Last updated: August 9, 2021

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The contact grill is a true all-rounder. With the compact electric grill, you can conjure up tasty barbecue recipes super fast, regardless of the weather. And it's easy to do on the balcony or even in the flat. From very simple appliances to multifunctional and powerful grills that can do just about any cooking job, everything is possible. Those who love grilling will also love the contact grill. To make it as easy and quick as possible for you to find the right appliance for you, we have created a guide to the most important contact grill topics with our large contact grill test 2021. For this purpose, we have looked at the different criteria. To do this, we looked at the different criteria that need to be considered before buying and then tried to clarify the most important questions.




Summary

  • A contact grill allows you to grill a wide variety of foods in the shortest possible time in your home or on the balcony.
  • By grilling the food on both sides, very even results are achieved, which are also well suited for a healthy and calorie-reduced diet due to the low-oil preparation.
  • The contact grills differ from one another in their distinctive individual functions and thus offer the right solution for every purpose

The Best Contact Grill: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for contact grills

Contact grills can have very different functions and features. We have summarised some criteria below that can help you make your decision:

So that you also know what is important in the respective points, you will find the appropriate explanations and information in the next section.

Power

Contact grills generally have wattages ranging from less than 1000 to more than 3000 watts. Therefore, this information can seem a little overwhelming at first, especially if you don't necessarily have a soft spot for electrical engineering. Without delving too deeply into electrical matters, the wattage given basically means how much power, or simply put, how much force the particular appliance has. Conversely, this also means: the higher the wattage, the higher the power consumption.

On average, most well-rated appliances have about 1500 to 2000 watts.

Dealers often advertise with high wattage figures to promote the power of their appliance. However, a lot does not necessarily mean better. Especially with contact grills, you should always keep the purpose of the appliance in mind when choosing the power. If you are looking for a multifunctional professional appliance, the power may be correspondingly higher. With simpler grills for normal household use, it doesn't necessarily have to be 3000 watts, especially as this is of course also noticeable on the electricity bill. But it shouldn't be too low either, because otherwise you'll end up with a slow-cooked steak instead of a seared one. You should therefore make sure that the power is sufficient to achieve the desired temperatures.

Temperature

Contact grills can reach temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius. This is part of the appeal of contact grilling. It is very quick and produces the same or even better results than conventional grilling.

Of course, the temperature plays an important role. For a normal household, it doesn't necessarily have to be 300 degrees.

You should consider whether the temperature can be set individually and whether the appliance reaches the maximum temperature for the food you are planning to use. (For meat, for example, 200 to 250 degrees is quite sufficient, depending on the type) Some appliances even offer the option of automatically adjusting the temperature to the food being cooked in order to achieve the best cooking results. This is of course very practical, but you will have to pay a little more for it.

Removability of the plates

First of all, you should think about the purpose for which you are buying the grill. If you plan to use it as a panini grill once every six months, you might pay less attention to this point. However, if you are going to use it more often, it makes sense to pay attention to this. Removable plates do indeed offer some advantages, and not just in terms of cleaning, which will be looked at in more detail later. For example, if the plates can not only be removed for easier cleaning, but also exchanged, you have completely different grilling options. Many dealers offer exchangeable plates that have a different structure or are made of different materials. This offers completely different options than a fixed set of plates. If you are looking for a very inexpensive grill for a specific purpose, it may well be that the plates cannot be removed. Of course, you can also achieve good results with this. In principle, you will have a somewhat complicated cleaning process and fewer individual options, but probably easier handling and lower costs. So you should make this decision according to your needs. Below we have summarised the most important advantages and disadvantages for you.

Plates Advantages Disadvantages
Removable Easier cleaning, More individual surface design More expensive
Not removable Cheaper, Easier handling Cleaning difficult, No flexibility

Regulation and display

This point is mainly about determining how user-friendly a device is and how easy it is to operate. But also how individually it can be adjusted. The simplest type of contact grill has a mains plug and nothing more. When you plug in the cable, the appliance heats up. Of course, this is absolutely sufficient for the simplest purposes. Nevertheless, even with such a simple appliance for sporadic use, you might want to make sure that it at least has a switch-on button or an automatic switch-off device, simply to ensure a certain level of safety.

As with so many appliances, the sky's the limit. From temperature regulation, to setting the food to be grilled, to timers and digital displays, everything is possible and of course much more.

Many aspects are quite useful and some are simply technical gadgets that are nice to have but not absolutely necessary. In order to be able to assess this well, it is best to think about exactly which functions you would like to have and then consider the price-performance ratio of the selected appliances.

Cleaning

Before buying, you should of course also make sure that the appliance is easy to clean. What good is a great grilling result if you despair of cleaning it afterwards?

Make sure that your appliance is unplugged and has cooled down before cleaning it.

As a general rule, removable plates are the key to easy cleaning. These can then be easily washed by hand on both sides. If you want to make it particularly easy, you should also choose dishwasher-safe plates. The coating of the plates also plays an important role. If the plates are non-stick, they are of course easier to clean. You should also make sure that the other parts of the grill that get a lot of use, such as the grease drip tray, are easy to clean.

Functions

When buying a grill, you should consider which functions you really need and which are perhaps not absolutely necessary. As with most technical appliances, the more functions, the more expensive. The most basic and simplest function is of course the classic contact grill. Here, the food is grilled from both sides by a hot plate. We have listed a few of the possible extra functions of a contact grill below:

  • Overbaking function: Here, only the lower plate emits direct heat and the upper plate is suspended above the food at a slight distance. This function can also be used to prepare special dishes, such as pizza.
  • Keep-warm function: Who hasn't experienced it: You are grilling and often have very different components that are finished differently. This function makes it easy to keep the finished dishes at the right temperature.
  • Defrost function: As the name suggests, frozen food can be defrosted more quickly with this function.
  • Surface grill: If the contact grill can be folded out completely by 180°, it can also be converted into an electric surface grill and has twice as much space.

Particularly sophisticated models can even be used as a cooker or oven.

Size

Of course, the size must also be considered when buying. On average, the grilling surface for contact grills is around 20 × 30 cm. However, this can also vary greatly. Sometimes the description also indicates how many pieces of a certain food can fit next to each other on the grill, so that you can grill four slices at once instead of two toasts, for example.

The size of the grill surface often influences the price of the appliance. In most cases, the larger the appliance, the more functions it has and the more expensive it is.

If you want to have the option of expanding the contact grill for spontaneous visits, you should pay attention to the fold-out feature. This way, you can no longer use it as a contact grill, but you can use it as a conventional surface grill for several people.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about contact grills answered in detail

Especially with an electrical appliance like the contact grill, which may not yet be part of everyone's everyday life, many questions naturally arise right now. In the following, we have collected the most common ones in order to answer them as thoroughly as possible.

What is a contact grill?

A contact grill is an electric grill with two heated plates. One of them is in the base and one in the lid of the grill. This system allows the food to be heated from above and below. This saves you time and achieves more even results than conventional grilling. In addition, these compact electric grills can be used on the balcony and also inside the flat.

When grilling with a contact grill, there are no limits. In principle, you can use any food that comes to mind.

In addition to classic grilled food such as meat, fish or vegetables, you can also prepare products such as eggs, fruit or pizza, depending on the grill. The small electric grills come in a wide variety of versions. That's why you should take some time to decide which one is best for your purposes. Perhaps the perfect grill for you is already among our featured favourites at the beginning of this guide.

How much does a contact grill cost?

The various models differ greatly in terms of cost. Basically, the more functions, the more expensive. However, there are also relatively inexpensive models that have some noteworthy functions. For example, the Aigostar Hitte 30HFA, which we presented at the beginning as a low-priced favourite. The compact contact grills start at around 20 euros and there are few upper limits, especially in the professional sector. Prices in the four-digit range are quite possible. However, you can get very good, multifunctional contact grills for normal households for around 80 to 300 euros.

What alternatives are there?

Probably the most common alternative to a contact grill would be the classic electric table grill. The only difference is that the table grill is a surface grill and you do not have the option of heating the food from above. Some contact grills can also be opened completely and can therefore be used for both purposes.
Alternatives Advantages Disadvantages
Electric table grill Often cheaper Very limited options and takes longer
Charcoal grill Smoky taste and classic grill feeling Can only be used outdoors, Few settings or extra functions, Takes longer

Are there different types of contact grills?

Basically, there are no precisely differentiated types of contact grills. This is because basically every grill that works with the described double-sided plate system is a contact grill. The greatest distinction lies in the various functions of the appliances.

Simple contact grills

The simplest contact grills are, for example, the so-called sandwich makers. These are often very easy to use, have little or no adjustment options and are only suitable for sandwiches. On the other hand, they are usually quite small, so they are easy to store and also quite inexpensive.

Kontaktgrill-1

Simple contact grills are ideal for grilling sandwiches and usually deliver just as tasty results as the more complex models.
(Image source: Pexels / Pixabay)

They are therefore a good choice if you are looking for a device for a specific function for occasional use or do not want to spend too much money.

Advantages
  • Suitable for specific functions
  • Often cheap
  • Small and space-saving
Disadvantages
  • Hardly adjustable
  • Often difficult to clean
  • No technical help from the appliance when preparing

Multifunctional contact grills

The opposite of these are multifunctional all-rounders, which we have already reported on in the "Functions" section. In contrast to the simpler appliances, these appliances can often be opened completely, which means you can also use them as a surface grill. Of course, these grills are in a rather higher price segment. In return, however, they offer all kinds of convenience when preparing food and often also when cleaning.

Advantages
  • Many setting options
  • Easy to clean
  • Device takes a lot of work off and guarantees good cooking results
Disadvantages
  • Often expensive
  • More complicated to operate
  • Usually take up more space and are harder to store

How do I clean my contact grill?

Cleaning a contact grill can be very easy or very tedious. It depends on the model.

First of all, however, it is important to let your appliance cool down completely and disconnect it from the mains to avoid possible injury or damage to the appliance.

If you have a contact grill with fixed plates, cleaning can sometimes take a little longer. It is best to use a little water, a mild detergent and a soft cloth. For stubborn dirt, you can also buy a special scraper, just make sure to pay attention to the material of the plate and any coatings. It is much easier to use grills with removable parts. These can be easily cleaned by hand under running water. Often these parts are also dishwasher-safe, just follow the dealer's description. Then simply wipe the rest of the grill with a damp cloth.

What can I prepare with my contact grill?

Whether meat, fish, vegetables or bread, there are basically no limits to grilling with a contact grill. Many grills even have special functions for different foods. The most important thing to bear in mind is, of course, the temperature. Sensitive foods cannot be grilled at 300 degrees without being damaged. When buying a grill, make sure you know what you want to use it for and whether it has the appropriate functions or whether the temperature can be adjusted individually.

Do I need oil when grilling with a contact grill and if so, what kind?

Whether oil is needed depends entirely on the material of the plates and their coating. With a so-called non-stick coating, no additional oil is usually necessary. Therefore, this type of grilling is also well suited for a health-conscious and calorie-reduced type of diet. If the grill is not non-stick, however, a small amount of oil is still sufficient. (No more than a tablespoon) Since the oil can drain off well together with the juices, only a little sticks to the meat itself. The choice of oil, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. Of course, cold-pressed oils are the healthier option, but they are often not suitable for high temperatures and start to smoke at comparatively low temperatures. Therefore, you should pay attention to the temperatures when choosing the oil. Particularly heat-resistant is, for example:

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Grape seed oil

If these oils are too exotic, you can simply use refined olive oil.

What are the cooking times for food on a contact grill?

If you want to cook different foods on a contact grill, it is recommended that you check the specific functions of the grill before buying.

Kontaktgrill-2

With multifunctional grills in particular, it is very easy to set the perfect cooking time. Really good appliances recognise the required time and temperature automatically.
(Image source: vika-imperia550 / pixabay)

Higher-quality grills offer the possibility to adjust the cooking time and temperature to the different foods. Of course, this is how you achieve the best results. If you have a contact grill without such functions, you can usually assume that the cooking time will naturally be shortened by heating on both sides. It is only important that the required temperature is reached.

Can I use baking paper or aluminium foil on my contact grill?

Here, too, the only thing to consider is the temperature. But in principle, the temperatures of commercially available grills are no problem for aluminium foil and baking paper. If you are unsure, you can simply read on the packaging up to which temperatures they are suitable. In addition, using aluminium foil or baking paper naturally saves you a lot of cleaning.

Which accessories are useful?

Accessories for contact grills naturally vary from model to model. You can find everything from cleaning utensils such as scrapers or special agents to special baking tins and a wide variety of interchangeable plates. In principle, you should make sure that the accessories are compatible with the grill you are using and that you do not damage it with the wrong materials. In our opinion, a scraper or similar cleaning tool is particularly useful for stubborn dirt.

Image source: Maassen/ 123rf.com

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