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Secrets to Making a Grill Pan Smoke Less

By Lisa McManus Published

You can enjoy cooking in your grill pan—without setting off the smoke detector.

It’s more or less inevitable that using a grill pan will smoke up your kitchen to some extent. But aside from turning on your vent fan and opening a window or two, you can drastically reduce the amount of smoke the pan generates in the first place with a few simple steps. 

First, preheat your pan on medium—not high—for several minutes before adding any food. Stoves vary, but we found that it took around 4 full minutes. We learned that a grill pan does not have to be ripping hot to make appealing grill marks, but you need to allow time for the heat to fully spread to the edges of the pan, especially if you’re making more than one sandwich or burger. Lift a corner to peek under the food—flip only when it’s looking good. 

Second, and this is important: Oil the food, not the whole pan. Fat that isn’t covered by food is the source of all that smoke. 

Pro tip: Paint on a glaze or sauce carefully. Keep it on top of the food so that it doesn’t drip down, scorch on the hot pan, and generate smoke. Similarly, leave a little margin around the edges of bread so that sandwich fillings stay in.

Third, if you’re adding a glaze or sauce, paint it on carefully. Keep it on top of the food so that it doesn’t drip down, scorch on the hot pan, and generate smoke. Similarly, build sandwiches with pressing in mind: Leave a little margin around the edges of the bread so that the filling stays in. If cheese drips out of a sandwich, tuck it back in with your spatula while it’s still soft and melted, before it burns. 

With these precautions, your vent fan will have much less work to do—and you’ll have an easier time cleaning up.

Equipment Review Grill Pans

These ridged pans bring the sizzle and flavor of the grill inside. But some sear—and clean up—better than others.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.