Grilled potatoes in an oven.

Getting a Grilled Flavor Indoors: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

Thanks to Mother Nature, not all of our readers have the opportunity to grill outdoors year-round. Heck, we even have a few days during the winter where grilling outdoors is not an option. So, what do you do when you have a hankering for that delicious grilled flavor but are stuck indoors? Find a way to get the same grilled taste without the grill. Here are eight ways to get grilled flavor in the kitchen that’ll get you and your dish through those tough bad weather days.

Crank Up The Heat With Your Broiler

Broiling can be a decent stand-in for an outdoor grill. Whether it’s a top or bottom broiler, it’ll add char, caramelization, and flavor to your foods. Word of caution, broiling food takes only a few minutes. Never leave food while broiling because your food can go from perfection to burning beyond recognition in mere seconds. Metal pans are the recommended cookware as glass can break under the intense heat of a broiler (even if your glassware says broiler-safe, we don’t suggest taking the chance). You may want to rotate/flip foods halfway through. Allow broiler to preheat for about five minutes. Good food choices for broiling include chicken, seafood, steak, burgers, and vegetables.

TIP: Line your pan with foil before broiling for easy cleanup.

Plank Your Food

If you enjoy the subtle smoky flavors you can get when cooking with cedar planks outside, these culinary boards are an option for indoor cooking. Cedar planks will work in the oven for various foods like burgers, vegetables, hot dogs, and salmon. Be sure to soak your planks before using them to keep your food moist and prevent the wood from burning. 

Add Some Bacon

Ok, let us preface this section with, of course, the bacon won’t add authentic grilled flavor to your foods, but it can enhance the smokiness of those foods, and without question, bacon makes everything taste better! Crumble it, wrap it, add some of the liquid fat to a recipe. Enough said.

Give Smoking Indoors a Try

Smoking foods like meats can bring a complex, fantastic flavor; however, like anything else, more isn’t always better. For that reason, when smoking indoors, you’ll need plenty of ventilation. That means opening up windows and turning on a fan. You may even want to disarm your smoke alarm while smoking. Never use a smoker designed for outdoor use indoors. Instead, look to smaller, safer options like a stovetop smoker or DIY alternatives such as turning an aluminum pan into a smoker. Since there are several wood chip flavors, the food you’re cooking and the flavor profile you’re wanting will help you determine which one or combination is best.

Cook Food in a Grill Pan

In addition to taste, texture, and smell, the visual aspect of grilled foods plays a role in whether we like or hate a certain food. While the ridges of a grill pan won’t impart a grilled flavor to your food, it can add grill marks and char. Any cast iron pan will work if you don’t have a grill pan (minus the grill lines). 

Slather on BBQ Sauce

Craig's BBQ Sauce Texas Pepper Jelly brand. Competition bbq winner and backyard bbq approved

BBQ sauce and grilled flavor are synonymous. Whether you’re slathering it on chicken, beef, pork, or vegetables, you can impart the outdoor grilled flavor you love. Although many barbeque sauces have some smokiness flavor, you can always add a few smoky spices or a dash of liquid smoke to the sauce.

Apply Liquid Smoke (Sparingly!)

Liquid smoke is a concentration of flavorings that can prove useful in bringing out a grilled flavor in foods if used sparingly! Too much liquid smoke can’t be undone, and trust us, it’ll overpower your food, and you won’t like the flavor. Start off with no more than a 1/4 teaspoon. You can add more if desired. A few workarounds include diluting the liquid smoke with a dash of vinegar or water. Or, you can go with a smoky bourbon or molasses in its place.

Use Smoky Spices/Seasonings

Craig's Chipotle Seasoning bottleThere’s a world of spices and seasonings that can add or bring out the smokiness of foods. Some of the most common include smoke paprika and chipotle seasoning, which you can find in powder, whole, or canned.  Bacon salt and smoked salts can also flavor things up. Add these spices to your food directly or to a rub, sauce, or marinade.

Until warmer, brighter days appear, may you find enough indoor grilled flavor to get you through.