Griddle vs Grill: The Battle of the Cooking Surfaces

April 6, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

There are a few differences between a griddle and a grill. To start with, a griddle is a flat top surface while a grill has grates as a cooking surface. A griddle is used for consistent heat while a grill can produce both high heat and indirect heat. Of course, there are a lot more differences for you to discover!

Though I worked with grills for most of my life, I only started using griddles when I began working in restaurants. Over the years, I gained a deep understanding of how each setup worked and how to get excellent results from both of them!

In this post, I will explain griddle vs grill to you and lay out the differences between them so you can understand them more fully!

Griddle vs Grill.

Griddle vs Grill: The Main Differences




Heat Source

Charcoal, Wood Pellets, Gas, Electricity


Heating Element Contact



Cooking Surface

Large Surface Area

Smaller Surface Area

Temperature Control

Consistent Temperature

Temperature Fluctuations

Cookable Foods

Fried Eggs, Hash Browns, Fried Rice, Burgers

Burgers, Hot Dogs, Ribs, Steaks, Chicken Breasts, Corn

Cooking Method

Traditional Cooking

Grilling, Indirect Cooking, Smoking

Ease of Use

Easier to Use

Requires More of a Learning Curve

Seasoning Process

Alternating Applications of Heat and Oil to Create Several Layers

A Single Application of Heat to All Components Inside Cooking Chamber

Cleaning Process

Scrape Debris Off With Spatula and Then Use Water and Paper Towels to Clean Residue

Use Grill Brush to Remove Residue and Clean Grates With Water

Now that you have had a brief introduction to both grills and griddles, here is a discussion of they are different from one another.

The Heat Source

As I mentioned, griddles are typically run off electricity. You have a few more options when it comes to grills, however.

Now, a traditional grill is a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills use lump coal as a heat source.

The electric grill, on the other hand, is hooked up to an electric power source. A gas grill can either be a propane grill or natural gas grill. Pellet grills use wood pellets as fuel but require electricity too.

With griddles, you get a pretty consistent performance across the board. Of course, the quality of the griddle does come into play here but for the most part, most griddles will provide you with the same results.

When it comes to grills, however, it all depends on the kind of grill that you have. For instance, with charcoal and wood pellet grills, you get that natural smoke flavor.

You don’t really get this with gas or electric grills unless you use a smoke box. That being said, these types of grills offer a great deal of control over the cooking process.

Contact with the Heating Element

I have already talked about the cooking surfaces a bit. A griddle has a flat surface whereas, with a grill, you have grill grates.

There is more to these different cooking surfaces than this, though.

With the griddle, the heating element is beneath the cooking surface – this heats up the surface and in turn, the surface heats up the food. You can think of it like a frying pan.

With a grill, though, the food cooking is exposed to direct heat as the heat source is directly beneath it.

The grill grate does play in cooking the food as well. The bars do heat up and this is what produces grill marks on the food.

The Cooking Surface Area

The thing to keep in mind is that grills and griddles come in all sorts of sizes. Some are larger and some are smaller.

Due to this, you can precisely say that a griddle or a grill has more surface area.

Bacon and Sausages are Grilled on a Flat Griddle

That being said, with a griddle, the cooking surface is complete and unbroken, which is why I likened it to a frying pan. With the grill, though, you have the grates and these have spaces in between each bar.

As a result, you are likely to be able to fit more food on the surface of a griddle than you would on a grill with the same dimensions.

Temperature Management

Technically, you can change and alter the temperature of both grills and griddles equally well.

When it comes to a griddle, increasing or decreasing the temperature is as simple as working the temperature dial.

The same goes for electric grills, wood pellet grills, and gas grills.

With a charcoal grill, though, you have to manipulate the vents at the top and the bottom of the grill to change the temperature.

When it comes to actual management, griddles provide consistent heat throughout the cooking surface. Therefore, once you have set the temperature, it remains as such.

This isn’t always the case with grills, though. Despite setting the temperature, external factors like the climate and wind can impact the cooking temperature.

What’s more, grills do tend to fluctuate throughout the cook, regardless of the temperature that you have set it to.

That being said, when it comes to grills, you can choose whether you want food cooked over indirect or direct heat. This is with the exception of pellet grills and electric grills. Pellet models only use indirect heat and electric grills only use direct heat.

See, if you are using a charcoal grill, then you can pile all the coal onto one side of the grill, ensuring that there is no direct flame on the other side. For a gas grill, you can leave one or more burners lit while the others are off.

This is perfect if you want to cook foods low and slow. This technique also works well if you are cooking delicate foods like chicken or turkey that can dry out rather easily.

Types of Food You Can Cook

Now let’s get to one of the most interesting parts – what is the difference in the type of foods that you can cook on griddles and grills?

A griddle is typically used for a lot of breakfast foods. This includes fried eggs, hash browns, pancakes, etc. Many people also cook foods like fried rice on this kind of surface.

And, as you will have seen in diners and restaurants, you can also cook burgers here. Due to the flat surface, you can use a burger press to get a more uniform cooking experience.

Of course, due to the segregated nature of the grill’s cooking surface, you can’t cook any foods that can fall through. This is why the grill is better suited to steaks, hot dogs, chicken breasts, corn on the cob, etc.

That being said, there is some overlap between the foods that you can cook on a grill as well as a griddle. Steak is a great example, for instance.


Are steaks better on a grill or griddle?

Personally, I feel that foods like steak taste better on a grill. This is because you can sear the meat over direct heat, getting those gorgeous sear marks. Then, you fill over to the side with indirect heat and cook until done.

Searing Meat, and Sausages on the Grill

Cooking Methods

When it comes to griddle cooking, there is really only one way to do it. You simply cook the food on one side until it is done and then flip it over. In some ways, it is like cooking your food on a stovetop.

With grilling, though, you can choose to grill the food with the lid open. On the flip side, you can also lower the flame, set up a side with indirect heat and add wood chunks or wood chips, and then close the lid.

When you do this, you are able to smoke foods. This means that you cook the food over lower temperatures for longer. Not only do you get more succulent meat but you also get that lovely smoky flavor.

Ease of Use

So, is a griddle or a grill easier for you to use?

There is no contest here – cooking on a griddle is the far easier option. You simply have to power it up, set the temperature, wait for the griddle to heat up, and then start cooking.

Due to the flat cooking space, you get even cooking heat and heat retention throughout the surface area.

Now, this doesn’t mean that a grill is difficult to use – far from it. However, there is a bit more of a learning curve here.

For one thing, there are often a few more steps to get the grill up and running. And, in the case of wood pellets and charcoal grills, you have to make sure that the fuel is burning.

It can also be a bit trickier to maintain the temperature throughout the cook and you often have to keep an eye on things.

Also, since you are more likely to cook steak and similar foods on a grill, you often have to keep track of the internal temperature of such foods too.

Seasoning Process

You do need to season both griddles as well as grills. This is so that you can create a nonstick surface that allows you to cook food without it getting stuck on the grates or griddles.

In the case of grills, seasoning also helps to get rid of any paint or chemical debris that may have stuck around during the manufacturing process.

The seasoning processes for the griddle and the grill are a bit different though.

With a griddle, you clean the surface first and then wait for it to dry completely. Once this has happened, you apply a thin layer of avocado oil onto the grill, making sure to evenly apply it across the surface.

Grilled T-Bone Steak on the Griddle

Then, you turn the heat on high for a few minutes. You then turn the griddle off and allow it to cool completely. This is followed by applying another thin layer of oil and then heating up the griddle again before turning it off.

You can repeat this process once more.

When it comes to the grill, you will need to apply a thin layer of oil to the entire cooking chamber. This includes the grates as well as the inside of the lid. You can apply the oil by dipping a paper towel in oil and spreading the oil in an even layer.

Then, heat up the grill, close the lid, and allow the heat to work for 30 minutes. Then, turn off the grill and allow it to heat completely.

Cleaning Process

The cleaning process for a grill and a griddle is a little different too.

With a griddle, you use a spatula to scrape away any food debris that is on the surface. Then, you turn the griddle on and splash some water onto the hot surface.

Next, you place folded paper towels on the griddle and then use your spatula to move the paper towels around the griddle, cleaning it up as you go. If your griddle is especially dirty, you can add some soap.

With a grill, you have to use a grill brush or stone to remove the debris. Then, you can use water to clean off the grates completely.

What is a Griddle?

A griddle is a large flat cooking surface that can be made from rolled steel, nonstick aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel, ceramic, and cast iron.

With a griddle, the entire surface begins to heat up once it is turned on. The griddle surface is ideal for cooking foods that are flat or slightly runny or droopy in nature.

Griddles come in either a square or rectangular shape. The flat surface can vary in dimensions. On the one hand, you have the very large commercial griddles that you find in restaurants and diners. And, you also have the smaller models that can be used in your home.

Types of Griddles

Most commercial griddles are powered by gas while most household grills work off electricity. Apart from this, though, you can distinguish griddles by their construction.

First up, there are standalone griddles. As the name suggests, this is a large, heavy, and distinct unit. If a standalone griddle has wheels, it can be moved but otherwise, it isn’t all that portable.

Next up, you have the tabletop griddles. You find these in most homes. These come with fairly short legs and have to be propped up on a table or some kind of higher surface.

Juicy Pork Chops Grilled with Asparagus and Bell Peppers

What is a Grill?

A grill is a type of cooking surface above a heat source. Here, though, the cooking surface consists of one or more metal grill grates. These grates are made up of many bars, each with an inch or so of space between them.

Due to the structure of the cooking surface, only solid foods like meat or vegetables can be cooked on a grill.

Types of Grills

There are several types of grills. Now, since most of these grills have a potent heat source and produce smoke, they can only be used for outdoor cooking.

The types of grills include charcoal grills, gas grills, electric grills, and wood pellet grills.

Meat and Veggies Outdoor Grilling

What is Better a Griddle or Grill?

One is not better than the other. Rather, it is all about what kind of cooking you want to do and what type of food you want to cook.

A flat top griddle is great for pancakes, scrambled eggs, burgers, etc. A grill, on the other hand, works better for steaks, cuts of meat, and sausages.

Can You Use a Griddle as a Grill?

No, you can’t use a griddle as a grill as you will not be able to use high heat, or indirect heat, and you will not be able to get those sear marks.

Wrapping It Up

There you go – the top differences between the grill and the griddle. Now that you understand each setup a little better, you can make a decision on which one may be right for you. Or, you can go ahead and invest in both!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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