Grilling takes the formality out of entertainment. Everyone wants to get involved – Bobby Flay
Cooking, like football, basketball, and baseball, is a national pastime. It’s what we do when we get together, whether as families or friends, and how we spend our holidays and weekends.
It’s a great leveler that allows us to settle our disputes amicably and share our triumphs, joys, losses, and hopes for the future with each other. It’s the American dream personified, as around the barbecue we’re all what we were always meant to be. Equal.
We don’t need to look further than the next burger, the next hotdog, or the next pancake to know that if we put our faith in each other and in the grills and griddles that bring us together, then ultimately, and despite what the rest of the world thinks, everything will be okay.
But while the barbecues and the weekend getaways, parties, and get-togethers bring us together, united by the cause of cooking, ultimately we’ll always be separated by the one thing that shouldn’t, but always does, rear it’s culinary shaped head to bite us where the sun doesn’t shine.
The things that bring us together? The Griddles and the grills?
They’re also the things that draw that line in the sand that separates us. The choice of griddle or grill may seem inconsequential and of little or no merit whatsoever in the grand scheme of things, but wars have ultimately been fought over less.
Whether you’re a fan of the grill or devoted to the griddle, there’s no denying that both have earned their palace in the foodie and cookery hall of fame But what is it about grills and griddles that makes them so contentious?
Why would someone favor one over the other? What makes a grill better than a griddle or a griddle better than a grill? Is one really better than the other or is there nothing to choose between the two?
There’s only one way to find out and that’s by taking a closer look at both in an attempt to ascertain, which if any, is the ruler of the twenty-first century indoor and outdoor kitchen.
The Griddle vs. grill? Let the contest begin…
What Is A Griddle?
While we’re all familiar with the modern idea of a griddle, it’s all too easy to forget that as a species, we’ve been griddling food for thousands of years.
Oh sure, the griddles that we use today are so far removed from the ones that our ancestors used, they’re almost unrecognizable, but the principle is still, despite the technological boost that we’ve given them by using all sort of special non-stick materials pioneered by the space age, the same.
Essentially, griddles are hot plates. A long, flat metallic surface that’s used to cook food on. It’s a great big plate that’s heated from underneath by a series of linked, rectangular, or side to side, elements that cooks whatever is placed on it evenly and quickly.
Favored by diners and restaurants as a multi-purpose cooking appliance that’s just as at home cooking meat as it is preparing eggs for breakfast, griddles can transform even the most amateur of cooks into competitive chefs with the twist of a temperature dial and the flick of a power switch.
Varying in size from a humble metal plate that can be placed over a campfire to industrial-sized behemoths that dwarf and dominate the kitchens of hotels and restaurants, the effectiveness of a griddle is usually determined by the material it’s made from.
The best griddles are, more often than not, built out of cast iron and steel, and the thicker the metal they’re made from, the better they are at maintaining, creating, and holding heat. The hotter a griddle gets, the better it is at cooking.
Running off either gas or electricity, the seemingly endless variety of food – from flatbreads to steak, that a griddle can effectively prepare makes it an invaluable tool in any modern chef’s arsenal and a culinary weapon of choice for the more savvy outdoor cook.
What Is A Grill?
This is where it gets slightly more complicated, as unlike it’s counterpart the griddle, a grill is slightly more complicated because the catch-all term grill refers to more than one type of cooking device.
A flattop grill, the more common variety used by restaurants and in professional kitchens, is closely related to the griddle, but instead of using the same side-to-side elements, it uses a circular element to transfer heat to whatever it’s cooking.
As the heat spreads out from the element in a continuous, circular wave it creates an even cooking surface that’s used in a similar, more focused manner than a griddle.
The second and more commonplace grill is commonly referred to as a “barbecue” grill and is usually a circular or rectangular metal surface made up of a series of interlocking metal bars on which the food is placed and heated from underneath.
Less efficient and dependable than a flattop grill, the barbecue grill is entirely dependent on the heat source that it’s placed over to cook it.
That said, it is an incredibly versatile method of cooking that has found favor with generations of barbecue devotees that lets them set their cooking pace by helping them to prepare whatever their preferred food is at their leisure and according to personal taste.
Grills are also renowned for the char and series of indents that they leave on the food being prepared and are cherished among a sub-set of devoted food enthusiasts for their ability to do so.
They also generate more concentrated heat and smoke than griddles do and as such are most commonly used outdoors, or if they are used indoors, require a dedicated extraction system that needs to effectively remove both in order to function properly.
That said, anyone who has ever had a tailgate grilled burger at an out of town game can, and will, happily vouch for their cooking ability and power.
Griddle Vs Grill – Which Is Better?
Common urban mythology used to cling to the idea that food especially meat, was always better served from a grill, as they allowed the fat to drop between the bars instead of collecting in whatever was being cooked, than a griddle. While that may have been true at one time, it isn’t anymore.
The advent of modern technology means that most griddles now use a variety of different runoff systems which allows them to cook healthy, almost fat-free food and dispels the idea that grills were, and still are, capable of making healthier food than griddles.
Truthfully, they both possess advantages that the other doesn’t have and are equally burdened by disadvantages. Attempting to get them to face off against each other would be like pitting Muhammad Ali at the height of his powers against a lean, hungry, and young Mike Tyson.
It would be a battle for the ages that the whole world would love to see, but a futile contest that would end up being scored on points by judges who each preferred one fighter over the other. Just like griddles and grills.
Most people prefer one or the other, and it doesn’t matter what we say, they’ll always fall on the side of the appliance they like the best.
Thankfully though, there’s a solution to the dilemma that’ll appease either side and deliver the best of both worlds, as due to the world moving ever onward, every home, restaurant, and outdoor barbecue can benefit from a grill and griddle combination that brings all the power of a griddle and the punch of grill into the twenty-first-century kitchen.
Why choose one when you can have both?