I Tried an Indoor *Smokeless* Grill — Here’s My Honest Review (and How It Compares to Actual Grills)

updated Jun 24, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

I don’t have a vent hood in my kitchen. Well, I do, but instead of sending the cooking exhaust outside, it just blows the stuff right back into my face. So, after years of filling my kitchen with clouds of smoke, I’ve learned to be careful about what I cook on the stovetop. Fatty steaks, sticky marinated meats — they’re off-limits for about six months a year, until it’s finally dry and warm enough in my neck of the woods to grill outdoors. 

So, when I heard about the Philips Smokeless Grill, I was very intrigued, but also quite skeptical. I would absolutely love to have a way to cook marinated meats indoors without setting off the smoke alarm … and without having to remodel my entire kitchen. But could it really be smokeless like they claim? The only way to know was to try it.

How It Works

The Philips Smokeless Grill cooks food with infrared heating elements and reflectors that are positioned on the sides of the unit, letting the fat, marinade, and juice drip straight down into the drip tray without hitting the heat source. This is literally the opposite of how my outdoor gas grill works, which has “Flavorizer Bars” perfectly positioned to intercept dripping juices and turn them into smoke to flavor the meat. 

I wasn’t sure if this indoor contraption would really work — there had to be some smoke right? If it really did lack smoke, would everything turn out bland? Could the side-positioned elements actually heat the food evenly?

Credit: Danielle Centoni

Cooking on the Indoor Grill

I set it on my counter, turned it on (there’s just one setting aside from “keep warm”), and nervously backed away. The appliance is silent, but the red infrared light is extremely bright, and the instructions warn not to look into it. I listened — because I did not want to cook my eyeballs!

Unlike with my outdoor grill, there’s no preheating necessary. The lightweight aluminum grates are coated in a nonstick material, so things don’t stick even if the grates are cold, and the food starts cooking as soon as the light hits it. However, the grill’s instruction book said that, to achieve grill marks, it helps to let the grate heat up for a few minutes, so I did.

I added a piece of skirt steak and in about a minute I could see its fat and juices sizzling and dripping into the tray below. To my surprise, there wasn’t a lick of smoke — or even grease. In fact, none of my nearby appliances had even a speck of grease on them. When I turned the steak over after three minutes, it had pretty grill marks evenly spaced across its surface. And in three more minutes, the steak was perfectly cooked and medium-rare.

How Does It Compare to Gas or Charcoal Grills?

As a comparison, my husband cooked another skirt steak over medium-high heat on our gas grill for the same amount of time and we did a taste test. The two steaks were cooked to the same doneness in the same amount of time, and they looked and tasted nearly indistinguishable from each other. The one cooked on the indoor grill wasn’t as smoky, but it actually seemed a smidge juicier. And, technically, cooking the steak on the outdoor grill took longer, since it had to preheat.

Credit: Danielle Centoni
Steak cooked on a charcoal grill (top) versus an indoor grill (bottom).

I really wanted to see, though, how the indoor grill compared to a charcoal grill. So, we fired up our Kamado Joe and cooked rib-eyes and more skirt steaks. Here, of course, the flavor was completely different. The steaks cooked over charcoal — and at really high heat — were deeply charred and smoky. The steaks on the indoor grill lacked those elements, but the beefy flavor of the meat itself was much more noticeable. The outdoor steaks were also a bit chewier and less juicy, even though they were cooked to the same doneness. 

For the next couple of weeks, I kept the indoor grill on my counter and used it every chance I got. I grilled asparagus, delicate salmon fillets, sausages, dry-rubbed chicken, chicken with barbecue sauce, and sticky bulgogi beef. There was never any lengthy preheating, sticking, smoke, or messy splatters. I was in love. 

Are There Any Cons to an Indoor Grill?

After three weeks of grilling anything and everything, it’s clear the Philips Indoor Grill works like a champ, but there are a few ways it falls a bit short. It can’t give me the same char or smoky flavor from a charcoal or even a gas grill. And it only heats to 446°F — basically medium-high on a regular grill — so it won’t give me the blackened char of high-heat grilling. Also, the surface area is much smaller than my outdoor grills, so sometimes I have to cook things in batches. 

Things also don’t sound or smell the same when they cook. On the indoor grill, they’re quiet and subdued, like they’re being cooked over low heat, but they’re really being cooked on medium-high heat. The lack of smoke and furious sizzling means I have to rely more on timing than sensory cues to know when things are done.

How Easy Is It to Clean?

A huge pro with the indoor grill, though, is cleanup. Its grate is light and easy to handle, and its nonstick coating means everything slides right off with hot water and a little soap. The drip tray slides in and out easily and because it doesn’t get hot, nothing gets baked on. Both pieces are dishwasher-safe, too.

Related: We Tried 4 Methods for Cleaning Impossibly Dirty Grill Grates — And We’re Still Blown Away by the Winner

So, should you buy one? Well, the Philips Smokeless Grill is easy to clean and can cook the stickiest of proteins with little effort and even less smoke. And, for me, it’s a game-changer. I especially love this for anyone who doesn’t have backyard space or people who want to grill year-round without having to stand in a blizzard to do so.

Do you have an indoor grill you like? Let us know in the comments!