Grilling on the stove is a nice alternative to grilling outside, and it does have its pros and cons.
In some cases it might even be recommended you cook a specific food on the stove grill, rather than outside.
So being well informed about this topic will help you make the best decision.
What is stove grilling ?
Stove grilling is like regular grilling, but you’re using a grill pan, on the stove.
The taste of food grilled on the stove will be very different than the one cooked or a regular grill. It might resemble the effect of a gas grill, since there won’t be any smoke to give the food extra flavor.
However the cleanup might be easier, some might say it’s more difficult, we’ll get to that in a bit.
There are tons of ways to use your stove grill, as well as there are ways to use the regular grill. But let’s see for whom and when the stove grill is a good alternative.
Stove grilling is a viable alternative to a grill
Now, depending on your situation a stove grill may or may not be the best option for you.
However, having a grill pan around the house will save you a lot of trouble when your regular grill is unavailable for some reason.
Right now, let’s talk about the pros and cons of stove grilling, especially compared to outdoor grilling.
Pros of stove grilling
You’ll love stove grilling if you:
- Don’t have an outdoor grill, or weather doesn’t permit going outside
- Are cooking very delicate meat (like fish), or foods that can fall through the grates
- Are grilling a small amount of food
- Would like to fire things up and be done cooking fast
The joys of stove grilling are available for anyone in possession of a working stove, and a grill pan.
Your grilling will become easier, and you’ll be able to even braise some foods. For example chicken drums can be left on the pan grill to release all moisture, add aluminium foil over to cook the chicken in its juices, and then remove the foil to crisp up the chicken.
I’m pretty sure stove grilling is a great alternative to outdoor grilling, especially for times when you can’t leave the house – like torrential rain, or you’re snowed in maybe.
There are some disadvantages to grilling in the house, and we’ll get to that now.
Cons of stove grilling
When you’re firing up the pan grill, you’ll notice a few things happening. These may be a deal-breaker for some, or just a bit annoying for others.
You might think twice about stove grilling if:
- You’re not okay with ‘burnt’ smell and a bit of smoke (way less that outdoor grills) in the kitchen
- Cleaning the whole stove after grilling is too much, the pan can and will spit out some juices or cooking oil
- You have large batches of food to grill, like for a party. Pans are too small for this.
- You really want a smoky flavor to your grill, there won’t be any
For me pan grilling isn’t mush of an issue, but it really depends on what I’m cooking.
For example some asparagus with a little olive oil won’t be too big a deal, since it’s not really messy and won’t leave that burnt smell.
But grilling meat really messes up the whole stove, and there’s a full cleanup needed afterwards.
An outdoor grill is much more forgiving, in that it’s going to keep the mess contained and you can even put a lid on it.
If you put a lid on your grill pan, you’ll get soggy grilled food.
What to use for stove grilling
Stove grilling really is a wide and all-encompassing topic. You can use this method to grill several things on the stove, and in several ways.
The most common things to use on a stove for grilling are usually a grill pan or a smokeless indoor grill.
The grill pan
A grill pan is just one big, heavy pan that’s going to have raised ridges which will act like grill grates. They’re meant to grill your food, or at least give it the appearance of grilled food.
In truth, getting good sear/char marks with these pans if fairy hard, since the ridges are often not high enough.
However they are very easy to control, partly because they’re a small surface, and partly because they’re on the stove to begin with.
Some may come with a lid. It’s not terribly useful, since it will trap a lot of moisture and that’s not what we’re looking for when we try to grill.
If you keep the moisture in, the food won’t be come crispy and instead be more of a steamed meal.
What if you have no grill pan ? You can use a regular skillet or frying pan, though you’ll get your food a bit dry. This is because there is more direct heat applied to your food, since the skillet is often thinner than a grill pan.
I have a grill pan of my own, and I mostly use it when it’s rainy outside but I still really want to grill something.
This means I can open the windows in the house to air out the smoke and heat, so for me this is a great option.
If you’re looking for a good recommendation you can check out my Best Grill Pan page, which is going to explain in detail a very good grill pan that’s going to give you plenty of grilling space.
It’s a thick, non-stick grill pan and it’s going to serve you very well.
Smokeless indoor stove top grill
Another option, and this one is more similar to actual grilling. These are large, circular plate-like pans, and they have two sides. The bottom side is in contact with the stove flame, and will heat the upper side.
It also has a place to collect any juices or drippings that may come from the top side.
The top side, which is domed so the juices collect easier on the sides and none fall on the flame, has a series of cutouts what will act like grill grates.
So, you’re getting nice char marks, with food that can properly grill without being also braised. These are usually bigger, heavier, and more expensive than a regular grill pan.
But they’re much close to the real grill flavor you might be looking for.
For example the Indoor Grill I recommend will sit very nicely on your counter, and it’ll provide a safe and clean grilling experience, as it has a lid to begin with.
Whether you close it or not is up to you, what is important is that the sides of the grill are raised, and thus will protect your kitchen from stray grease and unnecessary grime.
What can you grill on the stove ?
What about what to grill on the stove ? Really, you can toss on anything you like, as long as it will not fall through the grates.
And even if it will, you can use a grill pan to make sure nothing bad happens.
A few of my favorite examples include asparagus, avocado, shrimp, and pineapple.
Not all together, but they could maybe form a dish, you know ? All of them can be grilled on an actual grill, but they do very well on a pan grill too. It’s the moisture you have to look out for, for example with asparagus you need to let it ‘wilt’ a little as it cooks.
On an outdoor grill this means using a low heat, but on a grill pan this means adding a splash of water and placing a lid on for a few minutes.
If you’re grilling very small pieces of food – like peas, beans, canned corn – you definitely need to use a grill pan to keep everything in place. Grilling legumes can’t really be done on the large stove top smokeless grills, since they’ll just fall off the grate.
Not even string beans, since those can and will roll over easily.
Let me show you a great recipe for a healthy, delicious grilled lunch (or dinner) that you can whip up in no time.
Recipe for stove grilled asparagus and chicken
This recipe uses a pan grill, but you can also use a smokeless grill if you blanch the asparagus before adding it to the grill.
You’ll get two servings from this recipe, and it does require some non-grill food items to go with it.
So, for grilled asparagus with chicken, you’ll need:
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, green
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- olive oil
- 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
- 3 oz unsalted butter
- salt, pepper (or chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
First, we need to take care of the sweet potatoes. These will end up as mashed, and served alongside the asparagus and chicken.
Peel the potatoes, and cut into large cubes. Size doesn’t mater, just make sure they’re roughly the same size.
Once they’re cut and rinsed, place them in a pan, with cold water to cover and another inch on top. Add plenty of salt, and set to boil. This will take some time, about 30-40 minutes.
Start grilling when the potatoes are halfway done, so they’ve be been boiling for at least 15 minutes already.
In the meantime, prep the chicken and asparagus. If you have 2 grill pans, this will be easy to make in one go.
If not, then you will need to grill the chicken first, and keep it warm until everything else is done.
So start by washing and patting dry the chicken breast. Cut into fillets, and score the thicker, top side to get a sort of even meat thickness.
You should get about half an inch thickness from one tip to the other (allowing for scoring).
Score lighter and lighter as you get to the thin side. Coat with salt, pepper/chili.
Add a tiny amount of olive oil in the grill pan, and let it get screaming hot.
Set the chicken in the pan when it’s fully heated, and let sit for 3-4 minutes on each side.
In the meantime rinse the asparagus and cut off the thick, hard ends. Bend them so they snap where they need to. Set aside.
When the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and set it somewhere to keep warm. Put some aluminium foil loosely over the chicken.
Use a spatula and paper towel to quickly wipe down the grill pan.
Add a bit of olive oil again, and add a small amount of water. About 1 oz should be enough.
Place the prepared asparagus spears, and generously sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper.
The water should reach less than half of the asparagus’ thickness.
Put on either a lid, or aluminium foil (loosely) to trap some steam for a few minutes. Asparagus will be done in about 10 minutes.
After the first 5 minutes, remove lid and let the water evaporate if it hasn’t already. Roll the asparagus around a bit so it gets seared on all sides.
You’ll know it’s done when the thickest part of the asparagus is easy to pierce with a fork or toothpick, but isn’t mushy.
Take the asparagus off the heat, and set aside with the chicken.
In the meantime, the potatoes should be done. A fork or knife should easily pierce through them.
Turn heat off, strain potatoes. Add butter, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Don’t worry, the butter will melt away easily and it will add a nice flavor to the mashed sweet potato.
Use a masher to very thoroughly mash the potatoes, or if you want to you can use a mixer to the same effect. You’ll be left with a creamy, buttery mix.
Plate up and enjoy !
Tips on stove grilling
Now, stove grilling isn’t terribly complicated but you’ll need to keep in mind some things. A few tips never hurt anyone, and this is what I’m going to help you with now.
When grilling meat, make sure you get an even thickness across all the meat. Otherwise one part will be done before the other, and it will dry out while the thickest part of the meat is cooking.
For best results, get a meat tenderizer and pound the chicken breast until it’s all the same thickness. If you have no such hammer, simply scoring the meat will do.
Remember that the thinner the meat, the faster it cooks.
Another tip about stove grilling is to take advantage of the option of putting a lid on the food. Foods can get cooked with a combination between steaming and grilling, and this is especially true for thicker veggies or legumes.
For example grilled broccoli will need a lid for a few minutes for it to soften up. Same goes for grilled peas, bell peppers, and even brussel sprouts.
Grilling on the stove is a great alternative for many, and on some cases can even be use as a combination between steaming and grilling food items.
Legumes and particularly fiber-heavy foods really benefit from this kind of treatment.
And the meats cooked on an indoor smokeless grill ? They’re going to taste almost like the real thing, and for some this can be a blessing. No smoke, but grill marks and a subtle char flavor.