Perfectly blackened chicken. Sweet and savory short ribs. Charred, smoky street corn. There are certain flavors and textures you can only get from the alchemy of food meets fire. But what if you don't have the space for a traditional gas grill? Or you live in a building that prohibits charcoal cooking?
Meet the Weber Lumin ($480+), a cute new electric grill designed for people hindered by one (or perhaps both) of the restrictions above — in other words, urbanites who live in apartments or condos and have a bit of extra cash to burn.
Released in 2023, the Lumin is far from Weber's first foray into electric grilling. The Weber Q and Pulse are two other options from the most iconic name in backyard cooking. But what separates the Lumin is its promise to also steam, smoke and keep food warm for hours at a time, right out of the box.
So how does the Lumin cook? And does electric grilling really count as "grilling?" I tested one over the course of a few months to find out.
Weber Lumin Electric Grill: What We Think
- Two Sizes: 180-242 square-inch cooking surface
- Porcelain-enameled, cast-iron cooking grates
- 6-foot grounded cord
The Lumin isn't really a grill — or at least, not just a grill. It's a steamer, smoke infuser, food warmer and, if you're willing to shell out for one of the extras, a griddle, too. I found that it performs admirably in the functions that really matter — that is, grilling and steaming — and it takes no time at all to heat up, meaning dinner can be ready almost as soon as you are. It reaches 600 degrees in about 15 minutes and can put a beautiful sear on steak, chicken or veggies.
Like most first-gen products, however, the Lumin is not without drawbacks. As small and light as it is, it's not portable since it needs electricity to function; the cord is also just six feet long, limiting where it can be placed without an extension cord. The heat drops quickly when the lid is open. And the heating coil is affixed with screws that have to be removed to adequately clean it.
Heats Quickly, Sears Well
The first question I had coming into this review was whether or not the grill would get hot enough to sear. Let's get straight to it. Yes, it can, and it takes no time at all to heat up.
In my testing, and in various weather conditions, the Lumin took between 15 and 20 minutes to reach its max temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit. It puts a beautiful brown crust on various meats and veggies. (If you're into grill marks, it can do those, too.)
One watch out here: as quick as it is to heat up, the Lumin has very poor heat retention because of its thin-metal body. Opening the lid for even a few seconds will drop the temperature drastically. Because the grill really isn't all that portable (more on that later on in the review), it would have been nice to see Weber opt for a heavier material that retains heat better.
Versatility Is a Major Selling Point
Weber markets the Lumin as a five-in-one cooker out of the box, but it counts defrosting as one of those functions. Otherwise, it can grill, steam, infuse food with smoke keep it warm. A cast-iron griddle, sold separately, adds another function but it costs $100 and I have yet to test it — though I must admit, as someone who already owns multiple other grills, the prospect of using the Lumin as a side griddle is intriguing indeed.
Performance shines on the grilling and steaming functions, and you can do both simultaneously since the steaming basket only takes up half the grill. The smoke infuser is a novelty function. It's a nice-to-have, all things considered, but I don't see myself — or many users — using it often.
The food warmer isn't something to write home about, either, especially given the limited size of the grill. But if that's a feature that excites you, consider purchasing the $80 expansion kit, which effectively doubles the amount of food you can keep warm.
Unsurprisingly, Cleaning Is a Chore
There's no way around it. Grilling is messy. Meats render a lot of fat, and if you're like me, barbecue sauce tends to find its way onto more food than it doesn't.
The design of the grill falls short here. The Lumin's heating coil is affixed to the grill with two Phillips-head screws that need to be removed with a screwdriver to truly clean it.
Unlike gas or charcoal grills, caked-on grease doesn't burn off easily, and it's liable to produce a lot of smoke (in the worst way). In other words, if you plan to use the Lumin on an apartment balcony, you might want to apologize in advance to your next-door neighbors.
That said, the Lumin deserves a special shoutout for its enamel-coated grates, which unlike the heating coil, are naturally nonstick and take no time at all to wipe clean.
It's Not Portable, Despite Its Size and Weight
Early reviews of the Lumin from other outlets played up the grill's lightweight body by calling it "portable." This is one thing it is not.
The Lumin is an electric grill that requires electricity to turn on, and its six-foot cord limits how far you can place it from a wall or outlet. This feels like an oversight since many local regulations mandate at least 10 feet of clearance from railings, walls and doors (even for electric grills).
Given the number of accessories already available, I wouldn't be surprised to see Weber release some sort of battery pack in the future, so users can take the Lumin to a park or tailgate. But for now, it's anchored to the power grid.
The most obvious and perhaps popular alternative to the Lumin is Weber's own Q series. Like the Lumin, the Q comes in two different sizes, and you can also opt for a gas version, which ups the ante in terms of portability. It's also cheaper (starting at $299) and boasts a bigger cooking surface (280 vs. 242 square inches). If you just want a grill and don't care about extra cooking functions out the gate (Weber sells a compatible griddle and smoker box), the Q is the better option, even if it looks a bit less chic.
For more outdoor-cooking recommendations, check out one of the following guides:
- The Best Gas Grills for Excellent Outdoor Cooking
- The 10 Best Pellet Smokers and Grills You Can Buy
- The Best Charcoal Grills for True BBQ Flavor
- The Best Flat Top Grills and Griddles for Elevated Cookouts
- The Best Pizza Ovens for At-Home Pies