11 Indoor Grilling Hacks, Because Not Everyone Has A Backyard Grill

indoor grilling hacks

I’m a Midwestern girl, and where I’m from, we love when the weather reveals a day of sunshine (and yes, humidity). The warm weather brings out flip-flops, BBQs, and ice-cold hands that come from digging a popsicle out of the cooler. Since I love this time of year so much, I moved to Los Angeles and am now able to enjoy the sun year-round. The price I had to pay? Well, I now live in a 400 sq. ft studio apartment with barely enough room to stretch. There’s a beach nearby, but no grassy green backyard to sprawl in and no front porches from which to watch the summer rainfall. Most importantly, there’s no place to put a grill. What’s the point of summer if there’s no grilled food?

I tried to live without a juicy grilled bratwurst and that only lasted for about five months. So, I took it upon myself to learn how to grill indoors. And not the George Foreman grill way (after college graduation, I vowed to never use that thing again). I researched ways to get that smoky, grilled, charred flavor I’ve been craving. To my surprise, there are several safe ways to accomplish this. Through many trials and tribulations (the fire alarm has only gone off once), I have finally mastered indoor grilling techniques. Allow me to walk you through them.

1. Buy a cast-iron pan.

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To accomplish a majority of these tips, you will need to invest in a wide cast-iron skillet with grill marks on the bottom. This skillet will be the foundation of your indoor grilling. It cooks food very just like the outdoor grill of your dreams. This skillet even allows you to make perfect grill marks. Keep reading and learn how in the next tip.

2. Create grill marks.

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For those perfect grill marks (you know, like the restaurants do), follow these steps:

1. Prep your cast iron skillet (with grill marks) with oil, and allow the skillet to heat up.

2. Place your food (make sure it’s dry) in the skillet and allow it to cook for several minutes

3. Start the 10 o’clock/2 o’clock method, by turning the food to a 10 o’clock angle. Wait for two minutes, and then rotate your food to a 2 o’clock angle.

4. Flip and repeat.

3. Know the gas stovetop method.

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The open flame on a gas stove is great for charring vegetables — especially corn. Use a long set of tongs, place your food near the open flame, and get your roasting on.

4. Use a grill press.

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I don’t use this gadget often and especially don’t use it to press my meats (I’ll explain why later). However, I do use a grill press when I want to indoor-grill bacon and vegetables. These items tend to curl and by using the press, I can ensure that each item is cooked thoroughly and flattened.

5. Get some smokey dry rubs and make flavored glazes.

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To ensure that you get the full BBQ taste in your dish, purchase smoked dry rubs, marinades, and glazes to lock that flavor in.

6. Keep the smoke down.

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When grilling indoors, you want to make sure you don’t set off any alarms while getting that smoky flavor you know and love. To help with this, make sure you’re not pressing down hard and releasing all the juice in your food. This is the reason why I don’t use a grill press on meats. The juice will create more smoke. This could also dry out your food, causing it to quickly burn.

7. DIY a stovetop smoker.

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Do you love smoked salmon? Me too. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a smoker, and you definitely don’t need an outside grill. Create your own smoker. All you need is a deep stainless steel pot, aluminum foil, a steel steamer basket, and smoker wood shavings.

1. Place aluminum foil inside and on the bottom of your pot.

2. Add a handful of wood shavings on top of the aluminum foil and then cover the shavings with another layer of aluminum foil.

3. Place your steamer basket on top and put your meat of choice in the basket.

4. Place the lid over top and then cover the lid with aluminum foil.

5. Turn the heat on high for five minutes, then adjust to a low setting. Seafood will typically need another ten minutes of cooking on low heat. However, beef and chicken may need an additional 20 minutes.

8. Don’t overdo it. 

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Don’t forget about your handy-dandy slow cooker (those things are awesome, right?). Make sure you don’t over-grill your food in the cast iron skillet, because this will ruin the flavor. This tip doesn’t necessarily apply to seafood, but you should definitely take your tougher meats off the skillet a tad bit early and finish cooking them in the slow cooker. This will help keep your meat tender.

9. Use a food torch.

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Warning: Your timing has to be perfect with this. I have not nailed this technique yet, but I know a few friends who love using a food torch for vegetables. Use a steel dish or aluminum dish, and cover the bottom with aluminum. Season your food items with your smokey dry rub or glaze, and torch them. Use a continuous rotation method with the torch to make sure every item is cooked thoroughly.

10. Know the broiler method.

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This is another cooking method that will not give you grilling marks, but it will still give you that charred texture and smokey taste. Broilers differ in every oven, but the key to broiling for a grilled taste is to adjust your rack placement close (about six inches) to the broiler element.

11. Buy a countertop grill. 

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If you have extra counter space in your kitchen or on a small patio, this Cuisinart Griddler will be perfect. It is excellent at providing grilled food quickly, and with minimal cleanup. There’s also a bonus feature: the top half is a griddle, meaning the this grill is worth every penny.

Hopefully, I cured someone out there of homesickness and put your tummy in a great mood. Don’t let the weather or your living situation determine your grilling schedule — try indoor grilling tonight!

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