Long before ovens and stovetop burners made their way into homes across the world, the griddle was the home cook’s tool of choice. The simplicity of its form and function have made this cooking device a worldwide phenomenon—and one that is regaining its popularity as modern chefs rediscover just how useful a griddle’s flat surface and even heating can be. However, the question remains to be asked: What is a griddle?
In this quick guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about griddles: What they are, why they’re a great cooking tool, the best foods to cook on a griddle and how to clean and maintain one.
What Is a Griddle?
At its most basic a griddle is a movable piece of heat-retaining material with a flat top, all of which make it great to cook on.
Cultures around the world and throughout history have developed their own variations of the griddle. Wales has the bakestone, a small and circular iron plate with a single handle, used to cook Welsh cakes. Latin American budare are round and flat tablets made of stone or clay; that same design but made of metal is known as a comal. The Middle Eastern saj or tawa puts a convex spin on the classic flat griddle, making it easier to cook flatbreads over an open fire.
Today, griddles have become even more advanced, all while keeping their flat shape and heat-retaining qualities. There are electric griddles of all shapes and sizes, ready to be used on any kitchen countertop, as well as stovetop griddle plates made from cast iron or stainless steel.
But perhaps most impressive of all are griddles integrated with full-size grills—like our Traeger Flatrock, a flat-top grill with three griddle plates, each of which can be individually temperature-controlled. Thanks to the triple U-burner design that powers these heat zones, you can count on perfectly even heating across the entire surface of the grill, allowing you to cook up full meals all at once. What is a griddle? A griddle is a movable piece of heat-retaining material with a flat top, making it great to cook on.
Difference Between a Flat Top Grill and a Griddle
Having introduced you to the Traeger Flatrock, you might be wondering: Just how different is a flat top grill from a griddle, anyway?
Aside from the obvious difference—one is a full-sized grill that will be used outdoors, and the other is a smaller indoor cooking tool—the main differentiator is the way heat is distributed in a flat top grill.
When using a traditional griddle on a stovetop, you’ll have one or two heat sources (the burners on your stove) that produce high heat zones directly over the open flames, and lower heat zones outside of them.
With the Traeger flat top though, you get even heat distribution and perfect cooks every time because the burners distribute heat more evenly across their griddle plates. That makes it easier to cook everything all at once, rather than having to rotate through high and low heat zones while you’re cooking.
Additionally, a flat top grill offers much more cooking surface space than a stovetop griddle. If you’re cooking for a family or large group, a flat top grill is definitely the way to go.
Difference Between Griddle and Grill
When talking about grills and griddles, things can get confusing. That’s because grill can refer to either a cooking surface, or the entire cooking device (that includes a body to hold up the grill grates, and a fuel source to cook over).
So when we’re talking about cooking surfaces: A griddle is a solid metal plate that is heated from below, while a grill is a metal frame with grates, used for cooking food over an open fire.
Either or both of these can be used as the cooking surface for an outdoor grill (the entire cooking device), which uses propane or natural fuels to provide fire. When a grill uses griddle plates instead of metal grates, it’s called a flat top grill.
Benefits of Using a Griddle
So why use a griddle or flat top grill, rather than a traditional grill or a couple of pans on the stovetop? Let’s take a look at the three main benefits of using a griddle.
Versatility in Cooking
A griddle’s flat cooking surface gives you more space to cook your food. And since it doesn’t have high sides or grill grates getting in the way, it’s easier to reposition and flip whatever you’re cooking. The Traeger Flatrock takes this cooking versatility even further, offering three different precision-controlled temperature zones that allow you to cook everything you want, all at the same time.
Even Heat Distribution
Because of the uniform thickness of their metal plates, griddles offer superior heat distribution compared to both common kitchen pans and traditional grills. That heat distribution means that you won’t have to juggle hamburger patties or strips of bacon from hot zone to cold zone, and can instead just focus on cooking them perfectly in one place. And since the entire cooking surface will be heated evenly, you can fit more food at one time.
Because of the even heat distribution that a griddle surface offers, it’s much easier to control how much smoke is produced. Because you won’t have high-heat areas burning up oil and stuck-on bits of food, you can set a griddle to exactly the right temperature to cook without producing a lot of smoke. With our extensive pellet flavors, you can pick the smoky flavor you’d like to infuse your food with as well.
What Can You Cook On The Griddle?
Griddles are versatile cooking tools, so almost anything you can cook over grill grates or in a pan can be cooked on a griddle, too. Below are some of our favorite griddle-centric recipes, collected from the Traeger recipe collection.
Griddles and flat-top grills are perfect matches for cooking up hearty breakfasts. They’re great labor-savers too, since you can use one cooking surface for everything.
A Flat Top Country-Style Potato Hash with Ham makes for a great family-style meal, as does our recipe for Flat Top Fried Eggs and Bacon with Hash Browns. Pair that with some Flat Top Buttermilk Pancakes, and you’ve got a breakfast fit for a king.
Feeling a little bit fancier? Our recipe for Ham & Egg Breakfast Crepes looks like a million bucks, but it’s really not that difficult to make on a griddle.
Any sandwich that you could make on a grill, you can do just as well on a griddle. They may not have those same grill mark lines on the bread, but the even heating of a griddle will give an all-over sear and browning that looks and tastes great.
Our Flat Top Philly Cheesesteak recipe uses the Flatrock to caramelize onions and quickly sear the thinly sliced steak, all before melting cheese over the whole mess.
Grilled cheese sandwiches are fast and easy to make on a flat top grill or griddle. Our recipe for a BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich is guaranteed to be the best you’ve ever tasted.
Looking for something lighter and healthier? Try using a griddle top for veggies, as in our Grilled Veggie Sandwich.
Meat Dishes: Burgers, Steak and Chicken
More Recipes for the Griddle
The recipes listed above are just the beginning, and we’re constantly adding new recipes to our Flat Top Grill Recipes page. Bookmark that page and keep checking back for the best in flat top grill recipes.
Cleaning and Maintaining The Griddle
Just as you need to clean and maintain your pans or your grill grate, you’ll need to put some time and attention into keeping your griddle working as well as possible.
Because cleaning and maintaining your griddle is such an essential task, we’ve created an entire guide on How to Clean a Flat Top Grill. That article goes over everything you need to know about cleaning and maintaining a flat top grill or griddle, including the tools you’ll need to keep it looking and cooking its best.
Griddle Add-Ons and Essential Accessories
Flat top grills and griddles work best with a different set of tools, including a scraper and a thin spatula. We’ve collected those as well as squeeze bottles for seasoning in our Traeger Flat Top Grill Essentials Kit, a must-have item for any aspiring griddle master.
Another big advantage of our Traeger Flatrock is its customizability. Thanks to the P.A.L. Pop-and-Lock accessory system, it can be outfitted to fit your specific grilling and griddling preferences. There’s our P.A.L. Cup Holder to keep your favorite beverage in arm’s reach, accessory hooks to hang your spatula, scraper, and tongs from, a handy Roll Rack for paper towels, and a storage bin for all your sauces and condiments. Put them all together with your Flatrock, and you’ll have everything you need for griddling and grilling right by your side.