How to Grill Without a Grill (7 Different Alternatives)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: June 20, 2024

Sometimes, you want a juicy grilled steak in the middle of the snow season or without the effort of setting up your grill or BBQ, so how do you grill without a grill?

As a lover of grilling, I have tried several methods over the years that have worked perfectly and compiled a list of the best techniques.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling without a traditional grill can be achieved through various methods such as using an oven broiler, a griddle pan, or a cast-iron skillet.
  • Other alternatives include electric countertop grills, microwaves, crock pots, and using smoky ingredients to mimic the grilling effect.
  • According to a 2000 study in ScienceDirect, slow cooking (as in a crock pot) increases the tenderness of meat.
  • Techniques like preheating the oven to the highest temperature, using a wire rack, and employing a culinary torch can enhance the grilling effect.

Grilling Without a Grill

There are appliances, cookware, specific ingredients, and certain tools that you can use when grilling without a grill.

Additionally, there are tips and tricks to help imitate the grilling effect when you don't use a grill. Let's take a look at the options.

1. Use an Oven Broiler for Grilling

A broiler bottom view of chicken inside an oven

An oven is one of the easiest methods for grilling when you can't use a regular grill.

The oven gives the same juicy, browned meat effect even if you don't have the broiler setting, which most ovens do.

The broiler setting can char the meat as a grill does on both sides if you turn it halfway, and the meat will cook through because of the heat emanating all around in an enclosed space – that means there is reasonably even heating.

Homaro Cantu, an expert American chef, once mentioned how people take their method of grilling quite seriously and how there are pros and cons of each technique.

2. Use the Microwave Grill Setting

Setting and pressing the microwave for food

Most newer microwaves have a grill option and come with a round grill rack that's microwave-safe. You can use it to grill just about anything you typically cook on a regular grill.

There is a particular grill setting on the microwave (refer to your manual if you are unsure how to work it).

Selecting the correct grill setting will give you a result similar to a regular grill or broiler and will cook your food through, leaving it juicy and tender.

3. Get an Electric Countertop Grill

Cooking meat on an electric countertop grill and holding the meat with tongs

An electric countertop grill is a griller's dream come true. Many people love to eat grilled food but don't want to grill the conventional way.

You can purchase an electric grill machine, perfect for a few pieces of food, and have deliciously grilled food any day, anytime.

The best part about an indoor grill is that you can control the temperatures.

You can grill various foods efficiently, and you never have to worry about lighting charcoal or refilling your gas.

Many countertop grills have a lid to close and retain the smoke and steam for a closer grilled effect.

4. Grill in a Crockpot

Grill in a crockpot cooker close up image open lid

You might look at a crockpot and think it's only for soups and similar foods.

But don't underestimate its ability to grill. A crock pot will cook your food tender, and you can add your smoked BBQ sauce directly into the pot for those BBQ ribs or pork chops.

A 2000 study we found on ScienceDirect explains how slow cooking (as in a crock pot) increases the tenderness of meat [1].

You can also put your food in the crockpot hours before you need it done, and it does all the work for you—no standing and turning steak or worrying that your ribs are drying out.

Besides, there are hundreds of recipes online that you can follow to get perfectly grilled food in your crockpot.

5. Use a Grill Pan on the Stove

Freshly cooked hotdogs on a grill pan

If you don't have a grill pan, it's time to invest in one. Not only is it excellent for a grilled cheese sandwich or bacon, but you can also grill just about any food that you would on a regular grill.

The best part is that you can use it on your stovetop and control the temperature.

Grill pans are made of aluminum, which helps give your food that seared effect.

They also have ridges that create the dark sear lines from the wire rack like on a regular grill.

Your favorite t-bone will not only look like you used a real grill, but it will taste like it too.

6. Use an Electric Griddle

An empty and new electric griddle

An electric griddle is similar to an indoor countertop grill but without a lid. It is excellent for frying several foods at once because it has ample flat heating space.

It works as a regular frying pan or skillet, and most of them also have temperature control.

You can use the electric skillet to sear your meat, chicken breast, veggies, and bread that you would put on a grill, and the longer you leave it to cook, the more your food will brown.

If you increase the temperature, you can even get a charred effect.

Read More: Easy Steps to Cleaning an Electric Griddle

7. Grill in Your Cast Iron Skillet

Top view of a pan on top of a wooden table

Cast iron skillets are becoming more and more common among home cooks and expert chefs for cooking various foods.

Many people use cast irons to sear deliciously juicy steaks.

An article from Michigan State University explains that a properly seasoned cast iron skillet is great for non-stick and, therefore, better for searing [2].

You can use temperature control and get that grilled effect while your food gets fully cooked through without burning.

Make sure to season your skillet correctly to avoid damaging it; otherwise, it will cause issues with your cooking process.

Read More: Cleaning & Removing Rust on Cast Iron Skillet

Use Smokey Ingredients When Grilling Without a Grill

A bowl of paprika

One of the techniques for grilling without a grill is using smokey ingredients for seasoning your food.

Smoked BBQ spice or sauce and smoked paprika are standard examples.

The smokey ingredients cook into the food, and you get a charcoal flavor without using a BBQ grill.

Liquid smoke is another ingredient you can use to get the smokey BBQ flavor of grilling without using a regular grill or charcoal.

More Tips and Tools to Use

Raw meat on a tray and on a grill rack

You can use several tools and tricks you can apply when grilling without a grill to get better results.

You never have to wait for summer or buy a substantial outdoor grill if you don't want to.

The American chef Sandra Lee, known for her semi-homemade cooking concept, once mentioned that she has converted from outdoor to indoor grilling to help people grill all year round.

  • When using your oven for grilling, preheat the oven to the highest temperature, so when you put your food in the oven, it will immediately gain that seared effect, browning outside. You can then reduce the temperature to medium heat to ensure the food cooks through.
  • Use a wire rack when grilling in the oven. You can place your meat and chicken pieces on the wire rack instead of a baking sheet/tray. The food will get those brown grill lines that mimic a regular grill. Remember to put a tray or foil under to catch any drippings.
  • A culinary torch works well to give your food that glazed effect. If you try to grill your food, but it doesn't get that seared effect, use the culinary torch you stored away for crème Brule. It gives your meat the perfect glazed result.
  • Use skewers for the grill lines. You can be unique by heating skewers and pressing them into your steak for the perfect copycat grill lines.
  • Use coal in foil for a smoked flavor. Heat a piece of coal, place it on a piece of foil, and pour a teaspoon of oil on it. Place it over your food in your grill pan (after cooking) or cast-iron skillet, and make sure to close the lid. The food will absorb the steamy smoke and gain the smoked flavor from the coal.
  • If the time comes that you'll need a grill, check out our top picks for stainless steel grills.


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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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