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If you’ve ever been to a teppanyaki restaurant or a diner where they were cooking on a flat-top then you’ve seen a griddle. But, cooking on a flat-top griddle is not just reserved for restaurants anymore. Over the last several years, outdoor griddle grills have been growing in popularity in backyards throughout the country.
Many people will agree, metal flat top griddles make for excellent outdoor cooking stations, providing the opportunity to easily cook a variety of different foods.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about cooking on a griddle grill and why you might want to give this method of cooking a try.
What is a Griddle Grill Exactly?
When used indoors, commercial-grade flat top griddles require extensive ventilation systems that can pull the heat and smoke out as well as a natural gas supply. But, as manufacturing in outdoor cooking grills has evolved, we’ve seen a rise in what is now commonly known as a griddle grill, further expanding the possibilities of outdoor cooking in your own backyard.
The main component of these grills is one flat, uncoated steel cooking surface. This surface will usually also include a raised lip that helps contain oil and juices. When it comes to things to cook on a griddle grill, the possibilities are endless. You can cook all types of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, pizza, and even desserts.
Griddle grills can come in a variety of sizes. From 17” long table-top models with a single burner to a 36” long backyard griddle grill from Blackstone with four individually controlled heat zones, putting out a combined 60,000 BTUs.
If you don’t want to purchase a whole dedicated griddle grill, there are also grill-top griddle plates available. These plates can sit right on top of part of the grates of your traditional charcoal or propane grill. With this setup, you can combine the advantages of cooking on a griddle with the delicious taste imparted from wood smoke.
Griddle plates can come in a variety of different types of metal including cast aluminum, cast iron, modern alloy. There are even some made out of salt blocks or stones like soapstone.
Of course, any grill has its advantages and disadvantages. But, using a griddle grill offers some unique advantages. These include:
Excellent temperature control: You don’t have to worry about unexpected hot spots. If it’s a griddle grill with multiple burners you can have a hot side of the grill and a cooler side of the grill, creating a two-zone cooking setup.
Food won’t fall through: There are no gaps for the food to fall through like can happen with grill grates. This makes cooking smaller things like scallops or small vegetables much easier.
Superior non-stick surface: Griddle grills provide a better non-stick surface compared to traditional grill grates. Fish, chicken and other delicate meats have almost no chance of sticking.
Better exterior Maillard reaction: A griddle grill will brown the exterior (known as the Maillard reaction) faster and more evenly than traditional grills.
Easy cleanup: Most griddle grills include an attached grease trap that all of the rendered fat and leftover food particles can be scraped into, making for easy cleanup.
More affordable: These grills have a lower price tag compared to many traditional propane grills and smokers. (A 4-burner, 36” griddle grill can be purchased for roughly $275)
Tips for Cooking on a Griddle Grill
Here are some tips to follow to help ensure your cooking on a griddle grill is successful:
Make sure your grill top is well seasoned if it did not come pre-seasoned. Seasoning your griddle grill allows the oil to get into and bond with the microscopic pores in the metal, forming a non-stick surface. This is the same process that is done to cast-iron pans. Follow your grill’s manufacturer recommendations to ensure you season it properly.
Griddle grills perform best at a temperature that is below the smoke point of the cooking oil or butter that you are using. For example, most often, restaurants keep their griddles at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use good quality stainless steel spatulas while you are cooking on a griddle grill to easily flip, maneuver, and mix when you need to.
Because food often cooks faster on a flat-top griddle, make sure to prep everything you need beforehand. This will prevent the chance of something overcooking or burning while you’re trying to get other ingredients together.
Always make sure to cover the griddle top with the manufacturer-provided lid or another lid you might have. For extra coverage, invest in a grill cover if you are going to be storing your griddle grill outside. This will help keep the exterior surfaces protected and prevent premature wear caused by the outdoor elements.
How to Clean a Griddle Grill Properly
Source: The Hungry Hussey
It is important to clean your griddle grill after each use to help extend its life and ensure it is ready to go for your next cook. There are some specific steps to follow to ensure you are cleaning a griddle properly:
Use a high-quality metal spatula to scrape any leftover grease or loose bits of food into the griddle's grease trap or the trash.
Pour a cup of room temperature water onto the grill while it is hot. Don’t use ice water because this can create a thermal shock on the metal, causing it to warp.
When the water starts to boil on the griddle surface, use a metal griddle scraper or hard metal spatula to remove any cooked-on bits of food or caramelized sugars from the cooking surface. Usually, boiling water and a good scrape is enough to do the job. But, a little bit of vinegar mixed in the water, along with a copper brush, can help break up hard-to-remove grease residue. (Pro tip: Don’t use soap to clean the grill because it can quickly wash away your stick-resistant coating/seasoning.)
After cleaning off the cooking surface, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth that won’t leave fibers on the griddle’s surface. Make sure to use tongs to hold the cloth and wipe the surface because the cooking surface will still be hot.
Turn off the griddle after wiping it down, and while it is still warm use a paper towel to spread about a teaspoon of cooking oil all over the surface. This will help you maintain the stick-resistant seasoning. You want to season your grill this way each time after cleaning it and before storing it away.
It is also a good idea to do a little deeper cleaning every couple of weeks to help extend the life of your griddle grill. During this time you should:
Remove the top griddle pan and clean any excess fat or gunk off the bottom of the griddle pan.
Check and clean off the burner protectors occasionally as well. These protectors are in place to ensure the grill does not develop an excess build-up of grease, which can quickly start a grease flare-up.
Pull the burners out and gently clean any grease or buildup off of them, allowing them to continue to work optimally.
Remove the trays at the bottom of the griddle (usually two) and thoroughly clean them out. These will probably need a brush and stronger scrubbing to remove buildup.
Expand Your Outdoor Cooking Skills With A Griddle
As you can see, a griddle grill can make for a highly efficient and easy way to cook a wide variety of different meats, sides, and more. But, it is important to properly maintain your grill to ensure it lasts long enough to get good use out of it.
Go ahead and expand your outdoor cooking prowess with a flat-top griddle grill. By following the tips above and cleaning it properly between uses, you can cook a great feast and extend the life of your grill.
Did you recently get a griddle grill? Have a favorite recipe for cooking on a griddle grill? Tell us all about it below in the comment box. We want to hear from you!
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