Instead of the traditional electric griddle cluttering up a counter, a griddle pan uses your stove top for heat and you can store it away when it's not in use. Griddles provide a large cook surface that transfers heat evenly. Use griddles to make burgers for a crowd or make breakfast while only dirtying a single pan.
Types of Pans
Griddle and grill are sometimes used interchangeably for similar pans. A griddle pan may have have raised ridges that emulate the searing marks left on foods by an outdoor grill, or they may have smooth surfaces that distribute heat evenly. You can cook many of the same foods on both types of griddles, including meat such as steak and chicken, as well as vegetables and seafood. The smooth surface of a griddle pan makes it also suitable for pancakes, French toast, bacon, eggs or crepes.
Handled griddles fit on one stove burner, usually the largest one, and are large enough to cook a single large steak, two chicken breasts, or several slices of bacon or hot dogs. Larger griddle pans sit over two burners on the stove, giving you a large rectangular cooking surface that's big enough to cook for a whole family. Some of the two-burner griddle pans flip over and have a grill surface on one side and a smooth surface on the other. Griddles are usually made from cast iron, but nonstick coated aluminum griddle pans are also available.
Even heating is the key to successful use. Avoid using griddle pans on glass stove tops, and only use two-burner pans on an even cooktop surface. If you have a cast-iron griddle, it needs to be seasoned before you use it so the food doesn't stick. Coat the inside and outside of the clean griddle with a thin coating of vegetable oil, and then bake it upside down in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 1 hour. After it's cooled, the griddle is ready to use. Heat both coated and cast-iron griddles over medium to medium-high heat. Center two-burner griddles evenly over the two burners. The griddle is made to transfer heat well so the entire surface will heat evenly. When the surface is hot enough to make a droplet of water sizzle, the griddle is ready to use. Depending on what you are making, you can lightly grease a griddle before use so the food doesn't stick.
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Care and Cleaning
Avoid washing cast iron with soap or scrubbing it clean. Instead, wipe it clean with a damp cloth, dry it and then coat it with oil before storing. If food begins sticking to cast iron, it needs a thorough cleaning and re-seasoning. You can wash coated griddle pans with soap and water, but avoid abrasive sponges and scrubbers that can scratch the coating. Some griddles come with removable grease collection drawers, which helps keep the mess off your stove top.
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.