Making brunch is a cinch with a stovetop griddle. Which model is best?
How We Tested
When we're cooking for a crowd, we love using our favorite electric griddle, the BroilKing Professional Griddle with Backsplash. But it's quite large, making it a less appealing option for cooks with limited storage or counter space. Stovetop griddles are more compact and easy to store and still give you the extra cooking surface you need to make lots of pancakes, eggs, bacon, grilled cheese, and even steaks or burgers on top of your range in relatively few batches. Since we last reviewed these griddles, our winner and several other models were redesigned or discontinued. So we put eight new models, priced from about $44 to about $230, to the test, using them to cook pancakes, eggs over easy, and big pub burgers. For this review, we chose models designed to straddle two burners, since single-burner griddles don't offer much of a size advantage over our favorite skillets.
All the griddles performed well during testing, browning pancakes evenly, cooking eggs consistently, and searing the burgers respectably. But a few factors made some models more durable and easier to use, clean, and maintain than others.
Not surprisingly, since we use these griddles to cook large batches of food, we liked models that gave us as much space as possible to cook on, preferring those that had a usable surface area of at least 160 square inches. More specifically, we preferred griddles with cooking surfaces that were fairly wide. Models less than 9.25 inches wide were a bit too narrow, requiring us to stagger and squeeze in just six pancakes at a time instead of the eight we could make on wider griddles.
Models with Walls Limit Flare-Ups
Many of the models had walls on their sides that rose up at least an inch above the cooking surface. While these walls occasionally got in the way when we flipped pancakes or eggs, they proved their value when we seared burgers, helping contain any grease that was released. Griddles with no walls allowed that grease to spatter or flow over their edges—even when the models had dedicated grease troughs—causing dangerous flare-ups as the fat hit the flame.
As a result, we much preferred models with walls. Although those walls didn't entirely prevent flare-ups, they significantly decreased their frequency. The higher the walls, the better the protection; a height of 1 inch or more was best.
We Prefer Discrete Metal Handles
We also liked griddles with handles that extended up and out from the cooking surface; they were easier to grab and lift than griddles with flat handles that were simply cut out of the base. The handles of one griddle were coated with silicone, which melted a little during a flare-up; as a result, we concluded that uncoated metal was best.
Consider the Type of Metal
The type of metal from which the griddles were made was important. Most of the griddles in our lineup were made from either hard-anodized or cast aluminum, usually with a nonstick coating on the interior. Aluminum conducts heat very well, so it takes relatively little time for the cooking surface to come up to temperature—between 1½ and 3 minutes to reach 350 degrees on medium heat, depending on the thickness of the griddle. By contrast, models made from less-conductive carbon steel and cast iron took a bit longer—between 3½ and 6 minutes. Because they retain that heat so much better than the aluminum models, the carbon-steel and cast-iron models did a beautiful job of searing the burgers, forming thicker, more deeply browned crusts than those made on the other models. That heat retention has a downside, though; it took 16 to 24 minutes for these models to cool down enough for us to move them off the stovetop and clean them, compared to just 7 to 14 minutes for the aluminum models. While you might not get quite as thick a crust on an aluminum griddle, you can still get a respectable sear without having to wait as long for the griddle to heat up or cool down.
The carbon-steel and cast-iron griddles had a few other issues. They are noticeably heavier than aluminum models of comparable size; weighing between 8 and 14 pounds, they were cumbersome to lift. The aluminum models weighed just 3 to 6 pounds, making them much more maneuverable. Traditional carbon steel and cast iron also require more care in order to maintain and develop the seasoning that makes them nonstick; while the models we tested came preseasoned, they weren't totally nonstick at first, so sometimes eggs and burgers stuck to their surfaces, requiring extra scrubbing and consequently extra maintenance to touch up their seasoning. The aluminum models were slick and nonstick from the start and stayed that way, requiring no maintenance and proving a breeze to clean.
In theory, cast iron and carbon steel are more durable than aluminum. But although the two cast-iron models were, in fact, seemingly impervious to damage, the carbon-steel model warped. We saw no such issues with any of the aluminum models, and no model of any material was damaged when we scratched the surface of each with a metal spatula 25 times. There are two caveats to using hard-anodized aluminum models. One is that because they're made of aluminum, they won't work on induction cooktops. In addition, you may want to exercise caution when using them over high heat, as certain models have nonstick coatings that contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which can break down and release toxic fumes at high temperatures.
The Best Stovetop Griddle: Calphalon Classic Nonstick Double Griddle Pan
In the end, our favorite stovetop griddle is the Calphalon Classic Nonstick Double Griddle Pan. A rimmed, nonstick hard-anodized aluminum model weighing just over 3 pounds, it heats up and cools down quickly and is easy to pick up, thanks to metal handles that extend up from the griddle. Although it doesn't sear meat as deeply as cast-iron or carbon-steel models do, it still browned the burgers very nicely and cooked other foods evenly. It has one of the largest usable griddle surfaces, providing a spacious, flat 177 square inches on which to cook.
We tested eight stovetop griddles, priced from about $44 to about $230, using them at different heat levels to cook pancakes, eggs over easy, and pub burgers. We then evaluated the models on performance, ease of use, cleanup and maintenance, and durability. All models were purchased online and appear in order of preference.
Performance: We evaluated how evenly the griddles cooked pancakes and eggs and how well they seared burgers.
Ease of Use: We evaluated how easy it was to lift the griddles, to maneuver different foods and utensils within the griddles while cooking, and to avoid flare-ups. We also rated how quickly the griddles heated up and cooled down and how large the cooking surfaces of the griddles were.
Cleanup/Maintenance: We evaluated how easy the griddles were to clean and how much maintenance was required after use.
Durability: We evaluated how well the griddles withstood damage.