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The Best Flat Top Grills and Griddles for Elevated Cookouts

May 23, 2023

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Cook everything from eggs and pancakes to perfectly-seared steaks, all in the great outdoors.

Nothing beats cooking outside, but traditional grills aren't ideal for every culinary situation. Cooking over an open flame imparts great flavor, encourages some nifty cooking techniques and is an American tradition — but it also is less efficient, limited in what foods it can prepare and has a learning curve. But there is an alternative to traditional backyard grilling that's rapidly gaining in popularity, and that's flat top grills and griddles.

After calling in some of the most popular and newest flat top grills on the market, we used them in the way they were meant to be used by cooking a wide variety of foods in the great outdoors. From searing steaks on a weeknight to frying up some bacon and eggs for a big Sunday breakfast, our testers made the most of their time with their griddles. They also made sure to take note of other aspects of the grills too, like their portability, cleanability, ease of use and any standout features. The following 9 flat top grills are our current favorites.

Just like Weber is the first name in gas and charcoal grills and Traeger is the top brand when it comes to pellet grills, Blackstone is the name in flat top grills. The brand has long set the standard in the genre, and even in the face of some impressive new competition — including from the likes of Weber and Traeger — Blackstone's iconic Original 36-inch Griddle remains the best option for most people. The four burners each offer precise individual zoned control over the 769 square-inch cooking surface, a pair of folding tables offer prep space when you need it and hide away when you don't and the patented rear grease management system is arguably the least messy in the business. But what truly sets Blackstone apart is the griddle itself: a beastly plate crafted from 7-gauge rolled carbon steel that's built to withstand years of abuse and living outdoors.

You'll still want to cover your griddle when not using it of course, and while this Blackstone does include a lid, it would be nice if it were attached. Instead, you have to sort of awkwardly hang it somewhat precariously on the back of the grill. We'd also prefer if the propane tank weren't visible, but these are minor issues.

For an even more premium flat top grilling experience, we again to turn Blackstone and its Culinary Pro series. Our tester has been using this "beast" for 10 months and has been very impressed with its performance. While it's quite large, our reviewer appreciates its relatively easy mobility — despite weighing nearly 240lbs — enabled by the industrial-strength wheels, and he especially loves the hinged hood that makes it easy to protect the griddle plate when not in use. It also comes with a weather-proof cover to keep it dry, as an extra bonus.

This model uses the same cooktop and functionality as the Blackstone Original, but its extras are what set it apart: the aforementioned hood and cover, a series of drawers and cabinets (including propane tank storage), a magnetic strip for tools and a heat baffle system that protects your temperature from wind. You'll need to decide if those extras are worth the considerable extra cost — our tester doesn't personally use the built-in storage much and doesn't mind a visible propane tank. But if you're looking for the best flat top grilling experience combined with all-in-one outdoor kitchen convenience, this is your model.

For just over $200, you can get a perfectly capable griddle to feed smaller groups. Nexgrill's new Daytona — presumably named for its ability to fit right in at a NASCAR infield — only has a 335 square-inch cooking space, but for the price you can't really expect much more. With the Daytona's small size come both pluses and minuses. On the plus side, it's imminently portable, with a locking lid and the ability to fold up into a convenient dolly-like cart that's super easy to maneuver. And despite its size, you still get a pair of prep tables on the sides.

But with that smaller size come some drawbacks, of course. The grease trap is pretty small, so you'll have to empty it more than you'd like. And the Daytona is only compatible with a 1-lb liquid propane cylinder, so don't expect to be able to cook for hours.

Traeger's founder invented the pellet grill, and the brand hasn't really strayed too far from its bread and butter until now. In 2023, Traeger launched the Flatrock, a flat top grill heated not by pellets but by propane. As fans of the brand, we naturally got one in for review as soon as it was available — and we were impressed. Our tester mainly used one word to describe the Flatrock: Fun. It heats up quickly and evenly and sports three zones that do a great job of isolating their own unique precise temperatures (if you choose to use them that way). Our tester was also a fan of the numerous "thoughtful" features that Traeger included that you don't normally see, such as the fuel light that shows you how much you've got left in the tank, the lights on the burners that add another layer of security against accidentally leaving them on and the EZ-Clean Grease & Ash Keg that's borrowed from the brand's pellet smokers.

On the downside, our reviewer noted that the Traeger had a pretty involved setup — it takes several hours — including the seasoning process — and at least two people. She also called out the fact that some more obvious extras, most notably a cover, are not included in the Flatrock's high $900 price tag.

Read our full Traeger Flatrock review.

In case you were still unsure if the flat top grill's moment had arrived, here's your strongest sign yet: Weber, the most recognizable name in grills, launched its own standalone griddle just in time for the 2023 grilling season. And unsurprisingly, it's great. The Weber Griddle comes in two sizes, 36 inches and 28 inches. Our preference is for the larger size as long as your space allows for it since the $130 price difference is well worth it for the added cooking space. The Weber Griddle boasts a four-burner system (three on the 28") that heat your flat top up quickly all the way out to the edges, giving you an impressive 756 square inches of cooking space. There are also some extra features that make your life easier, like a pair of side prep tables, a hinged cover for protection when not in use and a high-capacity front-loaded grease tray that's a breeze to clean.

There is plenty of space on the shelves underneath the grill for storage, but we may have preferred some of that space being reserved for the propane tank — it kind of just sits awkwardly on the side and is pretty noticeable. We'd also like to see some beefier wheels here, as the standard Weber caster wheels aren't as robust as some competitors.

A charcoal-powered griddle doesn't really have the same advantages as other charcoal-powered grills because the griddle itself will block the fire and smoke — i.e., the flavor — produced by the charcoal. But this Masterbuilt is far more than just a charcoal-powered griddle. This outdoor-cooking appliance combines a traditional charcoal grill with a griddle and smoker, giving you multiple ways to prepare your backyard cuisine. It also makes it extremely simple to dial in your cooks, regardless of your method. The grill is equipped with a digital WiFi-enabled control panel — which can also be controlled via app — that allows you to precisely adjust your temperature thanks to the innovative digital fan system. To use the griddle, you simply lift out the grates and drop in the griddle, and the easy-to-light gravity-fed charcoal hopper will keep you cooking for up to 10 hours.

The grill has a small fold-out front prep tray, but given the massive 800 square-inch cooking space (there's room for — checks notes — 36 burgers) you're definitely going to find yourself needing to do you most of your prep away from the grill. Because it's heated by charcoal, there's also just one cooking zone, where gas-powered griddles feature independently-controlled burners.

When hitting the campsite, you need a grill that's both rugged and easily portable, and Pit Boss's Ultimate Lift-Off Griddle passes this test with flying colors. For rugged durability, the griddle is set up with stainless steel burners and chrome handles, along with a griddle made from Pit Boss's proprietary non-stick armored ceramic cooking surface that resists rust and scratches. For portability, the "Lift-Off" of the griddle's name comes into effect, as you can literally lift the grill box out of the base, bringing it on the road to be used without the included cart. The grill box does weigh 76 lbs, however, so you might want someone to help you carry it.

As a camp griddle, this Pit Boss is outstanding, but if you're planning on using it as your main griddle at home, you may be left wanting. Its power output of 36,000 BTUs is low compared to other three-burner griddles (the Traeger puts out 43,500 BTUs, for example). And the bold and colorful Pit Boss branding is definitely not for everyone — or every space.

Portability is the name of the game when it comes to this Camp Chef griddle. Its legs fold up underneath it, the griddle plate is removable and the side tables fold over the top of the grill body, making it easy to both store and transport. It also features levelers that allow you to adjust the angle of the griddle in case your travels lead to some uneven ground. The griddle plate is nice and thick with a heat diffusion plate and windbreakers, guaranteeing a consistent and durable cooking experience, and it's pre-seasoned for added convenience.

On the negative side, there's nowhere to store your propane tank — you just have to hook it up and set in on the ground, which is far from ideal. The tacked-on grease trap also feels like a bit of an afterthought; we'd like to see it better incorporated into the overall design.

Round griddles make for a fun change of pace, as they're a bit easier to use when entertaining since you don't necessarily have to be parked directly in front of them because of their 360 degrees of cooking space. The larger version of Cuisinart's aptly-named 360 Griddle boasts a 30-inch flat top with 706 square inches with three individually-controlled burners. It also features a surprising number of extras for the price, including dual fold-out prep tables, a vented stainless steel lid that lives on a convenient hook when not in use and a cabinet to hide away your propane tank.

The circular cooking surface does take some getting used to, however. It can be harder to divide foods cooking at different temperatures compared to a rectangular griddle. Some reviewers complain that the build quality of this griddle does not hold muster against other brands.

Unlike grills, which position food on metal grates over an open flame, a griddle or flat top grill utilizes a large flat metal surface over the heating element. It's essentially like a giant flat skillet, which means it's a lot easier for most people to get the hang of than a regular grill. There's no risk of food falling between the grates or sticking to the grates, or of fat dripping onto the flames and causing flare-ups and excessive smoke. If you can cook on a stove, you can cook on a griddle.

Griddles are also easier to clean than grills, as they're typically angled to allow excess grease to run off into a grease trap and just need to be wiped down when done cooking. There are no grates to clean, and no danger of food falling onto your heat source and making a mess.

The biggest advantage flat top grills have over traditional grills is the amount of food that can be prepared on them. Try cracking an egg onto the grates of a traditional grill and you'll be left with a huge mess, but do it on a griddle and you've got yourself a delicious breakfast. Basically, anything you can cook on a stovetop can be cooked on a griddle, but with the added benefit of having tons of extra room to work with and being outside.

And, while this is subjective, you'll certainly find many who believe a flat top grill produces better-tasting food than a traditional grill. Sure, you won't get grill marks or charcoal flavor with a flat top, but most restaurants are cooking their primo burgers and steaks on griddles rather than grills, which should tell you something. The reason for this is the heat of a griddle is more evenly applied to the food and easier to control than on a grill.

Griddles come in a wide variety of sizes, usually from around 20 inches wide on the smaller side to three feet for larger examples. If you're single or a couple, then a smaller griddle may meet your needs just fine. But if you have a larger family, or even if you're mainly going to be using your flat top grill for entertaining and parties, then you'll want to spring for a larger griddle.

By and large, griddles are powered by gas and feature burners that are controlled individually. The number of burners effectively translates to the number of cooking zones on your flat top. The more burners/cooking zones you have, the more types of foods you'll be able to cook at once. For example, eggs, pancakes and bacon should all be cooked at different temperatures, and a griddle with three burners will allow you to do so with ease.

Just like regular gas grills, it's up to you to determine how barebones or loaded you want your griddle to be. If you prepare to prep in your kitchen and don't need much in the way of storage, then opt for a simpler griddle. But if you're looking for an outdoor kitchen substitute, look for a griddle with extras like cabinets and built-in prep tables.

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