Certain foods are ideal for cooking on a set of traditional barbecue grilling grates.
For burgers, steaks, and a few vegetables, you may really enjoy the sight of those hot sear lines. However, you are missing out on so many foods that you can cook yourself on a flat surface.
Whenever you go to a diner, have you not wondered how effortless it looks to cook perfect pancakes next to eggs, toast, and steak. With enough room, you can cook so much on a flat grill and enjoy some wonderful versatility.
From fajitas to Teppanyaki via the odd occasional huge backyard cookout, and no more lost hot dogs down the gaps between grates either.
If your neighbors already have one, you may consider it time to switch from grates to a flat-top grill. The flat-top surfaces offer so much flexibility and can be really easy to clean too.
No more flare-ups, no more uneven cooking, and better-tasting food over time.
A flat-top griddle that can pack a punch? That is the Blackstone 1517 Flat Top Gas Grill Griddle which is a great option for an impromptu barbecue. If you are not expecting too many guests then 470 square inches should be enough room.
That size of cooking area also offers great versatility without being too overbearing. Whether you are cooking breakfast, the occasional steak, or even Teppanyaki.
Anyone on a budget should see this versatile griddle as a key option, especially with 34,000 BTU. This is a classic design that does the job in any backyard without looking too overbearing.
The assembly is also without frills so you can get it up and ready in little time at all which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.Pros
Also Available At Blackstone
Specializing in large gatherings should mean a huge grill for an extended space and easy cooking. You do not want to be cramping up your hot dogs and burgers while your guests are waiting.
That is why you need the Royal Gourmet GB8000 8-Burner Gas Grill which comes with a huge 970 square inches of cooking area. That should be enough for 60 burgers and is a space you will want to fill up.
The gas system has two sets of regulators for an even flame which you can depend on and which we liked in our testing. There are eight stainless steel tube burners, each with 13,000 BTU for great versatility.
The design is also functional with folding wind deflectors and side tables for wind protection and spacious food preparation areas. Easy cooking also comes with straightforward cleaning from two grease cups.Pros
Also Available At Royal Gourmet
There are flat-top grills and then there are 360° grills which offer so much more flexibility. You may begin to wonder why you used a rectangular grill all these years, such as the access and maneuverability that you can try here.
The Cuisinart CGG-888 Round Outdoor Flat Top Surface Gas Grill comes with a 22-inch diameter cooking surface which should be ample room.
The grill also comes with a stainless steel lid which offers protection from the elements but also even more cooking versatility. Coming with an integrated vent means you can easily steam some vegetables, smoke, roast, or simply keep your food warm.
A large grease pan makes for convenient cleaning, which we liked in our testing. There is also the possibility of creating your own hot and cold zones with two independently controlled burners.
Also Available At Cuisinart
You may begin to miss your grilling grates and those sear lines. If you cannot fully commit to a flat-top grill then the Royal Gourmet GD401 Portable Propane Gas Grill and Griddle Combo have the best of both worlds.
With individual cooking zones, you can switch between using grilling grates and the flat top griddle, which we liked in our testing. Maybe sear on the grates then move it across for a more uniform crust, the choice is yours.
A side table on each side should provide ample room for food preparation. There is also functionality with a grease management system to protect the griddle and for easy cleaning.
Collapsible legs and locking casters make this the grill to bring out on cookouts. Automatic ignition proves handy for all four independently controlled burners too.Pros
Also Available At Royal Gourmet
Keeping your flat-top grill in peak condition is ideal for ensuring that it cooks just as you want it to each time. The Blackstone 1554 Cooking 4 Burner Flat Top Gas Grill is designed to make maintenance a doddle.
With either a rear or front grease drain, you have little to do when it is time to clean, which we liked in our testing.
You can even control where you want to cook. If you only want to use part of the available 720 square inches then just use one adjustable heat control.
If you want half to be cool and the other half hot then adjust the controls accordingly. Ramp each control up and enjoy a total of 60,000 BTU which should be more than enough for efficient grilling.Pros
Also Available At Blackstone
A truly remarkable design comes in the form of the Presto 07055 Cool-Touch Electric Ceramic Griddle. Perhaps you are accustomed to hooking up to your gas supply, though you should consider going electric. With a ceramic non-stick surface, you can use this as a pan for omelets, pancakes, or the odd steak.
Bring it out for gatherings or simply use the low-profile design on a buffet. The cool-touch base will keep your hands safe while the 10.5 by 20-inch cooking surface is still ideal for small meals.
Without using gas, you can also benefit from Control Master Heat Control which provides automatic cooking temperature maintenance.Pros
Also Available At Go Presto
Why have four burners when you can have five? You will never know the benefit of that extra burner until you try the Pit Boss 10762 5 Burner Gas Griddle.
With an extra burner than most griddles, you can also benefit from 62,000 BTU. Imagine the possibilities with that power, whether cooking for guests or simply rustling up a quick breakfast with pancakes and eggs.
With great power, comes a truly great cooking surface. Not only is it non-stick steel but it covers a huge 750 square inches. You should not be short of ideas for what to do with that fifth burner in an incredibly versatile griddle.
The drain system is also appreciated, especially when you need to clean up after a large gathering, which we enjoyed in our experience of this product.Pros
Also Available At Pit Boss
Flat top grills do not have to be permanently kept in the backyard. For a truly portable option, seek out the Pit Boss 2 Burner Table Top Gas Griddle. You could even use it indoors if you wanted to, which we liked in our testing.
The gas griddle is the ideal purchase for travel so you can enjoy some grilled meats and vegetables on a camping trip, road trip, or tailgating party.
The setup is pretty easy too with stable and lockable legs so you can grill confidently. The griddle itself is flexible with two burners that can be controlled independently.
That griddle top is also pre-seasoned so whatever you cook should taste great. A push-button for ignition also means that once everything else is set up, you can get cooking straight away.Pros
Also Available At Pit Boss
Quick and easy grilling comes as standard with a pre-seasoned and non-stick surface. The Camp Chef Flat Top Grill offers that desirable function, as well as an exceptional design.
From the 600 square inches of the cooking surface to the steady heat distribution. You can even choose between low, medium, and high for controlled cooking, which we liked in our testing.
If you want grill grates you can add them for those delectable sear lines that you may be missing. Both grates and grill will benefit from a handy grease management system for easy cleanup.
Though the price tag may be high, this is such an easy grill to use that you will be getting great value. Especially with four burners in a free-standing design.Pros
Also Available At Camp Chef
An extensive budget should make space for chic design. With a simple yet distinctive stainless steel construction, the Blaze Premium LTE 30-Inch Built-In Natural Gas Griddle is set to make eyes turn.
Especially at night with illuminated control knobs for a useful and stylish feature. The griddle will also make your guests salivate with 18,000 BTU per burner for exceptionally powerful cooking, which we liked in our testing.
The 500 square inches of cooking space also benefit from exceptional design with U-shaped burners for even heat distribution. Then there is the functionality of a protective lid to keep all that stainless steel protected.
While you can agree with the confidence that Blaze has in its grill, a lifetime warranty is fully appreciated.Pros
Also Available At Blaze
Anyone that grills on a grate may be looking enviously when they go out to eat in a restaurant. A flat-top grill simply looks far simpler than worrying about losing food between those grilling grates. Almost anyone who has used a traditional grated barbecue grill will appreciate the despair of watching some onion pieces, sausages, or even fish fall between the gaps.
Whether it is for cooking eggs in so many ways or flipping pancakes while cooking a steak, a flat top grill is great for versatility. You can also benefit from a uniformly flat surface and exceptional heat distribution which is great for fish and the crust on a burger.
Many flat-top grills come with all the features you would expect from a traditional barbecue grill that comes with grates. From numerous burners to temperature control, largely because gas is easier to control than charcoal briquettes.
There are also pre-seasoned and non-stick surfaces so you can cook straight away without preparing the griddle top aside from the odd wipe with a paper towel.
The design can also make your flat top griddle even easier to use with designated spaces for equipment and foldable legs for easy storage which you should come to expect.
One of the biggest considerations for your flat top grill is the grilling area. Having a good idea of the typical occasions you will be using the grill, and the number of people to serve should help with your decision.
For instance, for large gatherings like a summer barbecue with friends, you may want at least two burners with a large cooking area. If you only intend to use the grill for a family of four then one or two burners should be sufficient on a comparatively small cooking area.
You should also think about the shape of the cooking area. Expectations would be that all grill cooking areas are rectangular yet you could find a circular cooking area. Though rare, these give great access to the food you are cooking and help with moving it around.
The circular design can be really handy, especially with a lid so you can steam, roast, or simply keep your food warm.
The material can make a huge difference in how you maintain and move your flat top griddle. Bear in mind the major difference in weight between a cooktop made from cast iron and one from carbon stainless steel.
You will realize as soon as you attempt to move it. While carbon stainless steel can be wiped clean, is thinner and lighter you may simply prefer cast iron if you can leave your griddle in the same location. Though heavier, you are getting a more durable cooktop.
There are also differences in how those two materials are for grilling. Cast iron can get hotter though it takes a longer time to reach high temperatures. The material is renowned for being thick and retaining its heat without the danger of warping.
When those high temperatures are reached, they not only remain for longer but the heat is distributed more evenly too.
This even heat distribution can be from the shape of the burner as ‘U’ and ‘H’ shapes add some logistical sense to heating a surface quicker. The main difference between the two materials is cost. You can rely on stainless steel to be cheaper than cast iron.
After shopping around, you should have an idea of a design of the flat top grill that would best suit you and your cooking style. You could prefer to have a space for your grilling accessories to keep them within easy reach.
Maybe some side shelves or tables for that extra space to prepare your food and bring some out when it is ready. You can even use the side shelves for a crafty space to keep a beer within arm’s reach.
Even something as simple as wheels could be a big factor depending on whether you want to easily move the grill into your backyard. Instead of paying for a protective cover, being able to maneuver the grill underneath a shelter should be straightforward.
Perhaps even a grill that you can pack up so that is ready to be transported on a camping trip.
You may be daunted to go all out for a flat-top grill and that is fine. Having grown accustomed to grilling grates, you may want to consider a combo to have the option of both.
That may mean stocking up on charcoal briquettes as the heat source for the grill yet if you want that charcoal taste then you do not have to miss out.
While the flat-top grill is undoubtedly a great way to cook meat and vegetables, you can be missing out. If you want that authentic smoky BBQ flavor, you may struggle to achieve it with a flat-top grill.
That is large because the fat drippings have nowhere to go except into your grease management system.
That may mean easy cleaning yet the fat does not go into a flame to introduce natural smoke into your food which you may miss.
If you are considering the number of burners then be careful to check the British Thermal Unit (BTU) figure as well. This is essentially the power output and can vary across models from 13,000 to 18,000 per burner.
Added up these make up the total BTU which can give you an idea of how quickly you can cook when all the burners are on.
Most smaller flat-top grills will simply feature two burners. If they are independently controlled you can create one cool zone and one hot zone.
Having the ability to actively cook in one area and then move your meats or vegetables to one side to keep warm is a great option. Going up to the larger models, you can expect four or even five burners which all add up to a sizeable BTU.
While you may desire a flat-top grill that has a permanent place in your backyard (with a cover to ensure protection from the weather), you should be able to move it.
That could mean an ideal location to be closer to your guests, but not too close. Even if you decide to move house, the grill should be easy to move with four industrial-strength caster wheels.
Due to the size of some flat-top grills, you may be spending a few hours having to assemble them. At the point of purchase, you can consider manufacturers that will offer expert assembly at an extra cost saving you the hassle.
As a lot of models come with foldable side stands and legs, the assembly may only be a few bolts here and there.
Lockable caster wheels should give you the option of moving your flat-top grill around the backyard. However, you probably do not want to try to lift your grill, especially if it uses a cast iron griddle.
That material really can weigh quite a bit and it would not be recommended to try and pick it up unless you have extra bodies for assistance.
If portability is a key feature then go for a smaller design. If the flat-top grill only has two burners then it should have a limited cooking surface and be easily picked up with some help.
Some flat-top grills may have two burners but do not come with legs. On a heat-resistant surface, these grills are great for camping trips, road trips, or simply taking you away with you for the option of a hot, grilled meal.
The sheer size of the cooking surface says a lot about what sort of a host you are or aim to be. If you simply want to cook the odd breakfast or occasional small barbecue with your flat top grill then you could be looking at just 250 to 400 square inches.
For larger gatherings or backyard parties, you can expect the cooking surface to measure upwards of 700 square inches, up to even 900 square inches.
While having a huge cooking surface offers great versatility for Teppanyaki or serving up piles of pancakes, all that area has to be heated.
While you may need the space for cooking 60 burgers at once, every single one will have to be heated from your gas supply. Make sure you stop up on gas tanks if you want to ensure your gathering does not end prematurely.
When it comes to temperature control, you can benefit from a gas heat source which most flat-top grills do. This can mean turning the heat up or down with a control knob or simply deciding between low, medium, and high.
You can also use independently controlled burners to create a cool and hot zone to get your cooking just how you want it.
A grease management system is essential to find in a flat-top grill if you do not want to spend hours cleaning it. These can be relatively simple and may only be a cup, draw-out tray, or a bucket that collects grease and fat drippings.
While you may need to oil the griddle top beforehand, the grease collection saves so much time and hassle of cleaning up.
Some flat-top grills even come with a non-stick surface which is super easy to clean. Not only will it prevent food from sticking but all you need to do is wipe the surface first with a paper towel then you are ready to cook.
Pre-seasoned surfaces even benefit from less cleaning as these retain flavor the more times you use them.
The vast majority of flat-top grills will use gas as their heat source. Hooking them up to a gas tank should be effortless and provide plenty of cooking time. However, you can get combo designs that come with a grilling grate and that will still use charcoal briquettes.
For an innovative design, you can even go electric with a ceramic griddle that you can use as a buffet server as well as your nifty grill.
Once your flat-top grill is hooked up to the gas supply, it should be easy to get the heat going. A lot of designs do come with push-button ignition so you are not wasting too much time waiting to get cooking. Of course, you also do not have to worry about charcoal briquettes to reach cooking temperatures.
This should be more a question of what you cannot cook on a flat-top grill, such is the versatility. Imagine the hot menu in an old-school diner and you can effectively cook all that yourself.
From the usual barbecue choices of steaks and burgers which benefit from a uniform caramelization to even more expansive choices.
You may find yourself using your flat-top grill for breakfast like eggs, pancakes, French toast, and regular toast all becoming available cooking options. There are also the more exciting options such as fajitas with that huge space which becomes ideal for onions and sliced meats.
You could also try Teppanyaki while fish benefit from the uniform, flat cooking surface for a more even cook.
There are some concerns over fatty cuts of meat such as skin-on chicken thighs, bacon, and steaks. This is especially if your flat-top grill does not come with an adequate grease management system as you may be dealing with the odd oil splatter.
Like any flat grilling surface, you need to consider the material when seasoning. The French are renowned for only wiping their cast iron pans and similar principles apply here.
Simply wipe down the grill surface after use and before you are about to use it. If there is any leftover debris, you can turn the heat up and scrape it off.
When the grill is ready and hot, pour some oil on liberally and wipe it around. You should cover some tongs with paper towels to help with the spreading so you can easily and carefully cover the entire grill.
Once you have fully coated the grill and the oil is smoking, repeat that process until the surface is shiny. Typically when the flat top grill surface is glaringly shiny is it ready to grill.
The process of seasoning a carbon steel flat top grill is a little bit different as it has both cast iron and stainless steel in its construction. You should consider both materials and go gentle on them.
Cleaning products can cause some scratching so avoid these and just clean the surface using a grill scraper. Now you can use it as you would a cast iron grill by turning the heat to high, then adding oil until the surface is shiny.
If you are used to cooking on a typical barbecue grill, you may find it so much easier to cook with a flat top grill. This is largely due to the construction and the lack of grates. If you have lost the occasional sausage down a gap then you no longer need to worry about this issue with a flat-top grill.
The clue is in the name as the flat top means more uniform cooking and no more glaring sear lines. As there is more surface contact between your food and the grill, you can expect a deeper caramelization.
You may have grown to like the sear lines you create on a burger when cooking it on the grates of a grill yet on a flat top you can look forward to a dark crust around the edges of the patty.
You do have to be more careful with certain meats because all the fat remains on the grill. That means for fattier cuts such as steak or skin-on chicken thighs, oil splatters can be common on flat-top grills without grease catches such as cups or draw-out trays.
Fragile meats such as fish or any vegetable should be cooked in the cooler heat zones as these can be overcooked quite quickly.
A flat surface on a flat top grill can also offer more versatility. Imagine the flat top grill as a giant pan which could be great for breakfast or brunch. Just like an old-school diner, you can cook everything on the same grill including eggs, toast, bacon, French toast, and even pancakes.
If your flat-top grill comes with a non-stick surface, you may only need to wipe it clean with a paper towel each time you are ready to use it. A lot of designs come with a grease management system to collect fat drippings so you do not have to deal with them.
Alternatively, there are signs you can look out for which indicate it is time to get cleaning. This can be when burnt oil flakes find their way onto your food which can leave a horrible burnt taste for your guests.
If you see an excessive amount of grease building up on your surface it may be time to wipe it clean, once you are finished cooking.
If your meat and vegetables are sticking to the griddle top then this is a sign that extensive scrubbing is necessary. Finally, if you can taste hints of several distinctive flavors transferring between foods then that can ruin the overall experience of your grilling.
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