skillet and griddle comparison

The choice between using a skillet and a griddle to cook steaks is a tough one even for cooks who have spent years in the kitchen. Some say all boils down to a matter of preference but in reality, that is not the case.

There are instances where using a skillet trumps using a griddle and vice versa. In that regard, knowing which tool matches your cooking requirements is paramount when you are shopping for a griddle or a skillet. The underlying factor you need to have in mind is that the tool you pick between a griddle and a skillet is likely to affect the food you cook.

In this article, we examine the skillet and griddle in detail to help you pick the best one for your cooking needs.


Skillet vs Griddle: What's the Difference? 

One of the outstanding features that differentiate a skillet from a griddle is the depth of the cooking utensil. A skillet has a comparatively deeper cooking surface with walls that slant towards the interior. This makes it easier to toss, turn, and plate food after you have finished cooking. The griddle, on the other hand, is flat, which makes it good for grilling steaks in the oven or over a stove.

making beef steak in griddle

The cooking surface is another feature that emphasizes the difference between the two. A skillet has a flat cooking surface that is good for frying or steaming food. Steaks cooked on the flat surface when cooking with a skillet, however, retain fats since the cooking surface does not optimize fats' separation from the meat.

A griddle, on the other hand, has a raised surface that works great to separate fats from meat when it is cooking. Griddles, therefore, achieve perfectly grilled steaks that have little amounts of fat. Griddles also come with raised lips around the edges that work great to trap juices when preparing juicy foods.

Griddles also have two handles on opposite sides that are good for handling the utensils with food contents on the top surface. Skillets mostly come with a straight handle attached to one side of the pan.

The flat surface of griddles and twin handles allow cooks to plate food on the cooking surface without transferring it to a dining plate. Skillets cannot be used to serve food on a dining table.

Griddles come in large sizes that handle food preparation and serving for a large group of people while skillets come in a variety of sizes that range from small, medium, and large. Each size can handle cooking for a different number of people.


What Is a Skillet? 

A skillet is a round shaped cooking utensil that has a shallow cooking surface and walls that slant towards the interior. It comes in sizes of 8 inches, 10 inches, or 12 inches wide. Skillets are made from aluminum, cast iron, or stainless steel. Some skillets have precision pouring notches etched on the top edge while others come with a plain top edge.

cooking a steak in skillet

The weight of a skillet depends on the material it is made of and its size. In addition to being the heaviest among the common skillets, cast iron skillets also add flavor to the food cooked on them. Skillets made of the other materials are much lighter and provide varied cooking experiences.

The aluminum skillets usually have a non-stick coating that prevents food from coming into contact with the metal core. The stainless steel skillets, however, don't have any coatings on the surface because food grade stainless steel is used in their construction.


Where Can You Use a Skillet? 

Skillets are great for frying small meals such as eggs. They are also ideal for cooking juicy steaks that you would want to cook together with veggies. 

Skillets made of cast iron also give you a wide range of where you can use them for food preparation. For instance, you can choose to use them over a stove or in the oven when preparing food indoors.

Alternatively, you could take them out for outdoor cooking over a campfire or charcoal flame. Note, however, that skillets made of other materials are only viable for use indoors over a cooking stove. Some skillets also support induction heating while those that don't have a magnetic bottom can only be used on the other types of stoves.


What Is a Griddle?

A griddle is a rectangular or square shaped cooking tool that comes with a flat surface. It does not have raised walls, which means you are restricted from cooking liquid ingredients. Moreover, you cannot pile food items on top of one another on a griddle.

making beef steak in gridle pan

Most griddles are made of cast iron and have a raised cooking surface. The raised surface enhances separation of fats and moisture from the food cooking on a griddle, thus making it extra crispy. The edge of some griddles comes with a surrounding trough that collects juices and dripping fats.


Where Can You Use a Griddle? 

Griddles can be used to prepare crispy steaks in the oven or over a coal flame. This is because, the cast iron material holds up well in extremely high heat and retains heat for a long time. This keeps the food warm for longer even after taking the griddle off the heat source. As a result, many cooks use the griddle for serving food on the dining table without transferring it to another utensil.

The griddle also works well when cooking on the ordinary stove. The fact that iron is magnetic also allows cooking on induction heaters.


Skillet vs Griddle: Materials

Materials used to make skillets range from aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and cast iron. Griddles, on the other hand, are mostly made of cast iron. Aluminum and copper skillets come coated with a non-reactive layer, such as ceramic, because the metal cores could react with food and contaminate it. Stainless steel skillets are not coated but might feature a multilayer design that improves the heat conductivity of the stainless steel.

making beef steak in stainless steel pan

Cast iron skillets and griddles have no coatings on the surface and support use over a variety of heat sources. They can be used indoors on common stoves as well as over a campfire while outdoors. Cast iron is also durable even though it requires special care and maintenance with regular seasoning recommended.


Skillet vs Griddle: Cooking Methods 

Cooking using a skillet allows you to mix different kinds of foods effectively due to the sunken cooking surface. The mix of foods allows the cook to combine flavors and come up with a unique taste.

A griddle, on the other hand, is made to optimize flavor, fat, and moisture separation, thus leaving the food with its original taste. If you want to mix flavors on a griddle, mixing the food with spices is the way to go.

The high walls on a skillet hold soup and sauces, thus allowing sautéing, frying, braising, boiling, and roasting. The flat surface with raised grills line on the griddle's cooking surface, on the other hand, is good for grilling crispy steaks and frying eggs. Griddles that come with reversible plates allow food to cook simultaneously on both sides and achieve perfect char lines that result from the grill lines.


Related Questions 

What's a griddle pan used for? 

A griddle pan - also called grill pan - is used for grilling steaks and other types of food. What makes a griddle pan different from other regular pans is the cooking surface, which has raised grill lines that run across it. The raised lines allow moisture and fats to drip from the food and leave beautiful marks on the food after you finish cooking.

Do you need oil in a griddle pan? 

A small amount of oil is necessary for the food to cook sufficiently when using a griddle pan. If you love your food with no fats, however, then the griddle pan is the perfect choice because the raised griddle lines allow the fats to drip from the food. Non-stick griddle pans can cook the food with no cooking oil. Be sure to splash a bit of oil before you start cooking, however, if you want a perfectly grilled meal.

Is griddle cooking healthy? 

Griddle cooking is healthy, especially for cooking low calorie diets. For instance, the fats that drip from the food due to the raised grill lines could help you to reduce your fat intake. Moreover, griddle pans will help you grill vegetables pretty well, thus allowing you to eat a healthy and well cooked meal.

Is a griddle pan worth it? 

A griddle pan is definitely worth investing in. The food prepared on a griddle has beautiful char marks that are absent when you are using a regular pan. The fact that it allows you to eat healthy meals that contain reduced amounts of fats also makes a griddle pan the best tool to cook with when you want to keep your body weight in check.

Sean Bennett
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