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Griddle vs Grill – What’s the Difference Between These Two Popular Cooking Appliances?

When it comes to preparing tasty food, a lot of times the equipment you use can make or break the end results of your meal.

Choosing the right cooker for you isn’t exactly life or death, but the stakes are pretty high if you’re a BBQ enthusiast – or even if you just want to make great food for your friends and family.

The choice between a griddle and a grill can be an important one.  And each of these types of cookers serve more or less the same function and can make lots of the same foods.  So it can be a little confusing to know which one is best for you.

In this article, we’ve created a complete griddle vs grill comparison to help compare the two.  By the end, you’ll have a much better idea of what each can accomplish and what they’re made for.

An Overview of Grills

Grills are bona fide cooking classics and one of the best and most widely available types of outdoor cookers in the world. They usually have stainless steel or cast iron grates over a heating surface. These grates create signature checker pattern sear marks on steaks and burgers, which is a huge reason why people love grills.

Grills typically generate heat from below the food; but it depends on the type of grill.  There are three main fuel sources that almost all grills are built to use – charcoal, gas (propane or natural gas), and wood pellets.

No matter the fuel source, the idea is the same.  Create a flame or fire below the food and close the lid to create a hot, even, consistent cooking environment for your food.

Pros of Grills

  • Grills are super easy to use.  Especially if you have a gas grill, you can easily fire your grill up in 5 minutes and throw some steaks, burgers, or chicken on the grates for a quick and tasty meal.
  • You can develop checkered sear marks on your food.  Grills are an ideal style of cooker to quickly and easily sear meats.
  • Grills produce flavorful food.  Some grills will produce more smokey flavor than others, but even in a gas grill some smokey flavor will absorb into your food.  When your meat drippings hit the bottom of the grill (or flavorizer bars in Weber grills), the drippings will vaporize as smoke and rise up to flavor your food.
  • Grills are easy to maintain and clean day to day.  You’ll definitely need to put some effort into cleaning your grill, but for the most part they are very low maintenance.

Cons of Grills

  • Deep cleaning a grill is a little bit of a pain.  About once every 6 months or so you should deep clean your grill – and this process can be a little tedious.
  • You can’t use grills indoors.  Not only would this be dangerous, but the smoke produced from a grill would 100% damage your property.

An Overview of Griddles

Unlike grills, griddles don’t have grates. A griddle (also known as a flat top grill) is a flat, smooth surface that receives heat from below. These surfaces are usually made of cold rolled steel.  Griddles are more convenient than grills for indoor use because they don’t emit smoke.

Also, they’re relatively effortless to clean, and you can use them for cooking any food you want.  The flat surface is capable of searing burgers or steaks, as well as sautéing veggies or other sides all at once.

Griddles also get bonus points for being able to whip up breakfast foods too.  Whether it’s sausage, bacon, pancakes, or eggs, the flat surface makes it possible to prepare your morning meal outdoors.

Pros of Griddles

  • Griddles are super versatile.  You can cook just about any type of meat, veggie, or even breakfast food on a flat top grill.
  • The cleaning process is easy.  A little bit of care definitely has to go into maintaining your griddle surface, but it’s quick and easy for the most part.
  • Outdoor and indoor use.  Since griddles don’t cook over an exposed flame, minimal smoke is produced and therefore griddles are safe to use indoors.  Be sure that your griddle is designed for indoor use, however.
  • Even cooking and searing.  You don’t get signature grill marks on a griddle, but you do still get a beautiful sear on your food.  The difference is that the sear is one solid, consistent layer on the outside of your meat.

Cons of Griddles

  • Quality griddles get pretty expensive.  There’s no way around it, a high quality griddle can make your wallet quite a bit lighter.
  • They require oil or cooking spray to use.  And it’s important to use the right kind of oil for griddle cooking too.  If you use an oil with too low of a smoke point, you run the risk of ruining your food and/or cosmetic damage to your griddle surface.

Griddle vs Grill – A Full Comparison

Here’s a side by side look at various griddle vs grill attributes to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Food Taste

The cross lines that grills leave on meat aren’t the only thing that distinguishes them from griddles. The taste also varies across the two – here’s how:

Grills produce a fair amount of smoke while cooking, and it usually absorbs into the food.  Especially if you’re using a charcoal grill, you can expect lots of smokey flavor coming off of a grill.

This gives grilled food a distinct and classic smoky taste that our taste buds love.

Griddles on the other hand are akin to cooking in a steel or cast iron skillet. They do the same job, except they provide a larger working space and have built-in heat. So, the food has the regular taste of pan seared or sautéed food, unlike the smoky taste that results from grills.

That being said, food cooked on griddles will have a crispy layer on the outside, thanks to the fact that your entire piece of meat comes into contact with the cooking surface when it’s on a griddle top.

It’s also pretty easy to keep food tender on a griddle since, which makes it easier to avoid dried out results.

Footprint

If you don’t have a large space to house your cooker, you’ll want to know what you’re in for before you buy a grill or a griddle.

Grills can be a pain to assemble and store. They consist of legs, grates, stand, lid, and cover. Generally speaking, they are pretty heavy and take up a lot of space on your patio.

Griddles are generally more compact and make more efficient use of the space they take up.  Many also come with built in wheels so they are somewhat portable.

Of course, some of the more high end grills and griddles can be built in and customized to your needs.

Cost

Price can be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. And although I don’t recommend deciding which one to buy according only to the price, price is definitely an important consideration.

Grills generally cost less than griddles. Of course, several factors go into the equation, such as the brand, type, fuel, and materials.

However, you can get a nice, functional grill for a more entry level price point than a griddle.

Griddles are more expensive on the entry level side of the spectrum, but as you get into higher quality designs the price points start to even out.  Something like the Camp Chef 600 Flat Top Grill, for example, is incredibly high quality but at an intermediate price point.

Versatility

Griddles and grills each have a wide range of uses. Some foods can only be made on a griddle, but that’s not the case with grills.

Here’s the thing; anything that you can cook on a grill can be cooked on a griddle, but the opposite isn’t true.  Imagine trying to cook pancakes or eggs on your grill grates.

A griddle is ideal for foods that start in soft forms. These include pancakes, bacon, and pretty much all breakfast foods in addition to meats you’d traditionally cook on a grill.

Furthermore, it works great for all foods that you can cook in a frying pan. Besides, you can cook any greasy food you want on a griddle; the fat won’t fall beneath as it would with a grill.

Safety

For the most part, both griddles and grills present the same amount of safety risks while they’re in use.  You should be careful and take precautions when using either – any time there is fire and scorching temperatures it’s a good idea to be safety first minded.

One big difference is that there’s a robust barrier between the food and the heat when it comes to griddles, which protects the chef from sudden flare ups.  So if we’re really splitting hairs, griddles are probably a little safer than grills all things considered.

Maintenance & Cleaning

No one likes cleaning tasks, but they’re part of the deal. If ease of cleaning is a must for you, check the difference between grills and griddles below.

Cleaning a grill will require a scrubbing brush to be able to get the stubborn bits out.  Additionally, nooks and crannies can need extra care to reach. Not to mention that you’ll need to remove your grates and clean underneath if grease gets there.

A griddle has a flat surface, which equals easy cleaning. You’ll merely need some warm water and dish soap to clean it.

Even if there are some unyielding bits stuck on it, getting them out won’t be problematic. All in all, it’ll take much less time to clean after a greasy meal than a grill.

Griddle vs Grill – Other Considerations

In addition to the above factors, personal preference and aesthetics play a large role in which of these grill types are best for you.  Some people are charcoal grill enthusiasts and insist that the best way to grill is over a traditional charcoal fire.

On the other hand, some people swear by griddles and point to their incredible versatility, practicality, and ability to consistently deliver great food.

Another thing to consider is general ease of use.  Griddles are about as easy to use as it gets.  Gas grills can be easy to use too, but if you were looking at a charcoal grill you have to take into account other considerations.  Each time you grill you’ll have to start a fire and also put out your charcoal once you’re done.

Griddle vs Grill – Which Is Better for Me?

The choice between griddle vs grill can be a tough one, especially if you haven’t tried either before.

The first thing that’ll help you decide is the space available in your outdoor patio kitchen. Measure the space you have available for a cooker, then find one that fits.  Generally speaking, griddles have smaller footprints than grills but you can find either in just about any size.

On top of that, how you’ll use the appliance plays a major role in the buying decision. If your family has a thing for outdoor cookouts, a grill will be your go-to option. If breakfast with the occasional burger or steak is more your speed, a griddle may be a better fit.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped to shed some light on the griddle vs grill conversation! Even though each of these types of cookers are used to make the same foods, they are quite different in how they function and how they’re maintained.

Which is your favorite between griddles and grills?  And why?  Did we miss something in this article?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.