Many amateur chefs may be confused as to what a griddle pan actually is, and certainly what it can be used for. Are they even worth having in your outdoor kitchen?
Griddle pans are flat and smooth, and are versatile cookware designed for cooking steak, chicken, eggs, burgers, and vegetables on medium heat. You can also use them for pancakes, sausages, bacon, quesadillas, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
In short, this versatility makes griddle pans ideal for cooking on your BBQ grill or outdoor kitchen hob, so let’s look into what they are and how to use them in more detail.
What is a Griddle Pan? (And How To Use One Outdoors)
A griddle pan is a smooth cooking pan that sits on your BBQ grill or outdoor hob to help cook food at a medium to high heat.
Most proper griddle pans have a rectangular shape (although some are round), which gives them significantly more cooking area than a regular frying pan. They tend to have shallow sides, too.
Using griddle pans is easy. Place it on your BBQ grill or outdoor hob once it’s up to heat or set to your desired level. If you’re not sure what temperature is appropriate for specific foods, start on medium heat or at the edge of the grill, and adjust as the sizzle sets in. Griddle performances vary due to their thickness, so it’s essential to test the pan before you start cooking in earnest.
Once the pan is hot enough, you may want to add some oil or butter. This will help prevent your food from sticking. From there, it’s a simple matter of putting all the food in the griddle, moving or flipping it if necessary – and taking it off the heat when you’re done. Don’t forget – we’re searing food at medium to high temperatures, so we don’t want to overdo it.
This instructional video on using a griddle pan is excellent…
Cleaning Your Griddle Pan
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the pan after you use it. Failure to follow their instructions exactly could damage your pan.
For example, many manufacturers suggest using detergent to clean a griddle pan is a bad idea, and that you should just rinse it off and let a natural patina build up on the cooking surface.
What Can You Cook In a Griddle Pan?
You can cook many types of food in griddle pans. They’re especially popular for breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, pancakes, french toast, and many types of fried potatoes. Some people also use griddle pans for cooking lunch food like grilled cheese sandwiches – yummy!
In general, if you can cook something in a frying pan, you can also cook it in a griddle pan. This includes foods such as:
- Fish & shellfish
- Beef burgers
- Sliced vegetables (peppers, carrots, aubergine, peppers & courgettes)
- Beef mushrooms
You get the idea – I’m sure your mouth is watering now as much as mine is!
The Difference Between a Grill, a Griddle & a Skillet
A grill is similar to a griddle, but it has a series of raised lines in it that hold the food a little above the pan’s main surface. These ridges leave distinctive grill marks when you’re cooking food, making them a popular choice for steaks, sandwiches, and some types of vegetables.
Aside from creating visual appeal for food, the ridges on a grill also help separate fat from food while it’s cooking. Some have small areas to collect fat. This reduces the overall amount of fat in the food you’re cooking, making grills a little healthier than other cooking options.
The ridges on stovetop grills are relatively thick compared to those of outdoor grills. You can use these traits to modify the appearance of your food.
A griddle has a smoother surface than a grill. Griddles also tend to be relatively thick and heavy for pans, with wide surface areas and even heat distribution. While they work best for cooking foods at medium heat, most griddles can withstand higher temperatures as needed.
Most griddles can hold enough food for several people simultaneously, or at least several different servings of the same type of food – which is great for cooking outside.
A skillet is a frying pan, and unlike the other two options here, they’re usually round instead of square and have slightly slanted sides.
Even without considering the different shapes, skillets tend to be significantly smaller than griddles. This means they’re more affordable, too, so skillets are popular among new chefs.
Skillets tend to cook best at lower temperatures than griddles do, which is partially due to their thinner sides. Since they’re small, skillets rarely hold enough food for more than two people at a time unless you’re filling the pan to the brim. However, that’s relatively rare since most people prefer to get all of the food on the heat.
Pros & Cons of Using a Griddle Pan
Here are the major pros and cons of using a griddle:
- Griddles have enough room to cook food for everyone in a mid-sized family.
- Griddles are great for cooking most types of breakfast foods.
- Griddles are tough and can withstand getting banged around.
- Griddles distribute heat evenly, so you don’t have to worry about moving food around to get it onto the heat.
- Griddle pans aren’t particularly portable. Their size makes them harder to bring on vacations or to serve directly from during certain events.
- Griddles don’t leave sear marks, which are a trendy choice when cooking meats and similar foods.
- Griddles don’t reach the same high temperatures as grills, so you can’t use them for cooking at the hottest temperatures.
- Griddles are a little too large to use on smaller stoves comfortably.
Griddle Pan FAQ
Here are some of the most common questions people ask about griddle pans:
Can Amateurs Use Griddle Pans?
Yes. Griddle pans are one of the simplest tools in the kitchen, so even amateurs can learn to use them quickly.
Why Do People Keep Using Different Names For Things?
Different parts of the world refer to kitchen tools by different names, so this can be a little confusing until you’ve memorized the names. For example, some brands refer to grill pans as griddle pans, even though the two tools are quite distinct in their uses.
This is exactly as inconvenient as it sounds, so it’s essential to look at any pan you’re thinking about buying to be sure you know what it is. Do not rely on manufacturers’ names for different products – but think about what you’ll be using the pan for.
What’s The Point of a Griddle Pan When I Already Have A Grill And A Skillet?
Griddle pans are an excellent middle ground in the kitchen. They have far more surface area than a skillet, which means they can cook more food at once, and they’re flat enough to cook things like pancakes.
In terms of cooking outside on a BBQ grill or outdoor kitchen, they can help prepare and keep warm large quantities of the same types of food, such as breakfasts or pancakes etc.
We can’t say that griddle pans are an absolutely must-have tool, because people cook different things in different ways – but a good quality example is worth considering as part of your outdoor kitchen set.
If nothing more than for cooking large amounts of foods and keeping them warm on the hob or BBQ – you really can’t go wrong with a durable and well-made griddle pan from a well-respected brand name manufacturer.
With that all said, my mouth is now watering so much that I’m off to have a fry-up! 🙂