Griddles vs grills you ask? Backyard grilling has been a part of the American vernacular for a long time. Charcoal grills were a mainstay outside most houses for several decades. Eventually, full-sized liquid propane grills came on the market and the industry exploded. It’s hard to find a home in North America that doesn’t have a charcoal or propane grill sitting outside! However, there’s a new movement in the outdoor cooking industry. A fast-growing segment of the population has forsaken traditional grills for griddles. They have become griddle enthusiasts.
The word “grill” has many connotations. For the context of this article, allow me to clarify. I’m referring to a grill as a traditional propane or charcoal cooking device that has grates on top. Grates are parallel or latticed bars on or in a cooking appliance upon which food is placed allowing flames to come in contact with food. On the contrary, I’ll be referring to the griddle as a flat top cooking surface without openings or grates. The griddle cooking surface is one solid sheet of metal. This type of cooking was once only available commercially to short order cooks. Nowadays, outdoor griddles or flat top cooking surfaces are available to consumers almost everywhere. In short, the griddle has become a canvas to culinary artists of a new breed.
Burgers, steaks, chicken legs, pork chops, and corn on the cob are just a few of the elemental food items that can be cooked on a traditional outdoor grill. You can expand your grilling possibilities with the use of aluminum foil or a cast iron skillet on the grill. Outdoor griddles, on the other hand, open up an even larger world of creative license. If you’ve never cooked on an outdoor griddle before, let me lay it out for you.
South of the Border
Who doesn’t like the seared and sautéed ingredients for fajitas? I’m talking about strips of steaks, onions, bell peppers, and tiny pieces of fresh chopped garlic. You can even cook your own fresh flour tortillas as the griddle surface works exactly like a traditional Mexican comal. You can cook just about anything on a blazing hot griddle surface!
Spend Time in Asia
Perhaps you prefer Chinese food. The outdoor griddle top can achieve the blazing-hot temperatures needed to cook fried rice, vegetables, chicken, seafood, and beef just as well as a wok. Try doing that on a grill.
The same can be said for Japanese-style teppanyaki cooking. Squirt soybean oil on the griddle. Add fresh garlic, scallops, your choice of vegetable, pre-cooked yakisoba noodles, and finish with soy sauce. There’s a Mongolian barbecue trend going on right now. Have it your way, at a fraction of the cost, and cook dishes that Genghis Khan himself would have salivated over. The griddle can do all that… and then some!
The Breakfast of Champions
You say pancakes, I say flapjacks. Can you even cook a pancake on a gas grill? I’ll save you the time and frustration. Any way you stack ’em, the outdoor griddle is the best way to get the job done. If you’re cooking on a larger griddle, like the Blackstone 36″ Griddle Cooking Station, you can cook enough flapjacks to feed a little league baseball team. If you’re cooking for two, the Blackstone Dash might be more suitable. Either way, you can have pancakes, eggs, bacon, and toast cooking side-by-side on the same surface.
Before You Get Upset
Let me interject that there’s nothing wrong with propane grills. They are tried and true. I have a one on my back porch. Whereas I used to only use my propane grill, I now use my griddle most of the time, multiple times per week. Since getting my first griddle, I’ve only fired up my propane grill a handful of times each year. My outdoor cooking paradigm has completely changed. I now find myself saying, “this would be outstanding on the griddle” on almost a daily basis!
Last night I tried something new and it was amazing! I griddled a batch of shrimp scampi. I turned the burners to high and waited 10 minutes for my griddle top to get scorching hot. Next, I added a stick of butter. Then I threw down a few dozens cleaned and thawed Argentine red shrimp along with plenty of garlic. I allowed 2-3 minutes before turning the shrimp which seared to half-blackened perfection. I added the rest of the stick of butter and continued cooking the shrimp on the other side for a few more minutes. Finally, I mixed the shrimp and butter mixture around for 15 seconds. I sprinkled the buttery shrimp with a touch of Himalayan pink salt and black pepper after plating it up. My wife and I were blown away by the flavor. Our kids even loved it! It was high-end restaurant quality. Prep, cooking, and cleanup in under 20 minutes.
Can griddles actually make us better cooks?
Hopefully, I’m making you hungry. Exquisite food with less hassle is one reason why so many people are turning to outdoor griddles, but we’ve only touched the surface. Ok, I’ll admit that I’m not the world’s best griller. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into the house to get something and have come back outside only to find that a grease flare-up turned one my meat into charcoal. Since the griddle top is one solid piece of steel, the grease doesn’t come in contact with the fire. The grease flows from the griddle top into the oil cup. Leave a burger patty on the grill for a few minutes too long and it’s dry. Nobody like eating dry burgers. The beauty of the griddle is that the high heat sears the outside of your meat putting a protective coating around the meat’s interior juices. If you get sidetracked and let your burgers sit on the griddle top for a few extra minutes, it won’t dry your meat out. You’ll bite through the flavorful outside and the inside will still be bursting with juicy flavor. Unlike grills, griddles are forgiving. They help me cook food more perfectly than I ever have before. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received messages from my YouTube viewers who have told me that they were hooked on the griddle after using it for the first time.
The griddle retains heat and cooks like cast iron because the griddle top is a heavy piece of cold rolled steel. Once the griddle top gets hot, it stays hot. You can get the griddle hot enough to blacken the best Cajun steaks you’ve ever eaten.
Another way to improve the quality of your griddle cooking is to try out different types of oils. This gives you a great deal of freedom for developing flavors on the griddle. From olive oil to sunflower oil, you have lots of freedom to add the exact flavor you want for the kind of food you’re cooking. Clarified butter, avocado oil, or even bacon grease can take your griddle cooking to the next level!
Versatile Multi-Zone Cooking
You can turn one or more burners/griddle zones off while cooking, just like with grilling. This is ideal when you’re cooking several elements that you will bring together to form a meal. Once your onions are perfectly cooked, you can turn off the burner to the far side and slide the onions over to that zone. Your onions will stay warm but will not continue to cook or burn. The same theory applies as you stack up pancakes on one end of the griddle as your sausage links continue cooking on the opposite end.
If you want to cook outdoors but desire to attain the same perfection that you have inside your house, the griddle might be the best option for you. Do you want to cook outdoors for a large group of people but serve restaurant-quality food? Then, I suggest buying a griddle or putting it on your Christmas wish list. Blackstone griddles range from a whopping 36″ wide of cooking space all the way down to 17″ giving you wealth of options. The 36″ Griddle Cooking Station is my all-time favorite outdoor cooking device. Don’t believe me? Then watch this video:
For those who are hesitant to trade their grills in for griddles, the Blackstone Tailgater has a griddle on one side and a grill box on the other giving you the best of both worlds. Better yet, the griddle and grill box is easily removed allowing you to use stock pots on the open flame. This comes in handy for boiling on one side while you’re sautéing on the other.
Start Your Griddle Adventure
Outdoor griddles are marvelous, but you don’t have to take my word for it. I get messages from excited new owners of Blackstone Griddle Cooking Stations each and every week. In fact, I received this message on my YouTube channel while writing this article, “Todd, after reviewing and watching your videos, my wife and I replaced our old grill with the Blackstone 36″. Could not be happier! Making french toast for 8 got a lot easier with the griddle. Thanks for all the recipes and videos. God Bless you and your family.” Blackstone Griddle Cooking Station owners take great pride in telling others about the joys of griddle cooking!
Browse my online library of nearly 30 Blackstone cooking videos. Read scores of comments from viewers across the country who have become griddle enthusiasts, get recipe ideas, and find out more information about all the great Blackstone products on our YouTube channel and visit blackstoneproducts.com for a complete list of available Blackstone Griddles and accessories.
If you’d like my opinion, griddle cooking is superior to traditional grilling because griddles have helped me cook better food in an easier manner. I use smokers, grills, and all types of outdoor cooking appliances in both my personal and professional life but the griddle continue to be my go-to piece of outdoor cooking equipment. If you’re sitting on the fence between a griddle and a grill, allow me to encourage you to go with the griddle. I think you’ll be glad that you did!