The Best Electric Griddles for Crowd-Size Cooking

Overhead of cooking bacon, eggs, and pancakes on an electric griddle.

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

More

Breakfast

Everything you need to make the most important meal of the day delicious.

Cooking brunch at home can be an ordeal, especially if you have several mouths to feed. The prospect of juggling multiple pans between limited stovetop and oven space, while trying to accommodate the egg-cookery and pancake-shaping requests of sleepy children or (worse) adults who haven’t had their coffee yet, can make a trip to the diner sound pretty appealing. But that also has its drawbacks: You have to change out of your pajamas, leave the house, talk to people, possibly wait in a line, and drop a good chunk of change for food you easily could have made better yourself. It’s a tough call.

If you like cooking classic American breakfasts in your own kitchen, it may be worth considering purchasing an electric griddle. Electric griddles are a budget-friendly, at-home version of the flat-top cooking surfaces used by short-order diner cooks. They allow you to cook greasy-spoon staples like pancakes, bacon, French toast, fried eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches in big batches, so you don’t have to spend an eternity standing by the stove flipping two flapjacks at a time in a skillet.

Our Favorites at a Glance

The Best Electric Griddle: Presto Electric Tilt-n-Fold Griddle

Presto makes two of our favorite electric griddles. Its Tilt-n-Fold model is very simple to set up and operate, and it has a compact design that makes it easy to store in kitchen cabinets when not in use. It has a large, smooth, nonstick cooking surface that heats mostly evenly, can be set at an angle to drain grease, and is easy to clean. We love the price, too—the Tilt-n-Fold costs a little under $50, so even if you’re not turning your kitchen into IHOP every weekend, you won’t be upset about dropping a bunch of loot on a rarely used appliance (yes, bread maker, we’re talking about you).

The Best Affordable Electric Griddle: Presto 22-Inch Electric Griddle

Our other griddle pick from Presto, and Stella’s favorite, is even more affordable! This lightweight model comes with fully detachable handles that make cleaning and storing it a breeze; it will easily slot into the cabinet with all your baking sheets and cooling racks; and its nonstick surface has a textured crosshatch pattern that helps keep pancakes from sliding around and eluding your spatula when you’re trying to flip them.

The drawback of this design feature is that it makes it harder to wipe away grease from cooking fatty foods like bacon. And without a tilting mechanism, that grease will pool in the middle of the griddle, rather than in the drip tray. For that reason, this is a great option for people who like to take the sweet route at brunch and don’t need a griddle for cooking breakfast meats.

The Griddle Upgrade: Broil King Professional Portable Nonstick Griddle

The Broil King was the top-performing electric griddle that we tested in terms of consistent heating and cooking results, turning out batches of perfectly browned pancakes. Like the Tilt-n-Fold, the legs of the Broil King can be adjusted to pitch the cooking surface, which helps drain fat into its grease trap. This model costs roughly twice as much as the Tilt-n-Fold and has a bulkier design that makes it difficult to store vertically in a cabinet. It comes with a removable stainless steel backsplash that is a nice idea (minimizing grease splatter and providing a backstop to help flip food with a spatula), but its flimsy construction makes it more of a nuisance than a standout feature.

The Unplugged Option: Lodge Reversible Cast Iron Stovetop Griddle

While this review focuses on electric griddles, it’s worth noting that some may prefer to invest in a stovetop cast iron griddle instead. Given our testing, which revealed that electric griddles don’t get hot enough to properly sear burgers, meats, or, really, anything else, a large cast iron cooking surface like this one from Lodge can give you plenty of real estate for larger batches of food while letting you decide just how scorching you want it to be.

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Great Electric Griddle

[top]

Overhead shot of top 3 griddles.

The ability to cook in (relative) volume is the main appeal of an electric griddle. Nonstick pans are great for cooking up scrambled eggs or omelettes, but making an entire batch of pancakes with one skillet takes an eternity. You are left with the choice of doling out fresh hotcakes a few at a time, withholding them from hungry guests in a warm oven until the whole batch is ready, or attempting to cook in multiple pans all at once. None of those options is ideal. As for bacon, it’s a scientific fact that you can never fit enough of it into a pan, and during the warmer months of the year, it’s preferable to keep the oven out of the equation. Electric griddles allow us to cook these items in larger batches while providing the same easy cleanup we’re accustomed to when using nonstick pans.

Griddle power strips and temperature controls.

Most of the electric griddles on the market have the same basic design—a rectangular, nonstick, flat cooking surface that is heated by an electric coil on its underside. A control dial, located on the detachable power cord, regulates the heat, cycling on and off to maintain the set temperature. The majority of models come with a removable drip tray for catching cooking grease.

While a lot of griddles have the same basic design, they vary greatly in performance. A good electric griddle should have a large cooking surface that heats evenly for consistent cooking and browning. Because it isn’t an everyday appliance, we want a griddle to have a slim footprint that won’t take up a ton of valuable kitchen storage space and isn’t so bulky or heavy that we would hesitate to grab it out of the cabinet when it could be of use. Finally, because most of us aren’t cooking huge breakfasts all that frequently, we wanted to find griddles that are affordable; spending a lot of money on an appliance that gathers dust in the cupboard catacombs is frustrating and unnecessary. Spend good money on equipment you will use all the time, like a knife or Dutch oven.

The Testing

[top]

Even though we were hoping to find some high-quality affordable griddles, we didn’t set price limits to the models that were considered during testing. We tested griddles that ranged from very cheap ($29.99) to outrageously expensive ($549.95). Along with the traditional flat-top design, we looked at sandwich press–style models that boast additional features like grill plate attachments. None of those panini press models performed well. When it comes to griddle construction, manufacturers should heed the wisdom of Ron Swanson, who once said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

We tested performance by cooking batches of pancakes, bacon, and finally burgers to see if any of the griddles could handle high-heat cooking that we normally reserve for cast iron or stainless steel pans. Throughout testing, we noted ease of setup, use, and cleaning. We paid attention to the cooking surface area of each griddle and how evenly they heated and maintained a set cooking temperature. Nonstick cooking surfaces can be easily damaged, so we also kept track of the wear and tear that these simple cooking tasks took on the griddles.

Cooking Pancakes

[top]

Flipping pancakes on an electric griddle.

We started out with the cooking task that any electric griddle should be able to handle—pancakes. Batches of Kenji’s fluffy buttermilk pancakes as well as ones from an upcoming Stella recipe (!) were cooked on griddles set to 350°F (177°C). Cooking surface temperatures were monitored using a Thermoworks infrared thermometer. It is important to note that this methodology is not perfect, as reflective surfaces and bright light can adversely affect temperature readings, but we did our best to limit these issues by conducting tests in dim conditions. Fortunately, ultra-precise temperature readings are not as crucial for making pancakes as they are for something like sous vide circulators.

That said, there were a number of griddles that were wildly off the mark when it came to evenly heating their cooking surface. Panini press–style models that can be laid out flat for griddling purposes struggled to reach their target temperature and had very limited cooking surface capacity, thanks to the hinge, making it difficult to maneuver pale, undercooked pancakes with a spatula.

A number of the more traditional flat griddles had their own problems. Some of them got way too hot, fluctuating up to 100 degrees over the target temperature, and burned the surface of the pancakes before they could cook through. Others had glaring hot and cold spots, turning out rounds of flapjacks that were only browned in spots. Design flaws like small gaps between the cooking surface and the handles meant that some griddles became quickly gunked up with stray dribbles of pancake batter.

Cooking surfaces of our top griddles.

Our top-performing pancake griddles had enough room to comfortably fit eight three-inch pancakes, with enough real estate to maneuver a spatula around them. The grid-like surface of the Presto 22-inch griddle made flipping pancakes a lot easier, as it kept them in place better, so we didn’t have to chase them around on the nonstick surface.

Cooking pancakes on top three griddles.

Pancakes cooked on the outer edges of the Presto 22-inch griddle took longer to color than those closer to the center. The Presto Tilt-n-Fold had the largest cooking area of our top three candidates, but it did have one problem—there is a cold spot at the center of the griddle that will yield a very pale pancake, something I had noticed when I used the griddle to test blini a few months back. The Broil King griddle turned out the best pancakes, which were evenly browned all over.

Cooking Bacon

[top]

Turning bacon on an electric griddle.

After pancakes, we used our top-performing griddles to cook bacon. While the pancake test focused on the evenness of heat distribution, this test highlighted how each one handles grease runoff as well as its drip tray design. The Presto Tilt-n-Fold and the Broil King were the clear winners of this test.

Leg mechanism of Presto Tilt-n-Fold griddle.

Both of them have legs that can be adjusted to tilt the griddle at an angle, so that fat trickles down toward the grease trap. This keeps the griddles from getting too smoky and also makes cleanup a whole lot easier. After cooking, all you need to do is empty out and clean the drip tray as well as wipe down the cooking surface.

Grease runoff on winning griddles.

The Presto 22-inch model, unfortunately, doesn’t have this tilting mechanism, keeping the cooking surface completely flat. This means bacon grease pools up in the center of the griddle, making the drip tray pretty much useless. To pour off leftover cooking grease, you are forced to carefully tip the griddle so that fat can run off into a container (you won’t want to use the drip tray as that will pop out when you tip the griddle toward yourself). Also, the cooking surface’s grid pattern makes it hard to wipe away greasy residue, even after cleaning it with soapy water.

Cooking Burgers

[top]

While electric griddles are best-known for breakfast food prep, we also wanted to see if any of our top contenders could handle other foods cooked on a diner griddle. I decided to cook some of Kenji’s classic smashed burgers. It did not go well. Even when cranked up to their maximum temperature setting, 400°F (204°C) none of the griddles get hot enough to produce the signature crust of a perfect smashed burger. This is also a problem of nonstick cooking surfaces; they are next to impossible to evenly coat with oil before cooking (fat beads up in little droplets instead of an even layer), and you also don’t want to get nonstick material screaming hot because it damages the coating, causing it to vaporize.

None of the burgers I cooked were of the quality that you get when cooking in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet or on a Baking Steel griddle. If you want to cook a good burger, then don’t bother with an electric griddle (and if you need to cook burgers for a crowd, you might want to consider firing up a grill). Really, electric griddles are for making breakfast for a crowd, grilled cheese sandwiches, and not too much more.

How We Chose Our Winners

[top]

We picked our winners based on their ability to perform the core cooking tasks, while taking into consideration price as well as their size. Once we determined that electric griddles are best deployed as a brunch appliance and not much more, it was easy to eliminate expensive and bulky models. Giant, niche unitaskers are silly, especially when there are affordable models on the market that get the job done just fine.

The Best Electric Griddle: Presto Electric Tilt-n-Fold Griddle

[top]

Overhead of Presto Tilt-N-Fold griddle.

What We Liked: If you are in the market for a solid electric griddle to help step up your brunch game, then the Presto Tilt-n-Fold is a great choice. It has the largest cooking surface area of our top three models (253 square inches), solid cooking performance, and adjustable legs for easy grease runoff. It can also be easily cleaned and stored away, and it only costs around $50 (at the time of publication). That’s a great deal for an appliance that most people will probably use once a week at most.

What We Didn’t Like: The Tilt-n-Fold griddle has a cold spot at the center of the cooking surface, which means one out of every nine pancakes will be paler than the others (or take the hint and only cook eight pancakes per batch). While that isn’t ideal, it’s also not a dealbreaker for us. The legs of the Tilt-n-Fold do fold up for storage, but it still takes up more room than the more affordable Presto 22-inch griddle (see below). The faux stainless steel border on the sides of the griddle became quickly stained with grease after a couple of rounds of cooking bacon and burgers. Even after intense scrubbing, we couldn’t remove the stains, and didn’t want to risk stripping away the coating.

Grease stains on Presto Tilt-n-Fold griddle.

The Best Affordable Electric Griddle: Presto 22-Inch Electric Griddle

[top]

Overhead of Presto 22-inch griddle.

What We Liked: In terms of price, storage footprint, and simplicity, you can’t do a whole lot better than this other model from Presto, which still delivers good griddling performance. The removable handles make it really easy to clean and store in kitchen cabinets, while the textured grid-like nonstick surface keeps pancakes from scooting around too much during cooking. Stella doesn’t throw around endorsements willy-nilly, and there’s a lot she loves about this griddle.

What We Didn’t Like: The cooking surface may be great for pancakes, but it’s not so awesome for greasy bacon. The lack of a tilting mechanism means fat pools up in the center of the griddle, rendering (pun intended) the drip tray kind of useless. The textured surface makes it harder to wipe away greasy residue on the cooktop, even after washing it with soapy water.

The Griddle Upgrade: Broil King Professional Portable Nonstick Griddle

[top]

Overhead of Broil King griddle.

What We Liked: Of the griddles we tested, the Broil King had the most evenly heated cooking surface, which produced the most well-browned pancakes. Like the Presto Tilt-n-Fold, the Broil King has adjustable legs that can be set to angle the cooking surface so that grease trickles down into the removable drip tray.

What We Didn’t Like: The Broil King is nearly twice as expensive as the Presto Tilt-n-Fold, and even though it heats more evenly, we don’t feel that its performance is proportionally superior to the Tilt-n-Fold. The removable stainless steel backsplash is a nice idea, but it is flimsy, warping after a couple of uses. It also doesn’t fit snugly to the griddle and ended up scratching the nonstick coating. The handles of the Broil King make it bulkier and more difficult to store vertically in a cabinet than either of the Presto models.

Stainless steel backsplash scratching Broil King griddle.

The Unplugged Option: Lodge Reversible Cast Iron Stovetop Griddle

[top]

If pancakes, bacon, eggs, and the like are what you’re hoping to griddle, any of the electric griddles recommended here will do the job. But if you have any aspirations to put a good crust on burgers for a crowd (or steaks, or chicken, or vegetables, or, or, or…), then the electric models won’t cut it—they simply don’t get hot enough. Instead, consider a stovetop griddle like this one from Lodge, which fits over two burners. (We also are big fans of the Baking Steel Griddle, but it is quite a bit more money.)

Lodge’s griddle is reversible with a ridged grill surface on one side and a flat griddle surface on the other. We don’t love the faux grill surface, since it offers none of the benefits of grilling (except for the aesthetics of grill marks) while sacrificing the benefits of a griddle (namely, a flat surface for maximum sear and, therefore, flavor). But even if you never use the grill side, the whole thing is still a good deal.

The Competition

[top]

Here are notes on the other models we tested for this review:

  • The Wolf Gourmet Precision Electric Griddle is outrageously expensive and bulky. While it performs well, we can’t justify spending that much money on this particular piece of kitchen gear.
  • Both the Zojirushi Gourmet Sizzler and Oster Titanium Infused DuraCeramic Griddle got way too hot and burned pancakes. The Oster’s griddle design made it hard to clean, as pancake batter got lodged between the cooking surface and fixed handles. The Zojirushi model doesn’t have a drip tray for catching grease.
  • The Breville Smart Grill is one of the expensive sandwich press–style models we tested. It comes with only one griddle plate attachment (and one grill plate attachment), which means that if you want to use both cooking surfaces as a griddle, you have to shell out additional money to get a second attachment. That is asking a lot given the already-steep price tag.
  • Another sandwich press–style model on the market is the Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler. It does an absolutely miserable job at griddling; the tiny cooking surfaces never got hot enough to adequately brown pancakes. This machine should handle its main task well before it worries about tackling another four.
  • The Black+Decker Family-Sized Electric Griddle is very budget-friendly, but it heated unevenly and was difficult to clean. As with the Oster model, pieces of food can get easily lodged between the cooking surface and the base of the griddle.
  • Secura’s Electric Reversible 2-in-1 Grill Griddle heated pretty evenly, but the drip tray placement and awkward glass lid made it cumbersome to work with.

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.


Source link

Post Author: MNS Master

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 + 3 =