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A George Foreman grill is a versatile, easy-to-use addition to your kitchen’s arsenal when you’re just starting out. Whether you buy the newest model straight from the shelf or a vintage unit from the thrift store, you’ll find they’re all very straightforward to operate.

How a Contact Grill Works

The George Foreman Grill and its imitators are collectively referred to as “contact grills,” because they cook through direct contact with the food. What sets them apart from other, earlier indoor grills is that they cook the food from top and bottom simultaneously, which shortens cooking time by a lot.

It also avoids the whole debate over whether it’s better to turn your steak or chop just once or to flip it frequently for even heating. With a Foreman grill, you don’t flip at all, because the heating is always even. The slanted grill plates also mean that any fat rendered out during the cooking process is carried away from the food, and it won’t build up on the cooker itself.

George Foreman Grill Instructions

Foreman grills have been improved and updated in many ways since they were introduced in the mid-’90s, but the way you cook on one is unchanged. Always preheat a George Foreman grill because food can stick if the grill plates are cold. Older models offered a single fixed temperature, while some newer models feature a choice of temperatures.

Place the grill on a flat, stable surface, and position its drip collector under the lip of the grill’s drain. Set the temperature, if applicable, and turn on the unit. Once it’s up to its cooking temperature, a green “ready” light will come on. Open the lid, and arrange your food on the lower plate with plenty of space in between. Close the lid, and cook until your food reaches its appropriate level of doneness.

When you’re finished, open the lid again, remove your food, and either turn the grill off or unplug it. Wait until the grill plates have cooled before you handle them.

George Foreman Recipes

Recipes for the Foreman grill are not usually complicated, because simplicity of use is part of its appeal. Most of the space in a given recipe is taken up with preparing your food for the grill by wrapping, saucing, brining or marinating it. Once the food is ready to grill, most recipes come down to just time on the grill and the final temperature.

To use your George Foreman grill for a steak, for example, you could use a formal recipe or simply turn to the time and temperature chart on the company’s website. A lean steak that’s 3/4-inch thick will reach the USDA’s recommended temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit in about 7 or 8 minutes. A thicker steak or a fattier one will take longer, while the thinner steaks sold at the supermarket might need a shorter time. You’ll also shorten the cooking time if you like your steaks on the rare side.

Some Foreman Finesse

If you’re adapting a conventional recipe, you’ll need to make some adjustments. George Foreman grill cooking times are a lot shorter. You’ll need to cut cooking time by at least half. If the instructions for a regular grill say to cook for 20 minutes, for example, assume that 10 minutes is your absolute maximum and start checking for doneness as early as 7 or 8 minutes.

You can also get those classic, restaurant-style crossed grill marks quite easily on a Foreman. Start by angling your steak, chop or chicken breast across the ridges of the grill plate at an angle, perhaps from upper left to lower right. About halfway through the recommended cooking time for that item, open the grill and turn your food to the opposite angle, in this instance from upper right to lower left, and then close the grill again. When the food’s done, it will have nicely crosshatched grill marks.

Cleaning and Caring for the Grill

A Foreman grill’s drip tray can be washed by hand or in the top rack of a dishwasher. For models with removable plates, you can hand-wash the plates once they’re cooled or else wash them in the dishwasher along with the rest of your dishes.

For models without removable plates, wipe down the unit inside and out with a damp, soapy cloth. Rinse the cloth and wipe the plates again to remove any soap residue that might give your foods an off-flavor; then dry them gently with a soft towel before storing the unit. Never use metal utensils with the grill, and never scrub it with metal scouring pads, which can damage the non-stick finish.

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About the Author

Fred Decker

Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.