Flat Top Grill Buying Guide | How to Buy a Flat Top Grill
You could probably guess from our name that we’re all about grilling and barbecuing, but we know a good cooker when we see one. And while flat top grills and griddles aren’t necessarily BBQ “grills,” they’re some of the most versatile cooking appliances we’ve ever encountered. They give home chefs the opportunity to experiment with virtually any cooking style, tend to attract guests when fired up, and often fit into spaces where traditional gas grills can’t. Flat top griddles also do well when paired with a built-in gas grill — and so will you when you have all that culinary flexibility at your fingertips.
That being said, we understand many backyard dreamers aren’t too well-acquainted with griddles (in fairness, most of our dads were self-proclaimed experts at grilling, not griddle-ing). Well, we’re actually home to experts in all things flat top grills, and today we’ll show you everything you need to know when buying a flat top gas grill or griddle. We broke down all the major considerations that should be on your radar while shopping, along with some finer details we’d hate for you to overlook. Now let’s solve the griddle riddle!
Which Configuration of Flat Top Grill Is Right for Your Space?
The first question you must answer is whether you’d like your flat top gas grill to be built-in, freestanding, or portable. Each configuration serves a specific purpose for outdoor entertainers, so it’s important to carefully consider the benefits of these setups before proceeding. Something else to factor into your decision: flat top griddles make great companion cookers alongside gas grills, so if your outdoor space is already graced with a grill, think about how to best incorporate a griddle as a secondary appliance.
Freestanding Gas Griddles
If movement around the backyard is a high priority, then a freestanding gas griddle more than likely fits your needs. These flat top grills are mounted on wheeled carts, allowing for easy portability on the deck or under the patio (not to mention when winter rolls around and it’s time for long-term storage in a covered area). Mobility also makes these models easier to clean and maintain than their built-in brethren because you can access the griddle from different angles. Most freestanding griddles use propane as fuel, though certain models can be used with natural gas.
Built-In Gas Griddles
Maybe you’re planning that long-awaited outdoor kitchen project, or maybe you’re ready to expand your BBQ island and cooking versatility. Either way, a built-in griddle is an awesome addition to any outdoor space. We’ve already discussed how well built-in flat top grills and gas grills work in tandem, but this configuration also shines behind an island bar from which guests can watch you prepare a hibachi-style meal with flair. Built-in gas griddles may be a little difficult to clean, but they’re well worth the aesthetic. A Blaze gas griddle next to a Blaze gas grill? Now that’s what we’re talking about!
Portable Gas Griddles
Griddles are so great that they shouldn’t be confined to just the backyard — at least that’s what manufacturers of portable flat top grills think. We’d have to agree, given our experiences with taking griddles on the go. Having an appliance with this much cooking flexibility that’s still light enough to carry around is a huge benefit for tailgates, camping excursions, or road trips where you’d rather make your own sizzling bacon instead of searching for an interstate-exit diner. Cuisinart's 28-inch portable griddle is a great example of the mobility and versatility these units provide for on-the-go grillers.
Which Fuel Type Is Most Convenient for Flat Top Grills?
As with other gas grills, you have 2 choices of fuel type when it comes to gas griddles: propane and natural gas. We won’t get into the chemical differences here, but there are some practical contrasts that will make one fuel better for you than the other. Things like portability, installation, and refueling are huge considerations in the fuel-type discussion, so let’s take a close look at what separates propane flat top griddles from natural gas models.
Propane Flat Top Grills & Griddles
Unless you already have a utility line supplying natural gas to your home, start by thinking over the possibilities of propane flat top grills (seriously, digging up your yard to install gas lines can get costly). They’re usually fueled by standard, 20-pound propane tanks that lead to easy mobility compared with natural gas griddles anchored to a gas line. It’s also worth noting that portable tanks are safe to connect on your own, whereas natural gas models require professional installation. There’s a minor catch, though: you’re responsible for exchanging or refilling standard tanks at hardware stores. Bulk tanks, however, are refilled on a schedule by your local propane dealer.
Natural Gas Flat Top Grills & Griddles
Already paying for natural gas to be piped onto your property? Then a natural gas flat top griddle is almost certainly the way to go, unless you enjoy racking up redundant expenses. The only professional help you’ll need to get started is from a licensed plumber, who should be the only person setting up natural gas connections. Once that’s taken care of, you’ll never have to worry about hauling propane tanks down to the hardware store for an exchange, or worse — running out of fuel in the middle of a cook (gasp!). Of course, you’ll be sacrificing the maneuverability enjoyed by freestanding propane griddles, but natural gas is the most sensible fuel type for built-in models anyway.
What Size of Flat Top Grill Do You Need?
The size of your gas griddle isn’t about bragging rights; it’s about how much food you can cook at once! Size also plays a role in the number of cooking zones at your disposal and the versatility that arises as a result, though zones are less pronounced on flat top griddles than they are on traditional gas grills. Regardless, it’s important to be comfortable with the size of the griddle you’re purchasing — once you’ve hit “buy,” you can’t make it any bigger. To figure out which size is right for your outdoor space, ask yourself 3 questions: how many people will you normally cook for, what’s the maximum number of people you’d cook for, and how often will you cook for that maximum number? Then take your answers and apply them to the information below.
Large Flat Top Gas Grills
It’s rare to find gas griddles this big, but they do exist. Their cooking surfaces measure between 34 and 42 inches in width, enough room for 6 burners. With that much space, you’ll have no problem whipping up enough food for pool parties and birthday gatherings. In more practical terms, large flat top grills can fit roughly 40 pancakes, assuming they measure 4 inches in diameter. (We typically use a burger count to help quantify grill size, but pancakes seemed more thematically appropriate here.)
Medium Flat Top Gas Grills
The vast majority of griddles fall into the medium size category, which includes models whose cooktops are between 27 and 33 inches wide. A few medium flat top griddles have only 1 burner, while others boast as many as 4; that being said, most in this size range are designed with 2 burners. That amounts to a fairly wide spectrum of pancake counts — anywhere between 18 and 33, though medium Evo gas griddles are capable of 42 at once. Any way you slice it, that’s more than fit to feed a large family!
Small Flat Top Gas Grills
As their name suggests, small gas griddles are best for feeding smaller families. Their cooking surfaces measure no wider than 26 inches, and they offer either 1 or 2 burners for scaled-back cooking. Looking for a pancake count? That’ll be 9–16 flapjacks at once, with small Evo griddles once again overachieving with a pancake count of 22. Don’t confuse size with power — small flat top grills can still produce delicious results no matter what you’re cooking! (Though now it’ll probably be pancakes.)
Flat Top Grill & Griddle Classes
We hope the information we’ve shared so far has helped you narrow down your search for your ideal flat top griddle. In hopes of refining your options even further, we sorted our selection of gas griddles into 3 distinct classes: Luxury, Premium, and Practical. Our method? We asked our experts to evaluate each model’s quality, performance, and features, which tell you everything you need to know about a given product. See below for a snapshot of what each class offers, and make note of which one most closely aligns with your lifestyle.
Luxury Flat Top Gas Grills
- Made from the highest-quality materials available and generally come with lifetime warranties
- Expertly crafted and thoughtfully designed to enhance your outdoor-kitchen aesthetic
- Boast the most consistent cooking systems and widest temperature ranges of all flat top griddles
- Top-of-the-line features result in an engaging, luxury experience unmatched by other griddles
Premium Flat Top Gas Grills
- Most are constructed entirely from 304, commercial-grade stainless steel for extra durability
- Long-lasting design backed by strong warranties, some of which offer lifetime coverage
- Dependable results and even heat combine to bring you a premium cooking experience
- Wide range of griddle accessories opens the door for fun and personalized cooking
Practical Flat Top Gas Grills
- Built from a mix of painted and stainless steel, with warranties that last up to 10 years
- Wallet-friendly flat top griddles provide moderate quality and reliability
- Decent heat retention, evenness, and temperature range make for adequate cooking
- Limited range of features and size options restricts overall cooking versatility
Final Things to Consider When Buying a Gas Griddle
We’re near the end of our journey, but we wouldn’t consider this article complete unless we left you with a few more bits of knowledge. After you’ve purchased your griddle — congrats on being closer to that decision than when you started reading — you’ll need to be equipped with the right tools for long-term care and use. See below to see what can help you get the most out of your flat top gas grill.
Lids for Gas Griddles & Flat Top Grills
The cooktop is the star of every flat top gas grill, so it deserves a layer of security to block out the elements. That’s the job of griddle lids, which sit over the cooking surface to help them stay sturdy and clean for years of use. Blaze and Twin Eagles flat top grills are among the models that have a cooktop cover included at purchase, so keep that in mind as you’re narrowing down your selections. Certain brands also sell a vinyl covering for the entire griddle, but those are fairly rare. Either way, a flat top gas griddle is an investment both financially and in your lifestyle — why not go to every length to protect that investment?
Flat Top Griddle Accessories
To use your gas griddle to its full potential, you’ll need a handful of accessories to smooth along cooking and improve versatility. Backyard Hibachi accessories come highly recommended from our experts, but in the event that brand doesn’t work for you, we can give you a few general tools to look for. For starters, squeeze bottles allow you to oil your cooktop without the risk of being burned by spattering liquid, while long-handled spatulas are essential for handling food from a safe distance.
We’re particularly fond of melting domes, which not only quickly melt cheese over burgers, but also make it possible to steam food on a flat top grill. You can further expand cooking versatility with a set of cookware, but make sure it isn’t cast iron! Cookware made from cast iron will eventually scratch steel cooktops, whereas stainless steel cookware won’t. Cast iron will also leave flecks of iron on the cooking surface over repeated uses, and those metal deposits can quickly rust and ruin your griddle.
Have more questions about gas griddles that didn’t get covered here? Reach out to our flat top gas grill experts at 1-877-743-2269 and continue building on the knowledge you (hopefully) gained here. Another great resource: our free 3D design service, which has helped thousands of customers bring their outdoor spaces from the blueprint to the backyard. Even better if yours includes a griddle!
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