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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
Electric grills and griddles are excellent tools for quickly and easily cooking many different kinds of foods in the comfort of your own home; particularly making sandwiches and pancakes (on the griddle side of things).
However, nobody’s ever accused them of being too easy to clean. While most electric grills and griddles are naturally nonstick, they come with a lot of crevices for things to get stuck in, and since you tend to be cooking with cheese a lot…well, things get sticky (literally).
However, there are quite a few little tips and tricks that make the process simpler, easier, and most importantly faster. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Don’t Delay
While it’s generally a good idea to clean most dishes immediately after you’re done using them, it’s a fact of life that this doesn’t always get done. However, when it comes to any electric appliance, and especially ones like this, it’s especially important.
Unlike most dishes, you can’t submerge electric appliances in water and soak them to help remove grime, so washing these electric grills immediately and, particularly, while they’re still hot or at least warm is paramount.
If you do so, everything should come off with a quick wipe of a wet cloth with just a little bit of soap on it, and a rinse or two. If you do this, you shouldn’t have any issue cleaning your electric grill or griddle, and these next steps should be considered more of a backup plan than your go to.
2. Paper Towel Method
This is one of the niftiest and most surprisingly efficient ways to help clean your electric grill or griddle. It works particularly well on the clamshell style electric grills (where both sides touch and overlap when closed), but works fairly well with larger sized electric grills (that are built more like a standard kettle grill), griddles, and a lot of other, similar appliances (like quesadilla and waffle makers).
It’s simple enough to perform: wet some paper towels and then layer them on the bottom. Close the clamshell and turn on the heat (or just turn on the heat for griddles and the like) and wait for it to steam. The steam will loosen up anything that sticks to the surface, and once that happens you can wipe off the stuck on grime with ease (using the same paper towels, even!).
This works with cloth towels as well, just make sure to keep a closer eye on it; it’s not a huge deal if paper towels scorch since you can just toss them anyway, but cloth towels are a different matter.
As an added bonus, this is an exceptionally gentle method of cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about the nonstick surface getting scratched.
3. Buy a Brush
Just like with your standard charcoal grill, you could use a brush for cleaning your electric grill. However, the stiff wire bristles will do nothing for you except destroy the nonstick coating.
To that end, you need a softer bristled brush to clean up the more delicate electric grill surfaces.
Getting a soft bristled brush is a great way to loosen up tough, stuck on grime so you can do a deeper, better scrub with a sponge or cloth later. While it won’t do very well at getting off oils especially, it’s great for pushing off large chunks of melted cheese or burnt bits that are stuck onto the surface.
The main issue with this is that it can’t be very well combined with other methods, as the bristles will likely melt if you try to use this while the grill or griddle is still hot. To that end, try to make this more of a supplementary choice, or a “first pass” technique to loosen up the biggest problem areas before moving to one of the previous options.
4. What Not to Do?
There is one very big no-no when it comes to cleaning and handling your electric grill: cleaning products. Given that it seems more like an appliance (like a grill) than something like a skillet, you might be tempted to try and clean it like one.
On a true grill with metal grates, outdoors using cleaning chemicals is an acceptable solution to stuck on grime, so long as you make sure to rinse extremely thoroughly afterward.
However, for an electric grill, those harsh chemicals are going to do little more than damage your grill. While you might get the grime off, you’ll likely damage the nonstick coat in the process, making future cleanups harder.
This is especially true for electric griddles, as they have a ton of tiny little divots in them for that chemical to accumulate, making it dangerous to cook on in the future.
5. Putting it All Together
The optimal way to clean your electric grill is very simple. Turn it off after cooking, and let it cool down just a little bit so you don’t burn yourself; this could be as little as a minute, as many of these grills are made of aluminum and both heat up and cool down quite quickly.
Once it’s cooled somewhat (but still warm), take a sponge or cloth with a bit of wet, soapy water on it and scrub the surface (using the soft side only for the sponge). This should remove most food particles and grease with ease.
If that doesn’t work, try one of the other methods, like the bristle brush (once it’s a bit more cooled down), or, if you forgot to clean up right away, reach for the paper towel method which should clean up any stuck on messes.
No matter what, don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals, even if they claim to be safe for grills. It’s really not worthwhile, as even if it doesn’t damage your grill, you’d likely get the same results from just soap and water, or even just water.