Flat top grilling is a simple and versatile cooking style, that can handle anything made on a traditional grill. On a flat top grill, also known as griddle, you can sauté, stir fry, or prepare an entire breakfast spread – eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes – on a single cooking surface. Cooking on a flat top grill is an easy way to expand your menu and cooking options. Let’s see just how much we can get out of this outdoor powerhouse with a few flat top grilling tips.
Flat Top Grill/Griddle versus Gas Grill
Both grills use adjacent gas burners. The cooking surface design of each is the main difference. Flat top grills and griddles have wide, flat cooktops that cover the burner flames. Gas grills feature lined grates that allow food to have direct flame contact. Flat top grills have no flare-ups, better end-to-end temperature evenness, all-over caramelization, and the ability to cook items that would fall through the grates of a traditional gas grill. Flat top grills will not give bold sear marks, flame kisses, or carry the classic BBQ flavors that a grill provides. However, you can cook a big batch of burgers for the tailgate crew with no fear of flare-ups and crank out breakfast sandwiches for the whole family.
Seasoning & Cooking Oils
The seasoning process of building up layers of baked-on oil or fat on a flat top grill surface is like seasoning a cast iron skillet. The “seasoning” on the griddle helps protect it from rust and creates a nonstick cooking surface. Since it naturally wears out over time, it’s necessary to maintain and replace those layers with a re-seasoning process. High heat oils are best for creating this strong protective, non-stick seasoning layer. Oils such as solid vegetable shortening, avocado oil or coconut oil work best.
Before cooking, apply a thin layer of any cooking oil for seasoning across the flat top surface. After every use, oil the flat top grill to help maintain the surface. Once the griddle is clean and dry, and while the surface is still warm, add a thin coat of oil with a paper towel and rub it all over the surface.
Cooking in Heat Zones
You can create two different heat zones on your flat top grill, just like you would a charcoal or gas grill. Set one burner to a higher setting and you’ve got an area for searing right next to a space for cooking tender veggies. Use a wire rack set on top of the low heat burner to serve as a warming rack. Since different foods are cooked at different temperatures, a two-zone system is great for cooking an entire meal (meat, sides, sauces) at one time.
You can use any type of outdoor cookware directly on the flat top grill surface. Boil pasta, make sauces, or broths by setting a pot or pan directly on the surface – while keeping the party going outside. It is not recommended to use cast iron cookware. Cast iron will scratch the cooktop and deposit traces of iron, which turn into rust.
Clean As You Go
As you cook, use a scraping tool to scrub the grill surface starting at the top (farthest away from you) and moving towards the grease trough. Scraping the grill as you go helps prevent food from sticking and it makes it easier to clean your griddle when you’re done. Clearing the debris and gristle as you go provides more cooking space and there will be less to scrape afterwards.
Cooking on a flat top grill with confidence simply comes with time and practice. Now that you have the basic flat top grilling tips, get ready to wow your guests as you feast on game-changing griddle goodies. Planning an early tailgate or football watching party? Use your flat top griddle to whip up brunch – bacon, eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, and French toast are all great ideas. I would also recommend setting up a Bloody Mary Bar to really kick things up a notch!