Griddles are a type of cooking surface that is essential to almost every kitchen and are used in homes and restaurants worldwide. Because they are able to handle high heat, griddles are often used over an open fire in hunting camps and family camping trips. The more modern-day electric griddle can be used for cooking any type of flat-food item.
Early griddles were made of flat rocks used to cook flatbreads over an open fire. Many early wood-cook stoves incorporated a "griddle" eye into the cook surface. Some brands of home-stove cooktops have optional griddle eyes or offer a drop-in replacement for one or more eyes of the cooktop.
Griddles are used wherever high heat is needed and the item being cooked is relatively flat. Pancakes, tortillas, French toast and eggs are favourite griddle cooking items. Grilled cheese, Reuben and hamburgers are a few of the many types of sandwiches cooked on griddles. Large griddles are used in Asian cooking, with teppan-style cooking using griddles that can be 8 feet in length, and Mongolian cooking, where the large circular griddle can be 36 inches or larger in diameter.
Industrial or commercial griddles are made of steel or aluminium. Home griddles can be made of steel, aluminium or, more often, cast iron. They can be round, square or rectangular in shape. Electric griddles for home use are made of Teflon-coated aluminium. Soapstone griddles were once prized for their natural non-stick properties but are rarely found today. Many cultures still use rock, stone or clay griddles for outside cooking, such as the Budare found in Latin America.
Most griddles in use are easily recognised by their flat surface and many have two sides. One side is flat, while the other has raised "grill" lines to give food the appearance of cooking over an open-flame grill. Some griddles have depressed ridges that allow grease to flow away from the food being cooked to a trench around the outside edge.
Industrial griddles are generally heated by gas, propane or electricity. They can range in size from 2 feet to more than 8 feet in length. Home griddles are electric or fit over one or more eyes of a kitchen stove.
While most foods that can be cooked on a griddle can also be cooked in a skillet, the griddle has the advantage of being able to cook more than one item at a time. Several sandwiches, pancakes or bacon and eggs can be fixed to feed several people at once, with only one pan to clean afterward.