I was pondering making my own built-in griddle station in my backyard. However, it can be a big task. After some research, I have found most of the reasonable options to make your own griddle station built-in.
If you’ve recently invested in a regular grill, and you’re now starting to see why griddles are so popular, then we feel for you. But you might not have the money or the motivation to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on a griddle after you’ve just picked up a grill.
Even if you’ve had your grill for a while and you probably should upgrade anyway, it’s still worth reading this handy guide to see if you can do a little DIY to create a griddle of your own.
Don’t worry, we’ll include several suggestions that range in DIY skill level from none-at-all to expert, so no matter your skills, there should be something below that you can try out.
Buy A Griddle Plate
This is probably as easy as it’s going to get for a DIY griddle out of a grill. You have the grill already, so all you really need to turn it into a griddle is a griddle plate.
Buy one that you know will fit on your size grill (you can usually pick up griddle plates for around $50 or so), and Voila, you have a griddle. You can continue to make use of your grill too this way, so essentially you’ll have both which sounds pretty awesome.
Just attach some handles of your own to the griddle plate you’ve picked up if it doesn’t have any already for moving it around easily and you won’t need to do much else.
The problem with this method is that certain areas might reach different temperatures, given that you don’t have direct burners just beneath the griddle surface as you would do with an ordinary griddle, but if you can get used to which sections need more time to cook and which sections need less, then there really shouldn’t be a problem.
Your grill surface should be pretty flat anyway, so you shouldn’t have to worry about making the griddle plate surface even either. If it’s slightly off, just reposition the griddle until you find one that works a little better. It couldn’t be simpler.
Use Sheet Metal and Fab Your own
If you like the idea of just having a griddle attachment for your grill, but you don’t want to ‘cheat’ by picking up a griddle plate already, then you can make one yourself pretty easily, and it’ll be cheaper too.
You’ll need sheet metal that will fit your grill, of course, but you can pick up HR Steel sheet metal that’s around a quarter inch thick and 14 x 16 inches for around $30. Not bad considering the price of a griddle plate.
Bear in mind that sheet metal wasn’t designed for cooking on, so you will need to take some precautions to make sure it’s safe, so make sure you don’t skip these steps below.
First, soak it in a vinegar mixture for around 12 hours. This will remove any contamination and ensure that it’s thoroughly sanitized, whilst also starting the process of getting it ready to be used for cooking with.
Afterwards, you could give it a good wash with some dish soap and hot water. This will remove the vinegary smell, but also adds an additional step of cleanliness. After that, let it dry, because you’ll need to season it as you would do any other griddle top.
Put it in a hot oven with a light covering of oil, increasing the temperature steadily as you apply another thin layer. You’ll need to do this around 3 times, starting at about 200 degrees and rising to as hot as your oven can go. This will season your steel sheet metal, making it non-stick and suitable for cooking on.
This suggestion requires a little more DIY because you need to prep the sheet metal before use, and depending on the size of the metal you buy, you might need to cut it down to size too.
As with anything DIY, make sure you’re confident with what you’re going to do before you start, and you shouldn’t run into any problems.
Look For A Griddle Plate Attachment For Your Grill Model
Another ‘cheat’ way here, because hey, whoever said DIY needed to be complicated? If it’s a griddle you want, then simply look for an attachment that will fit your grill.
So many models nowadays provide a griddle top attachment anyway, because they know how sought after griddles are. If they don’t though, look for a generic brand of griddle plate attachments that are specifically designed to fit a range of grill sizes.
After that it’ll just be a case of throwing it on top of your grill like you would do in the previous two examples, and then you’ve got yourself a griddle.
This might be the most expensive option of the lot, but convenience is something you’ll always pay for, so just be prepared for that. It’s not so much Do-It-Yourself as it is Have-It-Done-For-You, but some people prefer to spend their weekends relaxing, and this is certainly the best way to do that! For me, I hate paying for things I can figure out on my own.
The folks over at Steelmade USA make some really nice griddle plates to add to your existing grill. It’s a perfect balance of getting that griddle fix in without buying an entirely new unit.
Build Your Own Griddle
From one extreme to the other now, because just as there are some of you who would prefer to pay a little more to work a little less, there are those of you skilled enough at DIY that you won’t need to pay anybody to build anything for you, because you’re capable of making a griddle of your own from scratch, all by yourself.
Now there’s a range of options available to you, so we couldn’t detail all of them here, but what we can do is point you in the right direction by making some suggestions and giving you some things to mull over.
The first thing you need to think about are the burners. Easily the hardest thing about a griddle to make yourself, but even if you’re willing to buy these, you’ll still need to think about the type of burner you want.
U shape? H shape? Flat bar? It’s worth considering. U shaped seem to be the most favored amongst those who have built a griddle for themselves because it allows for better zone control, but it’s still a choice you’ll have to make for yourself.
You’ll also need to be careful whilst positioning them below the griddle top, as the flames shouldn’t necessarily be roaring beneath the surface, you’ll want around a 1/4 inch gap between the griddle top and the burner when the flames are on high.
Next you need to consider the material you’ll make the griddle out of. Stainless steel or something similar is preferable to aluminium, as steel generally performs better at high temperatures.
You’ll also need to think about manipulating the metal to create a splashguard around the back and sides, around 4 inches ought to do it. Don’t forget to think about leaving a hole at the rear or front and fashioning a drip tray to control the oils and fats whilst cooking so you can dispose of them properly.
You’ll need to research the electrical side of things, and if there’s anything you’re unsure about, then seeking professional help is a must. It can be dangerous whilst doing DIY jobs to overshoot your abilities, so just be honest about what you know and what you’re capable of, and consult people with more experience if you require it.
Any griddle you build should be seasoned too, to give it a longer lifespan, and a nonstick cooking surface, just as with the other suggestions in this post.
There are many options available to you for building your own griddle, from a quick attachment right the way through to building it from scratch, so whatever you choose, make sure you do some additional research and think carefully about which is best for you based on your personal budget, DIY skills, and know-how. But a DIY griddle done right can be just as good as one bought from a manufacturer!