What Is a Griddle Used For?

What Is a Griddle Used For? (Image: Elen11/iStock/GettyImages)

When you hear the word "griddle," you may think of a diner where the cook makes eggs, pancakes and bacon on a flat-top. But a griddle can be a practical tool in the home kitchen as well. A variety of grills are available with features that help make them a good go-to for whipping up some of your favorite treats.

Griddles are usually made of aluminum, cast iron or steel, and they are heated by electricity, gas or propane. They can have the appearance of the type of frying pan that you use on your stovetop... think fajita party. Your griddle may be electric, which allows it to be portable, or stationary, such as those you see in a commercial environment. Those griddles are built into the top of a range, which makes it easy to cook for a large group.

No matter how you choose to use your griddle, its ease of use and adaptability will inspire you to create fun recipes.

Things to Make on a Griddle

It's no surprise that pancakes or other breakfast foods come to mind at the mention of the word griddle. One look at the instructions on a box of your favorite pancake mix, and you'll see the words: "heat the griddle." But griddles also work well to cook burgers, fish, hot sandwiches, grilled cheese, kebabs and quesadillas. Plus, cooking foods on your griddle means they'll cook in their own fat, allowing you to skip the calories from adding butter or oil.

Types of Griddles

Residential griddles, the type of griddle that's generally used by home chefs, are made of aluminum, cast or wrought iron, or carbon steel. They commonly have a non-stick surface and are rectangular in shape. Their source of heat is either gas or electricity.

Commercial griddles are built into a range top. They have a large, flat, plate-like cooking surface. In a restaurant setting, they work well because they provide consistent temperatures and heat up quickly. Commercial griddles are made of cast iron or aluminum.

Electric griddles, which currently dominate the consumer market, are available in several different types. With a built-in heat element powered by electricity, their plate is made of a thinner material than the commercial variety. Since most of these types of griddles are made of stainless steel and aluminum, their surfaces are nonstick, making them good for cooking items that are sticky such as grilled cheese. Cooking on this type of griddle makes the sandwich crispy, but the gooey cheese won't stick to the surface, allowing for fast and easy cleanup.

The best type of electric griddle is one with more than one set of controls. You want the freedom to cook different types of food at varying temperatures at the same time. Plus, this allows for consistent temperature on the entire surface. They are very versatile with a large surface area for cooking. Some come with a removable insert to use for cooking burgers, chicken breasts or any other type of food on which sear lines are desirable.

This multipurpose griddle can be very versatile. You can not only sear a burger, but also use one of its inserts to cook waffles or paninis.

What Is a Grill Pan?

A grill pan is similar to a frying pan except it's thicker and has ridgelines. If you have a tiny kitchen, cooking on a ridged grill pan allows you to be creative. The ridges help drain off the fat from your meat, and the pan allows for balanced heat distribution. They are often made of cast iron, which can last for decades, and, once seasoned, will add flavor to your food.

Difference Between a Griddle and a Skillet

While both grills and skillets make cooking and cleanup easy, they have some differences. Griddles have a larger surface, allowing for a variety of food prep at the same time, and most have a dial that provides better temperature control. An electric skillet has a cover that gives more control, plus, you can use liquid ingredients while cooking.

Griddle Materials

  • Aluminum is affordable, lightweight and conducts heat well. It's available in three weights: light, medium and a heavier gauge.
  • Cast iron is fairly inexpensive, and it absorbs and conducts heat very well. The two popular styles are regular and enameled. Enameled griddles can be more expensive but don't require seasoning.
  • Stainless steel is lightweight but a poor conductor of heat. It is resistant to corrosion, and it doesn't ping or dent easily.
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