A guide to griddle pans & plates: What you need to know to choose your own

Imagine waking up to the smell of freshly cooked pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Or how about enjoying a juicy burger or steak for dinner? These are just some of the delicious foods you can make on a griddle pan, a flat cooking surface that can handle anything from breakfast to dinner and everything in between.

Griddle pans are very similar to skillet pans – those are also flat, versatile, and can be used for anything from sauteeing veggies to searing meats. And you might even have one – and question why would you need a griddle if you already have a skillet. But hold on, don’t rush – keep reading and you’ll see how awesome griddles are and why you’d want to have one too.

What is a griddle?

A griddle is a flat cooking surface typically made of cast iron, stainless steel, or aluminum. Griddles can be used to cook eggs, pancakes, French toast, burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, fajitas, and other foods.

These kitchenware tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from small, single-burner models to large, commercial-grade units.

Griddle pans and plates vs griddle the appliance

A griddle pan or plate is a flat metal surface that can be used to cook various foods on a stovetop or over a fire. A griddle appliance is an electric, gas, or propane griddle device that has a flat surface and can be used by itself, without the cooking stove or fire to heat it 

Some griddle appliances also have a grill surface or a reversible plate that can switch between grill and griddle modes. A grill surface has raised ridges that create grill marks on the food and allow fat to drain away.

Griddle pans and plates are good for cooking foods that need a large and even surface, such as pancakes, eggs, bacon, or sandwiches. Griddle appliances can do all of that and more — they may have more features and functions, such as temperature control, grease collection, or dual-sided cooking.

Skillet vs griddle comparison

A skillet and a griddle are both types of cookware, but they have some differences.

A skillet is typically round with high walls, while a griddle is rectangular and has low walls and ridges. 

Skillets are great for frying and slow cooking methods that may involve the oven, while griddles are great for high-heat cooking over direct heat and food items that are flat and even.

According to Foodsguy, skillets are typically round with high walls and are great for frying and slow cooking methods that may involve the oven. On the other hand, griddles are typically rectangular with low walls and ridges and are great for high-heat cooking over direct heat and food items that are flat and even.

OvenSpot explains that a cast iron skillet is usually smaller and deeper, with flat bases, while a cast iron griddle pan is ridged, rectangular, and used for searing meats and vegetables.

Chef’s Pick suggests that skillets are excellent if you want to fry a steak or two or sear some veg to accompany your meal. However, if you intend on cooking a lot of meat or veg in this way, a griddle may be better. If you have a lot of food to sear or fry, a griddle is a good choice.

The Pan Handler points out that using a griddle provides a smokier and better taste, while the skillet is not designed to accommodate a more robust and smoky flavor.

Griddle pan vs cast iron skillet vs griddle plate illustration

Both griddle pans and skillet pans come in different sizes and materials — cast iron, aluminum, and non-stick coatings. 

How does a skillet look like compared to a griddle?A skillet is typically round with high walls.A griddle is typically rectangular and has low walls and ridges.
What dishes is each more suited to?Skillets are great for frying and slow cooking methods that may involve the oven.Griddles are great for high-heat cooking over direct heat and food items that are flat and even.
What types of skillets exist on the market?Cast iron skillets, stainless steel skillets, non-stick skillets.Electric griddles, stovetop griddles, outdoor griddles.
What materials do they make skillets and griddles from?Cast iron, stainless steel, non-stick coatings.Cast iron, aluminum, and non-stick coatings.

The many types of griddles

When it comes to cooking on a griddle, there are several types of griddles available on the market. 

Electric or gas/propane griddles

Electric griddles are a great option for home kitchens as they are easy to use and require no open flames. They are powered by electricity and are available in different sizes. Electric griddles usually have a non-stick surface, making them ideal for cooking delicate foods like eggs and pancakes.

Gas griddles have a large cooking surface, making them ideal for cooking large quantities of food at once.

Gas griddles are a popular option for commercial kitchens due to their high heat output and fast cooking times. They are powered by propane or natural gas and are available in a variety of sizes. 

Commercial countertop gas griddle by Cookline
Commercial countertop gas griddle by Cookline. Source: Kitchenall

Panini griddles

Panini griddles are designed to cook sandwiches and paninis. They have a ridged surface that creates grill marks on the bread and allows the sandwich to cook evenly. 

Panini griddles are available in both gas and electric models.

Single plate panini electric grill and electric griddle for home and commercial use (by Astar)
Single plate panini electric grill and electric griddle for home and commercial use (by Astar). Source: made-in-china.com

Griddle plates, stovetop griddles, and griddle combos

Griddle plates have a flat surface and can be used on top of an existing stove or grill. They are available in different sizes and materials, including cast iron and stainless steel.

Griddle combos have a flat surface on one side and a grill surface on the other.

A griddle plate for a gas stove by Falcon
A griddle plate/stovetop griddle combo by Falcon. Source: Andi-Co Australia

Flat-top grill versus griddle – what’s the difference?

A flat-top grill and a griddle pan are both cooking surfaces that have a flat, metal surface. However, they have some differences in their design, function, and usage.

Flat-top grillGriddle pan
A large, rectangular metal plate that can be heated by gas, electricity, or charcoalA smaller, square or round metal pan that can be heated by a stovetop burner or an electric element
Usually used outdoors for cooking large batches of foodUsually used indoors for cooking smaller portions of food
Can cook foods that require high temperatures, such as meat, seafood, and vegetablesCan cook foods that require low to medium temperatures, such as eggs, pancakes, and sandwiches
Can create char marks and allow fat to drip away from the food, giving it a grilled flavorCan create a smooth and even browning on the food, giving it a fried or sautéed flavor
Pros: versatile, fast, easy to clean, energy-efficientPros: nonstick, convenient, affordable, easy to store
Cons: expensive, heavy, bulky, may produce smokeCons: less durable, less heat-conductive, may warp or scratch

Griddle materials

There are three main types of materials used — cast iron, aluminum, and stainless steel. There are also some other, not-so-common ones.  

Cast iron griddle pans

Cast iron griddle pans are durable and retain heat well, but they can be heavy and require seasoning to prevent rusting and sticking. They also need to be hand-washed and dried thoroughly after each use.

Cast iron griddle pans with enamel coating
Cast iron griddle pans with enamel coating (by Blackmoor). Source: eBay

Aluminum griddle pans

They are lightweight and heat up quickly, but can be less durable and prone to warping or scratching. They may also react with acidic foods and affect their flavor.

Some aluminum griddle pans have a nonstick coating that makes them easier to clean and use, but they may not be safe for high temperatures or metal utensils.

An aluminium griddle pan by Dunelm
An aluminium griddle pan by Dunelm. Source: Dunelm
Classica 11” square griddle
Classica 11” square griddle with three-ply aluminum alloy core and warp-resistant satin finish. Source: Classica

Stainless steel griddle pans

Easy to clean and resistant to corrosion. They don’t hold heat quite as well as cast iron. Stainless steel griddle pans may also create hot spots or uneven cooking if they are not thick enough or have poor heat distribution.

Some stainless steel griddle pans have a core of aluminum or copper that improves their heat conductivity and performance.

3ply PowerSteel 316+ stainless steel griddle pan by Karaca
3ply PowerSteel 316+ stainless steel griddle pan by Karaca. Source: Karaca

Ceramic and glass griddle pans

Ceramic ones are usually made of metal with a ceramic nonstick coating.

Glass griddle pans are made of tempered glass that can withstand high temperatures and can be used on electric or gas stovetops.

Both glass and ceramic griddle pans have some advantages, such as being non-reactive, scratch-resistant, and aesthetically pleasing. But at the same time, they are more expensive, less durable, and conduct heat worse.

Ceramic non-stick griddle pan (by GreenPan)
Ceramic non-stick griddle pan (by GreenPan). Source: Target

Final thoughts

When shopping for a griddle pan or plate, it’s important to consider your cooking needs and preferences. Do you want something versatile that can be used on both the stovetop and in the oven? Or are you looking for a large electric griddle with lots of cooking surface? What types of foods do you plan to cook most often?

Keep in mind the material, as this affects even heating and ease of cleanup. Cast iron is excellent at retaining heat, while aluminum cooks more evenly. Coated surfaces make cleanup a breeze.

You’ll also want to think about the size and shape. Large rectangular electric models are ideal for cooking for a crowd. Smaller round griddles are great for eggs and pancakes.

Whichever style you choose, a good griddle can be an invaluable addition to your cookware. With the right pan, you’ll be able to cook up delicious griddled meals, from fajitas to grilled cheeses, anytime.

Do your research and select the griddle that best fits your cooking preferences and needs. Then get ready to enjoy some fantastic homemade griddled foods!

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