A New Way To Grill
Grill grates are nice, but they’re not great. They have several drawbacks when it comes to producing full meals with a single cooking surface, and they aren’t the easiest things to maintain.
However, there’s an alternative on the market. You can buy a flat top griddle grill for about the same amount as a normal grill, and you can even buy a regular griddle plate for your indoor stove, and then, you could start to grill on a griddle. And with the help of a superb digital food thermometer, you could grill like a pro!
Griddle plates allow you to cook a multitude of food items on the same surface, and they’re super easy to take care of. In the next few sections, we’ll go over the reasons you should buy a griddle sooner rather than later.
What Is A Griddle Grill?
A griddle grill is similar to what you’d have if you slapped a big slab of cast iron on top of some propane burners. It’s a great way to cook a massive variety of foods outdoors, and it’s extremely easy to get the hang of.
A lot of high-end restaurants use indoor variants with expensive ventilation systems, but you’re more likely to get one that is used outdoors. They’re so popular in the culinary field because they allow chefs to cook several things on the same surface, and they’re easy to control.
Most griddle grills will have a minimum of 17 inches of cooking space per grill plate. The majority of them have more than two feet worth of space on at least one of their plates. That’s more than enough room to grill a meat product, veggies, eggs, or anything else you can think of on the same plate.
They’re also known for their exceptional ability to sear meat. Traditionally, grills with metal grates are used for searing meat, but the flat and solid surface of a griddle allows you to sear an entire side of meat quickly and efficiently. It might not produce grill marks, but it’ll seal in juices and add bold flavors to the meat.
What Are The Differences Between Griddle Grills And Grill Plates?
Griddle grills and traditional grills vary in a number of ways, and both have their own places in every outdoor cook’s repertoire.
As you can probably imagine, a griddle grate is flat, solid, and a lot like a cast iron pan. Grill grates are made up of several thin rods that are welded together.
The main difference between the two is what you can cook on them. Grill grates have large holes in them, and they’re not suitable for cooking small shellfish or smaller veggies. Half of your food will simply fall into the flames below. However, you can do everything from frying eggs to searing steaks on a griddle. The only difference will be a lack of the grill marks barbecue aficionados love so much.
However, a grill grate allows you to place food directly over the flames. This comes in handy when you want to get a really good sear on a nice cut of beef, but it also requires a bit of practice to do it without overcooking the meat.
Grill grates also have a lot of different heat zones. Cast iron doesn’t heat up evenly. So, you can have a really hot section of your grill set up for searing steaks, and you can easily fry eggs on a colder section.
Besides that, grates aren’t typically nonstick surfaces. If you let them heat up enough, most meats won’t stick to them too much. However, there’s a good chance that your meat will stick a little bit.
Griddle grates are usually made from cast iron, though. As you cook with cast iron, the oils from your foods will bond with the metal, and you’ll have a surface that doesn’t allow food to stick to it. That makes it a lot easier to cook delicate foods.
Pros And Cons Of Griddle Grills And Grill Grates
Griddle plates and grill grates are very different from one another, but they are both important to outdoor cooking. In this section, we’ll list out the pros and cons of each grilling instrument, and you’ll have a better idea of which one you should use for different situations.
- They’re great for breakfast foods. There aren’t a lot of breakfast foods that you can cook on traditional grates, but griddles allow you to cook eggs of all kinds, sausage, English muffins, toasted bread, chorizo, and many other types of breakfast foods.
- You don’t have to use a griddle outside. While we’ve focused on outdoor griddle grills so far, you can also purchase griddle plates that simply sit on top of your stove. They have the same uses, and they’re pretty inexpensive.
- They sear food a lot better than traditional grills. You don’t have to deal with your meat only touching thin bars of metal. With a griddle plate, every inch of your food touches the cooking surface at once. This leads to more even sears.
- They’re easy to clean. Most griddles have grease traps on both sides of them. This keeps rendered fat from pouring onto open flames, and it makes it easier to clean them. All you have to do is scrape and rinse them.
- They’re pretty cheap. Despite being fairly new outside of the restaurant industry, they’re no more expensive than your standard gas grill. If you opt to simply buy a griddle plate, you can use a griddle for less than $40.
- You can’t place your food directly on a flame with a griddle. However, if you buy a griddle plate and use it with a normal grill, you can switch between the two.
- You won’t get grill marks. Even though you will get amazing sears on steaks and other meats, they won’t have grill marks. Grill marks are formed by the thin bars on grill grates, and griddle plates don’t have those.
- A flat top griddle grill is easy to take care of, but if you do it wrong, you’ll have to re-season the entire griddle. Otherwise, your food will stick, and you won’t enjoy using it nearly as much.
- Grill grates allow you to expose food directly to flames. You usually don’t want to do that, but it’s a handy feature when you want to charbroil a nice steak.
- Grease and rendered fat are a non-issue. All of the rendered fat just falls between the grates.
- You get those amazing grill marks that are loved by every barbecue aficionado.
- Grates aren’t the best way to make the Maillard reaction take place. Only a small amount of metal actually touches your food, and that leads to aesthetically pleasing grill marks, but it doesn’t create a real sear.
- The bursts of flames can be dangerous. Every time fat renders out of a piece of meat, it’s possible that the flames of your grill will flare up and hurt you. Those sudden bursts of heat also make it difficult to cook a lot of delicate meats properly.
- Have you cleaned a grate before? It’s a pain. You can’t use wire brushes, or you risk leaving small strands of metal behind, and you can end up digesting those in later meals. You have to use easily-destroyed instruments, and you’ll probably still have grease or something caked to your grates in some spots. It’s hard to clean a grill properly.
- You can’t cook a lot of things on a grill. Sure, you can cook large pieces of food like squash, steak, burgers, hot dogs, and other things that will stretch across several of the grate’s bars, but can you cook a fried egg? Can you cook small shrimp on a grill? All of those things will simply fall between the grates, and then you can’t enjoy them at all.
Which One To Choose? Griddle VS Grill
This is a difficult question to answer. Neither of the two tools are useless. They do very different things, and it’s unlikely that you’ll go through your entire culinary journey without ever needing both of them.
However, we recommend buying a griddle for grill purposes as soon as possible. Grill grates are amazing, but they’re not perfect, and they’re fairly limited. If you’re looking for a single tool for all of your grilling needs, we suggest using a griddle. It may not leave grill marks, but it can cook just about anything with ease.
Different people like different things, though. If you prefer to cook your food directly over a flame, you’ll want a grill. Otherwise, you’ll want to invest in a griddle plate.
Simple Tips To Clean Your Griddle Plate
If you buy a griddle plate for gas grill units, or if you buy an griddle grill, you’ll have to use a different technique to clean it than what you’d use to clean a traditional grill.
Traditional grills are cleaned by simply heating them up, scraping them clean, and allowing residual heat from the grill to do the rest. A griddle requires a little bit more work. However, it’s not a difficult thing to do.
To clean a griddle grill, you’ll want to do three things:
- Push excess oils and food into the grease traps
- Scrape remaining bits into the grease traps
- Rinse the griddle plate until all bits of food and grease are gone
When you perform those three steps, you want to resist the urge to use soap as much as possible. It’s not necessary, and you’ll remove the layer of oil that prevented food from sticking to your griddle. Try your best to only use water and elbow grease.
If you must use soap to clean off particularly horrible messes, make sure to re-season your griddle by following the manufacturer’s suggested method.
Using a griddle isn’t easy at first, and it can be confusing if you’re switching over from a normal grill grate. However, griddles give you several benefits over traditional grill grates, and they work extremely well for searing meats or working with unusual ingredients on the grill.
If you cook anything on a griddle plate, we recommend using something like the ThermoPro food thermometer to ensure that your food is cooked to FDA approved temperatures.
As long as you treat your griddle properly, it’ll last longer than most other things in your barbecue toolkit, and it’ll produce thousands of delicious meals over the course of its lifetime.