a costly error when he chose not to throw his considerable weight behind a certain lean, mean, fat-grilling machine. The George Foreman may or may not be the best grill you can get, but it sure as hell did better than the Hulkamania Meatball Maker. 

With over 100 million griddles bearing the former world heavyweight champ’s name sold worldwide, Big George's device is the market leader, but when it comes to choosing the best portable grill for healthy cooking there are numerous other contenders – it’s no longer a unanimous decision in favour of Foreman.

What is the best grill?

Heston Blumenthal kicks ass in the kitchen, and the Sage range of appliances he's tenuously linked to habitually win T3's kitchen appliance group tests. So, surprise surprise, it’s the Smart Grill Pro from Sage by Heston Blumenthal that cooks up the top spot here. 

As usual with Sage it’s by no means the cheapest of the bunch, but a one-two punch of clever features and attractive, industrial styling elevate it above the competition. 

How to buy the best grill

Whether it’s sizzling steaks, seared skewers, toasted sandwiches or cooked vegetables, these grills are a quick, easy and healthy option for a whole range of meals, as they reduce the amount of artery-clogging fat that seeps into your food, by draining it off during cooking. 

This isn’t much different to how the grill in your conventional oven works, but there are some key advantages to tempt you into buying one. For a start, they’re rapid and cook most things in a fraction of the time – look out for models with quick heating times. 

Secondly, they aim to make food tasty by keeping meat moist and not overcooking it, so check for smart features that identify what you’re cooking and select the perfect grilling time to match. 

Finally, they cleverly funnel any unhealthy fats into a special container, meaning the bad stuff goes in the bin rather than your body. With that in mind, convenience should also be extended to cleaning, so removable, dishwasher-safe griddles are a clear plus point. 

Best George Foreman-style grills in order

Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Smart Grill Pro

1. Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Smart Grill Pro

Massive meat machine is the best grill by far

Specifications
Power: 2,400 watts
Grilling area: 1,650 square centimetres
Removable griddles: Yes
Dishwasher safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Smart features make it idiot proof+Multiple grilling options
Reasons to avoid
-Big and pricey-Not dishwasher proof

It's not just the name that’s a mouthful with this feature-packed grill. You can just use it freestyle if you prefer, but its killer feature is an integrated probe for checking the internal temperature of your food – it's most useful for meat, of course. 

In auto mode, an alarm sounds when it's reached your favoured grilling level, from rare to charred, letting you know when it’s time to let meat rest so it retains moisture and is ultimately juicier, tastier and more flavoursome. 

So, just tell the Smart Grill Pro what you're cooking – there are specific cooking modes for beef, lamb, pork, poultry and fish – stick the probe in and it does the rest. There’s a useful LCD display and a 180-degree opening. That's handy for eggs and pancakes, and also means it can double as a back-up barbecue when British summer inevitably goes wrong.

The grill can be set at a height or angle to suit what you’re cooking, and the grill plates are removable and interchangeable, with one ridged and the other flat. They’re not dishwasher safe though, which is a bit of a pain. 

Given its size and price, the Smart Grill Pro can be considered a rather more serious proposition than the other grills here. You should either be intending to use it very regularly, or have an enormous kitchen that it can be stashed away in.

2. Lakeland Fold Out Grill

Best value grill

Specifications
Power: 2,000 watts
Grilling area: 754 square centimetres
Removable griddles: Yes
Dishwasher safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Much cheaper than the Sage+Quick heating+Angled grill plates
Reasons to avoid
-No smart features, or even a timer 

What Lakeland’s budget grill lacks in terms of cutting-edge tech and smart features, it makes up for in versatility, affordability and consistently good cooking. 

It’s called a fold out grill for a reason and shares the Sage’s 180-degree opening, along with five height settings. The grill plates heat quickly and can be angled to drain fat more efficiently for healthier cooking. They’re also dishwasher friendly.

The Lakeland offering requires you to think for yourself when it comes to cooking, although the instructions include approximate timings for a wide range of foods. There's not even an alarm, although obviously you can use an external one or your phone. 

3. Tefal Optigrill+

Automatic grilling for novice chefs

Specifications
Power: 2,000 watts
Grilling area: 600 square centimetres
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Smart sensors for automatic cooking+Defrost feature
Reasons to avoid
-Complicated control panel-Ugly looks-Doesn't open flat

French brand Tefal has taken its country’s gastronomic reputation to heart and packed what feels like an entire commis chef inside the Optigrill+.

As with the Sage grill, you can stick what you want under the grill, press a button illustrating the food type and the Tefal uses sensors to measure the thickness of the cut and automatically adjust the cooking time. It even detects how many items are on the grill, adapting time and temperature accordingly. 

In practice, it works perfectly with an LED indicator changing colour as you progress from rare to well done, with an audible alert at each stage. 

The controls are unnecessarily difficult to get to grips with, the overall design and lighting is crude and no open flat grilling restricts the grill to a 90-degree operation only. However, if you're only an occasional griller, this would make an excellent, more compact, alternative to Sage's King Kong-sized griller.

4. George Foreman Evolve 21611

A full grilling system from the kitchen heavyweight

Specifications
Power: 1,740 watts
Grilling area: 550 square centimetres
Removable griddles: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Nifty sear feature+Hot top temperature+Cooks omelettes and pizzas too
Reasons to avoid
-Loud design-Plates may need replacing

The pièce de résistance of Hefty George’s lean, mean, red grilling machine is a 'Super Sear' function claiming to offer restaurant quality steak with a short, intense, 260ºC burst of heat to seal everything in, before reverting back to its usual cooking temperature. 

While you'd have to debate the 'restaurant quality' part of that, there's no denying Foreman grills are reliably effective. Flat grilling is available for toasting sandwiches as well as grilling vegetable and fish, and the angled plates do a solid job of draining fat. 

We’re not particularly struck on the design, which is more premium than some older Foreman grills but nothing like the quality of Sage or Lakeland's rivals. We have also heard stories of the plates being replaced sooner than envisaged. 

Even so, given that it can also cook omelettes, pizzas, curries and more, thanks to a welter of removable plates and pan designs, the George Foreman Evolve 21611probably justifies its entry price.

5. George Foreman Grill & Melt 14525

Perfect cheese on toast thanks to a Foreman-exclusive feature

Specifications
Power: 1,500 watts
Grilling area: 432 square centimetres
Removable griddles: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Unique 'melting stuff' functionality+Great for cheese on toast+Handy digital timer
Reasons to avoid
-Lower powered than most-Smaller grilling surface

The 14525 is the only George Foreman to feature a combination of removable plates and a unique grill and melt feature. 

In short, this means the lid and top griddle can be locked in place to hover just above what you’re cooking, so it gloriously melts whatever you place beneath it. The built-in timer comes into its own once you’ve perfected your cheese on toast techniques. 

The smaller cooking surface might prove a hindrance for families or dinner parties and its low power output means heating up and cooking seem slower than others listed here. For the price, it's still a decent device.

6. Cuisinart Griddle and Grill GR4CU

Perfect Paninis and variable temperature control grilling

Specifications
Power: 1,600 watts
Grilling area: 679 square centimetres
Removable griddles: Yes
Dishwasher safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Floating hinge offers flexibility+Reversible grill plates+Doubles as a panini press
Reasons to avoid
-Underpowered-Not so good at draining fat

Americans love a grilled cheese sandwich, so US brand Cuisinart has here come up with something that's midway between a panini press and a grill.

The look won’t be to everyone’s taste. Unlike Sage's design, which is like something from a commercial kitchen, but tarted up for posh homes, this wouldn't look out of place at your local caff. It's a necessary evil though, to accommodate the reversible griddle design. It means you can have dual ridged plates, dual flat plates or a mix of the two. 

A floating hinge makes accommodating bigger items easy and when fully opened at 180-degrees, it easily caters for dinner parties and larger events. 

Heating is fast, even though the wattage makes it appear a tad underpowered on paper, and the griddles are dishwasher safe. That's just as well, mind you, as the lack of an angled design means fat tends to congeal rather than drain. Again, the Americans tend to like that.