I’ve seen the terms “grill” and “griddle” used interchangeably. Some people think that this is the same thing.
But it’s not.
While both serve the same purpose of cooking food, they both differ from each other in many aspects with each having its own pros and cons.
This guide will discuss all of the differences between griddles vs grills in detail.
Once you’re done reading this, you’ll know exactly which one to choose.
Is a Griddle the Same as a Grill?
Far from it.
In short, the main difference between them is the cooking surface.
Griddles have a solid metal plate for a cooking surface while a grill has bars (aka grates).
Because of this, you can cook much more stuff (like pancakes and stir-fry) on a griddle but you cannot cook over direct heat as the flames are fully covered by the cooking surface.
This is the most important and the most obvious difference.
What Is the Difference Between Griddle and Grill?
|Type of food
|More or less anything you'd cook on a pan
|Big and solid enough that it doesn't fall through the grates
|Unique grilled taste, infused with smoke
|Flat and solid
|Bars with holes
|A bit more difficult
|Depending on the model
For all you visual learners out there:
Now that you know the basics, you can dig deeper into this subject:
- What exactly is a griddle?
- What exactly is a grill?
- Griddle pros and cons
- Grill pros and cons
- Which one is better
What is a Griddle?
A griddle (aka flat top grill) is a cooking device that has a flat cooking surface.
It doesn’t have grates as grills do.
Basically, it’s a hotplate with an integrated frying pan.
They are fueled by various things (charcoal included but this is not as common as it used to be) but the most common fuels today are gas (propane) and electricity.
What is a Grill?
Grills have metal bars (called the grates) positioned above the heating element.
Here, the food is exposed to the heat, creating the sear marks we all know and love.
Griddle vs Grill
What Can It Cook
Griddles can cook much more foods than a grill like eggs, pancakes, and rice, among other things. This makes them much more versatile than a grill.
Try cooking watery things like pancakes or small veggies like beans on a grill and see what happens.
This is the reason why many restaurants prefer a griddle over a grill.
Foods cooked on a griddle don’t have any special taste – it’s pretty much the same as you’d cook them on a pan.
Grills produce a special unique taste: a combination of smoke and charring.
This doesn’t make grills the winners here because the taste comes with a downside: grills tend to dry out the food because of higher temperatures and direct exposure to heat.
Fat, oils, and water drip away from the food because the cooking surface has holes in it.
Griddles, on the other hand, lock in the juices. Sure, some fat makes its way into the grease tray but the amount is negligible.
The Ability to Smoke
Smoking is done in an enclosed space.
Almost all grills come with a lid while most griddles don’t.
You can technically smoke on a griddle by igniting some wood chips and placing a basting cover over it but the end result is not the same.
Also, most griddles are fueled either by gas or electricity that doesn’t infuse the food with smoke as much as charcoal and wood pellets do.
Griddles have a flat cooking surface that completely covers the flames underneath.
Grills have metal bars (called grates) with holes in between.
In both cases, they are mostly made from either stainless steel or cast iron.
Because of its design, griddles are easier to clean than grills.
The surface is flat and you can easily scrape the dirt away with a spatula. Here, you don’t need any special tools like brushes.
Grates are trickier to clean on a grill as it has more surface for the dirt to hold on to. The shape also doesn’t make this job any easier.
Brushing after you have preheated the grill makes the grates cleaner but they aren’t completely clean. If you want to be thorough, you need to soak them in a cleaning solution like vinegar but this takes time.
Griddles are designed to be used at lower temperatures than grills.
Even if set to the max, griddles can’t reach as high temperatures as grills can.
You can sear on a griddle, however, but don’t expect grade-A steakhouse sear marks.
Anyone who grilled at least a couple of times experienced a flare-up.
A flare-up is a sudden burst of fire that erupts when fat and/or oil from the food come into contact with the burner.
All grills are plagued by this issue except for infrared ones. I won’t go into detail here on how they corrected this issue because I already did it in a previous article.
Griddles, on the other hand, don’t have this kind of issue and the reason is simple: the cooking surface completely covers the flames.
Griddles are more convenient than grills.
One major reason is that they’re much easier and faster to clean.
Griddles tend to be more expensive than grills.
But if you want a griddle that won’t fall apart within a year or two, you must invest at least $300.
Where It Can Be Used
Most grills can only be used outdoors. There are some exceptions to this case (electric grills) but even this depends on the local regulations.
While you can’t use gas griddles indoors, you can use electric ones without any issues.
Examples – Side by Side Comparison
Pros and Cons of Griddle vs Grill
- Super easy to clean
- Cooks the food in its own juices
- Lots of indoor options
- No flare-ups
- Needs to be seasoned on a regular basis
- Most don’t have lids
- Smoking is more or less out of the option
- Produces beautiful sear marks
- Most of them come with a lid
- Can smoke food
- Can cook at higher temperatures over direct heat
- Can be used mostly outdoors
- Cleaning is a bit more tedious
- It’s impossible to cook certain types of food
- Prone to flare-ups
- Tends to dry out the food
Griddle or Grill?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer.
Both are great options in their own respective way.
It’s up to you to decide which one is better.
But what if you can’t decide or want to have both? The most obvious answer would be to just get both but doing this at the same time would put a huge dent in your wallet. Not to mention how much space you’d need to store both.
Fortunately, there is a better, cheaper, and less spacious option: a combo.
A combo is a grill that also features a flat top.
Alternatively, you can get a grill with replaceable grates (Coleman Swaptop being one example).
The Time to Decide Is Now
Griddles and grills are two different things.
Now that you know all of the differences, you’ll know exactly which one to choose from.
Personally (and speaking from experience), it’s best to have both so you’ll have the best of both worlds and cook anything and everything your heart desires.
How often do you cook outdoors?