A Guide to Smoking Food on an Indoor Grill

It is Possible, But It May Take Some Add Ons or You Can Use an Indoor Smoker Instead

Can you smoke food on an indoor grill? Do I need an electric smoker? You wonder if you can smoke food on your handy indoor grill.

Smoking meat on an indoor grill may seem impossible, but you can accomplish it using either indoor grills with smoking appliances or fancy indoor smokers. If you love to smoke food but don’t have an outdoor space, you can still have perfectly tender smoked meat with an indoor grill.

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Keep reading for tips on smoking food on an indoor grill and more helpful information to give your meat that beautiful smoky flavor.

What Is an Indoor Grill?

An indoor grill is a small electric grill that isn’t supposed to produce smoke, making it safe to use inside your house. Most indoor grills are electric, but you can find indoor charcoal grills and indoor gas grills.

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There are also smokers designed for indoor use, so you can give your meat that smoky flavor even if you don’t have outdoor space.

Types of Indoor Grills and Smokers

If you’re questioning the difference between indoor grills available and various smokers, this section gives a quick overview of the different options you can choose from.

Electric Grill

Electric grills, also called smokeless grills, are the most common type of indoor grill you’ll encounter. It uses electricity to create heat rather than raw fire by lighting gas, charcoal, or wood chips. These are typically the safest option for indoor grilling but the most difficult to get smoky.

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Gas Grill

Gas grills are likely the least common type of indoor grill. Having a significant amount of gas in your house is not wise. And a gas grill will not smoke as well as an electric grill or charcoal grill.

Charcoal Grill

Many meat smokers love charcoal grills because of the intense smoky flavor they bring to the meat or vegetables. Charcoal grills are one of the best ways to smoke food indoors because it generates smoke so easily. But this creates a fire hazard if you’re not careful.

Electric Smoker

Electric smokers are similar to electric grills but typically only work to smoke meat slowly, rather than fast searing or charring. Electric smokers work almost as well as BBQ smokers but can function without wood chips or charcoal.

Stovetop Smoker

A stovetop smoker is one of the best options for smoking meat indoors. They’re also versatile kitchen appliances worth having around.

It’s a meat pan with a firm cover to retain the smoke and cook the meat. A stovetop smoker will work with an electric grill, charcoal grill, gas grill, stovetop burner, or oven.

Steps for Smoking Food on an Indoor Grill

Smoking food on an indoor grill is possible. Indoor grills are also smokeless grills, but this label isn’t entirely accurate. You can smoke food on an indoor grill. The process will vary depending on your grill, but below is an overview of how to smoke meat indoors.

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1. Warm your pan or grill before setting meats on a surface

2. If you have a place for wood chips, place the wood chips inside or at the bottom of the roasting pan.  

3. Place your food on the grill rack.

4. Cover with an oven-safe lid or a tight seal of foil.

5. Set the grill to medium heat, between 225ºF and 275ºF.

6. Smoke for the recommended time, depending on the food on the grill.

Tips for Smoking Food on an Indoor Grill

If it’s your first time using an indoor grill or smoking meat, keep these helpful tips in mind.

Season the Grill

No matter what grill you just bought, you must season it, so it delivers flavorful and seared cuts of meat. To season any grill, clean it thoroughly with a sponge and water.

Once you dry the grill, give it a light coating of cooking oil and run the grill at a low temperature for several hours. This seasoning process burns off gross chemicals that could alter the taste of your food.

Use a Temperature Probe

Some grills come with a thermometer, telling you the temperature inside the grill. However, you should also use a temperature probe where you can check the temperature inside each piece of meat. A meat thermometer is essential, as you don’t want to serve undercooked meat.

Follow Temperature Guidelines

While some home cooks tend to ballpark temperatures and eyeball things, don’t do this when grilling unless you’re an absolute pro. Practice patience and wait until the temperature probe or the grill’s thermometer gives you the exact reading you need for your cut of meat.

Some people may be tempted to add the meat before the temperature rises fully, but it’s best to wait so you can ensure the meat is not undercooked or overcooked.

Experiment With Wood Chips

Not every electric grill or indoor smoker works with wood chips, but the best ones have a compartment for wood burning. If you have the option to burn wood chips, you get to experiment with different kinds of wood and meats to see how they affect one another.

Below is a handy guide to what wood chips pair best with what meat, but get creative with your wood chips to see what taste you enjoy!

  • Vegetables: Hickory, pecan, maple
  • Fish: Alder, oak, mesquite
  • Chicken: Pecan, mesquite, cherry, apple
  • Pork: Hickory, oak, white oak, pecan, walnut, cherry, apple, peach
  • Beef: Hickory, maple, pecan, oak

Some smoked meat purists may consider it an abomination to mix wood chips, but many other people think it’s fun and creates complex and rich flavors in the meat.

Take Your Time

As mentioned, practice patience when grilling or smoking, whether you're indoors or outdoors. Smoking takes hours, as the whole idea is to cook the meat slower, so it becomes more tender and falls apart in your mouth.

If you want beautifully smoked meat, you need to take your time. Wait for the grill to be at the proper temperature and allow the meat to cook low and slow. Smoked meat is not ideal for a hectic weeknight dinner.

Create Space

This tip refers to two aspects of grilling indoors: grill space and elbow room. Do not get a super tiny gas or charcoal grill if you plan to grill and smoke food in larger quantities. Ideally, the grill’s surface area should be double the size of the meat you plan to grill or smoke.

But when grilling in a small kitchen or balcony with limited space, you don’t want the grill or smoker to overwhelm the area. The sides of the grill should not touch anything, like the walls.

Clean the Smoker

Seasoning is one thing, but don’t leave your grill dirty and disgusting after every use. Scrape off any meat remnants or pieces of food.

All you want is a slightly oily grill every time you start a meal, not something covered in bits of the old food. A dip tray is another way to keep your grill clean while you cook.

FAQs

Below are commonly asked questions about smoking meat and indoor grills. Read this FAQ section for more helpful information on preparing a delicious smoked meal.

Can I have an indoor grill in an apartment?

Smokeless electric grills are ideal for use in an apartment. However, most landlords and property owners forbid tenants from using any grills, whether designed for indoor use or not.

Are smokeless grills expensive?

Because indoor grills are relatively small, they’re typically affordable. Outdoor grills are massive and much more expensive than indoor grills.

The cost ranges from $50 to $800, depending on how fancy the indoor grill is and what features it comes with. But most people pay around $200 for a simple but high-quality grill.

Does smoked meat need to be marinated or dry-rubbed?

No, this isn’t necessary. However, any grill or smoking enthusiast will tell you that the flavor you get from smoked meat with a marinade or rub is well worth the extra steps and ingredients.

If you want that intense smoky flavor paired with exciting spices, find a rub or marinade you love and go nuts!

Can I smoke meat in an oven?

Yes, you can smoke some juicy and flavorful meat in your electric or gas oven. Doing this yields the best results when you use a stovetop smoker. Despite the name, some stovetop smokers also work excellently inside an oven.

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Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me

I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
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