Thinking about a getting a flat top grill? Having a flat top griddle opens up so many possibilities for easy, delicious cooking on your backyard grill.
The evenly heated cast iron surface lets you cook fragile foods without them falling through grill grates.
A flat top transforms your grill into a spacious stovetop perfect for breakfast skillets, searing steaks, crisping veggies, and other quick meals.
But investing in a standalone flat top griddle in addition to your existing grill may be overkill for some home chefs.
The good news is you can convert your current gas or charcoal grill into a griddle/grill combo station by adding a flat top griddle plate accessory.
In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of using flat top griddle plates on your existing grill and provide tips for choosing the right griddle plate for your model.
Transforming your standard grill into a more versatile cooking machine with a flat top attachment is easy and affordable!
Benefits of Adding a Flat Top to Your Grill
What good is a flat top on a grill if you dont get why its gonna actiually help you? Let’s discuss some reasons a flat top on a grill is a game changer.
A flat top griddle attachment exponentially increases what you can cook on your grill.
All the sudden delicate foods like eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, stir fry dishes, quesadillas, grilled cheeses become possible outdoors.
Not having to worry about small pieces falling through the grill grates opens up options.
Unlike grates which create hot and cool spots based on proximity to flames or coals, a flat top griddle heats evenly across the entire surface.
This lets you precisely control temperatures for things like cooking eggs gently or searing a steak.
Having an even cooking platform brings grill skill closer to stovetop cooking.
Trying to cook multiple items on a small crowded grill can be frustrating. A larger flat top surface provides ample room to cook everything at once just like on a kitchen rangetop.
The extra real estate lets you handle larger meals with less juggling.
Restaurant Style Cooking
Professional chefs rely on griddles to perform fast paced cooking in commercial kitchens.
The speedy heat conduction and slick surface lets them execute things like stir frying, smashing burgers, and sautéing vegetables rapid fire.
Adding a flat top brings professional wok and plancha technique to your backyard grilling game.
With a flat top occupying part of the grill, you can take advantage of having two separate cooking zones.
Use direct heat from flames under one side of the flat top while keeping ingredients warm on the other.
Or char meat over the flames while vegetables griddle cook. A flat top facilitates easier multitasking.
Smokeless Indoor Use
During cold winter months, you can remove a flat top griddle plate and use it indoors on your stovetop or mounts that allow use inside your oven.
This gives you a way to enjoy “grilling” year round without smoke.
Purchasing a standalone flat top griddle can cost $300 or more depending on size and features.
Adding a flat top plate to your existing grill costs much less at around $50-150 for most models.
It’s a budget friendly way to gain more cooking performance from your current equipment.
Choosing the Right Flat Top Griddle Plate for Your Grill
Understanding the benefits of a flat top griddle for your grill is essential. Now, let’s delve into selecting the perfect griddle plate for your specific barbecue setup:
Assess Your Grill’s Configuration Before Buying a Flat Top For Your Grill
For charcoal grills, opt for a flat top with a design that securely sits across the grill grate surface and has edges that inhibit sliding through the grates.
Handy handles for easy lifting on and off the grates are beneficial. The Griddle Insert for Charcoal Grills Starter Kit from Steelmade USA is tailor-made for this setup.
For gas grills, seek a cast-iron flat top that efficiently conducts and retains heat when positioned directly over burners.
Steelmade USA’s Complete Combo Flat Top for Outdoor Grill is an ideal choice for gas grills, boasting cast iron construction and designed for even heating and stability.
Ensure the flat top dimensions permit it to sit over or across a minimum of two burners for stability and uniform heating.
Determine Your Dimensions
Accurately measure the inner dimensions between your grill’s sidewalls and the front to back clearance.
Match these measurements with the stated dimensions of flat top products to confirm the plate will comfortably fit inside your model without any awkward overhang.
Allow some margin for the flat top to slide in and out while providing clearance for lifting the grill lid. However, maximize the surface area based on your grilling requirements.
Flat top sizes vary from 200 sq inches for smaller grills to over 800 sq inches for larger cookers.
Select Your Materials
Cast iron is renowned for its superb heat retention and durability as a robust material that forms a natural patina over time.
Carbon steel offers a rapid heat response but requires periodic reseasoning and is more susceptible to warping at extremely high temperatures.
Hybrid materials, such as aluminum or stainless steel bonded to steel bases, heat up faster than cast iron alone but may be less resilient under frequent use.
Evaluate Design Features
Lipped edges stop foods from slipping off the sides. Seasoned surfaces or nonstick coatings facilitate easy cleanup.
Handles or cutouts simplify the removal and replacement of the griddle. Grease drain cutouts enable you to dispose of excess grease without removing the plate.
Raised side backplates prevent rendered grease from reaching the burner tubes.
With a suitably sized and designed flat top for your specific grill, you can maximize the potential of this multifunctional cooking accessory.
Now, let’s examine how to effectively use griddle plates once installed.
Bottomline: Elevate your grilling experience with Steelmade USA griddle tops. Whether you own a charcoal or gas grill, Steelmade USA has the perfect griddle top for you. Explore the Complete Combo Flat Top for Outdoor Grill and the Griddle Insert for Charcoal Grills Starter Kit now!
Tips for Cooking on Flat Top With A Flat Top On A Grill
Once you equip your gas or charcoal grill with a quality flat top griddle plate, you’ll gain an incredibly useful tool for grilling, searing, sautéing, and more.
Here are some top tips for making the most of your new flat top setup:
Season Properly Vegetable oil helps create a slick patina. Rub thin layers of oil over the entire griddle surface using a cloth, then run through preheating cycles until it develops a dark sheen. This nonstick surface facilitates cooking.
Use Grill Side Burners If your gas grill has dedicated side burners, use them to heat your flat top rather than main grill burners.
This prevents grease drips from landing directly on gas tubes under the griddle and clogging jets. Side burners are designed to handle pots and pans.
Always preheat your flat top slowly, especially cast iron models. Sudden temp spikes can damage cast iron. Let it warm up gradually to avoid cracking or warping.
Manage Heat Zones Recognize parts of the flat top directly over burners will be hotter. Shift foods around to account for these heat zones. Move items that need more sear directly over burners.
Excess grease can be managed by using a spatula to push it into a drain cutout or catch with a drip tray lining the grates under the flat top. Or carefully tilt the plate when cool to pour it out.
Allow Ventilation Leave the grill lid open when cooking solely on the flat top to allow heat and moisture to dissipate rather than getting trapped, causing steam burns. Close lid when combining flat top and grill grates cooking.
Use Metal Tools Wood or plastic utensils won’t cut it on the slick flat top surface. Use metal spatulas, tongs, foil tents, and smash presses to properly manipulate and lift food.
Clean Promptly Allow the flat top to cool completely when finished cooking, then scrape away any debris and wipe down with an oil-dampened cloth. Don’t allow burnt on residue to stick.
Now let’s highlight some of the fabulous recipes and cooking techniques you can execute using your grill’s flat top griddle accessory.
Grilling Recipes to Make With A Flat Top On A Grill
Here are just some of the many dishes you can prepare using your handy new flat top griddle plate:
Breakfast and Brunch
- Pancakes, french toast, waffles – use grill side burners for even temperature control.
- Breakfast tacos and burritos filled with eggs, potatoes, bacon
- Skillet potatoes and onions, hashbrowns
- Eggs any style – over easy, scrambled, omelets
- Crepes and blintzes – take advantage of large cooking surface
- Breakfast pizzas – flat top prevents sliding through grates
Lunch and Dinner
- Hamburgers and smashburgers – use press to maximize sear
- Paninis and grilled cheese sandwiches
- Quesadillas, burritos – flip easier on flat surfaces
- Fajitas – take advantage of flat top heat to sear meats and peppers
- Philly cheesesteaks
- Stir fry – mimic wok cooking on the flat top
- Paella – ideal for one-pan rice dishes
- Seafood – fish, scallops, shrimp
- Veggie plates – peppers, onions, zucchini, squash
- Skewered meats – flatten them out on the flat top
Having that spacious flat grillable area opens up so many quick and easy lunch and dinner possibilities!
Don’t forget about whipping up sweet treats on your flat top:
- Quesadillas with fruit fillings
- Grilled pound cake with fruit toppings
- Smores using griddle as substitute for campfire
With the right flat top griddle plate securely installed, your grill now functions as a versatile outdoor cooking station able to handle breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
Cleaning and Care Tips for Flat Top Plates
Keeping your flat top griddle plate properly cleaned and maintained ensures it cooks evenly for years and develops a nice seasoning coat over time. Follow these tips:
- Always let the flat top cool completely before cleaning to avoid warping or cracking cast iron.
- Use a plastic or metal spatula to scrape away grease drippings and leftover food debris after each use once cooled.
- Wipe down with a cloth dampened with vegetable oil to condition the surface while removing remaining debris.
- For burnt on residue, use coarse salt as an abrasive rub followed by an oil wipe down.
- Reseason occasionally by oiling the entire surface and running through preheating cycles until slick.
- Avoid using soap or abrasive cleaners which can strip away protective seasoning.
- Allow cast iron to fully dry before storing to prevent rusting. Rub with oil if storing longer term.
- Ensure flat top plate rests securely level within grill to prevent warping from improper heat exposure.
With minimal care, your flat top griddle accessory will deliver even, efficient cooking performance every time you grill.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking on Flat Tops
If you’re new to flat top cooking, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
What’s better, a griddle or flat top?
Griddles allow grease to drain away while flat tops pool it. Griddles maintain more consistent temps using thermostats. Flat tops offer larger even cooking areas uninterrupted by grease cutouts.
Can you use a flat top on gas or charcoal grills?
Yes, flat tops are designed for use on either gas or charcoal grills. Charcoal will produce more intense heat you’ll have to regulate.
What’s the benefit of a flat top vs grill grates?
Flat tops allow smaller delicate foods to cook evenly without falling through grates. They mimic stove and griddle cooking, just outdoors.
Is it okay to use both grill grates and flat top at once?
Absolutely. Take advantage of the dual cooking zones – sear meats directly over the flames while veggies or sides cook on the flat top. Close lid to distribute heat.
Should I close the grill lid when flat top cooking?
Keep the lid open when cooking exclusively on the flat top to prevent moisture and grease from accumulating underneath. Close the lid if also using grill grates to allow even heat convection.
Adding a flat top griddle plate accessory frees you to cook almost anything on your grill from pancakes to stir fry. With better temperature control and more space, flat tops bring grill versatility to the next level.
Give your grill grates a break! A flat top opens up so many new quick, easy recipes for homemade outdoor meals.