4.6 Reviewed by SusanRating:
See the lowest price listing I’ve found on Amazon:
The BGR820XL model Breville Smart Grill is aptly named. A key feature is its “Element IQ” technology, but it’s a smart little appliance in a number of ways, from sensor controlled heating for excellent results to easy clean up.
You need to know up front that waffle plates are not available for this model, so if that’s one of your requirements, this one isn’t for you. Otherwise, it has a lot to offer. Not your ordinary indoor contact grill, this is one of the few that will open completely flat, and it’s the only one that has a “hover” lid setting. For anyone who uses a contact grill often and for cooking a wide variety of foods, this top of the line model can fill the bill.
The Breville Smart Grill is one of the more expensive models on the market, but it’s loaded with features, and over 90% of owners give it high ratings. Is it really a great value for the price? We’ve got all the details below so you can decide for yourself.
Read our complete Breville Smart Grill Review below (Model BGR820XL).
Table of Contents
Click a topic to read ahead!
- Stainless steel housing with die cast arms
- “Element IQ” technology for sensor controlled heat during cooking (see details below)
- Cooking elements fully imbedded in plates for faster and more consistent heating
- Floating hinges with 6 Adjustable height settings to allow for even pressure on thick or thin foods
- Opens completely flat to “BBQ Mode” with 260 square inches of cooking area
- Removable, interchangeable, cast aluminum non-stick grill plates (dishwasher safe)
- Integrated, removable drip tray (dishwasher safe)
- Adjustable plate tilt
- Digital temperature control – 310 to 450F
- 1 Year Limited Warranty
What Makes This Grill Different?
(Or, Where’s the value?)
The Breville Smart Grill is the only contact grill on the market that offers a Hover Mode. Using the adjustable height settings, you can set the top plate high enough to hover over food (instead of resting on top of it), which allows for tasks such as melting cheese on top of foods. No other brand is designed for this. (see more below under Floating Hinges)
Also unique to this grill are the Element IQ technology and embedded heating elements. This combination helps you achieve much better results for a number of reasons. Here’s a brief explanation.
Normally, you pre-heat your grill to the desired temperature, but then when you place cold food on the plates that temperature immediately drops. Most grills take a while to recover, which makes for longer cooking times and uneven cooking. It can even toughen meats. (Not to mention that it’s a waste of electricity.)
However, with the Breville Smart Grill, heat sensors are embedded in the grill plates to detect temperature drops and immediately compensate. With 1800 Watts of power, it can inject enough heat to quickly recover back up to the desired temperature.
To ensure that this process works even better, the heating elements are embedded in the grill plates. The difference is illustrated in the pictures at right.
The top photo shows exposed heating elements. Many grills are designed this way, where the plates simply sit on top of the heating elements. In that case much of the heat generated is lost, so it takes the grill longer to heat up and longer to recover from any sudden temperature drop.
The bottom photo shows how heating elements are embedded in the Breville grill plates. While some heat is still lost, much more of the generated heat is transferred directly in to the plates so they pre-heat more quickly and recover much faster. These integrated heating elements also help you get the high temps you need for searing foods the way you want.
Would you like to know more about how the Element IQ technology and embedded heating elements work in tandem to produce superior cooking results? Don’t waste your time going to the manufacturer’s site. You’ll find a much better explanation on the Amazon product page for the Breville Smart Grill. It includes illustrations and all the details.
Temperature settings range from 310° to 450°F, and there is also a 30 minute timer dial with a sound alert.
By default the unit is set to show Fahrenheit temperature readings. If you prefer, the Temperature Conversion Button on the control panel lets you easily switch to Celcius readings instead.
Temperature Responsive LCD
Backlight illuminates blue when in stand-by mode and turns orange when unit is heating or hot.
Floating Hinges and Adjustable Height Settings Make It Extra Versatile
You may be familiar with floating hinges on other models. This type of hinge design allows you some “wiggle” room to accommodate foods of varying thickness. You get that feature with the Breville Smart Grill, plus you also have 6 adjustable height settings on the top plate. This helps you get just the right pressure on something like sandwiches of different thicknesses.
…you can grill open-face melts on the Breville Smart Grill, something you can’t do with most other models
More importantly, the adjustable height settings let you cook in what you might call a “hover mode”. That is, you can adjust it so that the top plate does not touch the top of your food. That means you can grill open-face melts on the Breville Smart Grill, something you can’t do with most other models.
The one common complaint expressed by many owners is that the Breville Smart Grill comes with only 2 grill plates, one flat and one ribbed. Most felt that for the price of this model, the manufacturer should have included two of each kind of plate.
This is definitely a point to consider before you buy. Additional grill plates are available (see Accessories below), but they are pricey. Unless you are fortunate enough to catch a sale, the plates can run you as much as $50 each.
Many owners don’t see this as an issue because they can cook everything they want on the two plates that are included. Exceptions would be, for example, if you want to open it flat to cook pancakes, you need two flat plates. A few people even mentioned that when cooking meats they really want those grill marks on both sides of the meat, and for that you either have to turn the meat while cooking, or you need two ribbed plates. Same goes for paninis. What’s your preference? Some would say it isn’t a panini without the little grooved grill marks on both sides, while others don’t consider that significant.
The bottom line is that if you intend to buy the grill plus one extra flat plate and one extra ribbed plate, it could add as much as $100 to the total cost.(Back to Top)
One thing you’ll definitely want to consider about this grill is size. It’s big! The dimensions of the closed unit are 15 x 6.5 by 16 inches. Obviously, when you open the grill completely flat it’s going to require a considerable amount of counter space.
Used as a contact grill, it has about 130 square inches of available cooking area. (The manufacturer calls this “Panini Mode”.)
Opening it completely flat to “BBQ mode” gives you double that amount of cooking area, about 260 square inches.
This particular grill may not be the best choice for anyone with a tiny kitchen or limited storage space. If you have the room though, the ample cooking area is a big advantage when cooking for a lot of people.
Two nice features that help with storage are:
- The Locking Storage Clip will lock the plates closed for upright storage.
- A space for cord storage is located on the underside of the grill.
The Breville BGR820XL Smart Grill includes:
- 1 flat grill plate
- 1 ribbed grill plate
That’s it. The BGR280XL model comes with only 2 grill plates, exactly as shown in the photos above under “Size”, so in BBQ mode you will have one flat grill plate and one ribbed grill plate.
The plates are removable and interchangeable, so you certainly can cook with two flat plates or two ribbed plates, but be sure you understand that to do that you will have to buy the extra plates. (See Accessories below.)(Back to Top)
As mentioned above, the manufacturer does NOT offer waffle plates for this grill. If you want a combination contact grill and waffle maker, don’t buy this model!
What you can buy are extra flat or ribbed plates:
Though not a necessity, you might also enjoy having an OXO Good Grips Electric Grill and Panini Press Brush. It’s very inexpensive and handy for use on ribbed grill plates and lots of other little kitchen cleaning chores.(Back to Top)
The vast majority of online reviewers are very pleased with their purchase and give this grill excellent ratings. Over and over I found comments like the following:
- large enough to cook lots of food
- powerful enough to cook the thickest cuts of meat
- gets hot enough to do a good job searing meat
- leaves great grill marks
- preheats quickly
- cleans up easily
- grease tray is plenty large and easy to remove/replace [Note: It slides out from the front.]
- high quality and heavy duty
- reasonably attractive if you plan to leave it sitting out on counter
- has the look and feel of a commercial grade grill
The only common complaint I found was about the plates. As already explained above under What’s Missing?, the unit comes with only one ribbed plate and one flat plate. Quite a number of people are of the opinion that for a grill in this price range, it should include two of each type of plate. However, even those owners said they are delighted with the grill and glad they chose to invest in a higher end model.(Back to Top)
- Heavy duty, quality construction.
- Very large cooking area, especially when opened flat to BBQ mode.
- Heats up quickly, cooks evenly, does a great job of searing.
- Floating hinges plus options for height settings and plate tilt make it very versatile.
- Excellent results cooking all types of foods.
- Easy cleanup of both grill plates and grease tray.
- May be too large if you have limited counter or storage space.
- Includes only 1 flat plate and 1 ribbed grill plate. Additional plates are somewhat costly.
- No waffle plates available for this model.
First, make sure you’re okay with size. This grill does lock for vertical storage, but in a tiny little galley kitchen like mine, cabinet space is really tight. I don’t have a huge amount of counter space either. However, this large cooking surface is great for anyone who cooks for a lot of family or guests. Some people with very small kitchens decide to just find a way to accommodate it.
For most people, the other big consideration is cost. Certainly, you can buy a good contact grill for a lot less, and we offer reviews of some of those on this site. Many of those models also offer some very nice features. For a quick overview see our Indoor Grills Comparison Chart.
Still, the Breville Smart Grill is definitely a step up from the ordinary. Its most outstanding feature is the combination of its unique heating technology and embedded heating elements. I had to laugh at one online reviewer who said compared to this Breville, his old Foreman grill was an “easy bake oven”. I think that’s quite an exaggeration, but one thing is for sure – owners overwhelmingly love this grill. It is well designed to accommodate a wide variety of foods, it’s great for searing because it gets really hot, and the way it cooks enables you to achieve excellent results no matter what you’re grilling.
Breville Smart Grill vs. Cuisinart Griddler
You may also want to consider the Cuisinart Griddler. It does not have the “hover” feature, but it does open flat, and it costs only about a fourth of what you’ll pay for the Breville. The Cuisinart model also offers waffle plates as an optional accessory (sold separately). Find out more: