Grill vs griddle – which is best for summer entertaining?

When it comes to grill vs griddle, which appliance comes out on top?

An example of grill vs griddle, a grill fitted with both a grill and a griddle
(Image credit: Getty Images / Tim Allen)

Spring has finally sprung, and that means the return of the grilling season. But as you go from cookout to cookout, you may notice that some people are cooking on griddles rather than grills.

They're very similar appliances, and if you're not a gourmand, it can be difficult to know which comes out on top in the battle of grill vs griddle. 

I've tested a lot of the best grills over the past few years, so I'm expert when it comes to outdoor cooking. I also spoke to a chef to get his thoughts on which appliance comes out on top. 

A griddle outside cooking food

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What's the difference?

There's a simple difference between the two surfaces. A griddle uses a hot, flat surface. Grills use a grate over flames. Chef Dennis Littley told me that: 'A grill typically uses direct heat from below, while a griddle provides a flat cooking surface that heats evenly.' 

A headshot of chef Dennis Littley
Dennis Littley

Chef Dennis Littley is a classically trained chef with 50+ years of experience in the kitchen, who shares his time-tested recipes, knowledge, and chef tips to help you create easy-to-make restaurant-quality meals in your home kitchen.

What are the pros of a grill?

large gas grill and gas canister on a patio

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The biggest benefit of a grill is the flavor. Griddles don't add any flavor. A grill, however, adds a smoky flavor that a griddle can't match. This is most obvious with a charcoal grill, where fats and oils from whatever you're cooking drop onto the coals and evaporate into delicious smoke. Even though the flavor is diminished with a gas grill, it still tastes better than a griddle. Chef Dennis Littley agrees. He told me that 'Grilling over open flames adds a distinctive smoky taste that's hard to replicate.'

Chef Dennis added that there's also an aesthetic component. Grills add char lines, and a griddle won't. Steaks, burgers, and hot dogs all look the part with grill lines, and look a little unfinished from griddles. Not only is this great for appearances, but they're crucial for flavor. Chef Dennis said 'Those perfect charred lines not only look great but also add a depth of flavor to your food.'

Grills are also much more versatile. Griddles are great for flat food - bacon, eggs, pancakes, smashed burger patties - but that's about it. A grill can sear steaks and burgers, roast chicken, smoke fish, and much else. 

What are the cons of a grill?

A cut of lamb barbequing on the grill with sprigs of rosemary.

(Image credit: Future)

The issue with grills is that it's easy to lose food between the grates. I have lost hundreds of slices of grilled potato, zucchini, and halloumi through grills, and that number is only going to rise. It's a problem Chef Dennis has faced, too. 'Grills may not be ideal for cooking smaller or delicate items that could fall through the grates.'

The other drawback with a grill is that you can only use it outside. You can set up griddles indoors, but if you live in a colder climate, you probably won't be firing up the grill once the snow sets in. 

What are the pros of a griddle?

A Blackstone 28" XL Griddle W/Hood on a deck

(Image credit: Blackstone)

Griddles are great because they're consistent. Think of them as a large frying pan. Chef Dennis said: 'Griddles provide a consistent cooking surface, making them great for pancakes, eggs, and other delicate foods'. Unlike a charcoal grill, where you have to experiment with direct and indirect heat, and slowly lose heat as you grill, a griddle will be consistently hot across the entire surface.

This consistency also makes griddles a little safer. The lack of flames means that you don't have flare-ups. These look cool, but they're essentially mini-grease fires, which is unsafe. They can also burn your food. This problem won't happen with a griddle, because there's no fire involved. 

Griddles are also much faster to heat. Grills heat the air, so they take much longer, whereas a griddle uses a single conductive metal plate, which is much quicker. 

What are the cons of a griddle?

Cooking sausages, kebabs, and zucchini on a griddle

(Image credit: Getty Images / Cyril Aucher)

Griddles taste a little sterile compared to a grill. A griddle will make breakfast incredibly easy, but burgers made on a griddle vs a grill simply don't compare. Chef Dennis Littley told me that 'while griddles are great for certain foods, they don't impart that classic smoky flavor you get from grilling'.

Griddles also can't handle thick cuts of meat like steaks, tenderloins, or whole birds. It's a little limiting. You can cook almost anything with a griddle, but not with a grill. 

I think this also makes griddles poor value compared to a grill. An entry-level griddle is between $300-$500. That's a lot to spend on breakfast. You could get a basic Weber Grill and a cheap griddle plate like this from Amazon for a little more and get all the benefits of both appliances.

Which makes tastier food?

food cooking on a charcoal grill

(Image credit: Jan Otto/Getty images)

It depends on what you're cooking. Griddles are better for bacon and eggs, and grills are better for pretty much everything else. Chef Dennis told me: 'Grilled foods have that irresistible smoky flavor, while griddled foods often have a beautifully caramelized exterior and tender interior. It's all about personal preference and the flavors you're craving.'

Griddle FAQs

What are griddles made with?

Griddles tend to be made with stainless steel, though they can also be made with cast iron or carbon steel. If you can, buy stainless steel, which is much less likely to rust. 

For more information on grills and griddles, check out how to season a griddle, how to clean a rusty griddle, or the best wood for smoking.

Alex David
Head of eCommerce

As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.