Nonstick skillets are perfect for smaller breakfasts, but if you need to feed a crowd (and feed them quickly), a griddle that can span two burners is the way to go. Setting goals of perfectly crisp bacon and golden-brown pancakes every time, we gathered eight models priced under $100 and headed to the stove.
The capabilities of each griddle soon became clear, with the results for both bacon and pancakes nothing short of extreme: raw to incinerated. Only two models provided consistent, even heat across the entire griddle, with no hot spots, producing golden pancakes and crispy bacon. Why did the other models produce such extreme results?
Heat distribution was the important factor. Anodized aluminum griddles heated the most quickly and evenly over the entire surface of the griddle, which translated into more evenly cooked food. Griddles made from cast iron started slowly, but then rapidly became uncontrollably hot (reaching well over 500 degrees), causing food to burn severely. Griddles made from ceramic or cast aluminum were less able to maintain a consistent heat level and produced unevenly cooked food. Lighter griddles made from anodized aluminum had the fastest cool-down time, and heavy pans made from cast iron were the slowest.
We also found other features that separated the pack. Handles matter—a lot! Flat handles made it hard to move the griddles on and off the stove and took longer to cool down. Metal handles became too hot to hold after just a few minutes of cooking. Overall, we prefer heat-resistant loop handles that remained cool throughout cooking.
Other important features included weight —griddles ranged in weight from 3 to 14 pounds, and testers found the lighter models much easier to handle. We had also assumed that a grease well would help drain off bacon fat, but we found that most grease wells were too shallow, and on one model grease overflowed, causing a dangerous fire. Finally, models with pour spouts won extra points, as did those with nonstick coatings.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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