Instead of buying another gas grill, consider getting one of the best flat-top grills. A flat-top grill is essentially a large outdoor griddle. You can quickly prepare your favorite foods, from eggs to hamburgers.
So, how do you choose the right flat top grill? Use the following buyer’s guide to learn more about the most important features and compare the top 8 recommendations for the best flat top grill.
What is a Flat Top Grill?
A flat-top grill is a cooking appliance that combines many of the features of the typical gas grill with the flat top cooking surface found on griddles.
As with gas grills, flat grill tops are often available on carts or stands. You can also find tabletop options that use small propane cylinders.
Owning a flat top grill allows you to enjoy the benefits of both gas grills and griddles. These devices heat up quickly and can achieve very high temperatures.
However, unlike a standard grill, a flattop has a flat cooking surface, which is perfect for preparing eggs, pancakes, and other breakfast foods.
Yet, a flat top grill is also great for cooking non-breakfast items. You can cook hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, and more. You can also easily sear or warm vegetables.
A flat-top grill is a versatile appliance thanks to its flat cooking surface. Oils and grease remain on the surface instead of dripping through a grill grate. This helps give food a charred texture and a smoky flavor.
Flat top grills can also achieve high temperatures. You can spend less time cooking and more time eating or entertaining your guests.
How to Choose the Best Flat Top Grill
Flat top grills are available in many sizes and designs. Here are the details you need to look at as you compare options:
- Heat source
- BTUs/Max temperature
- Tabletop vs cart
- Bundles and accessories
When comparing these features, think about how you intend to use the flat top grill. The number of people that you plan to cook for and the location where you plan to cook may impact your buying decision.
Flat top grills are often larger compared to indoor electric griddles. However, they also come in a variety of sizes.
Manufacturers typically use the width of the cooking surface to describe the size. For example, a 36-inch griddle has a cooking surface that measures 36 inches wide.
The product listing may also include the total square inches of the cooking surface, which is a more useful way to evaluate the size of the flat top grill. Sizes range from about 200 square inches to over 800 square inches.
The total square inches of the flat top grill can help you determine the ideal BTUs and amount of food you can cook at once.
300 to 500 square inches is recommended for the typical four-person or five-person household. If you host large parties or gatherings, look for larger flat-top grills.
Flat top grills typically have one to six burners. The number of burners largely depends on the size of the griddle. For example, a 20-inch griddle may use one or two burners while a 36-inch griddle may use four burners.
The main benefit of having more than one burner is gaining separate heat zones. As with a stovetop, you can adjust the temperature of each burner independently. You can cook one group of foods in one area and another group of foods in another area.
Flat top grills are traditionally gas-powered. You attach a propane tank to the side of the grill to supply power to the heating elements. Some griddles are also compatible with converters for connecting a permanent natural gas line.
While most flat-top grills use gas, you can also find electric options. For example, the E-Series line of grills from Blackstone Products is electrical-powered.
Electric-powered flattops are easier to operate. You can set the temperature to a specific degree instead of increasing or decreasing the gas flame. However, gas-powered grills can achieve higher temperatures.
Gas-powered flat top grills also tend to heat faster. The main drawback is replacing the propane.
Instead of listing the maximum temperature, manufacturers often list the max BTUs of the flat top grill. British Thermal Units (BTUs) measure the amount of thermal energy produced by an appliance.
Most flat top grills offer 7,500 to 15,000 BTUs per heating element. For example, a grill with four burners may offer up to 60,000 BTUs.
More BTUs allow a flat top grill to heat quickly and maintain its temperature. A lower maximum BTU requires you to wait longer for the flattop to heat. It may also fail to reach as high of temperatures.
With a 12,500 to 15,000 BTU flat top grill, you can likely achieve maximum temperatures of at least 550-degrees Fahrenheit.
Tabletop vs Cart
Flat Top grills often come in one of two configurations – tabletop or dedicated. A dedicated flat top grill sits on a cart or stand. A tabletop grill needs to rest on a tabletop or counter.
A tabletop grill is convenient for cooking away from your house, such as during a camping trip or an afternoon at a local park. You can easily pack the tabletop flat top grill and a small propane canister into your vehicle or camping gear.
Flat Top grills with carts or stands are mostly intended for use in your yard. The carts often have two or four wheels. You can roll the cart into the right spot in your yard and wheel it back inside or onto a covered porch.
Carts typically include one or two side shelves. The shelves may include hooks for trash bags or a paper towel holder. You can also find carts with lower shelves or cabinets, which may provide a spot for storing a larger propane tank.
Most flat top grills are made with stainless steel cooking surfaces. The most durable options feature cold-rolled or cold-pressed steel.
Cold rolling the steel increases the density and strength of the metal. It also helps eliminate any imperfections, ensuring a completely flat surface.
Other materials used for the cooking surface include aluminum, carbon steel, chrome, and cast iron. Cast iron is less common, due to its weight. However, it is a durable material that retains heat well.
Carbon steel and aluminum are less durable compared to stainless steel and cast iron. You are more likely to find carbon steel and aluminum flattops on cheaper models.
Also, the newest Pit Boss Ultimate Flat Top Grill has a really cool ceramic cooking surface that comes naturally “non-stick”.
Bundles and Accessories
Flat Top grills are available in bundles and with a variety of accessories. Common accessories include cooking utensils, such as spatulas and knives.
You may also receive cleaning gear, such as a tool for removing grease after cooking.
Some of the cheaper flat top gas grills come with dozens of accessories, including many items that you may never use.
Instead of focusing on the accessories, pay attention to the features that matter most to you. Almost any of the accessories that come bundled with a grill are available for purchase.
You can expect to spend a little more on a flat top gas grill compared to a small household electric griddle. Flat Top grills are comparable in price to standard gas grills, with an average price between $200 and $1200.
Best Flat Top Grills
Based on the features discussed, here are 8 of the best flat-top grills.
1. Blackstone 36-Inch Cooking Station with 4 Burners
The Blackstone 36-Inch Cooking Station stands out as one of the best flat-top grills due to its large cooking surface and powerful heating elements. It includes four burners with a total of 60,000 BTUs of power.
The stainless-steel flat top has a surface area of 720 square inches. It is large enough to fit up to 28 hamburgers or up to 72 hot dogs. You can easily feed a group of 20 people with this large flat top grill from Blackstone.
Blackstone is also one of the most trusted brands of flat top grills. The company produces reliable products that can stand the test of time with proper maintenance and care.
The grill sits on a large cart with wheels. The legs fold up, but the heavy griddle is still difficult to transport. It is mostly intended for use in your backyard. You can wheel it around and then lock the wheels to keep it from moving.
The cart also includes two side shelves. One shelf includes a removable cutting board, trash bag holder, and paper towel holder. A lower shelf below the griddle is large enough to hold a 15-pound to 20-pound propane tank.
- The cooking area measure 720 square inches
- The cart includes shelves and a cutting board
- The grill has four separate burners with 60,000 BTUs of total power
- The cart is not easy to transport to other locations
2. Royal Gourmet GD401C 4-Burner Portable Flattop Gas Grill and Griddle Combo
The Royal Gourmet 4-Burner Flattop Combo is close to the same size as the Blackstone flat top grill. However, the surface is separated into two portions. It includes a griddle surface on one side and a grill grate on the other.
The grill and griddle each have two individual burners with independent heat control. Each side also has 292 square inches of cooking space, for a total of 584 total square inches.
The cart includes two folding shelves on the sides and a lower rack for hanging utensils and cleaning equipment.
The interior of the unit includes a grease management system and a drip tray. You can easily remove the tray and dump the grease for easier cleanup.
- Includes a grill and a griddle in one unit
- Sits on a cart with rolling wheels and shelves
- Offers a total of 584 square inches of cooking space
- The grill/griddle combo may not appeal to everyone
3. Blackstone Adventure-Ready 2-Burner 28-Inch Outdoor Griddle
The Blackstone Adventure-Ready 2-Burner 28-Inch Outdoor Griddle is a little more portable compared to the previous options. The legs fold for easier storage and include two wheels, allowing you to wheel the grill around your yard or campsite.
This Blackstone Flat Top Grill has a 28-inch flattop and is made from stainless steel and has 448 square inches of cooking area. It can hold up to 44 hot dogs. The two burners have separate heat control knobs and 34,000 BTUs of total power.
The cart has one side shelf and a lower shelf. It also includes hooks for hanging trash bags or utensils.
- The folding legs make it easier to transport
- Includes 448 square inches of cooking area
- Features durable, high-quality construction
- The lower shelf cannot support much weight
4. CAMPLUX Outdoor Gas Griddle Combo
The CAMPLUX Outdoor Gas Griddle Combo is a versatile, portable appliance. It has a removable flat top surface that sits over a grill grate.
The compact design limits the cooking area but makes this grill easier to move or pack up and take camping. The legs and shelves are removable. It also has two side shelves and a lower shelf. The lower shelf is sturdy enough to support the propane tank.
The cooking area of the grill grate is 190 square inches while the griddle top is 179 square inches. The smaller size may not work well for a large group but should offer enough space for four to six hamburgers or a dozen hotdogs.
- Includes a removable flat top surface and a grill grate
- The legs and shelves are removable for easier storage
- Relatively affordable compared to other freestanding flat top grills
- The hot-rolled stainless steel is not as durable as previous recommendations
5. Blackstone 17-Inch Tabletop Griddle
While the previous options include carts with legs and wheels, the Blackstone 17-Inch Griddle has a tabletop design. This Blackstone Flat Top Grill is easier to take with you during a camping trip or a cookout at a local park. It uses one-pound propane canisters, which are also compact and easy to store.
The flat top surface is heated by a single heating element with 12,500 BTUs of power. It heats quickly and does not have any cold spots. It is a reliable, compact flat top grill that should last a long time with frequent cleanings.
The compact design measures just 17.32 x 21.71 x 8.62 inches and weighs 5 pounds. It also has sturdy feet for resting it on the ground instead of a table.
- The tabletop design is easy to store and transport
- Offers 267 square inches of cooking space
- The single burner produces 12,500 BTUs of heat
- Requires an extension hose to connect a large propane tank
6. Cuisinart CGG-501 Gourmet Gas Griddle
The Cuisinart CGG-501 Gourmet Gas Griddle is comparable to the Blackstone 17-Inch Griddle. It has a tabletop design and measures about 21 inches wide. It also has 285 square inches of cooking space on a cold-rolled stainless-steel surface.
However, the Cuisinart model comes with a built-in hose for connecting a 20-pound propane tank. As a 1-pound tank only lasts about 2 hours, a 20-pound tank allows you to cook for much longer.
The Cuisinart griddle also has two burners instead of one. Each burner has 10,000 BTUs of power. This is another convenient option for camping. However, it may take slightly longer to heat the heating surface compared to the Blackstone tabletop griddle.
- Includes two burners in a compact tabletop design
- Includes a built-in hose for connecting a 20-pound propane tank
- Easy to take with you on a camping trip
- It may take longer to heat the cooking surface
7. Flame King Flat Top Portable Propane Grill/Griddle
The Flame King Flat Top Portable Propane Grill/Griddle is another tabletop flat top grill. However, it comes with a lightweight folding stand. You can remove the stand and use the grill on a flat surface or extend the stand to use it on the ground.
The stand is also designed for mounting on the side of an RV, making it one of the more versatile options.
The griddle has a single burner with 12,000 BTUs of power. It also has a slide-out drip tray for collecting grease. However, with just under 300 square inches of cooking area, this grill is best suited for cooking for small groups.
- Includes a folding/removable stand that also mounts on an RV
- Offers up to 12,000 BTUs of power from the single burner
- Includes a grease tray for collecting grease and making cleanup easier
- Offers less cooking area compared to most of the recommendations
8. Royal Gourmet PD1202R 18-Inch Portable Tabletop Grill/Griddle
The Royal Gourmet PD1202R 18-Inch Portable Flattop Grill is the best budget choice. It costs significantly less compared to the other grills.
However, this is not the most durable option. You need to clean the flat top surface carefully to prevent rusting and treat the grill with care to protect the porcelain exterior.
The flat top surface has a cooking area of 221 square inches, which makes it one of the smallest choices. It uses a single burner with 12,000 BTUs of power, which should allow the surface to heat quickly.
- One of the most affordable flat top grills
- Takes up minimal space, making it easy to transport
- Includes a slide-out grease tray
- Requires extra care to prevent rust and damage
Flat Top Grill FAQ
People have lots of questions about flat top grills, so let’s sort out some of those now.
How To Clean a Flat Top Grill?
Cleaning a flat top grill is pretty straightforward. It involves scraping off food and grease to be disposed of, then using the heat of the flat top to boil off and sanitize the surface. Finally, adding a very thin layer of oil to keep it fresh before you put it away. Full breakdown can be found here.
How To Season a Flat Top Grill?
Seasoning is a very important process and if you have a steel griddle top (or cast iron) this step can make or break your flat top grill cooking experience. Read our full guide here. Oh, and dont use bacon.
What Can You Cook on a Flat Top Grill?
EVERYTHING! No seriously, you can cook it all from eggs, bacon and biscuits (at the same time) to a American-asian take on fried rice, or steaks smashburgers and more. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Oh, and did I forget to mention PIZZA? Read more ideas here.
How Do You Clean a Rusted Flat Top Grill?
Rust is a flat top grill (or griddles) worst nightmare. It can be fixed, but its not fun. The best way to avoid rust is to make sure you clean and season your flat top grill after each use. But, if you need to clean rust off, here is our guide to removing rust from a flat top grill.
Oh and if you never want to deal with rust, grab a PK Grill, they are made in America and dont rust, ever! Read more here on PK Grills.
Flat Top grills are available to fit any budget or space. You can choose from small table top flat top grills and large standing units with carts or legs.
If you want a large cooking surface for your backyard, go with one of the flat top grills with a cart or stand. You can use it as you would a standard grill with the added benefit of being able to cook eggs, pancakes, and other breakfast foods.
If you prefer a grill that you can take camping or to a park, choose one of the tabletop models. The tabletop design is more portable.
Yet, the most important feature is the size of the cooking surface. Think about the number of people that you plan on cooking for to choose a flat top grill that can meet your needs.
Either way, enjoy whatever you buy and go find the best flat top grill recipes to get your first meal fired up!