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What Is An Outdoor Griddle?

If you’ve spent any length of time scrolling through social media or looking for deals on grills, you’ve heard of outdoor griddles. These versatile pieces of cooking equipment are relatively new to the scene, but they allow you to cook a wide variety of food without needing extra accessories. So …

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By Jeremy Pike

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What is an outdoor griddle?

If you’ve spent any length of time scrolling through social media or looking for deals on grills, you’ve heard of outdoor griddles. These versatile pieces of cooking equipment are relatively new to the scene, but they allow you to cook a wide variety of food without needing extra accessories.

So what is an outdoor griddle? There are variations, but it comes down to two major components:

  1. A sheet of metal for the cooking surface
  2. A heat source to heat the cooking surface.

The majority of griddles use propane gas, like the Camp Chef Flat Top 600, while some companies also have produced electric models for use at apartments. 

You can even find a wood pellet-fueled outdoor griddle as recteq debuted the SmokeStone 600 as part of their new lineup in 2023. As outdoor cooking technology improves, so do outdoor griddles.

So what are these griddles and why are they such a fast-growing niche in the outdoor cooking industry? Let’s check it out.

What Is An Outdoor Griddle?

An outdoor griddle is a piece of cooking equipment with a large sheet of metal, usually some form of steel, that serves as a cooking surface. They are also known as flat top grills. These griddles are an outdoor and home-use version of the flat top grills you would find in most diners and fast-casual restaurants. As noted above, the majority of griddles are fueled by propane gas (or natural gas), but there are electric and even pellet-fueled models on the market.

So let’s break down the main characteristics of an outdoor griddle along with some of the variations.

Cooking Surface

Pancakes on griddle cook top
Making pancakes on the outdoor griddle is a great way to keep the house cool in summer.

This is the most important part of the griddle. It’s a large, flat sheet of metal that makes the griddle so versatile because you can cook pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast or veggies for stir-fry, quesadillas, or fajitas. You do not have to worry about losing small pieces of food to the flames like on a gas or charcoal grill. 

That flat sheet of metal also means more surface contact for whatever you’re cooking. That means better searing on your steaks and other cuts of meat. More of that beautiful browned crust due to the Maillard reaction means more flavor! Then you factor in how large the cooking surface is (my Camp Chef Flat Top 600 has 604 square inches of cooking space,) and you’ve got the ability to cook big quantities of a wide variety of food that you typically don’t on a standard grill.

As for what type of metal the cooking surface can be made from, the majority are some version of steel. The most common is rolled steel, but the Traeger Flatrock is made from carbon steel. Among rolled steel griddles, you will find both cold-rolled and hot-rolled steel. Cold-rolled steel is usually smoother due to the manufacturing process which makes it a great griddle surface, while hot-rolled steel does require work to make it smooth but it does cost less.

Regardless of the type of metal used to make the cooking surface, the underlying point is the same: you want a surface that is fairly smooth and that oil can bond with to create a non-stick surface, a process called seasoning, while still conducting heat evenly. That combination makes the magic of the griddle possible.

However, due to the unique nature of the cooking surface, cleaning and maintenance are a big part of owning an outdoor griddle.

Cleaning And Maintenance

Applying oil to griddle for seasoning.

Griddles have a solid cooking surface that, while perfect for cooking a wide variety of people, lends itself to food sticking. You can help decrease the amount of food sticking by properly seasoning your griddle. Seasoning is the process of adding a high smoke point oil like vegetable oil to create a thin layer of oil that then is cooked off to create a non-stick layer on the metal. 

While properly seasoning an outdoor griddle is important and a great preventative measure, it is not going to prevent all of your issues. You will want to take a few moments after every cooking session to clean your griddle to prevent any buildup of food debris. For more information, check out our how-to guide on cleaning an outdoor griddle.

Cleaning your outdoor griddle regularly will help extend the life of your griddle. It will also make your life a lot easier the next time you go to fire up your griddle. However, do not worry! If you uncover your griddle to find that rust has taken hold, your griddle is not ruined. Much like a cast iron skillet, you can reclaim your griddle with some hard work and know-how. There is more information on that in the link above, but just know that proper care and storage will do wonders in keeping you from having to clean a rusty griddle.

FAQs:

Question: What Can I Cook On An Outdoor Griddle?

Answer: What makes outdoor griddles so inviting is their versatility. You can cook every meal on one piece of equipment from eggs and pancakes for breakfast to quesadillas for lunch and smash burgers for dinner.

You can cook thinly sliced vegetables for a stir fry or fajitas that you would never contemplate grilling on a gas or charcoal grill without some type of grill basket. I’ve cooked both fried and scrambled eggs on my outdoor griddle for breakfast along with pancakes and bacon. The surface is ideal for messy foods that would otherwise drip through the grill grates on any other type of grill.

Question: How Hard Is It To Clean An Outdoor Griddle?

Answer: If you are cleaning regularly, it’s fairly easy. All you need is a scraper, hot water, and some paper towels. You always want to clean your griddle after cooking and turning it off but while the griddle is still warm. That makes scraping any food debris easier. You can read more by clicking on the link in the Cleaning and Maintenance section above.

Question: Is It Better To Cook A Steak On A Grill Or Griddle?

Answer: It depends on what you like in a steak. If you love traditional grill marks, you’re going to want to use a gas or charcoal grill. If you like having a beautiful even crust over the surface of your steak, you’ll want to use an outdoor griddle.

Final Thoughts

An outdoor griddle can change your outdoor cooking game completely. It gives you unparalleled versatility and can become a mainstay in your cooking arsenal. If you’re interested in seeing a variety of outdoor griddles, check out our favorite griddles and flat top grills.

Do you have any questions about outdoor griddles? Do you have a favorite recipe or cleaning and maintenance tip? Let us know in the comments!

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