My aging Weber grill finally met its demise last summer. And when I tell you that my family made the most of this grill, we had the
absolute most of this grill. But when it came to choosing a replacement for this upcoming season, we decided to play with the flat-top griddle trend and try the Traeger Flatrock instead of a traditional grill.
A flat-top griddle, popularized by the likes of Blackstone, features a metal plate with no grill bars. They come in a variety of sizes and prices, with some being small enough for a counter and others like the Traeger Flatrock ($899 at Home Depot) taking up as much space as a regular grill.
The Flatrock’s carbon steel plate is heated by three individually controlled U-shaped burners. While our Weber’s flames suffered from uneven heating, with only my dad knowing exactly the right spot to grill a given food, the griddle experience promises more precise and consistent cooking.
When people think of griddles, dishes like mashed burgers, stir-fries, and pancakes might come to mind. I love all of these things, but I also can’t go summer without steaks, corn on the cob, and kebabs — foods we’ve only ever known how to make except on the grill. I spent a few weeks experimenting with the griddle versus the grill, here are my biggest takeaways.
No more maintenance involved
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The biggest surprise about setting up the Flatrock griddle? The intensive seasoning or “break-in” process. I have seasoned many cast iron pans before, but the griddle area is eight times larger.
Seasoning instructions may vary from brand to brand, but Traeger recommended smoking a neutral oil 3-4 times until the Flatrock’s metal plate turns from dull gray to shiny black. This process is essential for establishing a non-stick surface, so be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
In comparison, breaking into a new grill usually requires a unique combustion process. From there, cleaning a grill is as easy as going over the grates with a brush between uses.
On a griddle, you scrape the grease into a grease tray, sprinkle with water to catch the food scraps, then re-oil the surface after cooking. If you wait to clean until the next time you want to cook, the griddle could rust or deteriorate faster than it should.
Cooking is better together
One of my favorite things about the Flatrock griddle in particular is that the 71-inch-wide cooktop provided plenty of room for my dad and me to cook simultaneously. For breakfast, he handled the pancakes on one side, while I scrambled the eggs on the other.
Cooking side by side turned cooking dinner into a bonding activity that we never had with our Weber.
The Flatrock comes with foldable prep tables on both sides, so we each had plenty of space to cook safely. Also, we could control the temperature of our separate areas as needed. Cooking side by side turned cooking dinner into a bonding activity that we never had with our Weber. Within 20 minutes our teamwork resulted in a full breakfast ready for Sunday morning.
Over an open flame, having too many cooks in the kitchen (so to speak) always seemed dangerous. I’m sure there are Weber models large enough to replicate the experience we had with the Flatrock, so it’s something we’d look for if we were to buy a regular grill again.
A griddle can (most of the time) replace a grill
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I quickly learned that you can cook more things on a griddle than on a grill because there are some things you should never cook on a grill. Along with cheesy eggs and smashed burgers with caramelized onions, I had no trouble getting the perfect temperature on a marinated skirt steak and a good searing on chicken wings on the Flatrock. With the help of lots of butter, I even enjoyed my corn on the cob cooked on a griddle.
For protein, there’s something delectable about grill marks and smoke from the fire. A griddle can’t quite recreate these flavors. Still, having room for only one large outdoor appliance, the griddle seems like a more versatile option.
But if you want to talk about versatility, Weber recently released a griddle attachment for its grills. Inserts range from $199 to $299 depending on the compatible grill model. The Weber Genesis 300 gas grill is $999, so it’s a higher upfront cost than the Flatrock to introduce the griddle accessory, but you get the best of both worlds.
As far as dedicated griddles go, the Traeger Flatrock is one that seems built to last and is big enough to feed an entire family. If you are hesitant to dive into the world of griddles, there are more affordable and compact models available. But if you’re convinced you need a griddle to replace your grill, the Flatrock is one of the largest and most comprehensive models on the market.
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