Stepping outdoors to fire up the grill is one of the best pleasures that comes with fine weather, but the type of food that can be prepared outside is limited by the type of grill. Standard grills have slatted grates that are great for cooking dense meats such as steak, burgers, and chicken. However, food that is too small or too runny, like eggs or pancakes, will fall through the grates and into the catch basin below.
Flat top grills attempt to solve this fall-through problem by pairing the same heating function that a typical grill has with a flat cooking surface. This allows food like chopped vegetables, eggs, pancakes, and pizza to be prepared outside on the grill. The best flat top grill should be amply sized to cook up enough food to serve your family and is powered by electricity or gas. This list of some of the top products is a great place to start your search.
- BEST OVERALL: Royal Gourmet GD401 Portable Propane Gas Grill Combo
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Blackstone 28 inch Outdoor Flat Top Gas Grill Griddle
- UPGRADE PICK: Camp Chef Flat Top Grill, True Seasoned Griddle
- BEST ELECTRIC: Secura Smokeless Indoor Grill 1800-Watt Electric
- BEST GAS: CUISINART CGG-888 Grill Stainless Steel Lid 22-Inch
- BEST COMPACT: PIT BOSS PB336GS 2 Burner Table Top LP Gas Griddle
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Flat Top Grill
When shopping for a flat top grill to add to the patio, deck, or even the kitchen, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Think about whether you want a grill that has wheels so it can be moved, whether the grill uses electricity or gas for fuel, and how big a cooking surface you require.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered
The first decision to make when choosing a flat top grill is whether one that’s powered by electricity or gas is better for your situation. Once that question is decided, the path to the perfect grill is clearer.
- Electric-powered flat top grills are typically smaller than standard grills because they are primarily used indoors as countertop or tabletop appliances. These grills can’t reach the same temperatures as gas grills, but the heat is distributed more evenly across the cooking surface.
- Gas-powered flat top grills have the same high heat potential as any other outdoor grill, the only difference being its flat, griddle-style cooking surface. These grills have a large cooking area so that you can grill for the whole family at once. Gas grills, of course, cannot be used indoors because they produce carbon monoxide, which can quickly become a danger in an enclosed area.
Indoor vs. Outdoor
Before choosing a flat top grill, it’s important to decide whether the grill will be used indoors or outdoors.
- Indoors is really only appropriate for electric flat top grills because gas-burning grills should not be used indoors. Electric grills are generally smokeless (beyond the usual steam produced while cooking). They are also small enough to set up on the countertop or right at the table.
- Outdoors, users don’t have the same concerns about ventilating gas grills. Bear in mind, though, that grills that are left outside may be exposed to rain, snow, and ice, and they should be covered when not in use. Consider a flat top grill made with a rust-resistant material, like stainless steel. Both gas and electric grills can be used outdoors, though you can get a bigger, more powerful gas grill for outside than you can an electric one.
Griddle and Grill Combinations
A flat top grill is designed to give the user a flat cooking surface for foods that don’t hold their shape well, like eggs or pancakes, but that doesn’t mean that the grill can’t be used for all kinds of foods—some food just tastes better when it’s cooked on the grill. For this reason, some flat top grills are designed with both griddle and grill cooking surfaces.
Combination grills mean different things to different manufacturers, and shoppers looking for this type of grill might notice there are various ways these grill surfaces are set up. Some combination grills have a single cooking plate that has a griddle on one side and grill grates on the other side, and grillers simply flip the cooking plate to the desired surface before cooking.
Another type of combination grill comes with two separate cooking plates—one flat top and one with grates—that users can switch out depending on the type of cooking surface they want to use. The third type of combination is one that has a wide cooking surface that is split into a griddle half and a grill grate half so that both surfaces can be used at the same time, in a single meal (steak and eggs, anyone?).
When selecting a flat top grill for home use, it’s a good idea to think about how large a cooking surface is appropriate for the amount of food you typically grill. The cooking surface is measured in square inches; the total cooking area is calculated by multiplying the length and the width of the cooking plate.
Small- to medium-size flat top grills range in cooking surface area from 150 square inches to 300 square inches, while large flat top grills average about 500 square inches. Those who are cooking for a family should look for a grill that has at least 400 square inches of surface area, and grillers who regularly host backyard barbecue bashes should bump that figure up to at least 500 square inches.
Keep in mind that a griddle-and-grill combo may have more than one cooking plate and the sizes of the plates may not be equal, so what could fit on one cooking plate may not fit on the other.
Small electric flat top grills weigh between 10 to 20 pounds, and full-size gas-fueled grills can exceed 100 pounds. Generally speaking, the lighter and smaller a flat top grill is, the more portable it is. Grills that have wheels or handles are also easier to move around. Small models can be moved easily by simply picking them up, but larger grills can be much more difficult to budge.
Shoppers who envision moving a larger flat top grill from, say, one side of the patio to another on a regular basis should consider one that has at least one handle and a set of wheels—this setup will make it easy to push or pull the grill around the deck or patio.
Some flat top grills have just two legs with wheels and must be tilted to one side before moving them. Those with a wheel on each leg will usually have wheel locks to prevent the grill from moving when in use.
As is the case with any other appliance, many flat top grills have add-on features that make the grill easier and more enjoyable to use. These extras include storage space for grilling tools, side tables, shelves, and grill covers.
- Grill tool storage can mean lots of things. “Storage” might be as simple as a built-in hook to hang tongs or a grill brush, or it can mean a fully enclosed area to keep the grill tools corralled, even when the grill is not in use.
- Side tables and shelves are great additions to a flat top grill because they provide space to place food, condiments, utensils, plates, grill tools, drinks, and other items that are convenient to have within easy reach while the grill is fired up.
- Grill covers protect the equipment from rain, snow, and ice. Covers are designed with a soft heat-resistant side that won’t scratch the grill and a waterproof exterior to shelter the grill from bad weather.
Our Top Picks
The products on this list of the best flat top grills were selected based on their efficacy and overall value, with a further emphasis on the important shopping considerations mentioned above. Those on the hunt for a new flat top grill should consider these recommended selections for their grilling needs.
Designed with versatility and ease of use in mind, Royal Gourmet’s GD401 flat top grill has four 12,000 BTU burners and an automatic ignition system. Each of its two grilling surfaces measures 16.6 inches by 17.6 inches, for a total cooking surface of over 580 square inches. The two sides can be used simultaneously or independently: There’s a griddle side for sautéing vegetables, frying eggs, or making pancakes, and a grill side cooks up meats like steak, burgers, and chicken.
The GD401’s stainless steel design looks great on the deck or the patio and is resistant to water, though it should still be covered when not in use. It sits on four lockable wheels so that it’s easy to move around, and it has multiple grill tool hanging hooks for convenience. Another of this flat-top’s many convenient features is that it has two side tables on either side of the cooking surface where buns, plates, and other items can be kept within easy reach.
Blackstone’s affordable flat top grill has handy features such as a propane tank holder and two-wheeled legs so that the grill can be tilted toward the propane tank for easy movement around a patio or a deck. A convenient side table adjacent to the cooking surface keeps buns, plates, or other items within reach, but if they don’t all fit on the side table, they can be stored on the shelf underneath the cooking surface.
This grill is fueled by propane and has a 470-square-inch cooking surface that’s easy to clean. Its two independently controlled 15,000 BTU stainless steel burners allow the user the flexibility to have the surface at two different temperatures based on the food being prepared. A push-button ignition makes it easy to get this Blackstone flat top up and running.
Adding this premium flat top grill-and-griddle combo to your deck, patio, or yard setup will ensure that you can prepare just about any meal al fresco. The Camp Chef has two interchangeable cooking surfaces, including a griddle that measures 604 square inches and grill grates with 501 square inches of cooking space. Users have the flexibility of switching out the griddle for the grates, or vice versa, depending on what’s on the menu. Some shoppers, however, may find it a disadvantage that the Camp Chef’s cooking area cannot accommodate both the griddle and grates at the same time.
Each of the four stainless steel burners has a 12,000-BTU output, and each has independent heat controls so that the temperature across the entire cooking surface can be precisely regulated. The Camp Chef’s two side tables and two shelves keep grill tools, food, and plates within easy reach, and its wheels and built-in handles make it a cinch to move the grill around.
Home chefs don’t have to wait for good weather to enjoy grilled food: Secura’s smokeless flat top grill heats up quickly and is made to be used indoors. One of the grill’s unique features is a handy removable glass lid that prevents splatters and sprays while cooking.
Though this electric flat top grill is compact and weighs just 13.6 pounds, it still boasts a cooking surface of about 180 square inches. One side of the reversible cooking surface has raised grates that’ll give food nice grill marks. The other side of the plate is flat for frying up foods such as eggs, bacon, and pancakes. The grill’s maximum temperature is 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is somewhat lower than that of outdoor gas-powered grills.
Cuisinart’s flat top grill is super cool: It has a unique circular shape, with a 22-inch-diameter cooking surface atop a 360-degree grease pan. The stainless steel lid has an adjustable vent so the grill can be used for roasting, steaming, baking, or smoking, as well as grilling and frying. Remove the lid for 360-degree access to the cooking surface. A fold-down side table allows for easy access to cooking tools, utensils, and condiments, and it has a handy paper towel holder underneath.
The CGG-888 has two independently controlled 15,000-BTU burners and can reach a maximum temperature of 550 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s fueled by a propane tank, which can be hidden out of sight inside the grill’s base. Four lockable wheels make it easy to steer this Cuisinart grill around on a flat surface, like a patio or a deck.
This stainless steel and cast-iron flat top grill from Pit Boss is compact, but it’s only suitable for outdoor use. While its 21-inch by 17-inch by 11-inch dimensions makes it small enough to sit on a kitchen table or a countertop, the grill runs on propane and will produce fumes that are harmful in an enclosed area.
The Pit Boss PB336GS is easy to operate, with a push-button ignition and two burners that can be set to different temperatures. Its removable, flat cooking surface measures 289 square inches, so there’s ample space on which to prepare campout meals. Among the grill’s thoughtful features are its four sturdy, nonslip legs and a small grease trap that can be removed, dumped, and cleaned out without having to move the grill.
FAQs About Flat Top Grills
Flat top grills are a great addition to any household, but you may still have some concerns about how they are used as well as questions about the differences between grills and other cooking devices. Read on to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the best flat top grill.
Q. What is the difference between a grill and a griddle?
Griddles and grills differ primarily by the sizes and textures of their cooking surfaces.
Grills typically have large cooking surfaces with cooking grates that allow the juices and oils from the food to fall between the gaps and into the grill. Griddles are usually smaller than grills, though many resemble portable grills. Griddles have flat cooking surfaces without holes or gaps and are appropriate for sautéing or frying small or runny foods, such as eggs and mushrooms.
Q. Is a griddle healthier than a grill?
A griddle isn’t any healthier than a grill. In fact, a griddle often accumulates grease on its cooking surface, while a grill allows the grease to fall down into the catch basin. How healthy a griddled or grilled food is has more to do with the type of food, not the cooking method. If the goal is healthier eating, consider choosing grilled veggies over a porterhouse steak.
Q. What is the best way to clean my flat top grill?
Basic cleaning should be done before and after every use to keep the food tasting great and the grill working properly. To clean the grill, use the grill brush to remove stuck-on pieces of food, sauce, spices, and other burned food items. It’s also a good idea to empty out the grease tray so that it doesn’t overflow and cause a mess.
For more robust cleaning, put away the grill tools and break out the grill cleaner and an abrasive scrubbing pad. Each piece from the interior of the grill, including grates, griddles, burner protectors, and the entire catch basin at the bottom of the grill, should be removed and carefully cleaned with a grill cleaner before being rinsed, dried, and returned to its position inside the grill.
The exterior of the grill should also be cleaned on a semi-regular basis. Using a grill cleaner with water-resistant qualities will help protect the grill and keep it looking great.
Q. How do you take care of a grill?
To properly take care of a grill, follow these simple steps:
- Regularly check the gas or electrical connection to ensure that there are no tears, breaks, or leaks.
- Make sure the grill is properly covered when it isn’t in use to avoid damage from rain, snow, and ice.
- Before and after every use, the grill should be cleaned. Depending on how frequently the grill is used, it should be deep cleaned with a grill cleaner semi-regularly to help ensure that it lasts for years.