What You Need to Know About Cooking on a Flat Top Grill

Cooking on a flat top grill is different from cooking on your kitchen stove or a charcoal grill, and that means that different rules apply.

Here’s what you need to know to master flat top grill cooking:

Don’t preheat on high.

Not only is preheating on the “high” heat setting unnecessary, it can also cause the griddle to warp. Instead, just start the grill a few minutes earlier and preheat on low or medium-low while you’re prepping your other ingredients.

Clean the griddle as you go with a scraper.

As a griddle owner there are 2 very important utensils: a spatula and a scraper. A spatula is essential for mixing, flipping, and moving foods, and a bench scraper is essential for everything else… including cleaning your grill.

As you cook, use the scraper to “scrape” the grill surface starting at the top (farthest away from you) and moving towards the grease trough. By scraping the grill as you go, after you’re done cooking each food or when you move your food to a different part of the grill, you are helping prevent the food from sticking and it makes it easier to clean your gas griddle when you’re done.

Oil your gas griddle surface after every cook.

Oiling the griddle after every use is a good practice to help maintain the griddle top. Keep in mind that applying a thin coat of oil is different than seasoning the griddle.

Once the griddle is clean and dry, and while the surface is still warm, you should add a thin coat of oil with a paper towel and rub it all over the surface. This helps to prevent rusting.

Don’t rely on your heat setting knobs or thermometer.

Cooking on a flat top grill isn’t like baking a cake in your oven. It’s not like an oven where you are baking at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Instead, you have to learn to gauge the temperature of your flat top grill, and whether it is too hot or too cold, by how your food reacts.

If you put a pad of butter on your griddle top to make scrambled eggs, and it immediately starts to burn and turn a brownish color, then your grill is too hot. You need to turn your knobs to a lower setting before putting your eggs on. On the other hand, if your butter doesn’t start to bubble and melt immediately when you add it to the grill, then your flat top grill is probably too cold.

If you really don’t feel comfortable not knowing the temperature of your griddle surface, you can invest in an instant read thermometer which will give you an accurate temp reading. However, as you’re cooking on the flat top grill, your griddle surface temp will fluctuate dramatically as you add colder foods and as those colder items come up to temp.

Don’t be surprised if you have to adjust the knobs on your flat top multiple times when cooking a large amount of food.

Don’t be afraid to put a pot or pan on your griddle surface.

The flat top grill is incredibly versatile, but you may think that you’re limited to just using the actual griddle top for cooking your food. In fact, you can make sauces, broths, or other more liquid foods by setting a pot or pan directly on the surface of your flat top.

No need to run between the kitchen stove and your back deck you can do it all on your flat top grill!

Now if you plan on heating a larger amount of liquid, we suggest pre-heating it in a sauce pan or pot on your kitchen stove first before cooking it on the grill, to save you some time. You can also preheat your skillet or pot (without any food in it) on your stove first to bring the temperature of the skillet up to save time.

Create a two-zone system.

You can create two different heat zones on your flat top grill, just like you would a charcoal grill. The benefit of doing so is that when certain foods are done cooking, you can slide them over to the cooler area on your grill to keep them warm while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Also, different foods will cook at different temperatures, so a two-zone system is great for cooking an entire meal (meat, sides, sauces, etc) at one time.

Turn off your flat top grill a few minutes before your food is done.

This flat top grill tip may seem counter-intuitive, but turning off the grill a few minutes before your food is done cooking can actually make the cleaning the flat top grill easier. There is so much residual heat on your griddle surface that your food will continue to cook even after turning the knobs off, and by cutting off the heat early, you reduce the risk of leftover sauces and food debris burning on to your griddle surface.

Just be sure to probe your meat if you’re cooking poultry or pork to be sure that it has reached the proper internal temp before removing it from the griddle.