How to buy the best George Foreman grill
By Matt Clear
How to buy the best George Foreman grill
Thinking of buying a George Foreman health grill? Read on for expert tips on what to consider.
When ex-boxing champ George Foreman launched the first health grill in 1995, it was a novelty. But although their popularity has now waned, George Foreman grills still pack a commercial punch for those looking for knock-out meals.
From seared steaks and sizzling salmon, through to chicken breasts and toasted sandwiches, George Foreman grills are ideal for cooking a range of meals.
Read on to find out why their cooking speeds and ease of use make them a popular way to take the hassle out of healthy eating. Plus take a look at our table to see how they fared in our tough lab tests.
What are the benefits of a George Foreman grill?
George Foreman grills are marketed as healthy because they drain fat away from food. But don't get too sold on this - any type of grilling is a good way to drain fat during cooking.
In fact, our tests have found no significant difference between the fat content of meat cooked in a health grill and that cooked on a standard cooker grill.
What's more, not everything that drains away from your food is going to be fat. Our tests found that some foods produce a very limited amount of fat or juice when cooked under the health grill.
And don’t forget that draining away some of the fat from foods such as sausages and burgers won't transform them from calorie-packed treats into low-fat staples. If you're buying a health grill as part of a calorie-controlled diet, what you cook on it will have far more impact on the amount of fat you eat than choosing a health grill over a conventional grill – a sausage is never going to be a low-fat choice, however it’s cooked.
Why might I want to buy one?
Health grills do deliver a mighty blow compared with the conventional grilling method when it comes to speed. On average, they cook chicken breasts in six to eight minutes – about a third of the time needed on a cooker grill. Similarly, they can dish up elegantly seared salmon in four minutes – twice as fast as your grill.
If you do buy a health grill, you could also try using it for toasted sandwiches. Health grills are excellent at lightly toasting the bread and melting cheese or other fillings without steeping the bread in fat (as happens with a traditional sandwich maker). However, unfortunately many models aren't big enough to make more than one sandwich at a time, and they don't seal the edges of the sandwich like most toasted sandwich makers do.
Food cooked on a health grill is tasty, too. The better models are great at keeping meat moist – the chicken we cooked seemed far more succulent than when cooked in a cooker grill. Salmon also tastes really good when cooked on a health grill, although conventional grilling is also a tasty option.
Results when grilling vegetables were mixed, however. Some health grills left us with chewy, unevenly browned aubergines and peppers. It’s also hard to cook different types of vegetables together on these grills and get a great result, because vegetables have such diverse cooking times.
One big advantage that a health grill has over a traditional grill pan is that you can generally clean it by wiping the plates with a damp cloth, or in some cases by removing the cooking plates and putting them in the dishwasher.
This is far more convenient than trying to wash up an entire grill pan and rack by hand, or finding space for them in the dishwasher. See below for more cleaning tips.
Of course you'll want to buy a George Foreman grill that's big enough to cater for your entire family, but that shouldn't be your only consideration. Our tests found that different models vary significantly in how well they cook and how easy they are to use.
Which George Foreman grill should I buy?
George Foreman health grills come in a wide range of different sizes and designs, so you could buy one as large or small as will suit your needs. Here we’ve picked out five popular models that have gone through our tough lab tests.
|Five popular George Foreman grills|
|Make, model, price||Pros and cons and features||Test score|
Tefal OptiGrill - a rival to George?
A rival to George Foreman, and credited with leading a revival of the health grill, is the Tefal OptiGrill. Costing around £100, it's not cheap, but it has automatic sensors that measure the thickness of the meat you're cooking and adjust the cooking time accordingly. It also indicates at what point your steak will be rare, medium or well done. Alongside this, it has six specific programs for chicken, bacon, fish and so on.
When one of our researchers took the Tefal OptiGrill home to use, she found that the automatic sensors did their job well and the steaks she cooked came out the expected colour. She also found it easy both to use and clean. Like other health grills, however, it takes up a fair bit of space on the worktop and needs to be left for a while (about an hour) to cool down.
Does Which? test George Foreman grills?
We used to, but don't any more. As this type of cooking gadget is not so popular and novel as it once was, there is less demand for reviews, so it's no longer cost effective for us to test them. The models rated in the table above were all tested in the Which? test lab back when we used to regularly test health grills. These tests included:
- Cooking tests. To see how well a grill cooks, we grilled peppers, aubergine slices, salmon fillets and chicken fillets, and rated the end results.
- Speed tests. We timed how long each grill took to warm up and cook the food properly, then tasted each portion to rate the food's appeal for taste, texture, smell, appearance and evenness.
- Convenience. We also rated how easy each grill was to use by going through the entire process of using it, from reading the instruction booklet to setting it up and and using the controls. We assessed how easy the models were to clean and pack away for storage in a kitchen cupboard.
Each of theses assessments goes towards the model's total test score, which is the overall percentage score awarded to a George Foreman grill. But certain assessments are more important than others and so carry different weightings. Our overall ratings ignore the price and are based on:
Time to heat up...............10%
A health grill needed to score 75% or more in our tough tests to qualify as a Best Buy.
What features should I look out for?
All George Foreman grills will come with a drip tray for catching drained fat and juices, a scraper that can clean between the grill-plate ridges, and indicator lights so you know when the grill is hot enough to start cooking.
But you may want to look out for some other advanced features that suit your cooking needs. If you have a dishwasher, look for a health grill with removable grill-plates for cleaning - although our tests show that these removable plates do not heat as evenly or get as hot as fixed plates.
Grills with pivoting lids and/or floating hinges are useful for cooking larger items, as they move to allow you to accommodate different sizes and create even pressure across the surface of the food.
And if you’re a burger fan, you’ll find that some models have a clear plastic lid over a hot plate in the top of the appliance where you can warm bread buns. Don't try to use this to cook food, though – it won't work.
How should I use and clean my George Foreman grill?
- use the grill near or below curtains or other flammable materials
- place cling film or plastic bags near the grill
- reach over the top of the grill - steam will escape from the food and plates as you open it up
- touch the grill’s cooking surfaces when the appliance is switched on
- operate the grill via an external timer or remote-control system
- put frozen meat or poultry in the health grill. Defrost it fully before use.
- cook meat and poultry until the juices run clear
- cook fish until the flesh is opaque throughout
- keep an eye on your grill while it's in use
- make sure the power cord is kept well away from the heated plates
- position the grill on a stable, level, heat-resistant surface
- position the cable so it doesn't overhang the appliance and can't be tripped over accidentally
- use oven gloves or a cloth when lifting the lid to protect your hands from steam.
When it comes to cleaning, always switch off and unplug the health grill and allow it to cool completely beforehand. Remove the drip tray and scrape the fat off into a bin so it doesn’t congeal in your sink and cause blockages. Replace the tray and clean the grill plates with the scraper tool to remove any stuck-on food.
Next, wipe the plates with a clean, absorbent cloth, sponge or a length of kitchen roll. You might need to remove stubborn bits of food with a non-metallic scrubbing pad. You can use lemon juice if you've been cooking with seafood to avoid transferring fishy smells to your next meal.
Finally, remove and empty the drip tray again, and then wash the tray and scraper in hot soapy water. Wipe the outside of the grill with a soft cloth that has been dunked in warm soapy water then wrung out, and finish by drying the grill with a soft cloth.