When you're cooking for a crowd, a good electric griddle can be a timesaver.
Electric griddles have a reputation for being, well, a bit retro. A June 1955 issue of Good Housekeeping stated that a “thermostatically controlled” electric griddle was the solution if you “turn out leathery pancakes.” However, a good electric griddle still has the same appeal today; it allows you to cook a big batch of something without having to divide a recipe into as many batches—or perhaps any batches at all. And unlike a stovetop griddle, an electric griddle frees up your burners for other tasks when you’re cooking for a crowd.
REVIEW HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thick cooktop that heats evenly and stays within 10 degrees of target temperature across entire cooking surface
Comfortably fits large batches of pancakes and French toast
Adjustable feet that pop up to tilt griddle and allow grease to drain effectively
Intuitive temperature controls
Nonstick surface that is easy to clean
Detachable power supply so griddle can be washed in sink
DETAILS & MATERIALS
Griddle Materials: Nonstick ceramic - coated cast aluminum
Usable Surface Area: 19.75 x 11.88 in (234.63 sq in)
Grease Trap Capacity: 12 oz
Maxiumum Temperature Setting: 400 degrees F
How we tested electric griddles:
We purchased six electric griddles, priced from about $30 to just under $100, and used them to cook Best Buttermilk Pancakes, Extra-Crispy French Toast, and hamburgers. We took the temperature of each cooking surface at 2-minute intervals and timed how long each griddle took to come up to temperature. We washed each griddle three times by hand and scratched the surface 10 times with a metal spatula. We measured the capacity of the grease trap, the overall dimensions, and the dimensions of the cooking surface, as well as the placement and size of the heating elements located on the undersides of the griddles.
THE BEST GRIDDLES HEAT EVENLY
Electric griddles get their heat from an electric coil on the underside of the cooking surface. When our griddles signaled that they’d reached 350 degrees, we tested the surface temperatures in several locations. The results were all over the map. Most had hot and cold spots on their surfaces, and we saw this in the food we cooked, too; pancakes were both raw and overcooked in the same batch.To understand these differences in heating, we examined the material and thickness of each griddle. We discovered that our top two griddles were both made of nonstick cast aluminum, while lower-ranking models were constructed of nonstick-coated thin metal sheets. The best performer had the thickest cooking surface, at about ½ inch—more than four times thicker than any of the others.
THE SIZE OF THE COOKING SURFACE MATTERS
Still, the real advantage of a griddle is space: We want the cooktop to be large enough so that we can easily cook for a crowd. Cooktops that had at least 230 square inches of usable cooking space were the most versatile. While slightly smaller griddles had no trouble holding eight pancakes or burgers, they couldn’t fit a full recipe’s worth of French toast (eight pieces) without some slices hanging off the edge. The two largest griddles held entire batches with room to spare, giving us plenty of space to maneuver our spatula when flipping. .
GOOD GREASE DRAINAGE EQUALS EASY CLEANUP
While grease isn’t an issue with pancakes or French toast, it can be with fatty foods such as burgers or bacon. When we cooked burgers, many of the griddles didn’t drain grease despite having roomy grease traps. That’s because most had completely flat cooking surfaces with no slope to facilitate fat draining; the grease pooled on the surface and occasionally sputtered dangerously. Our favorite griddles offered a solution: a flat cooktop with back legs that can be propped up at an angle, when needed, to drain grease.
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