Top Five Tips for Grilling Indoors

5 years ago

I’ve been living in Italy for 9 years. Every year I’ve further blended the culture I was born into with the one I now live in. One of the things I miss the most about living in the United States is barbecue. Italians do do barbecue (check out what makes a great Italian barbecue) but most people don’t live in single family houses or apartments with enough space for an outside grill.

A few years ago I bought a cast iron grill pan so I could bring grilling home to my tiny Italian apartment, and I use it a lot, especially in the summer. If you don’t have space for a big outside grill, or want a quick alternative to use when cooking for just a few people, I heartily recommend grilling indoors.


Grilling can be just as good indoors as it is outdoors—here are my tips to get you started with your perfect indoor grill!

1. Keep ventilated

Your grill is going to produce smoke, and you’ll need to keep the area you’re working in ventilated so the smoke has a good escape route. I turn on the stove fan full blast, open a window, and, if it’s not raining, open my skylight as well to let the smoke out (the last one is the most effective—smoke rises). If you have a house fan, this would be a good time to employ it.

2. Know your grill

Every grill is different and you’ll want to pay special attention to its care so it will last you a long time. I’ve had my grill pan for five years, and it isn’t showing any signs of wear and tear.

If you can, get a cast iron grill pan with raised ridges like the one pictured here. It will get seasoned with use as time goes on, and will develop better grilling flavor. The ridges will help drain the fat away from what’s grilling as well. Read its specific care instructions and don’t use soap to clean it. Most cast iron grills have the added option of being able to go into the oven for a nice finish, or to broil there directly.

Another option is the contact grill, which folds on top of itself and grills the item from both sides. I like the simple grill pan because you have a little more flexibility, and it takes up way less space, which again, is part of the reason you’re grilling indoors! If you have a non-stick grilling surface, take extra care not to scratch its surface with metal utensils (the cast iron grill won’t care, which is another point in its favor).

3. Heat it up

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while cooking is get proper heat before adding your ingredients to cook, and don’t mess with things much once you do. Those lovely grill marks appear if and when they’re given time to develop, and excessive turning will keep them from marking your well-grilled food.

I also wipe a little oil (olive oil for me, but use what you have) to rub down the grill before I put anything on it. There are two schools of thought about whether to oil the meat or oil the grill, and some will debate which technique is better. I usually opt for both, depending on what I’m grilling.

4. Weighty options

Just like on an outside grill, you may want to apply some weight to what you’re grilling so it is touching the grill evenly and in more contact points (which will also help the food grill faster). The trick is to make sure you have something that won't warp, melt, or otherwise get damaged by the heat.

A rudimentary weight can be a smooth rock you wash and then wrap in aluminum foil so no part of it actually touches your food (change the aluminum foil each time). There are also weights made specifically for grilling.

5. Mix it up

While I’m only showing meat in these pictures, I often grill vegetables on my indoor grill, too! I grilled zucchini for an at-home aperitivo, and eggplant slices, too. I also think skewers and kabobs are a lot of fun indoors and I like to pair a simple shrimp or beef skewer with a leafy salad and a detox salad like the one pictured to keep things light.

Do you grill indoors? Share your tips below with those interested in experimenting with indoor grilling.

This post is part of the BlogHer Light & Fresh Summer Grilling series, which includes 100 percent editorial content presented by a participating sponsor. Our advertisers do not produce editorial content. This post is made possible by Michelob ULTRA Light Cider and BlogHer.

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