Flat Grilling: Griddles Are Becoming Popular in Outdoor Cooking – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD – A flat top grill can bring diner-style cooking into homes – or perhaps more specifically, behind the house.

When looking for advancements in outdoor cooking, new styles and technologies often surround the industry. Outdoor flat cooktops are the latest trend to enter the category.

“Flat-top griddles seem to be following the trend after pellet smokers,” said Alan Larrimore, manager of The Smokestack BBQ Supply Store Brainerd. “So pellet smokers, I feel like we’ve seen them take off during the COVID pandemic.”

Larrimore said there are plenty of recipes to be discovered through numerous videos online and on social media to go along with the new phase of outdoor cooking.

Pam Vogt, assistant manager of Brainerd Ace Hardware, said that Blackstone hotplates have been around for a few years, but the popularity and demand for outdoor hotplates has increased. She said she only had one Traeger Flatrock griddle in the store.

“Blackstones have been popular for quite some time,” Vogt said. “The Traeger Flatrock just came out and they’re getting a bit more popular than the Blackstone right now.”

Flat-top griddles are a fantastic way to quickly prepare breakfast, Larrimore said.

“There are lots of fun ways to get creative with your breakfast,” Larrimore says. “There are molds for making teddy bears and dinosaur-shaped pancakes for children. Fried bacon, fantastic on that stuff. I mean, you can just knock out a back of bacon in a heartbeat.

Five-year-old Aria Bement, center, shows her parents Brent and Krissanne Bement a barbecue Friday, May 26, 2023, at Smokestack BBQ Supply Store Brainerd.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

One of the most popular items people ask about at Larrimore is cooking smash burgers. Smash burgers are made by placing a ball of loose ground beef on a griddle and smashing it into the griddle with a press or spatula to form a thinner burger patty.

“Smash burgers are one of the biggest questions people have asked themselves,” Larrimore said. “So grill presses are sort of a necessity or a must-have accessory with these things.”

For those looking to expand on some of their cooking ideas, Dave Stoegbauer, an employee of Von Hanson Meats of Baxter, said he would recommend cooking a steak with a little fat around the edges, such as a porterhouse or a ribeye, as a griddle gives the meat a nice crust. And for those who have a barbecue, Stoegbauer says to take a thicker cut of meat for a good reverse seared steak.

A man holding two pieces of meat.

Dave Stoegbauer holding a porterhouse and ribeye at Von Hanson Meats of Baxter on Wednesday, May 25, 2023.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

For those new to broiling, Larrimore said it’s important to season the cooking surface before grilling, just like someone would with a cast iron skillet.

One of the brands Larrimore sells, Camp Chef, comes pre-seasoned, although he always recommends washing the surface before using it for the first time. He also recommends a blanket as they need to be kept clean and dry.

“I would recommend a really good set of spatulas, spray bottles to put water in to help clean up afterwards,” Larrimore said. “The griddle scrapers so you can scrape off any food that might have stuck to it, and then the griddle press, are my go-to accessories.”

A griddle insert in a barbecue.

A stove insert from Outfitters Edge at The Smokestack BBQ Supply Store Brainerd on Wednesday, May 25, 2023.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

For those short on space, Larrimore said they have a stove insert from Outfitters Edge.

“It’s a Minnesota-based company in Prior Lake, Minnesota,” Larrimore said. “They make these lovely stove inserts. So if you’re limited on space for grills and want a flatbed rental but you already have a pellet grill or gas grill and just don’t have room on the deck, you can choose one.

TIM SPEIER, editor, can be reached on Twitter


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Tim Speer

Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering public safety.

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