We purchased the Char-Broil 240 Patio Bistro Electric Grill so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
When it comes to grilling, it’s often a trade-off between flavor and convenience. A hardwood charcoal grill gives you plenty of flavor, but it can be messy and inconvenient. A grill pan on the stove is easy, but the flavor will never match an outdoor grill. The Char-Broil 240 Patio Bistro Electric Grill may be the perfect compromise for folks who can’t have a charcoal or gas grill but don’t want to sacrifice on experience or flavor. It’s compact enough for small patios or balconies, but it offers ample room for cooking dinner for the whole family. It’s also safer than a gas grill in areas where live fire is a concern. We put the top-rated grill to the test to see just how well it performed under pressure.
Performance: Surprising smoky flavor
The Char-Broil 240 Patio Bistro Electric Grill packs plenty of functions, from high-heat searing to low-and-slow cooking—and we found it very easy to use. The grill tackled every task we threw at it, from warming tortillas and grilling steak and sausages to cooking vegetables and charring red peppers to peel. While it isn’t huge, we had enough space to toast a half-dozen tortillas, and we could have fit a few more if we let them overlap just a bit.
The brand’s infrared cooking system provides easily controllable heat while limiting hot air, which can dry out the food. When cooking fatty foods, we noticed just a few small flare-ups below the cooking grates as fat directly hit the heating element. Most of the time, though, we saw tasty smoke rather than flame.
While smoking isn’t something you’d think of when using an electric grill, the Char-Broil makes it possible, creating smoky flavor from juices hitting the heating element.
We enjoyed experimenting with smoking a few different foods, including salt, but we couldn’t get the temperature low enough to attempt smoking cheese.
Still not enough smoke? You can also use it as a smoker by placing wood chips on the free spaces of the grill grates. While it’s not quite the same as a dedicated smoker, we thought this grill worked surprisingly well; because the smoke is closer to the food, it’s a very efficient system.
It did take us a few tries to figure out the right heat combination for sustained smoke without completely burning up the chips. However, once all the chips were burned, all we had to do was add another small handful right on top to continue smoking for a little longer.
Even better, the wood chips don’t need to be soaked first, so you can decide on the spur of the moment to add extra hickory smoke to your burgers or mesquite smoke to your steaks. We enjoyed experimenting with smoking a few different foods, including salt, but we couldn’t get the temperature low enough to attempt smoking cheese.
Design: Built for function
This grill looks like an outdoor grill, with the typical stand, wheels, shelf, and side tables, so the first impression is that it’s a real grill and not a kitchen appliance moved outdoors.
Three notches on the front of the grill grate must be placed over the connection of the heating element for a proper fit. If this isn’t done, the grates will wobble, so it’s pretty obvious when the grate is positioned properly.
The placement of the thermometer on top of the grill isn’t optimum for viewing, but isn’t a deal breaker. This grill doesn’t have a top vent, so the smoke vents around the bottom of the lid during cooking. The lid gets quite hot, but the large handle is far enough from the surface of the lid, so it wasn’t risky to grab it without an oven mitt.
Because of the smoke this grill creates during cooking, it shouldn’t be used indoors, but we would feel comfortable using it below an outdoor overhang to protect the cook from too-sunny weather.
While it’s not quite the same as a dedicated smoker, we thought this grill worked surprisingly well; because the smoke is closer to the food, it’s a very efficient system.
The grill grates are worth a separate mention because of their design. At first glance, they look pretty typical, with top ridges where food rests. But upon closer inspection, we found that the valleys have less space between them than you’d see on a standard gas or charcoal grill. Because of this, you can cook small or thin foods without losing them through the cracks, and fats and juices will continue to flow through.
When we cooked asparagus, one slipped sideways into one of those valleys, but since it couldn’t slip through, we were able to save it from fiery destruction. While smoking, all but the tiniest chips stayed on top of the grill where they belonged.
The small space is also part of the infrared cooking system, which limits hot air from reaching the food from below while creating high heat from the grill surface.
Read our guide to the best charcoal grills.
Setup Process: Assembly required, but not difficult
After unboxing and laying out the parts, the assembly took a bit over an hour and required just a few common tools. The instructions relied heavily on drawings, with text for a few trickier steps.
To make things even easier, the parts themselves sometimes had L or R indicating the left or right side of the grill, or A/B designations to ensure the parts connected correctly. The screws, washers, and other small parts came in a blister pack labeled with the part’s letter and the quantity included, making them easy to identify. However, since the packaging didn’t specify the actual names of the various screws and bolts, it would have made it harder to purchase replacement parts if they vanished during assembly.
The grill came with a sticker on the front bottom, which we left in place during assembly. When we decided to remove the sticker after assembly, the double-stick tape that held it onto the grill was difficult to remove. It would have been much easier had we decided to remove the sticker before assembly, since we could have soaked then washed the part in the sink to remove the residue. Scrubbing off that adhesive was perhaps the hardest part of the assembly.
Setup for cooking is effortless. We simply plugged it in, turned the dial to set the temperature, and let the grill preheat before adding the food.
Features: Warming rack and illuminated knob
This is a fairly straightforward grill with one heating element that curves around to heat the entire grilling surface. With just one heating element, there’s no option for different grilling temperatures, but the warming rack above the grill does give another heat option.
We used the warming rack both for warming buns for sausages and for resting a steak while we finished cooking the vegetables. The warming rack is a bit small, which means it can be left in place during cooking and it won’t get in the way, but it may not be sufficient for burger buns for the whole family without some strategic stacking.
The control knob has markings for “off” and temperature settings from 1-5. A light around the knob illuminates as soon as you turn the grill on. While it’s not super bright, it can be seen from a reasonable distance, so we were able to look back to make sure the grill was off as we were heading away with our dinner. That light also makes it easier to see the grill temperature when grilling after dark.
Check out our guide to the best grilling accessories.
Cleaning: Not much effort required
The two major areas that need cleaning are the cooking grate and the grease tray. The suggested method for cleaning the grill is to turn the heat to high for 15 minutes to burn off any food stuck to the grates, then use a brush to take care of the residue, much like any other grill. However, since the grate isn’t overly large or heavy, it can also be washed in the kitchen sink, and the porcelain coating made it easy to clean with just dish soap, hot water, and a scrubbie sponge. The grease tray can also be removed and cleaned in the sink, along with the warming rack, if it was used. The interior of the base and lid can be wiped clean when needed. More thorough cleaning would be wise at the end of the cooking season, before storing it for the winter.
Portability and Storage: Compact but a bit awkward to move
The side tables are a generous size. They’re very sturdy when extended, and they fold down neatly and easily when they’re not needed, so the grill is actually pretty compact when not in use. A shelf under the grill gives a convenient space for storing supplies when you tuck the grill away at the end of the season.
One small quibble is that the back legs have large wheels, but there’s no perfect hand-grip for lifting the front legs off the ground.
At the back of the grill, a cord wrap keeps the power cord out of the way when the grill is not in use. This means you won’t be dragging it on the ground or tripping over it when you move the grill across the deck or into storage.
One small quibble is that the back legs have large wheels, but there’s no perfect hand-grip for lifting the front legs off the ground. Without a handle for easy lifting, it was a bit awkward to move the grill, particularly when we weren't moving in a completely straight line.
The grill should be stored in a dry location, which might be inconvenient depending on how far your storage area is from your favorite grilling spot.
Take a peek at our guide to thebest small grills.
Price: Reasonable, mid-range price
With a price hovering near $200, the Char-Broil 240 Patio Bistro Electric Grill costs about twice as much as the least expensive grills in this category, but it’s also not the most expensive you’ll find. In the overall grilling space (including gas grills), this is very affordable.
While people who love the idea of lighting charcoal on fire might not give this grill a second glance, it is much easier to use, takes less time to set up for cooking, and cools off more quickly when cooking is done. Even better, you don’t need charcoal, propane tanks, or a permanent hook-up to natural gas. All you need is a convenient electric outlet, and you’re ready to grill.
The ability to add wood-smoked flavor to food makes this even more cost-effective. Since this grill is so easy to set up and use, it’s likely to see a lot of use as long as the weather cooperates. Considering all the benefits of this grill, the price seems reasonable to us.
Competition: Go with Char-Broil for a compact grill sans the flames
The George Foreman Indoor/Outdoor Grill costs about half as much as the Char-Broil grill, and it has one distinct advantage besides the price: It can be used indoors, while the Char-Broil is outdoor-only. While that’s something to consider, the Foreman grill is also rather large for a kitchen appliance, and the cooking experience is more akin to using a grill pan than an outdoor grill.
In terms of flavor, the Char-Broil comes closer to outdoor gas grills. At not quite twice the price, the Weber Spirit II E-210 Gas Grill offers about twice the cooking space, two temperature zones, and propane grilling, which won’t tie you to an electric outlet. Weber has a great name when it comes to building grills, and this one is no exception. We would happily recommend this grill to anyone who prefers propane. However, if live fire is not possible, and if this grill is too large for the space available, the Char-Grill is a great performer in a compact size.
While the Char-Broil grill can do some smoking, if that’s your primary goal you might want to consider the Masterbuilt 30” Digital Electric Smoker. While it costs about 1.5 times as much as the Char-Broil, the Masterbuilt offers over three times the cooking space on four racks, depending on how much vertical space you need. Masterbuilt is known for its smokers, and this one would be one of our top recommendations for electric smokers. However, while you could use the Masterbuilt like a large outdoor oven to roast a chicken with or without smoke, it’s not a grill, so if burgers and steaks are more your style, the Char-Broil might be the better option.
Great performance, great flavor
While charcoal grilling is a lot of fun and offers unique flavor, we have to give kudos to this electric grill for its ease of use, affordable price, and great performance. There might be a short learning curve when switching from charcoal or gas grilling to electric grilling, but we found that controlling this device was pretty intuitive. In fact, it was no more difficult than using a grill pan on the stove. The fact that it can be used for smoking is simply the cherry on top.
Why is my Char-Broil electric grill not heating up? ›
Make sure that your household circuit breakers or GFCI (on a plug or switch plate) hasn't been tripped. If you've followed those instruction and it's still not heating, you could have a faulty controller or heating element. You will need to replace that.How hot does the Char-Broil Patio Bistro get? ›
The Char-Broil Patio Bistro will grill your food quickly. Even though this grill is powered by electricity you can easily reach temperatures of 550 °F in less than thirty minutes of turning on this grill.How do you clean a Char-Broil Patio Bistro electric grill? ›
The suggested method for cleaning the grill is to turn the heat to high for 15 minutes to burn off any food stuck to the grates, then use a brush to take care of the residue, much like any other grill.Why is my new grill not getting hot enough? ›
Some common reasons for a gas grill not getting hot enough include: A faulty temperature gauge. Gas leaks from the grill's regulator hose. An empty or near-empty propane tank.What do you do when your grill isn't hot enough? ›
If you're experiencing low flame and low temperatures, start by resetting your grill's gas regulator. All gas grills have a propane regulator that controls the flow of gas from the propane tank to the grill, and this regulator is one of the most common reasons why a bbq is not getting hot enough.Can you grill in 30 degree weather? ›
With some minor adjustments, grilling can be done in both cold weather and warm weather. If you're grilling in the winter, make sure to give your grill extra time to warm up, keep the lid closed, and transfer your meat to a warm pan once it's done.Is 300 degrees hot enough to grill? ›
Medium-Low Heat (275 to 300 degrees)
True barbecue and indirect grilling. Good for ribs and pork shoulder.
DIRECT HEAT FOR HIGH TEMPERATURE GRILLING
Once the coals are lit, close the lid and preheat for 20 to 30 minutes.
The simple answer is yes, with an electric grill you can grill indoors, as long as it is smokeless. There are two types of indoor electric grills: open grills and contact grills. An open grill has a cover that does not make contact with the food.How do you clean the inside of a Char Broil electric smoker? ›
Using warm, soapy water, gently scrub the interior surfaces of the smoker with a sponge or a plastic bristle brush. Do not use metal. Wipe it dry. If using a bristle brush, make sure no loose bristles remain on any of the cooking surfaces prior to cooking.
Can you cook a good steak on an electric grill? ›
You can easily grill a steak if you take into consideration the electric grilling time. First, make sure you heat your grill before laying your meat on it. To know if your grill is ready, just hold your hand about 5 inches/13 cm from the heat source.Do you leave the door open when using grill in electric oven? ›
In order to keep your oven's grill burning, keep the oven door slightly open. This promotes good airflow, allowing the heat to escape and keeping the oven from reaching its highest temperature and shutting down. This means that your food will burn on the grill instead of baking in the oven.Do you soak wood chips in Char Broil electric smoker? ›
Soaking wood chips isn't necessary when using an electric smoker, or any other type of smoker. The wood chips are there to provide not only the smoke but different blends of flavoring to accompany the natural flavor of the food, and they do so without the need of being soaked beforehand.Why doesn t my char broil grill get hot enough? ›
The first thing to check is whether the level of your gas cylinder is responsible for your gas grill's low temperatures. A gas cylinder that's overfilled or almost empty can result in only low temperatures being reached.Should you run a new grill before first use? ›
Yes we suggest preheating the grill for 20 minutes before the first use. This should burn off any packing material or oil. Then throw your food on the grill and you are good to go.Why won t my grill get above 250? ›
This typically occurs when you turn on your control knobs before you turn on the LP tank valve. If you do activate the gas regulator safety device, the grill will only reach temperatures between 250 and 300F even with all burners on the high setting. To reset the gas regulator safety device: Open the grill lid.Why is my electric grill not heating up? ›
Heating Element is broken
The most common cause of grills not heating up is because the element has somehow become damaged. By unscrewing the heating element, you will be able to conduct a visual examination of you element to access the damage. If the heating element is damaged in any way it will need to be replaced.
Always pull your hand away from the heat before it hurts, and be sure that nothing flammable, such as a sleeve, is dangling from your arm. If you need to pull your hand away after 2 to 4 seconds, the heat is high. If you need to pull your hand away after 5 to 7 seconds, the heat is medium.Does putting the top on the grill make it hotter? ›
Remember this basic rule of thumb: If you're cooking on a gas grill, opening the lid will make it cooler. If you're cooking on a charcoal grill, opening the lid will make it hotter.How cold is too cold for grilling? ›
At -44 degrees Fahrenheit, propane stays at a liquid state and is unable to turn into a gas to power your grill. You probably won't be doing any grilling — or going outside at all — if it gets close to that temperature outside.
How hot is too hot for a grill? ›
No matter how big or small, all our gas grills are designed to max out between 500-550°F.What is the best temperature for grilling? ›
Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking.How long to cook steaks at 250 on grill? ›
Preheat one side of the grill to about 250 degrees F (121 degrees C). Place steak on the cool side of the grill. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads about 100 degrees F (37 degrees C), 25 to 30 minutes.What temperature should burgers be grilled at? ›
Grill temp for burgers
When grilling burgers, you want the grill temperature to be around medium-high to high heat, which is around 375 to 400 degrees F.
We look for a grill temperature of around 400°F. If you need to increase or decrease your temperature, do so now. Add the grate above them and let it heat up. Sear the burgers directly over the coals until brown and crispy on the bottom, about four to five minutes.Should you close the grill when cooking burgers? ›
Thin pork chops, shrimp, and burgers tend to cook quickly. Leaving the grill lid up will slow the cooking process by reducing the temperature around the meat. For thicker cuts, you want to close the lid to keep the temperature high and even.Do you preheat grill with lid open or closed? ›
Not preheating the grill.
Not only does this result in food with attractive grill marks, but it also helps prevent the food from sticking to the grates. Follow this tip: Once you've turned on your grill, let it preheat with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes before starting to cook.
Grilling with the lid on or off – Leave the lid open when you're searing steaks and need to keep a close eye on it. Once you move it to indirect heat, you can close the lid and let the smoke do its thing. Quick-cooking foods can usually be cooked (fish, veggies, hot dogs) with the lid open the whole time.How long do wood chips last in Char Broil electric smoker? ›
Some models, such as the Masterbuilt electric smoker 30″ only have a small chip tray and can hold chips for just 45 minutes or so of smoking. Whereas something like the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker has a large chip box and can produce smoke for up to 8 hours without needing more chips added.What does white smoke mean when grilling? ›
Why you're getting bad white smoke: In short, your charcoals aren't hot enough nor have they been burning long enough. Thick white smoke is a sign of a dead or dying fire - and you want to be cooking on a live one.
Why did my steak catch on fire on the grill? ›
These bursts of intense flames are caused by oil or fat dripping off of food and hitting the coals, essentially causing a grease fire. They tend to occur soon after food is placed on the grill or once it's been flipped.Is it OK to leave electric grill outside in winter? ›
Ideally, you shouldn't leave your electric grill outside if there's any chance of rain. If your grill gets wet, you risk damaging the internal components or electrocution when you plug it in and turn it on.Does food cooked on an electric grill taste good? ›
Food on an electrical grill tastes good as food grilled on other charcoal and gas grills. The only difference is that you get a slightly different flavor. However, you can always enhance the cooking techniques to make a suitable flavor on the foods.Can you use an electric grill in the winter? ›
Electric grills can be used inside during cold weather.Where do the wood chips go in a Char Broil electric smoker? ›
For longer smokes, set up a fuse burn with charcoal and wood chips or chunks. Gas/Electric Grill: Place wood chips in the pack or smoke box and place over direct heat. Once the chips begin smoking, move them to the cooler side of the grill and add your food. Amplifire™ Grill: Place chips directly onto grill grate.Should I clean my electric smoker after each use? ›
Electric Smoker Maintenance
After each use, and preferably while it's still warm, scrub each shelf with a wire brush to remove any food and grease as well as burning off any drippings with a quick blast. Both of these steps will help to keep the smoker much cleaner and prevent any mold from developing in between uses.
Set the temperature and allow up to 30 to 45 minutes for your smoker to preheat. For most meats, 200–225°F is considered the ideal smoking temperature. Once preheated, fill the water pan with hot water and slide it into its designated slot or place it at the bottom of the smoking chamber.Why is my electric griddle not getting hot? ›
If the appliance does not heat, make sure that power is on at the outlet and test the electrical cord; replace the cord if needed. If this doesn't work, disassemble the unit and test the heating element. On appliances that have removable power cords, inspect the terminal pins (see below).How do you reset a Char Broil electric smoker? ›
Press and hold the start/stop button for 10 seconds. The smoker will reset and need to be reconfigured to your new username and network settings.Why is my Char Broil grill not working? ›
If your grill won't light, it could be because you're lighting the wrong burner. See instructions on the control panel of your grill and in your manual. The grill burners could be blocked if your grill doesn't light. Pests, spider webs or other debris could be blocking them.
Why is my electric cooker not heating up? ›
One of the most common issues that causes an electric oven to be unable to heat up at all is a broken or faulty oven temperature sensor. In most electric ovens you will find a temperature sensor that monitors the inside of the oven when you are cooking something.Do you spray Pam on a griddle? ›
A: Most spray oils are not good for your griddle top. Many aerosol sprays contain additional ingredients such as lecithin that are not good for your seasoning. The same goes for our E-Series model. These additives can build up over your non-stick surface and do more harm than good.Do electric griddles get hot enough? ›
Given our testing, which revealed that electric griddles don't get hot enough to properly sear burgers or meats, a large cast iron cooking surface like the Reversible Cast Iron Stovetop Griddle from Lodge can give you plenty of real estate for larger batches of food while letting you decide just how scorching you want ...Do electric griddles need to be seasoned? ›
To prevent food from sticking, season the griddle prior to initial use and after thorough Griddle Cleaning. This can also be referred to as a burn-in process. Avoid using too much oil, it can cause sticking and gummy issues. Wolf recommends vegetable or peanut oil for seasoning because of their high smoke points.Why is my electric smoker not getting hot enough? ›
Unplug and reconnect the heating element by removing the cover plate located on the back of the smoker and try again. If that doesn't solve this issue the heating element will need to be replaced. Refer your manual on how to locate and replace the heating element.How long is Char-Broil warranty? ›
Char-Griller's 5-year burn and rust-through warranty is among the best in the grill industry. Most grill brands stand behind their products for 1-year. At Char-Griller, we build durable products that last beyond the first grilling season.Is Char-Broil still in business? ›
Char-Broil is an American privately held manufacturer of charcoal, gas & electric outdoor grills, smokers and related accessories. Char-Broil is a subsidiary of W. C. Bradley Co. W. C.Why is my heating not heating up? ›
Check for Trapped Air and Bleed Your Radiators
If just one (or a few) of your radiators aren't heating up, the most common reason for this is trapped air. If you've just turned the heating back on after the summer, air can become trapped in your radiators, causing them to be warm at the bottom but cold at the top.
Turn the circuit breaker to the OFF position or remove the fuse. Wait one minute, then turn the circuit breaker back to the ON position or install the fuse to reset power to the unit. This should reset the electronic controls on the range or wall oven.Why is my heating element getting power but not heating? ›
The main reasons this can happen are a faulty bake element, faulty wiring, faulty power supply, defective thermal fuse, a defective thermostat, or in rare cases a defective control board that needs to be replaced.