Flat Top Griddles And How To Use Them

A flat top griddle with steak, shrimp, fajitas and tortillas

If there’s one thing everyone can agree they love, it’s grilling. So what do we do when flat top griddles have taken the summer stage? These versatile cookers can supplement the classic backyard barbecue. While the new models of the season are crafted by longtime grillmasters who make Weber grills and Traeger pellet grills, there’s still a lot to learn. We’ll walk through how to get started with seasoning, as well as some of our tips and tricks.

What Are Flat Top Griddles?

A plain flat top griddle, seasoned

A flat top griddle can look a lot like the classic grill, but they are missing a key component: the grates. That’s their true strength: anything that might slip between the grates of a classic barbecue stays perfectly put here. Think chopped mushrooms and onions for on top of steaks, or delicate fish filets. A flat top griddle keeps all the flavor in one place with its completely uniform space. Most large models come with multiple cooking zones too, allowing you to sear smash burgers on high while side dishes cook on low across the way. That makes these cookers flexible and incredibly flavorful. But with new backyard appliances come new responsibilities. 

What Is Seasoning?

Unlike a classic backyard cooker, maintenance looks like more than a few sweeps of a grill brush (you should do more than just that to keep a grill clean, too). The first step with any surface is seasoning it, the same way you would a cast iron skillet. Just like with a cast iron skillet, seasoning is a process where you add layer after layer of oil, all to protect the surface with a kind of nonstick coating. This will wear off over time, so you’ll need to re-season as appropriate. How will you know when you need more oil? After a few cooking sessions, you’ll see a little bit of discoloration; that’s your seasoning wearing off.

To season your flat top griddle, use the right kind of oil, something with a high smoke point. That means it can stand up to high heat. Canola, avocado, vegetable, sunflower and grape seed oils are all good picks—some backyard chefs even recommend solid Crisco. They’re all very neutral-flavored, too: the most neutral-flavored oil is a good pick as it won’t impart any extra and unwanted flavor into your recipes. You’ll also need a squirt bottle to fill with your choice of oil, a pair of tongs and paper towels to apply and spread the oil out.  

Seasoning Flat Top Griddles

  • For a brand new model, start by cleaning with hot soapy water before drying the surface off completely with paper towels or rags.
  • Turn your griddle on low for all heat zones, allowing it to preheat for 15 minutes.
  • Using the squirt bottle, squirt the flat top griddle with oil before rubbing the oil into the surface by placing paper towels in your tongs. Make sure oil applies evenly, with no pools or dry spots.
  • Get into the corners, the edges and the sides.
  • Once it’s completely coated, make sure your oil reaches its smoke point to bind with the surface. If you need more heat, turn it up to medium. You’ve reached your smoke point when you begin to see smoke.
  • After about 5 minutes of smoke, that smoke should start to lessen: the polymerization has taken place.
  • Let the smoke build and then dissipate, then apply more oil. Do this as many times as necessary, generally 3-4 rounds.

Don’t forget to keep up with that seasoning, too. After each use, apply a thin coat of oil—when you heat it up next time, you’ll get another layer of oil polymerized immediately. Always reapply as necessary, when that beautiful coating starts to wear off.

A flat top griddle cooking breakfast foods and heating a pot of creamy hollandaise

Do’s & Don’t’s

There are some other absolute must-know tidbits when it comes to using these outdoor cookers.

DON’T skip the cleaning process. With these products, it’s important to be regular with cleaning, and that’s easiest to do while the surface is still warm. Make sure to get rid of burnt food and grease here with a quick scraping, because unlike a grill, there’s no place for food to fall away and escape. That means if it all stays, it may stick on and start to cause damage. Scrape gunk off before it starts to stick, and add water to help lift food away if necessary. 

DO ensure you have the right accessories. Make sure you have tongs, griddle spatulas (different from a classic spatula) and those oil squirt bottles mentioned above: you’ll need them when you’re cooking! A scraper is a good idea as well. Use it to remove leftovers from the surface when you’re finished.  

DON’T immediately jump up to high heat. While that might work on a range or a grill, these surfaces need to preheat on low, or they’ll warp.

DO use different cooking zones. Most of these outdoor appliances have multiple burners and cooking zones, so make sure you use them. Have one area for cooking, and one area to keep cooked meats at rest. Or one space for the entree and another for sides. Make the most of different races.

DO use pots and pans on this surface! There’s no reason not to. Instead of heading back to the kitchen, turn this into your outdoor kitchen. Place a saucepan directly on the surface to craft sides or gravies. This works better for smaller pans: if you need to cook foods in a stock pot, your range is still your best bet.  

Come To The Experts!

If you’re searching for more info on flat top griddles, or hoping to see some in person, check out our Traeger and Weber picks at Abt in Glenview, Illinois. Even order online for quick shipping and delivery, and if you’re within our Chicagoland installation radius, we’ll install it for you. 

Call us at 800-860-3577 to learn more!

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