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The Ultimate Flat Top Grills & Griddles FAQ

Get the answers to all your outdoor flat top grills & griddles frequently asked questions in my flat top grills & griddles FAQ. Learn more with the Grilling Life Q&A.

Thinking about adding an outdoor flat-top grill or griddle to your lineup of cooking tools? You’re making a great choice!

In recent years, flat tops and griddles gained in popularity and sophistication beyond the electric griddle you occasionally break out to make pancakes. Just do a quick internet search and you’ll find countless videos of people using their outdoor flattop grills to cook up everything from smash burgers to breakfast burritos.

These days powerful griddles and flat-top grills aren’t just for diners and commercial kitchens anymore — they can bring versatility and scorching hot temperatures right to your backyard.

If this is your first time digging into the world of flat-top cooking, you probably have some questions about how these mighty appliances work and what to look for when shopping. That’s where our Ultimate Flat Top Grills & Griddles FAQ guide comes in!

In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the difference between flat-top grills and griddles, what you can use them for, how to use them, and how to maintain them so they can provide your family with cooking power for years to come.

As with any of our guides, we’ll share a few parting thoughts at the end and invite you to ask questions and sound off on your own flat-top grill and griddle experience in the comment section.

If you have flat-top questions, we’ve got answers, so let’s get going!

In This Article, We’ll Explore:

Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.

What Are Flat Top Grills & Griddles?

A flat-top grill or griddle is a cooking range with a completely flat surface for cooking, unlike the grates you’d find in your traditional grill or smoker. The griddle is evenly warmed by a heating element under the surface which you cook directly on top of.

What Is the Difference Between a Flat Top Grill & a Griddle?

The primary difference between a flattop grill and a griddle is how their heating elements are arranged.  A flat-top grill has multiple round heating elements radiating heat across the cooking surface, while a griddle is heated with straight elements that run lengthwise below the surface.

Is a Griddle Better Than a Grill?

Whether you consider a griddle better than a grill depends on the type of food you like to cook.  A griddle gives you great versatility in the things you can cook, plus the ability to try things a grill can’t handle as well, like breakfast foods and delicate desserts.

Is a Flat Top Grill Worth It?

Whether you think a flat-top grill is worth it is totally up to you and your preferred style of cooking — but let the record show that we’re fans of the benefits a flat-top grill can deliver! There is a reason these types of grills are featured in countless restaurants across the country.

What Can You Cook on a Griddle Grill?

A quicker answer might be, what can’t you cook on a griddle grill? You can cook almost any meat, breakfast foods, desserts, veggies, sides, and even pizza! These versatile grills have got you covered when it comes to the amount and types of food you can cook up.

Can You Cook Steak on a Griddle?

Yes, you can cook steak on a griddle. It’s as easy as cooking a steak in a cast iron pan.  With a griddle, your customization options are almost endless — add as much or little oil as you want, experiment with seasonings, and cook up your sides at the same time.

Are There Foods I Shouldn’t Cook on a Flat-Top Grill?

For the most part, no, there aren’t many foods you can’t cook on a flat-top grill! You can even use pots and pans on the cooking surface to steam food or boil pasta.

Is Cooking on a Griddle Healthy?

Yes, cooking on a griddle is a healthy alternative to grilling since you don’t have to use as much oil. Plus, any fat coming out of the food can be pushed away before it seeps into the food, and there’s no risk of it dripping onto a burner and causing a smoky, carcinogen-filled flare-up.

Do All Flat Top Grills/Griddles Have Stainless Steel Cooking Surfaces?

No, many do but not all flat-top grills and griddles have a stainless-steel cooking surface. You’ll also find models made with steel, aluminum, and cast-iron surfaces. Most consumer-grade versions feature cold-rolled steel which requires simple maintenance to avoid rust.

How Thick Should a Griddle Surface Be?

The thickness of your griddle should depend on what you plan on using it for. However, most everyday cooks will do fine with a standard thickness of ⅛-¼ inch. Keep in mind that a surface plate that is too thick will take longer to heat up and may produce uneven heat.

Do I Need to Season the Grilling Surface Before First Use?

Yes, you will need to season your grilling surface before you use it, even if it’s made from stainless steel. This will help protect it from rust and ensure your food doesn’t stick. This is especially true if your grilling plate is not made from stainless steel in which case you should season before and after use to build up a protective layer against rust.

What Should I Use to Season the Grilling Surface?

To season your cooking surface, use an oil with a high smoke point (425–450° F) or higher) like canola, vegetable, or avocado oil. I do not recommend using olive oil as it has a lower smoke point and can produce carcinogenic smoke which has been linked to cancer.

Can You Season a Griddle With Bacon or Butter?

No, you shouldn’t season a griddle with bacon or butter since these usually contain additives, salt, and sugar that can prevent a lasting protective layer from forming. As tempting as it may be to use your leftover bacon fat to season the surface, you are better off using a high smoke point oil in the long run.

What Kind of Cooking Oils Can I Use?

You can use any type of cooking oil on a flat-top grill, from avocado and coconut oil to lard or rendered bacon fat!

Can You Use Non-Stick Spray on a Griddle?

Yes, you can use non-stick spray on a griddle! Just be sure not to use these sprays when you initially season your cooking surface since they don’t have the right fat content and will just end up creating a sticky mess.

How Do You Prevent Your Oil From Smoking?

To prevent your oil from smoking, do not heat your flat top or griddle above the smoke point of the cooking oil you’re using. Using high-heat oils like avocado, coconut, canola, vegetable, and organic palm kernel oils will be your best bet.

Why Is Food Sticking to My Griddle?

Food may be sticking to your griddle because there’s a build-up of grease or seasonings left over after previously cooking. To keep your food from sticking, thoroughly wash down your griddle’s hot surface with water after every use.

Where Does the Grease Go On a Flat Top Grill?

The grease on a flat-top grill will remain on the cooking surface until you push it into the grill’s grease trap. This can easily be done while or after cooking.

Can I Use Metal Cooking Utensils?

You can use metal cooking utensils on stainless steel or cast-iron griddles, but do not use them if your griddle has a non-stick surface since metal utensils can scratch and peel the cooktop. In general, non-metal tools are recommended for any type of surface.

Do You Need to Preheat a Flat Top Grill & Griddle?

Yes, you should always preheat your flat-top grill or griddle to ensure the cooking surface is heated evenly, retains heat, and maintains its seasoning.

What Is the Temperature Range for Flat-Top Grills?

The majority of steel flat-top grills on the market have a temperature range from 250°F-550°F. A cast iron flat top will be able to reach temperatures as high as 800°F.

Can I Cook in Zones on a Flat-Top Grill?

Yes, you can cook in zones on a flat-top grill, but you won’t be able to create as significant a temperature gap as you could on a standard grill. You can still create decent zones on your flat top that will allow for keeping food warm on indirect heat while continuing to cook food over direct heat.

How Often Should You Clean a Flat Top Grill or Griddle?

You should clean your flat-top grill or griddle after every use. This will help keep food from sticking the next time you cook and will help season and prolong the life of your grill surface.

How Do I Clean My Griddle?

To clean your griddle after using it let it cool down most of the way, then scrap any remaining oil or food off the surface with a spatula or scraper. If you have stuck-on food, pour water on it while the grill is still warm and rub it gently with a sponge. Then do a final rinse, wipe it down with paper towels or a dishcloth, and coat it with a thin layer of oil to season.

Can I Use Dish Detergent to Clean My Griddle?

No, using dish detergent to clean your griddle can eat away at that precious seasoning. If you are having difficulties with stuck-on food, try using table salt and hot water to scrub it away.

What Do You Use to Clean a Flat Top Grill?

Using water on a still-warm grill after it has been scraped should do the trick. You can use a mixture of vinegar and water if you have any fat lingering or debris on your grill after cleaning it.

How Do You Maintain Your Flat Top Grill?

To maintain your flat top grill be sure to clean it well, regularly empty and clean your grease cup and catch, inspect its hose and regulator, inspect and remove any blockages from the burners, wipe down the outside with stainless steel cleaner, and keep the entire grill covered to protect it from the elements.

Is It Necessary to Scrape & Polish the Surface After Use?

Yes, it is recommended that you scrap the surface after each use, but you don’t need to polish it.

What’s the Best Way to Remove Burned-on Residue?

To remove stubborn burned-on residue, scrape off any large pieces you can then preheat your griddle and pour a mixture of water and lemon juice on the problem spots. You should be able to scrape the residue off after that.

Why Did My Griddle Turn Black?

Your griddle will turn black if it’s properly seasoned, much like a cast iron pan does once the oils have bonded to the metal cooking surface. This is completely normal and what you are after.

Why Does My Griddle Surface Look Dull & Dry Instead of Shiny & Black?

Your griddle surface may look dull and dry if the seasoning is wearing off — re-season the griddle and season it regularly to regain that black shine.

How Should I Store My Flat Top Grill or Griddle?

You should store your flat-top grill or griddle somewhere that’s accessible yet cool and dry, and keep it covered when it’s not in use.

Will the Griddle Rust?

Whether your griddle will rust depends on how well you care for it. Your griddle can rust if you leave it without maintaining it or store it in a humid area without regular cleaning and oiling the surface. Keeping it covered will help too.

What if My Griddle Starts to Rust?

If your griddle starts to rust, rub the rust off with steel wool or low-grain sandpaper then re-season the cooking surface. Be sure to always dry your griddle thoroughly before storing it, and keep it protected from moisture like rain, humidity, and sprinklers.

How Should I Level My Flat-Top Grill So That Liquids Don’t All Run to One Side?

Your flat-top grill should actually lean to one side a bit so all the drippings can collect there. Find where your grill’s grease cup is located, and level the grill based on that. If your grill has its grease cup on the front of the grill, there’s a chance it’s pre-leveled to have liquids run off in that direction.

Do I Need to Have a Vent Hood Over My Flat-Top Grill?

You don’t necessarily need a vent hood over your flat-top grill, depending on where the grill will be located. However, installing one if you have the space and ability to wire for it doesn’t hurt!

Can I Use My Flat Top Gas Griddle Inside?

You should not use your flat-top gas griddle inside unless the manufacturer says you can! You can purchase flat-top griddles that are designed for indoor use, however, so if you want to cook inside we suggest you invest in one of those.

Can You Put a Griddle on the Grill?

Yes, you can purchase griddle plate attachments for your standard grill that will allow you to experience flat-top cooking without purchasing an entirely separate cooking tool. Depending on the griddle plate’s size, you may still be able to access your grill’s grates to cook on them while you use the griddle for the best of both worlds!

Can You Boil Water on a Griddle or Flat Top Grill?

You technically can boil water on a griddle or flat-top grill, just know you’ll be waiting for a while for the water to heat up. If you’re in a hurry, a regular burner stove or hot plate will be better for boiling water.

Where Is the Best Place to Shop for Flat Top Grills & Griddles?

Like just about everything, there is a great variety of flat-top grills & griddles available online! We’re fans of BBQGuys offerings of flat-top grills & griddles since ordering is simple, and they’re incredibly knowledgeable about all things outdoor cooking. They have a wide selection of awesome flat top and griddle brands and models.

They even have agents on standby 24/7 to answer all your questions with a simple chat feature.

Final Thoughts on our Flat Top Grills & Griddles FAQ Guide

From breakfast classics like pancakes, eggs, and bacon, to fast-food quality smash burgers and even steaks, flat-top grills and griddles give you true flexibility and cooking power to create just about anything from the comfort of your backyard.

There’s a reason these cooking tools are the go-to appliance for so many restaurants — they’re powerful, easy to use, and allow you to cook multiple different types of food at one time. No matter whom you’re cooking for, you’ll be able to get it done with a flat-top grill or griddle.

Other benefits of investing in an outdoor flat-top grill or griddle, include versatility and cooking for a crowd to experimenting with fun recipes, and tackling foods that don’t lend themselves well to a typical grill (crepes, anyone?) We’re big fans of these appliances, and if you have the outdoor space, we highly encourage checking one out for yourself.

We hope our FAQ guide helped answer all of your pressing flat-top grill and griddle questions, and prepare you for buying, using, and maintaining one of your own!

If you have any lingering questions or you’d like to learn more about any of the topics we covered in this guide, let us know! You can send us an email or drop a comment in the section below — you might even see your question get added to this guide.

Next Steps:

The Benefits of Flat Top Grills and Griddles

The Benefits of Flat Top Grills and Griddles

The Ultimate Flat Top Grills and Griddles Buyers Guide

Ultimate Flat Top Grills and Griddles Buyers Guide

The 10 Best Built-in Gas Grills

The 10 Best Built-in Gas Grills on the Market Today

Now It’s Your Turn

I want to hear from you:

Have you ever purchased a Flat Top Grill or Griddle before?

Do you have any tips on buying Flat Top Grill or Griddle or have any feedback on a particular brand or model to share?

What features do you typically like to see in a flat top or griddle?

Are you going to be purchasing a new grill in the future? Do you plan on looking at a Pellet Grill, Smoker, Built-In Gas Grill, or Charcoal Model?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

If you still have questions, please feel free to send me a message.


Pat G.

Disclosure – At The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Patrick Ginise

A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!

I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!

I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.