What Is a Griddle?
Ok, first let’s define what a griddle really is. A griddle is just a flat cooking surface that is either heated electrically or heated over gas burners. They come in all kinds of configurations.
Many are small, standalone units that either plug into the wall or have built-in propane burners. You could also buy what essentially amounts to a big metal plate or pan that you set on top of your stove. Some griddles have a non-stick surface, and others are simply cast iron.
If your plan is to cook outdoors for family and friends, you can also get what is often called a “flat top grill,” which is basically a gigantic griddle that sort of resembles a traditional gas grill, but without the lid.
In fact, you’ve probably already seen a lot of flat top grills without even realizing it. Restaurants everywhere rely on them. Peek into the kitchen of any burger joint, Mexican restaurant, and really just about every restaurant in the world, and you’ll see them cooking on a flat top grill. Or griddle. Like I said, they’re more or less the same thing.
No matter what kind of griddle you decide on, one thing remains constant: You’re cooking on a flat metal surface, and flames never come into direct contact with your food.
The Benefits of Cooking on a Griddle
There are lots of reasons to cook on a griddle, so let’s break them down one-by-one.
Low learning curve
Griddles are just plain easy to use.
Other cooking methods can require some experience to get right. Charcoal grilling, for example, is easy to pick up but notoriously hard to master. Gas grills are generally easy to use, but there can be flareups from grease hitting the flames, and hot spots are a common problem.
As far as cooking in the kitchen goes, cooking in a regular frying pan has its own challenges. Part of that challenge is just the limited size of most frying pans, even the big ones. Personally, I get super-annoyed when I’m trying to flip things in a frying pan and they wind up on the stove. And that wrist-flip that professional chefs do? Uh, no thanks.
Griddles provide plenty of space to flip pancakes, burgers, etc. without incident. You also have the freedom to just kind of shuffle things around if you need to. It really doesn’t get any easier.
Use more of your stovetop
If you’re using a stovetop griddle, you’ll be able to cook a lot more food at once. A rectangular griddle is always going to be more space-efficient than two round frying pans. It’s just basic geometry.
Don’t get me wrong, a good frying pan is essential in every kitchen. And if your stove has four burners, which most do, you can still use frying pans next to the stovetop griddle. But trust me, if you have a griddle, that’s going to be where most of your cooking happens.
Cook just about anything
Thanks to TV commercials that show pancake batter dripping onto a hot griddle, a lot of people seem to associate griddles with breakfast foods and nothing else.
It’s true that griddles are AMAZING for cooking breakfast. No doubt about it. Pancakes, sausages, hash browns, eggs, you name it. Even toast and English muffins. Put it on a griddle and your breakfast will be ready in no time.
But you can cook almost anything on a griddle and the results will be awesome.
I personally use my griddle for making Mexican food at home, and it couldn’t be easier. Try dropping a 12-inch tortilla in a frying pan and loading it with meat, cheese, and all the rest! On second thought, don’t. It’s a bad idea.
Easy to clean
Some griddles are designed to drain grease and food drippings into a cup or some other receptacle. They have a notch somewhere along the edge of the griddle that allows for the grease to escape, and this makes it easy to keep your griddle clean while cooking and after you finish up.
Even without a drainage feature, cleaning a griddle is still an extremely easy task. In most cases, all you really need to do is scrape up the grease with a spatula or griddle scraper, wipe it clean with a paper towel, and then give it a light once-over with a scouring pad.
Which Griddle is Right for You?
As with most cooking appliances, which griddle is right for you depends on how you plan to use it.
If you like to stay in the kitchen, or even cook right on your dining room table, an electric or stovetop griddle is probably your best bet. Generally speaking, propane gas should NOT be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
For outdoor entertaining, propane is the way to go. There are lots of propane flat top grills out there … and again, these are basically the same as a griddle. Some gas-powered griddles are small enough to take camping or tailgating, while others are more suitable for backyard use.
If you already have a gas grill on your back porch or deck, adding a flat top grill will really increase the range of what you can cook.
If you put a flat top grill on your back porch next to a charcoal grill, your outdoor BBQ life is about to get 1000 times easier.
Let’s take a quick look at a few griddles and flat top grills that fit the bill for different types of users.
Presto 07061 22-inch Electric Griddle With Removable Handles
The Presto 22-inch Electric Griddle is the #1 selling electric griddle on Amazon for reason (Amazon link). It’s inexpensive, it has a non-stick surface, it’s easy to clean, and the removable handles make it easy to store.
As of this moment, 91% of 2,100+ Amazon reviewers have given this electric griddle a rating of either 4 or 5 stars. That’s incredibly solid.
A very small minority of reviewers have complained of uneven heating, and some have even mentioned warping of the metal. But the vast majority of people who have this electric griddle say it’s great. Many have even commented that it’s the best electric griddle they’ve ever owned.
Presto 07046 Tilt ‘n Drain Big Griddle Cool-Touch Electric Griddle
The Presto 22-inch griddle above measures 22″ x 11.5″ for a total of 253 sq. in. of cooking area. That’s a pretty good size for most. But if you want to go a bit bigger, the Tilt ‘n’ Drain Big Griddle (Amazon link) measures 18.5″ x 15″, giving you about 277 sq. in. to cook on!
My cast iron griddle measures about 17″ x 14″ and I can cook a LOT on it. The Tilt ‘n’ Drain is even bigger. This thing is definitely a “family size” griddle. Suffice it to say that one Amazon reviewer says he can put an entire pound of bacon on this electric griddle. All of it, all at once.
The Tilt ‘n’ Drain feature of this griddle allows you to easily tilt the griddle while cooking in order to drain off grease and fat.
As of this writing, 89% of nearly 1,400 Amazon reviewers have given the Presto Tilt ‘n’ Drain Big Griddle have given this griddle a rating of 4 or 5 stars. If you need a big griddle, this is a solid buy.
Secura GR-1503XL 1700W Electric Reversible 2 in 1 Grill Griddle w/Glass Lid Indoor Outdoor
The Secura Reversible 2 in 1 Grill Griddle (Amazon link) has two interesting features that separate it from most other electric griddles.
First, the “reversible 2 in 1” part of this griddle refers to the griddle plate. One side is flat and the other side is ridged. The ridged side of the griddle plate adds sear marks to your food.
The other big difference-maker with this electric griddle is the glass lid. The glass lid is there to prevent grease splatter! If you’ve ever said OUCH after standing too close to hot bacon grease, you know exactly why this feature would be nice to have.
And the reviews are just as solid as the Presto 22-inch Electric Griddle above. As of this writing, 91% of 282 Amazon reviewers have given it a rating of 4 or 5 stars.
Lodge LPGI3 Pro-Grid Cast Iron Reversible 20″ x 10.44″ Grill/Griddle Pan with Easy-Grip Handles, 10.5″ x 20″
The Lodge Pro-Grid Cast Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle Pan (Amazon link) is a slab of cast iron that’s smooth on one side and ridged on the other.
Oh, and it’s HEAVY. Cast iron always is.
When you’re buying a hunk of metal that doesn’t have any moving parts, it would be fair to assume that there’s not much that can go wrong with it. For the most part, you’re right, and 85% of nearly 3,300 Amazon reviewers have given this reversible griddle a rating of 4 or 5 stars.
The vocal minority who aren’t happy with this cast iron griddle say that food sticks to it too easily, and/or it heats unevenly.
Stovetop griddles are inherently prone to uneven heating just by virtue of the fact that the heat sources (your stove’s burners) are concentrated at the ends of the griddle. The center of the griddle won’t be as hot as the ends, and that’s just a fact of life.
But the good news with a stovetop griddle is that you can turn down one of the burners and use it for warming or cooking something that calls for a different temperature.
Cuisinart 655-35 Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 13-Inch by 20-Inch Double Burner Griddle
Cuisinart’s Nonstick Hard-Anodized 13″ x 20″ Double Burner Griddle (Amazon link) is a reasonably priced piece of hardware that comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
If you’re wondering what “anodized” is, it means that the metal has been subjected to a chemical process that makes it harder, more durable, and resistant to corrosion. So that’s the good news.
The bad news is that this griddle, along with most other stovetop griddles, is subject to warping. That means that the metal ceases to be completely flat, so you may wind up with a corner (or more) that’s higher than the rest of the griddle.
Based on numbers alone, the Amazon reviews on this griddle look pretty impressive. 83% positive feedback based on 3,383 reviews? Great, but those numbers are misleading because they include a whole range of Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized cookware.
Only 103 of those 3,300+ reviews are for Cuisinart’s griddle, a.k.a. product style “double pan,” and only 48 of those 103 reviews are 4 or 5 star ratings.
So if this Cuisinart griddle ain’t all that, why am I even mentioning it? Because it’s affordable. And everyone seems to love Cuisinart.
If you’re on a budget, this griddle “will do” if you can handle some warping. If you’re playing the long game and want a griddle that will last for years to come, look below at the All-Clad.
All-Clad 3020 Hard Anodized Aluminum Scratch Resistant Nonstick Anti-Warp Base Double Burner Grande 13-Inch by 20-Inch Griddle Specialty Cookware, 20-Inch, Black
The All-Clad Anti-Warp Base 20-inch Griddle (Amazon link) has a very unique feature … ANTI-WARP!
If you read what I wrote above about the much-more-affordable Cuisinart griddle, you know that warping is kind of a problem with flat pieces of metal that are subjected to high temperatures. I guess that’s just what metal does when it gets hot, especially if it’s on the thin side.
All-Clad has apparently decided to solve the warping problem once and for all. Although some people still complain of warping, many more say that the anti-warp design really does work.
This griddle also has a drainage channel that surrounds the cooking surface. It’s a nice feature, but beware if you’re cooking something runny such as eggs or pancakes.
As of this writing, 85% of 172 Amazon reviewers have given All-Clad’s Anti-Warp griddle a rating of 4 or 5 stars. If warping is concern for you, this is the griddle you want.
Small Griddles for Camping or Tailgating
Blackstone Tabletop Grill – 22 Inch Portable Gas Griddle – Propane Fueled – 2 Adjustable Burners – Rear Grease Trap – For Outdoor Cooking While Camping, Tailgating or Picnicking – Black
I think it’s fair to say that Blackstone specializes in manufacturing griddles. They make griddles of all shapes and sizes, including full-size flat top grills, and they really seem like they know what they’re doing.
The Blackstone 22-inch Portable Gas Griddle (Amazon link) comes with a lot of great features. The cooking surface is made of cold-rolled steel (that means it’s strong), it has dual burners for adjustable heat zones, there’s a grease management system that draws grease away from your food, and of course, it’s portable.
It runs on 1 lb. propane cans, and it can also be adapted to accommodate a full-size propane tank.
As for user feedback, 93% of the nearly 900 Amazon reviews posted so far are either 4 or 5 star ratings. Those who have had complaints with this grill have mentioned mechanical issues and criticisms of the build quality, but those complaints are rare.
Nearly everyone who has bought this grill LOVES it. If you’re camping or tailgating or whatever, you really can’t go wrong with this griddle. It’s also available in a smaller 17-inch model that has one burner (Amazon link).
Blackstone Dash Portable Grill/Griddle for Outdoor Cooking – Camping and Tailgating
The Blackstone Dash Portable Grill/Griddle (Amazon link) is pretty unique. Much like the Blackstone Tabletop Grill/Griddle above, the Blackstone Dash is designed to be portable and easy to use with 1 lb. propane canisters. And yes, you can get an adapter to connect it to a full-size propane tank.
What’s different, however, is that the Dash is engineered to fold up into its own little carrying case, much like a piece of carryon luggage that you’d take on a flight. It’s not as big as Blackstone’s 22-inch tabletop griddle, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in convenience and portable design.
Not only does the Blackstone Dash stand up on its own legs, it can also be used as a tabletop grill if you’d rather go that route.
The Dash also comes with a reversible griddle plate that has a smooth side and a ridged side in case you want those grill marks on your burgers.
I wrote a lot more about the Blackstone Dash in The Ultimate Guide to Portable Gas Grills, so go check out that article and see what all the fuss is about! Or, just watch the awesome heavy-metal demo video below.
Royal Gourmet Portable 2 Burner Propane Gas Grill Griddle Pd1201
I’m including the Royal Gourmet Portable Gas Griddle (Amazon link) here mainly just out of a sense of social responsibility. I’m not on Blackstone’s payroll, and I don’t really care if you buy Blackstone or Royal Gourmet!
But if you like the idea of the Blackstone 22-inch griddle above and want to save a bit of cash, Royal Gourmet might be a better fit for you. However, with 238 sq. in. of cooking space (versus Blackstone’s 330 sq. in.), the Royal Gourmet is definitely smaller. In fact, it has almost exactly the same cooking area as the Blackstone Dash in the video above.
Still, Royal Gourmet’s portable griddle checks most of the same boxes as the Blackstone 22-inch griddle. And the feedback on Amazon, while somewhat limited, is very good so far. Out of 47 total reviews as of this moment, 88% of those are 4 or 5 star ratings.
So, to recap: smaller griddle. More affordable. Not Blackstone.
Outdoor Flat Top Grills
Blackstone 36 inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill Griddle Station – 4-burner – Propane Fueled – Restaurant Grade
Ok, folks. Time to get serious!
The Blackstone 36-inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill/Griddle (Amazon link) is affordable, and it’s made for outdoor cooking. It comes with a 720 sq. in. cooking area, four burners that put out 15,000 BTUs each, and of course it has Blackstone’s grease management system.
The cooking area on this flat top grill is huge. 720 sq. in. is BIG. To put that into perspective, the Weber Genesis II E-435 (Amazon link) has a primary cooking area of only 646 sq. in., and it costs a small fortune.
And you also get some frills with this unit. There are side tables, one of which has a removable cutting board, and there’s also a holder for a roll of paper towels.
Not only that, but this Blackstone flat top grill can be transported if you have a strong friend to help you. It’s big and heavy, but it can be folded up and hauled out to a campsite or stadium parking lot.
If you’re looking for a griddle to use outdoors for family barbecues, this is a very safe bet. The Amazon feedback is outstanding with 87% of 1,800+ Amazon reviewers giving it a rating of 4 or 5 stars.
Camp Chef Flat Top Grill 600 (FTG600), Best Professional Restaurant Grade 2-in-1 Cooking Grill and Griddle with Side Shelves
Blackstone may be a major player in the cut-throat world of griddling, but they’ve got some pretty good competition.
The Camp Chef Flat Top Grill 600 (Amazon link) is a really cool piece of hardware. The “2-in-1” feature of this flat top grill allows you to just lift off the griddle surface to reveal grill grates underneath! Nice. If you’re flip-flopping between a flat top grill and a “regular” gas grill, this Camp Chef offers the best of both worlds.
(To be fair, you can get a grill box for the Blackstone flat top grill, but it has to be bought separately.)
With a griddle surface of 604 sq. in., the Camp Chef is not quite as big as the 720 sq. in. Blackstone above, but for most people that shouldn’t make a huge difference.
Amazon feedback on this Camp Chef flat top grill isn’t as plentiful as on the Blackstone, but 89% of buyers have given this Camp Chef a rating of 4 or 5 stars. Buy with confidence.
Whether you go with the Blackstone or the Camp Chef, you really can’t go wrong.