What’s better: griddle vs grill? That can be a tough call to make. When choosing which to buy, it may seem like these two tools are interchangeable. With certain ingredients and cooking applications, sure, they are, but in totality, they are pretty different.
Here’s the lowdown on all you need to know about griddle vs grill including the types of grills and griddles, their features, benefits, and drawbacks.
Table of Contents
What is a Griddle?
A griddle refers to a flat surface to cook on. Traditionally, a griddle is a round shallow pan that you pop onto your stovetop to heat up and cook on. Nowadays, griddles come in all shapes and sizes – square and rectangular being the most common.
The flat surface makes it super easy to cook on. During cooking, ingredients are not exposed to a flame, as with a grill. Instead the food is cooked using indirect heat via the flat surface.
Griddles vary in terms of quality and features. There are cheaper non-stick griddles, super easy to use and wash. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find high-quality cast-iron griddles that, if seasoned and cared for, get treated as a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation.
Raising in popularity recently are outdoor griddles/flat top grills such as the now well known Blackstone. Many have even replaced their outdoor gas grill for a Blackstone griddle on the patio.
A griddle is almost always called a flat-top grill in the restaurant industry. Chefs in hotels and restaurants use them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to prepare large batches of eggs, burgers, steaks, etc.
Somewhere in between are griddles made from ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum, and non-stick materials.
Here’s a clear and basic breakdown of the griddles you can get.
|Type of Griddle||Description|
|Electric Griddle||· For non-gas users.|
· These easy-going units can be plugged in and sat on a countertop.
· They are usually non-stick.
|· Typically a pan or rectangle insert.|
– Heavy-duty and hardy.
· Cast iron soars to heat highs to impart an incredible sear and flavor.
· They usually have a “lip” or raised side to catch butter and fat drippings.
· These require seasoning with fat as part of their maintenance and encourages easy release of the cooked food and prevents corrosion.
|Stovetop Griddle||· Comes in non-stick and cast iron.|
· A flexible piece that comes in lots of different sizes.
· Easy to clean.
|Outdoor Griddle||· Your backyard cookout griddle such as a Blackstone.|
· These come in a range of sizes and use propane for fuel.
· Similar to restaurant flat tops but they can’t be used inside!
· Generally made from iron and therefore must be kept covered and well seasoned to prevent rust.
· Portable – the smaller ones can be used on camping or tailgating trips!
Best Foods to Cook on a Griddle
Griddles are great for cooking fast and hot. When meat comes into contact with the shimmering hot surface (a griddle reaches 300F+), the amino acids react with the sugars and deliver a griddled, meaty taste.
Griddles are most commonly used for cooking:
- Hot breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, pancakes, and French toast. All of these items can be cooked in one place. A griddle provides the bacon and sausage with good color and flavor. You just need to be comfortable with how quickly each element cooks so that you can phase the process.
- Sandwiches, panini, quesadillas: Gives the bread item an even toast and gets the cheese melted and gooey.
- Stir-fries and teppanyaki: Griddles are fantastic for these dishes. Because of the large, flat surface, the ingredients cook and sear evenly and in a single layer. The veggies and meat pieces caramelize beautifully on a griddle. You’ll never stir-fry in a pan again.
- Burgers and hot dogs: Burgers and sausages can get cooked in large quantities. The hot surface cooks the meat evenly and caramelizes it. Plus griddles are great for smash burgers!
- Steaks: The ultimate griddle food. Steaks are best when cooked at super high heat, which a griddle can provide. Steaks cooked on a cast-iron or flat top griddle get that restaurant-quality taste and color.
- Chicken breasts: For the ultimate chicken sandwich. Chicken breasts must be seared and not “steamed” in a pan on too-low heat. The griddle cooks them quickly and evenly; best of all, they won’t stick.
- Crepes: As with pancakes, cooking a batch of crepes on a griddle is easier than in a pan. You can cook more than one at a time, and the hot, even surface is the ideal spot for your batch of crepes.
Blackstone grill’s website provides a helpful temperature guide if you’re trying to determine the best temperature for which cooking method. They break it down into sweating, sauteing, and searing—great information whether you’re a novice or an experienced steak searer – looking to refine your knowledge.
Griddle Pros and Cons
Here’s the low-down, in my opinion as a chef and a busy home cook, on the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to griddles.
Even heat distribution: From a culinary point of view, this is a top feature of the griddle. Food gets cooked evenly, and the results are uniform.
Flavor: Honestly, the flavor that you get from a griddle is restaurant quality because most restaurants use flat-tops!
Non-stick: If you’re like me, a non-stick surface when it comes to steaks, burgers, pancakes, etc is key. Nothing is more irritating than your humble chicken breast clinging to a pan and shredding as you try to flip it.
Big-batch cooking: Depending on the size of your griddle, you can get all your breakfast components cooked at once.
Easy to clean: Because the surface is smooth, it’s way easier to clean than a grill.
We Don’t Like:
No grill marks: Some people love the look of their steak or burgers sporting charred grill marks. You aren’t going to get that with a griddle. You will get a good color and sear but no sexy grill lines.
Space: You need a fair amount of space, especially for a flat top or countertop griddle.
Seasoning: Cast-iron griddles must be regularly seasoned and taken care of to keep them non-stick and rust-free. This takes a bit of work.
Cooks quickly: You will need to keep a beady eye on your food while it sizzles away on your griddle. The high-heat environment means ingredients can burn quickly.
What is a Grill?
The good old grill or barbecue grill has been the center of many cookout stories over the generations. A grill fills the air with the delicious smell of charred meats and veggies like nothing else.
The grill works by sending direct heat upwards. There are tons of grill types, but most fall into the categories: charcoal, electric, or gas. We recently wrote an article that takes a deep dive into each type of grill if you want more detail.
As with griddles, grills come in various sizes, and there’s something for every budget.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of grills being used today:
|Type of Grill||Description|
|Gas Grill||· Use natural gas or propane (Most are Propane)|
· Great control over heat levels
|Electric Grill||· Heat up quickly|
· Even temperature control
· Great for properties where gas isn’t allowed
|Charcoal Grill||· Uses lump charcoal or briquettes|
· Heating to temperature takes time
· Charred, smoky flavors
|Pellet Smoker Grill||· Low and slow cooking|
· Imparts smoky flavors via woodchips
|Portable Grill||· Take it anywhere! Camping, picnicking, etc.|
· Different fuel types: gas, charcoal, electric
Best Foods to Cook on a Grill
If the weather is good and a crowd is coming over, you need nothing else other than your grill. You can cook everything you need for the perfect cookout on your grill grate.
Here’s what you can flip to perfection on your barbecue grill:
- Steak: Sirloin, rib-eye, T-bone, flank, porterhouse, picanha, fillet mignon. You can pretty much grill any cut of beef steak to perfection on a grill. Your well-marbled and lean cuts cook beautifully on a grill – charred and marked with grill lines.
- Lamb loin chops: These need to be cooked hot and fast and are, therefore, perfect on the barbecue grill. Lamb does well with a charred, smoky taste, making it ideal on a charcoal grill.
- Hamburgers: The quintessential cookout partner to your grill.
- Chicken: Drumsticks, thighs, and fillets cook beautifully on the grill. They need to be flipped and watched carefully as their skin is thin and can burn quickly.
- Fish: Pop a piece of foil on your grill and cook your favorite fish cut to perfection. Oily fish like salmon is great when balanced with smoky flavors. The skin is delicate, so avoid placing it directly on the grates.
- Veggies: Corn on the cob, bell peppers, wedges of eggplant, and large juicy mushrooms are delicious on the grill.
- Robs: Pork, beef or lamb – go low and slow in a smoker if possible.
Grill Pros and Cons
As with many authentic, traditional cooking tools, the beloved barbecue grill comes with some serious highs and a few lows. Here’s what you need to know when you’re figuring out griddle vs grill.
Serious flavor: Especially when it comes to meat. A grill imparts an incredible charred, smoky taste to meat, thanks to the close contact with the heat source.
Crowd-pleasing, festive experience: Smoky summer cookouts are nothing without a grill in the center of it all.
Great for cooking different items: Your friend’s veggie burger and your regular hamburger never have to touch. You can separate items on a grill as the grates allow the fat and juices to run straight off them without touching anything else on the grill grate.
We Don’t Like:
Can’t cook certain items: You can’t exactly crack an egg onto your grill grate. Also, super delicate foods and ingredients are likely to burn and tear.
Hot spots: Certain areas on your grill grate will be hotter than others.
Tricky to clean: Especially when it comes to charcoal grills. There’s a bit involved once your guests go home.
Heating time: Getting your grill ready to cook on takes time.
Which Should You Buy?
Griddles are best for:
Those that want to cook a large variety of meals – from breakfast items to stir-fries to barbecued meats. Griddles are definitely the most versatile option verse the grill.
If you want to cook breakfast food. Griddle are far superior at breakfast style foods and mimicking other restaurant dishes.
Grills are best for:
If you love the authentic, char-broiled outdoor cooking experience. If the quality of char and smoky flavor, specifically on meat is your number one priority, then a grill is for you.
Preferably a charcoal grill, but that’s my opinion as a barbecue grill purist. Be prepared to spend some time cleaning up, and remember, for eggs and stir-fries, it’s back to the stove for you!
Wrapping It Up
For all the back and forth when it comes to griddle vs grill, both are great investments and will bring a lot of BBQ memories.