Cast iron or teflon griddle?
May 5, 2006 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Cast iron or teflon griddle?

I want a griddle that will be safe to use at on my gas BBQ outside (for making thin, flat burgers) or on my gas stove in the kitchen. I've been given a teflon griddle from Crate and Barrel as a gift (returnable). Is it safe to use on a BBQ at high heat?

Should I consider a cast iron griddle instead? Perhaps one by Lodge ? If so, is the "Pro" version worth the extra cost?

(It'll be used mostly for pancakes and to make thin burgers like Steak n' Shake!)
posted by kdern to Food & Drink (25 answers total)
You should never use Teflon cookware over extremely high heat. Even Teflon agrees.

For burgers, I use my Lodge pan. It's not the Pro version, which I've never used, so I can't comment on that.
posted by nev at 4:36 AM on May 5, 2006

Can't comment on using a griddle on the grill, but a Teflon griddle is ideal for cooking pancakes on the stove. We've got a double-burner version from All Clad that works great. It gets way more use than we expected and is now our standard wedding gift. Why would you make pancakes on the grill, anyway? You really want to deal with charcoal first thing on a Sunday morning?
posted by libraryhead at 5:01 AM on May 5, 2006

To clarify: Pancakes would be on the stove, burgers would be on the stove or gas grill. The primary reason for purchase is burgers.
posted by kdern at 5:20 AM on May 5, 2006

To answer the question...definitely an iron griddle on a gas grill. Or, at least, a surface devoid of Teflon or any sort of non-stick coating. Not sure if hard-anodized griddles (Calphalon, etc) would be okay, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:35 AM on May 5, 2006

Teflon on a BBQ would be pretty much a huge no. You'd release the icky chemicals (though, that's perhaps less of a problem outdoors), but you'd almost certainly destroy the teflon, as well. If you're using it on a BBQ, get cast iron. On the other hand, I much prefer teflon for pancakes.

If you go with the cast iron, the Lodge Pro's main benefit is that it's larger. If you think you need a larger surface, go for it. Personally, I'm not a fan of Lodge's pre-seasoned pans, I don't think the seasoning is good, and I find it makes the first few things I cook on it taste off. So I'd be inclined to skip that and get the cheaper original finish grill of either kind.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:38 AM on May 5, 2006

Teflon is crap for a griddle. Anyone that thinks it's great for pancakes doesn't know how to cook. I can say that, pancakes are my speciality.

Teflon is really just a way to make people pay good money for very cheaply made cookware. It is a cheap way to make the surface smooth. However, the pan only lasts as long as the coating.

I have an ancient griddle I found in my house when I bought it. Nice stainless surface, well seasoned. Pancakes never ever stick. I only use it for baking pancakes and such (English muffins, crumpets, scones, french toast, etc). I thought it was a gonner when the cord failed, then discovered, after its replacement died (teflon garbage!), I had another cord that fit (Thanks Frydaddy!). I've been baking on this non-teflon surface now since 1989.

The teflon replacement, brought to me from the states by a friend, lasted maybe a year. The surface just didn't last. And it has nothing to do with using scratchy utinsils, I treated like I do my best egg pans (coated).
posted by Goofyy at 6:13 AM on May 5, 2006

Have you ever cooked burgers on a grill via griddle before? If not, be warned that the grill is going to do absolutely nothing for the flavor of the burgers if they are cooked on a griddle. They will taste no different than if you cooked them in the griddle on the stove. You need the burgers to be exposed to the smoke to have the grill impart any flavor.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:22 AM on May 5, 2006

Teflon is great for pancakes, if you you are a fat chaser. If you make pancakes with no added fat and with minimal or no fat on the griddle then you need Teflon. If you don't care about fat when making pancakes cast iron makes a slightly superior surface on the pancake.

What I can't figure out is why anyone would want to cook burgers on a grill using a griddle? Put them right over the coals (or flame); they will taste better. You might as well make them indoors on the stove if you are going to use a griddle.
posted by caddis at 6:25 AM on May 5, 2006

I'll fourth or fifth the "get the cast iron" vote. Nothing, and I mean nothing, cooks like well-seasoned cast iron. Make sure that you season it well, never let it get near water, and it will last for generations.
posted by griffey at 6:56 AM on May 5, 2006

For outside, the iron is better, if only because it holds heat better. When a cool breeze blows, it will keep a more even temperature than aluminum.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:02 AM on May 5, 2006

You can always remove preseasoning and reseason yourself if taste is an issue.
posted by artifarce at 7:23 AM on May 5, 2006

Why do I want to cook burgers on a griddle? So I can make them very flat, like Steak n' Shake does. They take a ball of meat and flatten it with the spatula. On a BBQ grill the meat just falls apart if you try to make it too thin.

Why would I want to do it on the BBQ instead of on the stove? So that I can cook flat burgers during a BBQ while making hot dogs, chicken, etc.
posted by kdern at 7:33 AM on May 5, 2006

You can make flat burgers on a BBQ grill if you make them thinner in the middle and thicker around the edge, so that when they pull in during cooking they level out. Take the ball of meat and flatten it before putting it on the grill, then squeeze it a little in the center to make it thinner there. It also helps to chill the flattened patties a bit before putting them on the grill, so they'll hold their shape better until the sear helps them cohere.

The transcript of the Good Eats show on hamburgers has some other reasons why flattening a burger while it cooks isn't a great idea.
posted by hades at 8:41 AM on May 5, 2006

Cast Iron, always.
posted by Rash at 9:30 AM on May 5, 2006

It's worth noting that both versions of the Lodge griddle are significantly cheaper on Amazon then on the Lodge site. they also have the unseasoned ones. I have the Pro one, and it's great for what it does, but it is heavy and takes up half the stove, so I don't use it that often. I'm also cooking for one most of the time, so admittedly I'm probably not the best candidate for it. Depending on how many people you are cooking for, you may just want a smaller cast iron skillet or round griddle, which only takes up one burner on the stove and is much easier to handle and clean. As others have said, these things are bulletproof and can handle stove, oven, broiler, grill, etc. without any trouble. Teflon is crap, ditch it.
posted by rorycberger at 9:36 AM on May 5, 2006

A short answer is that Teflon at high heat's probably a bad idea. Your fancy new gas grill or stovetop can easily get up around 700 degrees, well over the 640 mark at which Teflon starts offgassing and maybe giving you cancer.

The longer answer is that the EPA's been studying PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is used in nonstick coating and lots of other applications. EPA's requiring manufacturers to stop using PFOA by 2010. Dupont says Teflon is not PFOA, and isn't harmful, but they're going along with the ban anyway.
posted by johnwilcox at 10:22 AM on May 5, 2006

My method for making flat burgers is to make a burger patty, and then to make a shallow indentation in the center with both of my thumbs. Somehow this makes the burger remain flat.

You definitely don't want to use Teflon on a grill. The nasty stuff in it really comes off in high heat. Cast iron would be a better choice.
posted by Ostara at 10:37 AM on May 5, 2006

Sort of a weird stretch, but definately avoid teflon if you have any pet birds.
posted by quin at 10:53 AM on May 5, 2006

Oh, one other thing. If you are getting one of the double burner griddles, take some measurements (both of your stove and of the product in a store) and make sure it will fit over two burners properly. In some cases it won't, especially with the pro model that has those weird indented handles.
posted by rorycberger at 11:15 AM on May 5, 2006

well seasoned cast iron works great for pancakes- we eat lots of pancakes.

oh, and teflon on high heat is a no-no.
posted by pointilist at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2006

No cast iron experience, but I wouldn't put Teflon on a gas grill.

So when are you having a barbeque? ;-)
posted by slogger at 12:30 PM on May 5, 2006

I don't know about cast iron, but I make perfect almost fat free pancakes (from chickpea flour or mung beans) in a titanium skillet (like this one). Much more durable than teflon.
posted by davar at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2006

Grandma's cast iron skillet/griddle is what you want. Make sure that it has a smooth finish (the old ones do - many new ones do not.) If it caked with burnt cooked on grease you can clean it by getting it good and hot first, and then putting some coals in it to bake off the grease. (Like a self cleaning oven.) If you can't do that, oven cleaner will work. Season your griddle by rubbing vegitable oil or Crisco on the pan and baking it in the oven when you cook other food. Do several layers and it will have a great no stick finish as long as you do not wash it with soap. (Incidently, if you live in an area that you can get scrapple, oil the warm pan, then cook the scrapple and it will be well seasoned.)

We use an old griddle every week for our pancakes. Works great.

Wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 2:22 PM on May 5, 2006

According to Wikipedia, the temperature at which Teflon turns nasty is lower than the smoke point of most cooking oils (which, when they scorch, turn even nastier). Then again, it's Wikipedia, so ... grain of salt.

As far as actual experience goes, I can tell you that cooking on well-seasoned iron is a lot nicer, not least because it distributes heat so evenly, and because its heat capacity means adding food won't cool it so dramatically.
posted by eritain at 5:00 PM on May 5, 2006

We use an old griddle every week for our pancakes. Works great.

Hey Wife of 445supermag, your husband rocks something serious.

As the husband of the grandchild of some bad-ass Polish farmers, i am deeply saddened by the lack of Grandma's cast iron skillet/griddle in my house. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the wife is a vegetarian, but there is something to be said for having the hardware around. Just In Case.

/derail, sorry.
posted by quin at 10:58 PM on May 5, 2006

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