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If you’re an outdoor BBQ aficionado, you are probably used to seeing or using a traditional charcoal grill or an easier-to-use propane gas model in your backyard or on your patio. Some of us may even have tried out slow cooking pellet smokers for great tasting meat and fish. But a more recent type of outdoor cooker has appeared thanks to a spike in sales across the board. The newbie is the outdoor griddle. Why would you need a griddle if you like to grill? If you’re not an expert griller, would a BBQ with griddle make life easier? Maybe a combo or both grill and griddle would be a good idea. There is no “right or wrong” answer to this dilemma. Many foods can be successfully prepared on either, while others not so much. Your tastes and needs will guide your decision. So let’s take a look at our BBQ griddle vs grill guide so you can decide what’s best for you.
Why on earth should a griddle take the place of an outdoor grill? Imagine a super-sized hotplate or rectangular skillet. Griddle cooking usually involves an open flat surface that is usually made out of steel. The thicker the steel, the better your food will cook thanks to heat retention in the metal. The heat source is underneath this surface.
Griddles are more often found in restaurants, in-home kitchens, or even at the dinner table, and in any case, in closed spaces where there is a source of electricity. This electric tool is extremely versatile, just plug it in and you can cook anything from meat to pancakes by griddle cooking.
With the griddle’s appearance in outdoor cooking, leading manufacturers in outdoor cooking tools and appliances have also marketed a number of outdoor gas griddle options available for your consideration, as well as a grill griddle option specifically created to fit an existing gas grill or a charcoal model. These griddle grill attachments for your gas or charcoal grill will provide a flat top cooking experience but will not guarantee the same heat control vs an independent unit.
A simpler version exists in the form of a flat rectangle of steel that can be used over stove burners or an open fire. An important characteristic of any griddle is that it must remain level. Because it has no sides, food and liquid could easily spill if it is not maintained level.
This is a cooking surface that is open and made up of wires usually made of stainless steel to place food upon. The heat source is underneath the wires or grate. Common heating sources include charcoal, gas, and pellet. These grates are positioned over an open fire.
The second type of grill is a solid plate of steel or iron that has been formed with ridges on it allowing for liquids and grease to flow between the ridges. A characteristic of grilled food is the grill marks that are formed on your food while it is cooking on the wires or steel ridges. These dark brown grill marks associated with grilling occur when dry food is cooked over high heat like a grate over an open flame. Grills allow you to sear your meats giving them a nice brown coloring and crusty exterior.
Differences and Similarities
While grills make use of raised ridges or grates of steel wires or bars with openings between them, the griddle is a solid plate smooth cooking surface. Heating sources for both grills and griddles include charcoal, electricity or propane gas. Pellet smokers are specifically slow cooking grills.
When a griddle is used, the entire flat cooking surface is evenly heated and consequentially cooks the food evenly, Food cooked on a griddle is never exposed to an open flame. Cooking temperatures are lower when using a griddle.
Traditional grills, on the other hand, expose the food directly to an open flame with higher temperatures as a result. The steel or iron bars or wires of a grate increases the heat transferring it directly to the food, searing it with the characteristic dark brown lines found on grilled food, whether meat, fish or grilled vegetables or cheese.
Griddles are usually manufactured in cast iron or steel and often in stainless steel. Grilling grates can be found likewise in cast iron, stainless steel, and with or without enamel, ceramic or nickel coatings. Porcelain or enamel-coated grates are to facilitate cleaning after cooking. The thickness of the griddle metal or the individual grate will influence your cooking temperature and time, as thicker means longer heat retention.
Both iron and steel components are subject to rusting or corrosion. Every time you clean them, they should be treated with a thin coat of vegetable oil to protect them.
Cooking and Convenience
Texture and taste differ when cooking on a griddle vs grill. Open flame grilling will give your food a smokier, slightly charred taste. It can provide your food with a crustiness and cook it faster because of higher cooking temperatures and exposure to the open flame. Griddles will provide you with great tasting food, but the texture and taste will be similar to roasted food, as the food never touches an open fire. Griddles do however allow you to fry and will cook all types of food without the risk of your food falling through the open spaces of a grill and let’s face it, griddles are easy to use.
In terms of convenience, it depends on what you are cooking. Grills do offer the possibility of faster cooking due to the higher temperatures and direct exposure to the heat source. A steak, burger or hotdog will only need a few moments of grilling. The griddle is a slower cooking method, however, it offers you the possibility of cooking literally any type of food and it is easily transported. The electric grill will fit in any sized kitchen and even directly on your dining room or kitchen table.
Grills or griddles can be found in a variety of sizes and materials as well as with various power sources. While traditional grill favorites are charcoal fueled, they can be found using propane gas, or even electricity. And then there is the pellet smoker that shouldn’t be ignored as an option.
The traditional simple charcoal grill is less expensive to cook with, however, it’s more complicated when cooking. Great charcoal grilling is an art. You can’t leave it to answer the phone while cooking. The best grills come in all forms from very portable small grills or electric grills to the larger more elaborate cast iron gas grills with propane tanks. The cost will depend largely on the size, construction, and how many extras a model offers.
The best griddles can either be electric or use charcoal just like a traditional grill. The griddle has an easier setup and many come with wheels to facilitate portability. Some griddles are designed to fit directly over a grill that you already own allowing you to have a 2-in-1 option. The smaller electric grills are very easy to take out, plugin, and cook on. They are easily transported from one place to another. All you need is an electric outlet.
Tips for Using a Griddle or Grill
When using a griddle
- The nice flat surface accords you a generous amount of cooking surface, but remember to use some butter, oil, or non-stick spray for flat top cooking so that your food can be easily turned and removed without sticking to the surface.
- If you choose a stovetop griddle that fits over burners, you can use different areas of your griddle for higher temperature cooking or lower temperature cooking for warming.
- If you choose a griddle that fits over your outdoor grill, you can apply the same method, using a part of the grill for cooking and another part for warming.
When using a Grill
- Meat should be at room temperature when using grills. If you put it on the grate cold, it will take longer to cook through and may become tough as a result.
- Preheat your grill before using and give it the necessary time to do so adequately. Preheating correctly will also eliminate any bacteria that might be on the surface.
- Create different heat zones. If using a charcoal grill place the coals to one side if rectangular. If you’re using a kettle grill, place your coals in the middle. Sear the meat over the coals and then move it toward the outer edges to finish cooking. If you have a gas grill, you can set one burner higher and one burner lower to achieve the same result.
- Make sure your grill grate is cleaned after every use. This will help avoid having your food stick to the top.
Cleaning a flat surface griddle is easier than cleaning a grill with its grates and hard to get to corners. Grills usually necessitate a good steel brush where a flat scraping utensil will suffice for a griddle top.
To keep your griddle in good shape, the top should be cleaned after every single use. This practice will help extend its life. When you have finished cooking on it, just scrape off any leftover food bits, wipe the top clean with a damp rag and then coat it with a very thin covering of vegetable oil. It’s best to wipe it down again with a dry rag and put it away until its next use.
To clean a flat top grill, acquire a really good grill brush and clean after each cooking session by scrubbing it while still warm to remove food bits. Most grills can be scrubbed with hot soapy water however it would be wise to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. After this, use a paper towel dipped in a little vegetable oil and wipe the grate with the oil using tongs to prevent getting burnt in the process.
Safety when Using a Griddle or Grill
Some safety concepts to keep in mind when using your griddle include also using heat resistant gloves or mitts as the griddle will heat up around the edges or even the handles. Make sure you use the correct type of spatula for cooking and removing your food once cooked, as you don’t want to accidentally burn yourself. Griddles may have a well on one side for excess grease but keep an eye on how much excess grease you’re creating is fundamental as overflow spells disaster, both for cleaning purposes as well as potential grease fires.
If you use a charcoal grill, avoid fire flareups, and keep a spray water bottle nearby to help keep flames under control. Always use long tongs or long BBQ utensils with grills to avoid getting burnt while grilling, and even if your grill boasts heat resistant handles, the use of a pair of gloves or mitts is always a good choice when grilling.
Foods to Cook on Griddle and Grill
Griddles have been used since their invention for cooking breakfast foods. The griddle is a wonderful choice for whipping up a batch of pancakes or eggs, from scrambled to sunny side up to once over easy. Hash browns, French toast, ham or bacon will cook perfectly on your griddle. Just about any type of hot sandwich, especially burgers will cook well on a griddle. Griddles provide a great outdoor cooking option when you are trying to cook various foods at the same time. Using an electric version will free up your stovetop for other items. The griddle is heated evenly throughout, unlike many frying pans or skillets, so you get a larger surface that cooks your food through at the same pace.
If you’re using a grill, you can cook just about anything that won’t fall through the bars of your grill grate. This excludes eggs, hash browns, or pancakes, and you probably won’t want to get sear marks on your French toast or grilled cheese sandwich. But meats, fish, vegetables, cheese, and anything that can be placed on a skewer can be grilled.
Common Griddle and Grill Accessories
- Basting Brush
- Bottles for condiments
- Chopper scraper
- Fish turner
- Griddle spatula
- Hamburger turner
- Stainless-steel spatula
- Stainless-steel fork
- Stainless-steel grill brush
- Stainless-steel grill tongs
- Water bottle
Is a griddle better than a grill?
There is no “right” answer to this question. The answer depends totally on what you want to cook, the taste and texture you hope to achieve, the amount of convenience you are seeking, and the amount of time you have to dedicate to your cooking. Portability would also be a consideration if you plan on outdoor cooking while on the go. Grills also can be used for searing while griddles cannot.
What is a griddle good for?
When it comes to the question of griddle vs grill, a griddle is great for preparing any number of breakfast foods like pancakes, French toast, any type of eggs, hash browns, bacon, ham, or nice hot sandwiches like burgers of grilled cheese. It is great for cooking anything that can be cooked in a frying pan but will be larger and can free up stovetop burners if you choose to get an electric griddle. An electric griddle can also offer you the option of cooking directly at the dinner table, allowing nice hot food to move directly from the griddle to your plate.
Is griddle cooking healthy?
Actually yes, griddle cooking can be quite healthy as a griddle requires very little grease to cook with. If you simply warm the griddle without adding any type of fat or oil, the food can cook in its juice. In this manner, you can avoid even the slightest “frying” of your food.
What is the difference between a griddle and a grill?
Flat smooth surfaces characterize griddles, similar to the bottom of a frying pan or a skillet. Grills, on the other hand, have grates made of wires or bars with open spaces between them. If the grill is made of a solid plate of metal, it will have ridges that are raised allowing the grease or juices to flow down between these ridges. This exposes food directly to the heat source and an open flame, where a griddle does not. Grills also provide higher temperatures when cooking than griddles do.
In the end, your specific needs and your preferences, together with your budget, will decide which one is the best to get when considering the griddle vs grill question for your cooking needs.
If you cook regularly, you may decide that you need or want both. Should you get both, you may want to consider the griddle grill combination that has two sides, and which will provide you with both types of cooking surfaces. If by chance, you already own a grill, you may decide to get a griddle that can be attached to your grill.
Both the griddle and the grill are terrific cooking tools that will offer you numerous and varied possibilities for your culinary adventures.
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