There’s nothing more satisfying on a Sunday morning than diner-style pancakes with bacon—but cooking them on the same surface as last night’s steak is a no-go. To become the ultimate grill boss, you need the right equipment.
You may have heard of a griddle—but how exactly does it work, and will it replace the old grill?
Of course not!
Sit down and get comfy—let me explain the crucial differences in my griddle vs grill guide.
These are the aspect evaluated in my griddle vs grill comparison:
- Temperatures of cooking.
- Taste and texture of results.
What Is a Griddle?
Think of a diner kitchen where the cook flips burgers and pancakes on what looks like a massive hot plate—that’s the perfect example of a griddle.
It’s a flat top grill, made with a cast iron or stainless steel surface of just the right thickness to distribute heat evenly for beautifully cooked comfort food. There are no handles or sides to keep the food inside, and you place it directly on the fire.
Unlike regular, round hot plates, a BBQ griddle is generally rectangular. Various sizes are available depending on use, whether it’s indoor, outdoor, home or commercial barbequing.
In restaurant settings, they can easily reach up to a couple of feet in length and width. For the home cook, however, manufacturers make them small enough to leave on the range top between the burners on your stove.
You can also get electrical versions that you place on the table and make breakfast in front of your family. Just ensure there’s an electrical outlet nearby.
Authentic griddles are those suited for campfire cooking—these are simple pieces of steel or iron.
Griddles are supposed to be thick, which provides better heat retention, and ultimately, better cooking quality. Thinner ones are likely to warp with use, creating an uneven surface, allowing that sunny side up egg to run off the surface.
What Is a Griddle Good For?
Flat griddles are mostly used for breakfast items, like pancakes, hash browns, scrambled eggs and French toast.
Although, it’s almost a culinary sin to constrict their uses to breakfast foods.
Try preparing a hot sandwich or burger—the griddle will perfectly toast the bun while cooking the patties. It’s pretty much an essential tool in any kitchen, regardless of the cuisine.
In France, native griddle dishes include crêpes and galettes, which are thin, sweet or savory pancakes. Spain is a griddle fanatic, cooking nearly every meal on a flat metal plate.
You can even find them in Asian cuisines all from India’s chapati bread, Malaysia’s stuffed roti dough to Japan’s Teppanyaki dishes. The griddle’s uses are simply endless.
Features of a Griddle
When it comes to griddles, the most crucial point is the material used. For general griddle cooking, you’ll typically see either cast iron or steel—for those with bigger pockets, or commercial use, you get chrome and stainless steel.
Steel and stainless steel griddles are what we see in restaurants and hotels. The materials are smooth and milled to approximately 0.75-inch thickness.
They’re heavy—the average weight is roughly 30 pounds per square foot—but this increases their durability to withstand rigorous, everyday use.
For the home cook, however, a friendlier version would be a 0.25-inch thickness that weighs roughly 10 pounds per square feet. I will say that if you’re going to cook dense foods, like potatoes and burgers, go with a thicker plate.
The rectangular shape of a griddle is the main feature setting it apart from a regular pan. The form provides a larger cooking surface, enabling you to make several portions in less time or prepare different dishes.
Choosing an electric griddle also has its advantages. I like having a smaller, panini press-style tool, better known as a contact griddle, on the countertop. This type provides two cooking surfaces, an upper and lower, preparing your food on top and bottom simultaneously.
These are fantastic for making a quick grilled cheese sandwich. Some are available with reversible plates so you can do both grilling and griddle cooking—a sensible choice if you love your grill marks.
What Is a Grill?
Griddles aside, grills are my go-to for most of my dishes. Nothing beats the charred grill marks on a steak or chicken breast—not to mention the smoky flavor.
A grill consists of an open cooking surface, where food rests on stainless steel grates while the fire cooks it from below. It’s a versatile method, suitable for a range of taste buds—whether you like low and slow cooking or hot and fast as if hellfire itself was fueling the charcoals.
They’re also a blast to work with, literally.
Grilling is thus, undoubtedly, one of the most favorable ways of barbecuing—and no matter the griddle’s advances—the grill should never be omitted.
Grill Features and Uses
One of the most distinctive features of the grill is the raised ridges—these produce the signature grill marks on anything that they touch. You’ll find that there’s a variety of materials available—anything from cast iron, nickel-plated steel to porcelain-enameled metals.
Grills are convenient for indoor and outdoor use. They can be both electric or fueled by either propane or natural gas. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t bring charcoal or gas grills indoors.
Sizes vary greatly—you have anything from small portable ones to the massive BBQs, designed to provide you with heaps of cooking space.
Unlike griddles, though, grills are best for bigger cuts of meat, sausages, poultry, fish and whole vegetables, like barbecued corn.
Veggies, for instance, are best grilled—it enhances their flavor, without the added calories of oil and butter they swim around in on a frying pan. Although a little brush of oil to keep them hydrated doesn’t hurt.
You can also prepare smaller pieces—utilize skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates.
Griddle vs Grill
Some claim that griddles and grills are interchangeable—but they aren’t. One is suitable for specific tasks, and vice versa—for instance, you can’t smoke a pork butt on a griddle, and you can’t cook pancakes on the grill—unless you get very creative.
I’ve made some comparisons below, so you can see which is the better choice for you—perhaps it’s both.
Temperatures of Cooking
One of the most significant differences between a grill and a griddle is the cooking temperature.
Grills mainly cook food high and fast—they can easily reach temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit and more. An exception to this is when you’re using your grill as a smoker—here, the temperature should be low to allow the meat to tenderize for hours. A pork butt can easily take more than eight hours in a smoker.
Griddles, however, work at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re either heated directly by the fire they sit on or by an electric heating element.
Taste and Texture of Food
A grill and griddle differ a lot in terms of the end results they produce. If you were to cook a burger patty on each, you’d see a significant difference in taste and texture.
On a griddle, the food will be a bit more soft-core—it’s similar to regular roasted dishes since the items aren’t in direct contact with the flames. Yet, the texture and taste still have a little of that BBQ/diner vibes.
Now with griddles, you can’t replicate the same slightly burnt, charred texture of foods cooked on the grill. Grilling adds a smoky element to the produce—this is particularly evident when using a charcoal BBQ as opposed to a gas-powered.
Sometimes, cooking can be a time-consuming activity. This, of course, isn’t always a bad thing—personally, I find it quite therapeutic—but on those days where you’re short on time, you just want it done.
In my opinion, traditional grilling is a lot quicker, and in that, more convenient. On average, it’s roughly twice as fast as a griddle.
The reason for this is that there’s no flat top between the heat and food, which the griddle has. So, the steak hits your plate within no time.
One aspect that draws on the grill’s convenience is its lesser portability. General BBQs consist of a stand, covers, lid, grates, legs, among others. This makes it a lot harder to bring with you quickly.
However, portability might not be a significant issue if you’re not planning on bringing your grill with you.
A griddle is, as you’ve guessed, a lot slower. It will take a lot longer for you to get those shish kebabs on the plate.
Where the griddle wins is how portable it is, especially the electrical types. All there’s needed to do is unplug it and move to a different location. Because they’re generally smaller than grills, you can fit them in your car if you’re hosting a cookout.
There’s always a safety concern when playing with fire. In fact, it’s been estimated that grills are the cause of approximately 1100 home fires every year. Safety precautions are crucial, including never leaving the grill unattended or allowing small children to play around it.
If you aren’t used to working around open flames, then griddles are definitely safer. The food isn’t in direct contact with the fire, so there’s little to no risk of a flare-up.
Which Is Easier to Maintain?
Maintaining your cooking surface, whether grill or griddle, is essential for your food’s quality.
When it comes to cleaning, a griddle is by far the easiest. All you do is scrape off food residue from the cooking surface, scrub it with a non-abrasive sponge and soap, then rinse with water.
Due to the number of nooks and crannies in a grill, it requires frequent maintenance to avoid having potentially sickening food deposits left. I highly recommend using a stiff wire brush before and after cooking. If you have a gas grill, make sure you keep the burners clean to avoid a flare-up.
Is a Griddle Better Than a Grill?
It depends on what type of food you’re looking to cook.
Griddles are excellent in many ways, especially if you’re looking to make small cut foods, batters or runny recipes. However, for real barbecue, you need a grill—the griddle can’t replicate the same texture and smoky flavor.
If you’re unsure about which to choose, you can always get a BBQ with griddle.
A griddle grill is the best of both worlds, enabling you to cook your hash browns on one side and sausages on the other.
Is Griddle Cooking Healthy?
Cooking on a griddle requires minimal grease, making it a healthier choice than using a regular frying pan. Still, it isn’t as wholesome as the grill.
Grilling allows the fat and grease to seep through the grates and onto the charcoal below, intensifying the smokiness. It even enhances the flavors of a gas grill. This also prevents the food from sitting in the grease, making it just a tad healthier.
With that said, one of the main contributors to fatty foods is what we pair it with—in this case, it’s generally BBQ sauce. I prefer making my own to keep the sodium and sugar to a minimum. Check out my homemade BBQ sauce recipe.
Griddle vs grill—a tough comparison of two clearly invaluable cooking surfaces. Both have their pros and cons, but each delivers fantastic food.
If you tend to cook more soft foods, like batters or raw eggs, the griddle is your best bet. However, if you still want the option of grill marks and smokiness, then I highly recommend looking into a griddle grill.