Tongs removing meat from grill pan

Tips for Grilling Indoors Without the Smoky Mess

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an outdoor charcoal or gas grill in the backyard, especially apartment dwellers. Luckily, cast-iron grill pans are ideal for grilling indoors but the one issue is smoking up the kitchen — and sometimes other parts of the house. Here at Look, we’re all about solutions for your home cooking conundrums so we reached out to Max Greb, or Max the Meat Guy as he’s known on Instagram, to learn how to grill indoors sans the smoke.

There’s a scientific reason why grilled foods need a high heat to obtain a nice char, which is also the source of the smoke in your kitchen. “Whether cooking indoors or outdoors, the key to great grilled flavor is a great crust,” Greb explains. “A great crust is formed through a process called the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that occurs when meat is seared and caramelized.” 

To prevent a smoky kitchen (and the annoyance of your fire alarm going off), there’s an essential first step. “Make sure you are cooking in a well-ventilated area,” he says. “This might mean leaving windows open and turning the stove vent all the way up.” And if your oven vent isn’t up to par, we’ve got a candle trick to test it before you cook.

It’s also about the spice blend

Close up of steaks on grill pan

A well-ventilated kitchen is just the first way to avoid smoking up your kitchen. “Another critical element is what types of seasonings you use,” Max Greb says. This is an even more essential factor when using a traditional BBQ spice rub. “The first ingredient on many traditional BBQ rubs is often sugar, which will always be the first thing to burn,” he continues. To skirt the smoke, use salt, other spices, or a store-bought sugar-free rub, like McCormick Grill Mates x Max The Meat Guy seasonings that are available in different flavors including an all-purpose seasoning blend. “They are sugar-free, provide great flavor, and are less likely to burn,” Greb says.

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In addition to Greb’s tips, we’ve got some other ideas. Use an oil with a high smoke point, like avocado or safflower oil with one of the highest smoke points. Also, ensure your grill pan is properly cleaned after every use because the remaining fats from the last grill session might start to smoke while it heats up. And since we’re talking about the pan’s heat, be sure to use the right temperature because if it’s too high it can lead to a smoky kitchen and food that’s burnt on the outside and undercooked inside.

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Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

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