The extensive history of grilling food dates back in time to the age of the cavemen. No one knows for certain the when or where of this great unearthing, but the first form of this cooking method is said to have come about after the discovery of fire. Some suggest that our distinguished ancestors lucked into the revelation that putting meat on a stick over the heat of an open flame “cooked” the meat to perfection. Other anthropologists believe that these cavemen accidentally stumbled upon an animal—one that had perished in a forest fire—and scavenged the tastier meat for food.
Either way, we can be thankful for this bygone contribution to humankind’s cooking heritage. The transformation of this popular cooking method is important to our history, and grills are a quick method for preparing tasty food today. From open fire barbeque pits to household personal grills to restaurant griddles, users can’t go wrong with the convenience of this cooking equipment. That said, how is cooking different on a commercial grill vs. a griddle? We’ve compiled a general guide on the key differences to know about. Here’s what to consider.
What’s a Grill?
Universally, grills are one of the most widely known and used cookers around the globe. Within the commercial cooking industry, the term “grill” is often a double-edged sword. A classic grill generally refers to equipment that heats food from below over an open flame. A heat source—either charcoal, gas, or wood—thoroughly cooks the food that’s lying above on slatted grates.
Today’s commercial marketplace contains several assorted types of grills, each with raised ridges or bars. Some professional grills are classic “open” style with stainless metal grates and openings for direct cooking over a flamed heat source. Powerful vented hoods and fire suppression systems support indoor grilling.
Food establishments can also purchase professional grills in a safer “closed” style. These grills have a solid iron or stainless steel plate and visibly raised ridges. The purposefully ridged design allows fats, juices, and oils to drain away from the food and collect at the bottom of the grill plate.
Pros and Cons
What separates a grill from a griddle is its handy grated cooking surface. This means any grilled food items end up with a nice, seared mark. Cooking over a fire on a grill also adds a distinct flavor and smoky sensation. No other appliance can replicate it—and there’s no oil required either.
Even so, do be mindful of workplace health and safety in mind. Classic char or wood grills produce more smoke and heat compared to electric griddles, thus requiring indoor ventilation. Larger-scale restaurants or barbecue-themed eateries may go this route for superior flavor.
What’s a Griddle?
When you imagine a traditional sit-down diner, a griddle is the customary cooking method you might envision. Commercial griddles are essentially larger surface area versions of traditional hotplates. Similar to a grill, the heat source of a griddle comes from beneath the cooking surface of a metal. However, the surface is completely smooth and flat, and the fuel source usually comes from electricity instead.
Griddles transfer heat, as their broad surface area is basically a bigger frying pan without sides or handles. The chosen heat source never directly touches the food. Within the foodservice industry, you will hear griddles commonly referred to as commercial flat-top grills. Griddles are super versatile options for restaurants and food establishments that either 1) cook for a larger crowd or 2) provide quick service with an extensive menu. Most commercial griddles are made out of stainless steel for heat retention and recovery.
Pros and Cons
Due to their ability to provide consistent heat from cooking, griddles are ideal for cooking foods you wouldn’t be able to whip up on traditional grills or barbeques. While griddles miss out on those signature grill marks from chargrills, customers still receive a delightful sear on their food.
The key difference lies in consistency. The smooth griddle’s sear creates a solid layer, producing more flavor. Do keep in mind that griddles cook with dry heat. Users need to season or oil the griddle’s surface for optimum cooking. While food sticks easily, griddles are simple to clean and maintain.
Grill vs. Griddle: A Side-By-Side Comparison
Choosing between a grill vs. griddle for your food business establishment is no piece of cake—even if you are aware of their various pros and cons. Here is a more detailed comparison of the key differences to know about so you can make an informed decision.
Kitchen Space and Footprint
Commercial grills and griddles come in various shapes and sizes to suit the operations of your business establishment. Modern professional-grade grills and flat-top griddles are fairly compact. Each makes efficient use of the space they take up in a kitchen. Smaller sizes provide as much functionality as larger sizes if you have limited space—your choice truly depends on layout and production needs.
Typical Cuisine Uses
Assorted professional grills are ideal for commercial establishments that sell distinct food offerings, such as BBQ, steak, smoked ribs, etc. Traditional cuisine such as burgers, hot dogs, and chicken all cook perfectly well on classic grills or flat-top griddles. Electric griddles are ideal for cooking breakfast foods such as eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, french toast, and hash browns. Since drop-in griddles can reach higher heat, you can cook Mexican or Asian cuisines—anything from quesadillas to bulgogi.
Food Taste vs. Texture
Grilled foods have a distinct flavor, but griddled food has a crispy outside layer. Flavor and texture preferences vary, but either of these cooking options can suit the tastes of customers. That said, keeping food tender on a griddle is easier than a grill because of lower temperature options.
Purchase and Ownership Costs
When considering costs, remember a grill or griddle cooking appliance is a worthy equipment investment. Electric griddles, aka flat-top grills, make the most sense for smaller businesses due to their versatility and functionality. Select a top-quality manufacturer with high standards for the longest-lasting equipment.
Turn to DSL for innovative food service solutions. We supply top-quality products, equipment, and services for convenience stores, eateries, food service establishments, and independent businesses. DSL is a supplier of Taylor L-series grills, an industry leader in the best double-sided grills on the market. If your business can benefit from a commercial clamshell grill, browse the different models and their features on our site. Feel free to contact us with any questions—we’re here to help expand your profits for the long haul.