Commercial Griddles Buyers' Guide
Burgers, pancakes, eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches are just a few customer favorites that no equipment can prepare better than a commercial griddle. These flat-top workhorses are available with a number of different features that determine how they can be used and the volume of food they can be used to prepare. If you're in the market for a new one, consider these important griddle features as you shop to ensure you pick the right one for your kitchen.
Griddle Plate Thickness
The thickness of a flat-top griddle's plate determines several of the equipment's important qualities. First, a thicker plate is more durable, which means it can withstand the stress of repeatedly heating up and cooling down without warping or showing signs of wear and tear. Second, a thicker griddle plate heats more evenly and stays hotter after batches of cold food are added. That creates a surface that can cook more food over a given period of time than a thinner plate.
Griddle Plate Finish
Commercial griddle plates are all made of stainless steel, with some given top layers of chrome to give the plate some special properties. Chrome is non- porous, so it's less likely to transfer flavor between different types of food. It also helps keep food from sticking and eliminates the need to season the cooking surface with oil. Finally, chrome is a non-reactive metal, so it won't impart a metallic taste to acidic foods or turn light-colored foods dark.
Griddle Depth and Width
Measured from the front of the griddle plate to the back, griddle plate depths range from 20 to 30 inches. Griddle width is the side-to-side measurement of the equipment. Flat-top griddles are commonly sized in width increments of 12 inches and range from 24 to 72 inches wide. Both of those measurements will determine how much product you can cook in a single batch and how much space the equipment will take up in the kitchen. Before you decide on a griddle, make sure it will fit in the space you have available. Be sure to take into account the clearance requirements, which is the space needed between the griddle and surrounding walls and equipment.
Economy griddles are made with manual controls, a type that gives users control over the intensity of each burner from low to high. Experienced cooks will likely have learned what setting to use for each menu item they prepare, but novice and more exacting chefs prefer to control the precise temperature of their griddle's cooking surfaces. For that, choose a commercial griddle with thermostatic controls. This type of control lets users dial in the temperatures they want to cook with, usually between 150 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. There are three main types of thermostatic griddle controls.
Types of Thermostatic Controls
- Economy griddles are most often built with modulating thermostatic controls. These controls keep temperatures accurate to within 30 or 40 degrees Fahrenheit of the set temperature, making them the least accurate of all thermostat options.
- Medium-duty griddles are most often built with snap-action thermostats. These can keep griddle surfaces within 15 degrees Fahrenheit of their set temperatures, providing a good balance between accuracy and affordability.
- Heavy-duty griddles are often built with solid state thermostats. These provide the greatest accuracy and come with the highest price tags. Solid state controls can keep griddle temperatures within 5 degrees Fahrenheit of the set temperature.
Griddle Burner BTUs
The amount of heat that a griddle generates is measured in BTUs. A burner that generates a higher number of BTUs can keep a griddle hotter and provide better recover rates from batch to batch, so higher BTUs translate to quicker cooking. Economy griddles may include burners that produce as little as 20,000 BTUs an hour, while more powerful medium- and heavy-duty gas griddles will produce 30,000 BTUs per burner or more.
So far our discussion has covered mainly gas griddles, but there are several reasons that operators ultimately choose electric griddles.
Benefits of Electric Griddles
- Electricity is often cheaper than gas.
- Electricity is often available where gas isn't.
- Electricity is sometimes perceived as safer than gas.
- Electricity generally provides lower long-term operating costs due to their energy efficiency
Commercial electric griddles are available with three voltage options. Low-volume griddles operate on 120 volts, which will provide enough power for cooking small volumes of food. Since these less-powerful griddles are powered by standard 120-volt outlets that are available in commercial and non-commercial venues, 120-volt griddles are often built to be portable, making them a good solution for caterers and travelling chefs.
If your electric griddle will be one of your primary pieces of equipment, you'll likely want to invest in a more powerful 240-volt unit. If your kitchen is serviced by 3-phase power, a 208-volt griddle may be an option. These more powerful commercial griddles are often capable of producing enough heat to keep up with gas-powered equipment.
Whereas the heat output of a gas griddle is measured in BTUs, commercial electric griddle power is measured in watts. Higher wattage means the equipment can keep a hotter plate. The standard is 4,000 to 6,000 watts per heating element. The amount of heat generated by elements in that range is roughly equivalent to 15,000 to 20,000 BTUs.