Flat Top Grills & Griddles FAQ

Though they don’t get as much love as grills, gas griddles have earned their place as versatile workhorses in the outdoor cooking world. But odds are you’ve never cooked on a flat top grill all that much, at least not when compared with the old gas grill you had to beg your dad to let you use. How do we know? Well, we’ve fielded dozens and dozens of customer questions about griddles — so many, in fact, that we compiled the most common queries into the FAQ you see here today. You’re obviously here because you’re interested in flat top gas grills, and we want to make sure you’re totally confident in using one before making a purchase or taking yours on its maiden voyage.

Do you have any questions about gas griddles that weren’t answered here? Sounds like you need to speak with one of our outdoor living experts, who can be reached by phone at 1-877-743-2269. And, hey, if your question is pressing enough, we just might add it to this page to aid future customers like you. Hooray for helping others!

Do I need to season the grilling surface before use?


If the cooktop on the griddle you purchased isn’t stainless steel, then you must season the cooking surface before or after each use to build up a protective layer against rust and prevent food from sticking. Even if your cooktop is made from stainless steel, we still highly recommend repeated seasonings for the non-stick benefits.

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If so, what should I use to season the grilling surface?


Any oil with a high smoke point (425–450 degrees Fahrenheit and up) is a good choice for griddle seasoning. Coconut, palm, avocado, and grape seed oils are a few of our favorites. We recommend avoiding olive oil and other low-smoke point oils, which quickly burn and create carcinogenic smoke. If bacon’s on the menu, rendering off a bit of fat is a great alternative for seasoning.

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Is it necessary to scrape and polish the surface after use, like a fast food grill?


It’s in your best interest to scrape the cooktop following each cook, but applying a layer of polish isn’t necessary. Using a scraper or spatula, first remove any heavy residue from the griddle and dispose of it in a separate trash can (you can use the attached catch basin, but you’ll find yourself needing to empty it soon). Once you’ve cleared that out, pour a water-and-lemon-juice mixture on your still-hot cooktop and scrape at the remaining food debris. The mildly acidic solution will cut grease and make cleaning easier. For non-stainless steel cooktops, remove heavy food residue but leave the cooking surface fairly seasoned — just remember to follow up the initial cleaning by turning up the heat to kill any remaining organic material.

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What kind of cooking oils can I use?


Though certain oils are better for seasoning (see above), you can use any oil to cook on a flat top gas grill. Go with your preference, but in case you’re curious, our experts like avocado, coconut, and organic palm kernel oils. Peanut oil is also acceptable, though it’s prone to splattering on a griddle and guests may have a peanut allergy (always ask!). If all else fails, lard or rendered bacon fat will do just as well as cooking oils.

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Can I use metal cooking utensils?


Non-metal tools are preferable, but it’s perfectly fine to use metal utensils on both stainless steel and cast iron griddles. However, you should never use metal cooking tools on a non-stick surface. The adhesion of most non-stick cooktops is tenuous at best, so a small scratch from a metal utensil will promote peeling and speed up its removal.

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What’s the best way to remove burned-on residue?


Start by scraping off the larger pieces of food debris and discarding them into your drip cup or a separate waste bin. Especially stubborn residue may call for more serious cleaning — preheat your griddle as you normally would, then pour a mixture of water and lemon juice onto the cooktop and scrape at the remaining grime. You may also use a griddle stone to scrape the surface when oiled, as long as you remember to scrub in the direction of the grain on your cooking surface to avoid leaving any scratches. You can find a griddle stone at most hardware stores.

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What is the temperature range for flat-top grills?


Most steel flat top grills have a temperature range of 250–550 degrees Fahrenheit. Cast iron, meanwhile, can reach 800 degrees without too much trouble.

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Is cooking on a griddle healthy?


Generally speaking, griddle cooking is relatively healthy because you don’t have to use that much oil, and rendered fat flows to the catch basin instead of seeping into your food. Additionally, you won’t experience any fatty drippings falling onto open flames as you would with a gas grill — those drippings produce carcinogens when they vaporize, so taking them out of the equation qualifies as a health benefit. Griddles are a relatively healthy option overall, but what you cook also plays a large role in how healthy a meal is no matter the cooking appliance. A chicken-and-veggie stir fry? Now that’s good for you! A whole pound of bacon for breakfast? Not so much.

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Are there foods I shouldn’t cook on a flat-top grill?


No, a griddle can handle virtually anything you throw at it. In fact, cooking versatility is one of the biggest benefits of owning a griddle. You can even place pots and pans on your griddle to boil pasta or steam veggies.

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Can I use my flat top gas griddle inside?


Unless the manufacturer specifies your griddle is safe to use indoors, don’t do it! You may cook with a flat top gas griddle inside only if it’s designed for such use. Carefully read product information before purchase, along with your owner’s manual before operating anywhere.

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Can I cook in zones on a flat-top grill?


It’s possible to cook using zones on a flat top grill, but the temperature difference won’t be as pronounced as what you’d expect from a traditional gas grill with heat-zone separators. That being said, you’ll still be able to keep food warm in the indirect zone while you continue to cook over direct heat. The zones will be arranged either as right and left or inner and outer, depending on the shape of your griddle.

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How should I level my flat-top grill so that liquids don’t all run to one side?


You actually want all liquids and food drippings to run to one side: the side with the grease trap, that is. So, all you have to do is locate the catch basin on your flat top grill and level the unit accordingly. Be sure your griddle is leveled in a way that allows drippings to trickle toward the drip cup — if the liquids sprint away, then food will be more prone to burning. Certain brands place their grease traps on the front of the grill and have designed the unit to slightly lean that way so you don’t have to worry about finding the proper level.

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Do all flat-top grills/griddles have stainless steel cooking surfaces?


No, stainless steel is one of several materials griddle manufacturers use to make their cooking surfaces. Steel, aluminum, and cast iron are popular cooktop materials, though the majority of what we carry features stainless steel.

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Do I need to have a vent hood over my flat-top grill?


It wouldn’t hurt to include a vent hood above your gas griddle, but it isn’t always necessary. Because ventilation depends on the location and setup of your cooking appliances, we recommend you visit our outdoor ventilation planning guide to get an idea of what you’ll need. If you’re still in the building phase of your outdoor kitchen project, it never hurts to install wiring where a vent hood would go. You’ll spend a little upfront to save a lot more later.

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Will the griddle rust?


Whether the griddle rusts depends entirely on how frequently it’s used and how well it’s cared for. Performing frequent cleanings and covering the cooktop when not in use are your best defenses against rust. It’s also worth noting that stainless steel flat top grills are much less prone to rusting than their cast iron counterparts.

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