Commercial griddle buying guide
Catering Appliance Superstore stock an extremely broad range of gas and electric griddles with a complete array of features, specifications and price tags. From all these makes and models, we're sure we can supply you the best possible option for your catering business at the best price on the market, and spending ten minutes to read our helpful buying guide on commercial griddles will equip you with the basic knowledge you need to walk away with the right appliance.
Plate size and capacity
The cooking area you need in a commercial griddle is of course a major factor. We can provide griddles with small 30cm wide cooking surfaces, up to models of almost a metre in width, like the Lincat OE8206 or the Imperial ITG-36-E, or if you're using gas, something like the Lincat OG8202 will do the trick. Smaller electric griddles are great for catering businesses like bed & breakfasts or small mobile catering vans, but a hotel with a reasonable number of bedrooms could make use of a larger griddle to cook all their English breakfast produce on, and have a good sized cooking surface for use at lunchtimes and evenings in conjunction with ovens, hobs and other appliances.
Gas vs electric
Electric griddles are the simplest to install and get using of course, but obviously with high powered heating elements they may end up costing more to run than their gas equivalents, though this is very much dependent on how much you pay for the different energy types. If you envisage using a small griddle only occasionally then an electric countertop unit is a safe bet. If you have the option of a gas connection and are considering using a large griddle on an extended, regular basis then it is worth comparing your energy prices and the inputs needed to power comparable gas and electric models. Even for mobile catering businesses, it is worth comparing electric griddles with propane powered, if one of these is going to form the backbone of your cooking appliances.
The standard cooking surface for entry level commercial griddles is a flat cast iron plate, which is perfectly fine. However, you can make your life a little bit easier when it comes to cleaning, and potentially enhance the consistency of taste and quality of your food in the process, by upgrading to models with machined steel plate (such as those in the Lincat Opus 800 range).
Particularly if you opt for a larger model, you may want to look at variations in the cooking surface, like half ribbed griddles, to give yourself more flexibility in cooking (ribbed cooking surfaces are great for allowing fat and liguid run off, and imparting attractive chargrill-like branding lines to foods).
Clam design griddles like the Lincat Opus 800 OE8210 and the OE8211 feature a top plate that allows both surfaces of the food to be cooked at the same time, significantly shortening cooking time. You can utilise a clam griddle to cook paninis or hot sandwiches, but if you're specifically looking for this function try our contact grill and panini press section.
Power, heat controls, thermostats, temperature recovery
The thermal performance of your gas or electric griddle, that is to say the maximum temperature, speed of acclimatisation, precision of temperature and energy efficiency in achieving all of this, is something to look at once you know the basic size and plate surface you want.
Catering Appliance Superstore clearly lists the power usage of appliances in kilowatts, for both gas and electric, but you need to compare that energy input to what the manufacturer states can be achieved with the griddle. Temperature range of between 60 and 300 degrees celcius is good (you'll want a low controllable temperature for some foods), and check for models that have good temperature recovery (a sign of an efficient heating system).
For greater flexibility, look for griddle models with independently controllable heat zones, such as the Lincat GS7 - this will allow you to cook different kinds of foods with different heat requirements at the same time.
Construction and ease of cleaning and maintenance
Stainless steel griddle body construction is standard, but manufacturers who have taken the extra care to ensure flush fitting, or welded construction, or even pressed steel forms, are able to offer products that will give you little trouble when wiping down and steriising, and you're less likely to find gradual build up of kitchen grease in hard to reach areas. Drip trays or fat catchers and drainage holes in the griddle plate itself are very useful features, especially when coupled with ribbed hotplates that allow easy liquid run off.
Again, a machined steel, chrome steel or ceramic top will surrender to cleaning easier than cast iron.
We always advise customers to narrow options based on features and performance before narrowing them based on cost, but we understand that for most catering businesses, the final decision will be made on the basis of the budget available. Do make sure you are comparing apples with apples when assessing different commercial griddles, or understand how extra cost has been justified by additional performance or features. Remember to take a look at the manufacturers standard warranty, and what that says about their confidence in their products.