Kristen Hicks on May 27, 2016 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Commercial Griddles Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands for Commercial Griddles How many items on your menu require heat before they’re ready to be served? Other than the occasional salad or frozen dessert, probably all of them. Sure, you’ve got your oven and range to work with, but for many commercial kitchens, your griddle is one of the most important tools you have at your disposal. It’s how you warm up a lot of the most popular items you serve and is a mainstay of every good commercial chef. Whether you’re trying to pick out the perfect commercial griddle for the first time or replacing one that’s served its time, you have a big decision to make. The right griddle needs to allow you plenty of space to make the quantity of foods you need, heat your food at just the right temperature, fit into the space you have available, and not require too much work to use and clean. There are a lot of factors to take into account to make sure you end up with the right one. This buyer’s guide will provide you with a clear rundown of the most important considerations to keep in mind in your search for the best commercial griddle for your restaurant. Types of Commercial Griddles There are three main types of griddles you’ll have to choose between. Most commercial kitchens will want to go with one of the first two types, but the third comes in handy for certain specialty restaurants and foods. Click Here to View All Commercial Griddles Commercial Countertop Griddle Countertop commercial griddles are useful for spaces that haven’t been specifically designed for a griddle. You can place them on any countertop or table where you have room for them and close enough access to an electrical or gas source. That makes them a convenient choice for any kitchen that wasn’t initially built with a commercial griddle in mind, but they’re also the only practical option if you ever expect to need to take your griddle on the go for offsite events. They’re typically more affordable than drop-in griddles, so if you’re on a strict budget they may be the best place to start your search. Commercial Drop-in Griddle Drop-in griddles are for those who want a griddle that fits more seamlessly into the larger kitchen. A countertop griddle may end up feeling in the way, but a built-in version never will. Commercial drop-in griddles cost more and will involve a more complicated installation process, but make sense for kitchens in which the griddle is an important tool that you know needs to have a constant space devoted to it. Commercial Teppanyaki Griddles Teppanyaki griddles are a subset of the drop-in griddle category. The heating element is located in the center of the griddle, which means that the edges are always a bit cooler. That makes them useful for allowing the option to keep some foods on the griddle warming while others are cooking at a higher heat. Teppanyaki griddles are most often found in Japanese restaurants, but may be useful in other types of commercial kitchens as well. Factors to Consider When Buying a Commercial Griddle You’ll have an easier time identifying the right commercial griddle for your needs if you have an idea of the different options and features on the market. These are the main factors that should influence your choice. Cost Commercial griddles can range in price from about $300 for a basic model on the smaller side to over $5,000 for larger griddles with more features and better materials. Running a commercial kitchen is expensive, so you’re no doubt coming to this decision with a budget in mind. For the vast majority of commercial kitchens, to find a commercial griddle with enough of a cooking surface you should be thinking somewhere in the mid to upper range of those prices. Drop in griddles usually cost more, but will more naturally fit into your kitchen space. Griddles with a chrome surface will also tend to cost more, but are also much easier to clean and won’t transfer any flavor from the griddle surface to the food. A thicker plate will also bump the price up, but provides more durability and efficiency for griddles that will be getting a lot of heavy use. And thermostatic controls will often cost a tad more, but give you more control over the temperature. Over all, as in many things, you’ll get what you pay for and spending more now can pay off in making your life easier and saving you money over time. Size The size of your commercial griddle is a crucial consideration. Think about when your restaurant’s at full capacity – how many items will you need on the griddle at one time to keep the kitchen running smoothly? If you get a griddle that only fits twenty burgers at a time and you quickly realize you needed one that could handle fifty to keep your customers from getting impatient, you’ll end up paying for the error in angry and lost customers. If you’re not sure how the sizes available translate to the capacity for use, then ask around. A company salesman or a friend with a similar establishment should be able to help you parse out how many pancakes you’ll be able to fit onto a 48” griddle. Of course, you also have to consider how much space you have available. If you know you’d be better off with a larger griddle, but simply don’t have the room to put it in, then you’ll have to settle for what will actually fit. A commercial countertop griddle could feasibly be moved back and forth from the kitchen and a storage space, if you only needed to pull the griddle out for occasional meals like weekend brunch, but most kitchen staff won’t want to deal with that process with any regularity if they can help it – especially if you buy one that’s heavy. Fuel Type As with many types of commercial kitchen appliances, you have two fuel options: gas or electric. In most areas gas will cost you less in energy bills over time, but will cost you a little more upfront. Electric griddles provide some convenience, while gas usually means greater precision and tend to be the preference of chefs. You will need to have the right hookup to be able to use a gas griddle, or be willing to get it set up, which will set you back more in upfront costs. In the past few years, electric induction griddles have become an option as well. These tend to be expensive, but provide great energy efficiency and fast results. There’s not one right answer for the best fuel type, usually the best option will have a lot to do with what you’ll be using the griddle for and the kind of setup you have in your commercial kitchen. Heat Heat’s pretty much the whole point of a commercial griddle, you need it to warm up in just the right way to cook the food you serve. Many commercial griddles tout high BTUs, so you know they’ll get good and hot. Having the level of control you need to get the right heat level is at least as important as the BTU count. Thermodynamic controls provide greater precision in heat, and chrome plates can provide better heat retention so that you don’t need as many BTUs to cook your food to perfection. Different types of food fare best at different heat levels, so take into consideration just what’s needed for the menu items that you know you’ll be cooking on the griddle and seek out a griddle that will work well for your specific cooking needs. Plate Thickness If you’ll be using your commercial griddle frequently or you’ll be using it for items that will make it work harder, like frozen meats, then you’ll benefit from investing in a griddle with a thicker plate. Commercial griddle plates come in ½- inch, ¾-inch, and 1-inch thicknesses. For establishments that will mostly use their griddle for breakfast items like eggs and pancakes, the thinner plates may suffice. But thicker plates can handle heavy use better and store more heat, so when you throw frozen items on the griddle they recover faster than griddles with a thin plate and won’t slow your kitchen down needlessly. Settling for a thinner plate when you need a thicker one could mean a more inefficient kitchen and putting wear and tear on your griddle pretty quickly. Controls You’ll find two types of control options available for commercial griddles: manual control and thermostatic. Manual controls allow for just a couple of main heat settings, usually low, medium, and high. Thermostatic controls let you set the heat at a specific temperature. As you’d expect, thermostatic controls typically cost a bit more. If most of the items you’ll be cooking will do fine at a set temperature, a manual control commercial griddle may work fine for you. If anything you’ll be making requires more precise heating needs though, then you have to go with a thermostatic model. You should also pay attention to how many sections the griddle has that it will allow you to set at different heat levels. If you’ll be making a number of different types of food at one time that need different levels of heat, then it’s crucial to make sure that you go with a commercial griddle that allows for those differences. Ease of Use Kitchens move fast and anything that slows the staff down is a liability. If your commercial griddle is complicated to use, then it will make running the kitchen smoothly harder for your staff and will probably result in food that comes out late to your customers. Neither of those possibilities are something you can take lightly. Consider how complicated the controls are, how difficult the griddle is to clean, and whether it comes with any features that will make life harder or easier on your kitchen staff. If you’re not careful, saving money upfront could mean harder days in your kitchen for years to come. Popular Brands for Commercial Griddles The success of your business depends on a commercial griddle that can carry its weight. Choosing the right brand can go a long way toward making sure you go with a model you can rely on. To give you a head start in figuring out which brand is right for you, we looked at what people are saying online about some of the biggest brands in the market to bring you a summary. Radiance Radiance sells affordable gas griddles in a number of sizes. Reviewers are consistently happy with their Radiance griddles, especially considering the cost of them in comparison to comparable items. They’re easy to use, easy to clean, and made of quality construction. Royal Range Royal Range makes both thermostatic and manual control gas griddles in a range of sizes. The company is primarily known for their ranges (as the name suggests) and as a result there aren’t too many reviews of their griddles online. In general, the mentions we found of the company’s reputation suggest that they’re known for quality commercial kitchen products and committed customer service. Star Manufacturing Star Manufacturing produces commercial griddles in thermostatic and manual control models. Their griddles get solid reviews from customers for giving off good, even heat, not using much energy, and being easy to clean. A couple of reviewers mentioned minor issues like trouble with the pilot light or a knob falling off, but most are pleased with their purchase. Toastmaster Toastmaster makes several countertop commercial griddles in both manual control and thermostatic models. Their griddles receive raves for working well for an especially competitive price. Customers say they’re easy to use and clean. One mentioned being concerned that the price was too good to get a griddle of any quality, but has been pleased to find the griddle works just as needed with no problems. Vulcan Vulcan is a respected name in commercial kitchen equipment. While reviews for their commercial griddles specifically aren’t too common, mentions of the brand we came across in our research suggested the name is regularly associated with products that are reliable and durable. The few reviews we did find for their griddles back that up, saying they’re durable, well-made, easy-to-clean, and all for a good price. Waring Waring makes a number of popular countertop commercial griddles. Customers say they’re well built and easy to clean. A couple mentioned their griddle gets warmer in some spots than others, causing uneven cooking. A couple also mentioned that they take some time to heat up, but others say they keep their heat well once they’ve warmed up. On the whole, customers are happy with their purchase. Wolf Wolf is another brand with a strong reputation for kitchen appliances in general, but few reviews online for their commercial griddles specifically. The few reviews we did dig up suggest their commercial griddles earn the same reputation as their other products; they work well and keep customers satisfied. Conclusion You want to deliver your customers the perfect pancakes, eggs, or burgers quickly and without problems. The right commercial griddle can make that happen. Take some time to shop around and make sure you’ve considered every factor and issue that will help you ensure you get the best one for your kitchen. It’s a big investment, but one that can pay off if you make the right decision.